Chicago is tribal and territorial and proud. Here, a true neighborhood watering hole is the reflection of life inside a four-by-four-block square. Every  neighborhood has its favorite local bar, and everyone who frequents it will say it’s the best in the city. I wouldn’t deny any such establishment its due. But I offer to you Newark Nook. 

The Nook is a neighborhood bar in the truest sense: It is a bar in the middle of a neighborhood. The place occupies the first floor of a two-story frame house on a residential stretch of Newark Avenue in Norwood Park that has no other businesses of any sort. The bar is lit by white Christmas lights, and one wall is covered in patches from police and fire departments across the country. 

This is not the sort of spot where you order a martini or a glass of wine; the beer comes in bottles and cans. But the prices are fair, and the pours are healthy. Joe, the lone barkeep, doesn’t suffer fools or fights. My first visit  was with my wife, Erin, on her 30th birthday. Joe said hello and welcomed us to the neighborhood. Our third time here, he was pouring our drinks before we sat down.