From a quick round of cocktails to lingering for a late dinner, we spend a lot of time campled out on barstools. And, if we’re being honest, sometimes it kind of sucks.
So when we first glimpsed the vintage metal tractor-looking seats lining the bar at Logan Square’s new hangout Scofflaw, we couldn’t help but wince. No way sitting in one of those contraptions for more than one martini was going to end in anything less than a bruised tailbone and a couple of numb legs. Or was it?
Never ones to just sit around and judge, we decided to sacrifice our lower halves to test the comfort factor of barstools at four new spots, rating them on a scale from 1 (torture device) to 10 (sitting on a cloud). Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to get up and stretch our ... legs.
833 N. Randolph St. 312-432-0500
The seating situation: Under the sparkle of chandeliers, the bar runs the whole length of this West Loop bar and restaurant. On weekends, it’s standing room only, at least two bodies deep.
At first glance: Now, don’t these look familiar? Painted metal chairs by French company Tolix seem to be the trendy seating of choice lately; they’re everywhere from Magnolia Bakery to Deuce’s & the Diamond Club to Big Star’s patio.
Comfort rating: 4. The inset cushion is a step up from sitting on cold metal, but anyone who isn’t a size 2 seems to be spilling off the sides. Partway through my drink, I’m eyeing the comfier-looking chairs on either side of the bar. —Lisa Arnett
3201 W. Armitage Ave. 773-252-9700
The seating situation: While there are plenty of tables, couches and wingback chairs to settle into, the marble bar seems to be the first to fill up, fitting about a dozen around its L-shaped counter.
At first glance: Vintage iron tractor seats pearched on top of a little pole may look very farm-sale chic, but come on. These things can’t possibly feel good.
Comfort rating: 6. I stand corrected. Two friends independently pointed out that the seats actually “cup your butt quite nicely.” Mine had a distinct wobble that, while charming, distracted from my brisket sandwich and fries (which, may I say, were killer). But I can forgive it. Pro tip: If you want a little extra padding, just sit on your jacket. —Emily Van Zandt
Bread & Wine
3732 W. Irving Park Road. 773-866-5266
The seating situation: This Irving Park wine bar and cafe has not one but two bars. To talk wine or craft booze with the friendly bartender, opt for the small main bar; for a front-row view of the cooking action, sit at the long counter in front of the open kitchen.
At first glance: Is this Irving Park or Ikea? Both bars (plus all the tables in the dining room) are lined with curvy white chairs with metal legs.
Comfort rating: 7. Despite the lack of padding, these things are surprisingly comfy. Proper back support made a full meal at the bar tolerable. —LA
1639 S. Wabash Ave. 312-360-9509
The seating situation: At this South Loop restaurant, the front bar area includes a few tables near the front window, but you want a front-row view of Michael Simon’s cocktail handiwork, the bar itself has space for just a few couples.
At first glance: The barstools mimic the dining chairs, but with much longer legs. Cushioned seats and seatbacks? This could be good.
Comfort rating: 9. If you’re going to be eating at the bar (and with a lobster roll and delish burger on the bar menu, you definitely will), back support is sheer bliss. The plush fabric cushions are deceptively not-squishy, but I’m not one to complain about a firm seat. —EVZ
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