Nestled on the only street corner of St. Johns that's even remotely sketchy, Dad's is a wide, blue building next to a miniature clock tower and bus stop. Drifters and ne'er do wells haunt the concrete yard out front, as if guarding the beloved neighborhood establishment from pussies. Inside is a dim cavern boasting two pool tables, six arcade video games, and the coolest 360-degree wrap-around bar this side of the Mississippi. To get along at Dad's, where they serve tough love on the side of burgers and pickled beet-garnished salads, one has to undergo something of a hazing process.

When I walked in, I was first given ten tons of shit for my ID (in a battle of wits that I won), then had a menu slapped sorely onto the bar. Then I was accused of being with the OLCC, and was refused information on Dad's happy hour specials, because it was "illegal to have happy hours." When I pointed out that technically it was only illegal to advertise happy hours, I was icily informed: "Well if I told you about the happy hour, and you printed it in your 'newspaper,' that would be advertising, now wouldn't it?!" No, but by this point I was certain I was about to be thrown out of the establishment, and chewed my pickled beets and grilled cheese hurriedly, trembling. Suddenly everything changed: The waitress starting being attentive and calling me "hon." Apparently all it takes is a little humility and chinning up to earn acceptance. But in the end, cutting your chops at Dad's is plenty worth it. MS

Dad's Restaurant & Lounge, 8608 N Lombard