It’s impossible to miss the big neon sign on Western Avenue just south of Evanston that is always wishing someone a happy birthday or anniversary. Established in 1950 by Italian immigrants, Candlelite Chicago was once a dark, dingy dive bar that somehow also doubled as a romantic destination for a couple’s night out. Now owned by Pete Vernon and Patrick Fowler, who took over in 2012, it’s a bar and restaurant that draws all kinds with its welcoming atmosphere and standout tavern-style thin-crust pizza. On any given day, you might just spot your favorite NBC-5 or ABC-7 newscaster grabbing a drink at the bar, an ex-Blackhawks player watching the game, or Evanston’s public servants simply looking to blend in among their constituents.
Address: 7452 N. Western Ave.
Year opened: 1950
Drink of choice: Beer, like Gatecrasher IPA from Evanston’s Temperance Beer Co., because it goes best with pizza
Clientele: Everyone from local celebs and pols to families
Song you might hear: “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith and Run-DMC