I grew up in Chicago and, let me tell you, it’s hard to think of a more iconic restaurant that’s been a staple in Chicago as long as The Berghoff has. The bar opened in 1898 and besides a short stint in ‘06, this establishment has been open ever since.
As you might guess, it started as a German bar owned by the Berghoff family. Originally brewing beer in Indiana and selling it at the bar, the Berghoff family quickly established a presence in Chicago. It wasn’t until prohibition that The Berghoff became a full-service restaurant. It’s now a fourth generation establishment (still owned by a Berghoff!) that offers customers a bar, restaurant, café for lunch, and catering to boot.
When we visited here last month, we were able to meet with marketing coordinator and long-time Berghoff fan, Ashley Malmquist. We got a great tour of this century-old institution and learned a lot about what The Berghoff has to offer.
“Of course,” Ashley says, “the menu still contains traditional German options.” But the current owner and chef, Carlyn Berghoff, has also “updated the menu” to include many American favorites, explains Ashley. Carlyn calls it “tradition with a twist.” And she has a family member with a gluten allergy, so you’ll find many more gluten-free options on the menu here. (For more on Carlyn’s cooking, see her blog here.)
The Berghoff is also famous for more than just the restaurant. Did you know they had the 1st liquor license issued in Chicago after the repeal of prohibition? You can snap your own photo in the bar with a decal of the license. Most recently, scenes from The Dark Knight were also filmed here in the bar and restaurant.
The restaurant, café, and bar are all beautiful with stained glass accents and rich wood covering the walls and bar; it looks like something straight out of old Chicago. The atmosphere is decidedly historic but without being nostalgic. I really liked that because it connects you with the living history of Chicago. I think that’s unique at The Berghoff.
If you’re going to be visiting Chicago, the Berghoff continues to set standards for casual dining. Try their original beer or their famous root-beer (which is reallllly good!). And on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find bagpipers parading through the restaurant! The Berghoff also hosts one of Chicago’s best outdoor German festivals during Oktoberfest.
Lastly, for special events, the Berghoff offers amazing catering both on and off-site. Check out the century room while you’re there and be sure to explore their classic bar and their café located downstairs (café 11-2pm only).
Ask me how to get there during your stay! It’s right in the Loop at 17 W. Adams St. and I’ll be happy to direct you!
If you’re ready to see this iconic institution yourself, book a room now with BEST WETSERN PLUS River North Hotel, the only downtown Chicago hotel with FREE Parking.