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UBAA/Old Crawford Inn
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  • UBAA/Old Crawford Inn

    Post #1 - April 22nd, 2006, 4:48 pm
    Post #1 - April 22nd, 2006, 4:48 pm Post #1 - April 22nd, 2006, 4:48 pm
    In another thread, I asked Josephine if she had ever been to the UBAA/Old Crawford Inn since she seems to live nearby. This lead to a discussion of the UBAA's history (it has been run by the same family since 1939) and of course, their food. I was once a huge fan of UBAA/Old Crawford burgers. However, I realized it had been many years since I actually ate one. So, to make sure I wasn't steering anybody into dangerous waters by recommending the place, I convinced a colleague of mine to take a long detour with me to the UBAA for lunch yesterday. I apologize in advance for my poor photography. Thanks to inspiration from members of the LTHForum, I am just learning the art of photographing my food (and annoying my fellow diners).

    UBAA/Old Crawford Inn is at the intersection of Old Orchard and Crawford on the border of Evanston and Skokie. Although the address is on Crawford, the entrance and parking lot are actually on Old Orchard Rd. Look for the free-standing Old Style sign flapping in the breeze. Watch out for the sign when you leave, people back up into the thing all the time after hoisting a few.
    Image
    Not surprisingly, the building that houses UBAA has not won any design awards. I thought the newly replaced awning was a nice touch, even though it is like putting lipstick on a pig.
    Image
    When we entered the building, I noticed a couple of changes from the last time I was there. First off, the bar area, The UBAA (which is to the left of the front door), is now completely hermetically sealed off from the dining area, Old Crawford Inn (to the right), by a windowed wall. This is actually a good thing. I am sure they needed to do that to get a waiver for the bar area from the Skokie no-smoking ordinance, which is also probably why there are big new air filters hanging from the ceiling above the bar. There was a new drop ceiling throughout the place, also a result of the new ventilation system.

    The dining area (which was nearly empty) consists of wooden booths and tables with beamed and stuccoed walls which are decorated with old license plates and the ubiquitous twinkle lights. The room is dominated by an antique stove and a pedal sewing machine that tower above the booths on top of shelves (photo looking towards the bar from the dining room, front door is to the left).
    Image
    Another new addition I noticed were the TVs :( , they really detract from the 1940s roadhouse feel. Oh well, at least they were not loud and they were actually tuned to the Food Network.
    Notice the specials board. Friday's specials were all-you-can eat fried Perch for $10.99, Perch with Mac and Cheese for $7.75, or Salmon for $10.25.
    Image
    UBAA's standard menu consists mostly of sandwiches as well as a few entrees like chicken and meatloaf. The specialty of the house is the burgers, and they offer a variety of bread, cheese and topping options for them (including chili and sauerkraut). I was tempted to order the perch (which I seem to recall is pretty good), but instead went with my old standby, a 10 oz. "colossal" burger ($7.25) rare on dark rye with raw onion and blue cheese, accompanied by cottage fries. I now realize that blue cheese doesn't photograph very well (but it tasted good). The burgers are charbroiled (what does that mean?) hand made patties of very good fresh ground beef. Here is my burger after I added some yellow mustard which is, unfortunately, the only kind they offer. The fresh cut (not frozen) potatoes were crispy on the outside and steamy moist inside.
    Image
    As you can see, the burger was rare, like I ordered it. Red inside,but not runny. Although the melted blue cheese makes it look like a mess, it was absolutely delicious.
    Image
    My friend went with a smaller 1/3 lb. burger with cheddar cheese and easy jalapenos on a bun, with the skinny fries, which were also quite good. The hamburger bun, which was very fresh, was of the slightly chewy variety rather than the spongy type you would get at a fast food place.
    Image
    My friend ordered his burger medium well :cry:, but the cook must have misread the ticket and prepared it medium instead (serves him right). Despite the fact that his burger still had a touch of pink, he ate it anyway, and loved it. He also got a bowl of the soup of the day, which was a homemade, but totally bland New England clam chowder. He said if it weren't for a grain of sand, he would have mistaken it for Campbell's.

    My friend had a diet-coke to drink (with a complimentary refill), while I enjoyed a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale ale (another new, but welcome, addition). They also have IBC root beer and cream soda.

    On the way out, I snapped a couple of pictures of the massive "U" shaped bar, from which the UBAA's name was derived (read the thread referenced above for the story).
    Image
    Image
    Here are those new air filters on the ceiling of the bar.
    Image

    I am glad I rediscovered UBAA/Old Crawford Inn and its authentic roadhouse atmosphere, which has probably not changed much in 67 years (except for the TVs). Their wonderful burgers have re-earned a spot near the top of my list. The next time it won't be so many years between visits.

