Pilsen / UIC

RedEye Neighborhoods

Pilsen / UIC

Who’s there? Skylark jazz night

Whether you’re there for the tater tots, free jazz or Two Brothers Ebel’s Weiss beer, Skylark on Monday nights has something for everyone. RedEye caught up with the patrons of the dive bar on Cermak and Halsted last week.

Jesse Ropez, 29, Back of the Yards:

Ropez had travelled to Pilsen on Monday night to “hang out with a friend and have some beer,” though not just any beer. He had come to Skylark specifically to get Two Brother Ebel’s Weiss, which he says he can’t get in other bars on the Southwest Side that he knows. He also comes for the “mystical tots — they’re delicious.” He’s been coming to Skylark for the last three years, and said it’s “not a pick-up joint.”

“Pilsen has changed a lot over the years. It feels safer with the college students,” he said. “It’s just home.”

Magda Pedro, 36, Pilsen:

We’re just “hanging out and shooting the breeze,” said Pedro, who has been coming to Skylark for the past eight years.

“It’s so close to everything and there’s always something to do,” which had made it Pedro’s favorite hang-out in the neighborhood. “The staff, the people at the door, the people by the bar. I used to come here by myself to sit at the bar.”

Pedro and her friend Letty Sustaita were discussing business on Monday. Pedro is in “real estate, but trying to open a restaurant or bar.”

Letty Sustaita, 36, Pilsen:

Sustaita has not only lived in Pilsen her entire life, but she has lived in the exact same house owned by her parents. She wasn’t planning to meet Pedro at the bar on Monday but they ran into each other earlier in the evening.

“I was here when it was very different,” said Sustaita. There’s now “a lot more variety of things to do, though I wouldn’t like the original population to lose their culture.”

A social worker by day, Sustaita is a promoter by night. Right now she is promoting Junior’s “Runaway Wednesday,” an LGBTQ night at a Pilsen sports bar.

“It’s just different,” said Sustaita, of her second job, “it’s an escape from my daytime.”

Amelia De Rudder, 33, Pilsen:

If there’s anything that De Rudder learned about drinking from her grandmother, it was this: “if you want a nice stiff drink but don’t want to appear like a lush, order a ‘good old fashioned.’ ”

Made with muddled cherry or orange syrup, a teaspoon of sugar and a strong pour of whiskey or bourbon with bitters and soda water, the ‘good old-fashioned’ isn’t a drink that De Rudder, a bartender at Simone’s for the past five years, makes often but it is one of her favorites.

“How often do you want to hang out at work just for fun,” laughed De Rudder, when asked why she chose Skylark for the evening. She was hanging out with a friend, Yamil Rodriguez, a Pilsen artist for the evening.

Rodriguez was looking for advice — he had “made out with some girl with … horrible breath and couldn’t follow through with it.”

De Rudder, planning a date of her own for Wednesday, sighed.

“No advice,” she said, “that sucks.”

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