Image by Laura Pearson Lonely Planet
Making waves when it opened in Wicker Park in 2015 in a sea of sports bars, Queen Mary is a neighborhood tavern inspired by the British Royal Navy. It’s named after building owner Mary Kafka, who, alongside her husband, ran a Polish dive bar in the same spot during the 1970s.
Following a family tragedy, Mary shut down the business and it remained empty for nearly 40 years. Enter Heisler Hospitality, the visionary restaurateurs behind Bad Hunter, Pub Royale, Estereo and other respected Chicago establishments, who befriended Mary and revitalized the watering hole. It now teems with nautical charm: the original mahogany bar dominates the space, and warm wood paneling and exposed brick line the walls.
On the menu are gin- and rum-based cocktails that riff on 'British maritime drinking traditions,' including a navy-strength old fashioned, daily rum grog and shareable tea-based punch, plus fortified wines and beer. Take a seat in a high-backed booth, replete with life-preserver cushions, and you’ll feel as if you’ve sailed away to another place and time.