Maria's, unfortunately, is very rarely on my way to or from anywhere, but after my first promising visit when they opened in August, I returned yesterday. There are a few comments about Maria's in the Han 202 thread, and even not having really known its previous incarnation, I understand the skepticism about the new Maria's.
The bar itself has a very intimate feel, with maybe 10 stools at most, all occupied for the two hours or so I was there yesterday. (There are also tables in the back.) The crowd seemed fairly mixed last night, from a self-described "dinosaur of Bridgeport" intent on reassuring me that the US military would always keep me safe, to some couples maybe my parents' age who looked like they were having pre-dinner drinks, to some hipsters.
I don't know very much about beer, but I was impressed by their offerings. Also, my drinking companion said that $5.50 for a Bell's Batch 10,000 snifter at Maria's was the cheapest he's seen in town. On Wednesdays, all of their cocktails are $1 off. The Sazerac I had was really lovely.
For the past few Wednesdays, Maria's has also had DJs spinning world music. Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering and Thievery Corporation was the guest DJ last night. I enjoyed the music, which was kept at a pretty low volume, so conversation remained very easy. I think the "Global Soul Nights" are done, but, from their website, it looks like Maria's keeps a pretty full music calendar.
Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar
960 West 31st Street
Chicago, IL 60608-5828