    UBAA/ Old Crawford Inn
    9956 Crawford Avenue
    Skokie, IL
    847-673-3080

    dave

    Josephine - I asked our server whether many people order sauerkraut on their bugers. She said "Reuben" burgers were popular (sauerkraut, onion and swiss on rye).

    [edited to add address and correct some typos]
    Last edited by d4v3 on May 20th, 2006, 8:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.
  • Post #2 - April 22nd, 2006, 5:27 pm
    Post #2 - April 22nd, 2006, 5:27 pm Post #2 - April 22nd, 2006, 5:27 pm
    I was so delighted to see your post on the UBBA. It's the orginal family restaurant/cum neighborhood hangout/cum sports bar. The best hamburgers ever -- my favorite is the olive burger with grilled onions.

    I've spent many a rowdy smoke-filled Friday night drinkin' beer, eatin' burgers and listenin' to tall tales with the neighborhood gang. I haven't lived in the neighborhood for years now, but the UBBA is the real deal. Hackneys, eat your heart out.

    Nice to know that you can eat and enjoy without all that second-hand smoke now, but it probably takes away a bit of the ambiance.
  • Post #3 - April 22nd, 2006, 8:35 pm
    Post #3 - April 22nd, 2006, 8:35 pm Post #3 - April 22nd, 2006, 8:35 pm
    Many thanks for the UBAA post.
    My last girlfriend during my time at Northwestern bartended there, and I always enjoyed going there to do some good reading over a pitcher of beer or a good bloody mary (or four).
    The local Skokies were always friendly, and I too thought the burgers were excellent. The cook during that time was Javier, before they brought in a woman to cook on his off-days. He, as you show in your burger (I'm uncertain at all if he's still there--i graduated in 2002), could cook a great burger to your specifications.
    She, not so much.
    I am not much for ordering chili out, but my girlfriend forced it upon me one winter's day, hungover on gin rickeys, and he could also, I found out, make a helluva good pot of meat and beans.
    Ahh, I miss Illinois.
  • Post #4 - April 22nd, 2006, 11:30 pm
    Post #4 - April 22nd, 2006, 11:30 pm Post #4 - April 22nd, 2006, 11:30 pm
    Great report on a time warp place (one of my favorite kinds of restaurants). Thanks.
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  • Post #5 - April 23rd, 2006, 12:53 pm
    Post #5 - April 23rd, 2006, 12:53 pm Post #5 - April 23rd, 2006, 12:53 pm
    d4v3 wrote: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=8047Josephine - I asked our server whether many people order sauerkraut on their bugers. She said "Reuben" burgers were popular (sauerkraut, onion and swiss on rye).

    Nice of you to ask about the sauerkraut, dave. My own inquiry of a board-certified burger expert leads me to believe that sauerkraut is an uncommon topping rather than an Old Chicago thing. Nevertheless, I am eager to try it. I drove by last night and the lot was packed. I've engaged Cathy2 for a weeknight outing and my 1st Reuben Burger. I'll have to get some thousand island on the side.

    Thanks for your thorough review of the UBAA. After seeing your pics, I'm a little embarrassed that I ever saw it as potentially scary.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #6 - April 23rd, 2006, 1:18 pm
    Post #6 - April 23rd, 2006, 1:18 pm Post #6 - April 23rd, 2006, 1:18 pm
    Looks good. Where is this place?
  • Post #7 - April 23rd, 2006, 2:02 pm
    Post #7 - April 23rd, 2006, 2:02 pm Post #7 - April 23rd, 2006, 2:02 pm
    saps wrote:Looks good. Where is this place?

    Wow, I am sorry. I forgot to include the address.
    9956 Crawford Avenue
    Skokie, IL
    847-673-3080
    As I noted in my post, the entrance is actually on Old Orchard Rd. (which is called Harrison on the Evanston side of Crawdord)

    Mike G wrote:Great report on a time warp place (one of my favorite kinds of restaurants).
    Yeah there are fewer and fewer of these places now. Chicago has lost 3/4 of its neighborhood tavern/restaurants. After I wrote the above post, I called an old drinking buddy of mine to find out when was the last time we were at the UBAA. I was shocked when he told me it had been almost 12 years. Amazing. All of our other old "time-warp" favorites have either closed (like the Pinewood) or been remodeled (like the Candlelite). I was happy to find that the UBAA has remained basically the same, and I was a little ashamed that I had not been there in such a long time.

    Josephine wrote: I drove by last night and the lot was packed. I've engaged Cathy2 for a weeknight outing and my 1st Reuben Burger. I'll have to get some thousand island on the side. Thanks for your thorough review of the UBAA. After seeing your pics, I'm a little embarrassed that I ever saw it as potentially scary.


