Sometimes all it takes is a corner spot and a green awning.
Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood is sometimes referred to as the city’s median district, a pleasant, heavily residential area with a quintessential set of Chicago-style amenities. And in that sense, Ricochet’s fits right in, as classic a corner dive bar as can be found in the city, a 1980s-era addition that has seen renovation of the years, creating what is today a comfortable, unassuming neighborhood stop.
Older reviews of Ricochet’s often cite dense cigarette smoke, fading surfaces and the other hallmarks of a classic, pre-2000 dive bar. Since that time, renovations have removed some of those rough edges, leaving behind a clean, inviting atmosphere that retains some measure of dive bar roots. Outside, Ricochet’s can be spotted by a small set of windows, a bright green awning and not a whole lot else, the dive bar set inside a very typical Chicago-style brick building. The adjacent area is inviting, making Ricochet’s a nice stopover before exploring elsewhere on foot.
Inside, the biggest transformation to the space can be seen in the elongation of the space resulting in a room dedicated to a pair of dart boards in addition to a third dart board a bit closer to the door. Taken together, the three boards provide one of Ricochet’s signature features, a dedication to darts that includes a dart league that periodically operates group tournaments and standings. Fresh signage inside Ricochet’s references this core attribute of the dive bar, a dart board prominent in most of the pieces that can be seen throughout the space.
Up front, a classic L-shaped bar dominates the front room with some supporting seating along the opposite wall in the form of hightop tables and matching chairs. Along the bar, padded stool stretch along the length of the bar, including into the small nook up front that provides the best view of the bar, a small area created by the bend in the bar and windows in front. The bar itself features a pair of oval mirrors and classic elevated, illuminated stands for the bar’s liquor selections.
The bar’s name is carved in wood atop the bar, illuminated by a tiny bit of red neon with a set of figurines on either side reflecting Michael Jordan, a few Cubs and a range of other bar favorites. The front room is well covered with TVs, three of which can be seen above the bar itself on the small ledge that runs the length of the back bar. The draft list is displayed on a digital menu board, notable given the inclusion of Old Style that is pervasive throughout Chicago’s dive bars but isn’t always available on draft as it is at Ricochet’s.
The bar’s other key visual feature is the stained-glass style window found in the bar’s front room, a bit of a departure from some of the other surfaces seen throughout Ricochet’s. Decorations throughout the space are minimal, mostly devoted to signage specific to the bar itself with the occasional Cubs jersey (Ryne Sandberg) or illuminated sign breaking up the otherwise sparsely covered walls. In back, in addition to dart boards, a foosball table and pinball machine can be found to provide additional diversion, all of it supported by a few more tables found in places.
As far as Lincoln Square options go, Ricochet’s is about as casual and as organic to the neighborhood as a drinking option could be within this residential, classically Chicago area. Post-renovation, some of the rough edges have been smoothed out to create an uber-clean, dart-friendly corner neighborhood dive bar in a part of town perfectly constructed for just such an oasis.