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“So what..” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Violet Hour

The Violet Hour
1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622-1967 (Wicker Park / Bucktown)
773-252-1500
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Ranked #191 of 8,390 Restaurants in Chicago
Cuisines: American, Bar
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Bar scene, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night
Neighborhood: Wicker Park / Bucktown
san francisco
Top Contributor
116 reviews 116 reviews
54 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“So what..”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

Had heard about Violet Hour from others - as far away as San Francisco. Cool and understated were used in descriptions. Dark and loud were more like it.

Yes, it's an unmarked location, and I suppose that's to build the mystique, but once you're there you can't come in unless your entire party is there. To be fair - their website does say you will 2 people will not be seated at tables for 4. However, even after our party was present and accounted for - we were made to cool our heels outside along the wall, only to find when we are seated (at the bar) there were clearly open table waiting to be used.

This is not a place designed for mixing or mingling. In fact it isn't even a place to be scene. Tables are low to the ground (think coffee tables) with overly high backed chairs that curve around to envelope you so you can only really face the person opposite you. Add to this it's so dark most people around me were using their phones to illuminate their menus. At the bar we were thankfully not enclosed in our stools, but there is hardly any reason to turn around and face the room because there's nothing to see but furniture with legs and knees sticking out.

Again too dark to see the drink and food menu which is just down right silly. The drinks were good, and there is definitely a focus on the bartender "crafting" your order if you're into that. Bar food offerings were sparse and pricey - but I suppose you're not there to eat.

Worst of all was the pounding, screechy punk rock soundtrack blasting throughout out the lounge. I don't know that it would ever be appropriate, but at 8:30 in the evening - definitely not. If it's the incongruity they were after ... well they hit the mark. Who waits in line to be bombarded with punk in terms of both soundtrack and decor? Clearly I wasn't the demographic they're marketing to... but really who is?

  • Visited August 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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102 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“A Must Try for Amazing Cocktails and Atmosphere”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

You have to try this out, but note that it is not easy to locate (is a speakeasy type Cocktail Place). There are waits outside on busy nights to get in. It is seating only and very fun and intimate. I can't say enough good things about the staff and the cocktails. Very unique and worth the price and the wait.

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
“Great Drinks, Sleek Interior”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2012

If I a having a night out in Wicker Park or Bucktown, I like to start the evening right at the Violet Hour. This bar specializes in cocktails, which are expensive, but well made. My drink of choice here is the Dark & Stormy. The sleek interior with its curtains and high back chairs allow privacy even when it is packed. It also allows you to easily carry on a conversation, which I really love. There is a nice selection of good appetizers, and I suppose you could make a meal out of it if you wanted to, but this place is a bar, rather than a restaurant. If you a looking for a full, sit down meal, go elsewhere.

The vibe is hip, sleek & trendy. They do have some posted "house rules" which includes the following:

No cell phone use inside lounge.
Proper attire requested.
Please, no baseball hats.
Sorry, no reservations. If you have a party of four, we'll give you four chairs. If your party is eight, we'll arrange eight chairs for you. No "party add-ons" without prior notification.
No O-Bombs. No Jager-Bombs. No bombs of any kind.
No Budweiser. No light beer. No Grey Goose. No Cosmopolitans.
And finally, please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn't bring to your mother's house for Sunday dinner.

These House rules scared off some of my out-of-town guests who thought they would not fit in. After some coaxing & reassurance, we went and they loved it. When I go, I am usually wearing nice dark jeans with a dressy top. And that is the norm.

The Violet Hours does not accept reservations. And as the night progresses, the line and wait gets longer. The doorman is good about taking cell numbers and calling you once your table is ready. If you are really hungry, you can grab a great taco across the street from Big Star while you wait. Also, if you have never been here before, be forewarned that there are no signs marking the entrance. Just a light bulb above a door that blends into a wall with an every changing mural. It is supposed to evoke a speakeasy, I imagine, but can confuse first time visitors. So Google it if you are worried about finding it.

Great drinks...and the kind of establishment that makes me grateful that I live in Chicago.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Great Drinks”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2012

The decor was beautiful, the high backed chairs are awesome. The drink menu is very extensive, and the drink I did get was delicious. I wish they had the option of bartender's choice that I've become used to in a typical speakeasy, but that would not stop me from returning here ASAP.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southampton Parish, Bermuda
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Avoid”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2012 via mobile

Beware of the young lad with a bad beard pretending to be important because he had an apron on. A rude, aggressive, discourteous no mark who mishandled a situation so bad that it was laughable. We left, and no one we know will be going back.

Avoid Violet Hour, which has his head up it's **** when there are so many good places in the area.

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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