As I approached Tradition, I thought to myself ‘oh no, not another sports bar.’ Not that there’s anything wrong about sports bars, but they can be very similar: sports memorabilia, dozens of flat screens, and pretty good burgers. Fortunately, Tradition was not what I was expecting.
Formerly Par Bar, a golf-themed pub at 160 N. Franklin, Tradition has some TVs sprinkled around the bar and restaurant, but takes more influence from gastro pubs. It feels more like your cozy neighborhood bar with a solid selection of local and national craft beers and bar bites.
Tradition isn’t a dark and dingy sports dive by any means. It’s warm and inviting and a great place to grab a bite with your co-workers or friends. In some ways, Tradition feels more like a coffee shop than a bar. Adorning the exposed brick walls are paintings from local artists and even the seating has a handcrafted look like these large booths constructed out different types of wood paneling. Everything from the chalk ‘leader board’ beer list above the bar to the exposed wood beams on the ceiling gives Tradition this casual, homey feel.
Food & Drinks
To start you off, Tradition has about two dozen draft options with local brewers like Two Brothers and Revolution, along with other popular national craft brewers. If beer isn’t your thing, Traditional also serves wine and classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Moscow Mule. Even though I did visit on a Friday, I did have to get back to work so I settled for sipping on a smooth Kentucky Bourbon Ale.
In terms of food, Tradition has an extensive menu covering every kind of pub food you could imagine’ from flatbreads to tacos and burgers. While unpretentious, Tradition’s menu uses ingredients in different combinations than you’d expect, like a buffalo chicken flatbread or a Chicago-style hot dog slider with pretty reasonable prices for the Loop. I got to sample a few of their most popular dishes.
Tradition’s flatbread is a little more pizza-like than a cracker-style flatbread and that’s no problem with me. In addition to the typical toppings like pepperoni and sausage, Tradition has a few more unique options like the California Flatbread. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, the flatbread features a slightly spicy chipotle aioli topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato, bacon, avocado, and grilled chicken. I’m a fan of avocado and chipotle sauce on anything, so this was really terrific.
Tradition serves three types of fish/seafood tacos. There’s a more traditional taco with fried tilapia loaded with an apple slaw and cabbage; a spicy chipotle shrimp taco with guacamole and sweet corn; and a combination tilapia and shrimp taco with a white lime and white wine sauce. The chipotle shrimp tacos were my personal favorite, but I liked the diversity of flavor combination you don’t usually find with fish tacos. The guacamole was very fresh and the corn tortillas were soft yet tough enough to keep the tacos together.
Lastly, I sampled three of Tradition’s sliders. There was a standard cheese burger and a buffalo chicken, but the most unique was a Chicago-Style Hot Dog Slider. It had a poppy seed bun, Vienna beef sausages, relish, and all the other toppings you’d on a Chicago hot dog. Basically this is just a miniature hot dog and tastes like one, but I really enjoyed the fun and whimsical presentation.
Tradition hasn’t reinvented the pub experience, but does offer a casual, fun place to come with co-workers for lunch or a happy hour drink. They offer tasty bar food at reasonable prices and a nice selection of craft beer and cocktails in an inviting environment. And you might even walk out with a new piece of art for your apartment!
160 N Franklin, Chicago, IL 60606
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