    The outside of the building does look a little scary. I guess that is part of the charm. But when you walk through the doors, it has a familiar and cozy feel. I imagine the place still gets pretty packed and raucous on the weekends or when there is a NU game on TV. As I recall, it used to get very loud(and smokey) but certainly never dangerous. During the afternoon and on weeknights, the dining area is usually frequented by older couples and families. Of course, back when I hung out there, I always ate in the bar.

    Funny, my buddy that ate there with me also ordered 1000 island dressing. It was served on the side in a little plastic cup. I think it reminds him of the Big Mac's "special sauce".

    One thing I noted is that the burgers do not come standard with lettuce and tomato (although it is available as an add-on). Just as well, I don't like them anyhow, but I was wondering if lettuce and tomato garnish is a more modern phenomenon. Considering all the hamburgers I have eaten in my life, I should know more about the history.
  • Post #8 - October 25th, 2006, 7:06 am
    Post #8 - October 25th, 2006, 7:06 am Post #8 - October 25th, 2006, 7:06 am
    d4v3 wrote:I am glad I rediscovered UBAA/Old Crawford Inn and its authentic roadhouse atmosphere, which has probably not changed much in 67 years (except for the TVs).

    Dave,

    What a great bar, evocative of the Wisconsin taverns of my youth, though I'd never been to UBAA it felt familiar/comfortable, like a pleasant memory revisited.

    Had the 1/3-lb build your own burger w/fried and raw onions med-rare, was good, not great. Meat had a bit of tasty grill char, but was past med-rare, slightly under seasoned and lacking that juicy burger love. I will say your 10-oz Colossal Burger looked damn good, next time out that's what I'll have. Fries were good, crisp, slightly oily, in a good way, and the onion rings, which I split with Steve Z, really hit the spot.

    They seem to have a deft hand with a fryer, one of these days I'll have to try Honey Fried Chicken. Three guys across the bar had a nice looking daily special of beef stroganoff, a large portion of which they made short work, and pretty much everyone at the bar was eating, always a good sign.

    Reading the above it might be interpreted I was luke warm on UBBQ, which would not be accurate. I Love the bar, like the burger, will be back, and soon, for both atmosphere and food.

    Thanks d4v3 for posting about UBAA.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - October 25th, 2006, 9:11 am
    Post #9 - October 25th, 2006, 9:11 am Post #9 - October 25th, 2006, 9:11 am
    I've been to UBAA many times, as I grew up about two miles away, and a friend of mine is a regular. I understand the need for the wall, but I must admit I don't like it at all, as it changes the entire dynamic of the bar area.

    The food is good, but if I was going someplace for a burger I'd still drive the extra ten minutes down Old Orchard to Harms and choose Hackney's or Meier's first.
    "Fried chicken should unify us, as opposed to tearing us apart. " - Bomani Jones
  • Post #10 - October 25th, 2006, 9:31 am
    Post #10 - October 25th, 2006, 9:31 am Post #10 - October 25th, 2006, 9:31 am
    G Wiv wrote:What a great bar, evocative of the Wisconsin taverns of my youth, though I'd never been to UBAA it felt familiar/comfortable, like a pleasant memory revisited.
    That is definitely the major appeal of the UBaa. It is like a little slice of Wisconsin in Skokie. Sometimes, not the greatest food, but the atmosphere makes up for any shortcomings, and the inconsistencies sort of add to the authentic vibe.
    G Wiv wrote:Had the 1/3-lb build your own burger w/fried and raw onions med-rare, was good, not great. Meat had a bit of tasty grill char, but was past med-rare, slightly under seasoned and lacking that juicy burger love.
    I am sorry to hear that your burger was overdone. I have experienced some incoinsistency with burgers at Ubaa also. When I used to hang out there 10-15 years ago, they were always spot on. But, according to some comments above, the doneness of the burgers is now dependent on who is doing the cooking. Unfortunately, I don't go there enough to know the "schedule". I always order the Colossal burger rare, figuring with a burger that size, the worst I can get is medium rare. However, the meat is always very fresh,and there are tons of add-on options. If I want to be assured of a perfectly cooked burger, I go to Cross-Rhodes.
    G Wiv wrote:They seem to have a deft hand with a fryer, one of these days I'll have to try Honey Fried Chicken.
    I am afraid that my original post makes it sound like the UBaa is only about burgers, but that is not even remotely true. They have many more things on the menu, along with daily specials (some of which are suprisingly good). The chili is also a house specialty (again, it has been years since I tried it). As I recall, they have a Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry, which features perch instead of the usual frozen cod. In fact, I may just have to give it a try next Friday.

    Dave
  • Post #11 - October 25th, 2006, 9:43 am
    Post #11 - October 25th, 2006, 9:43 am Post #11 - October 25th, 2006, 9:43 am
    d4v3 wrote:As I recall, they have a Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry, which features perch instead of the usual frozen cod.


    The deep fried perch caught my eye for a moment, but I was there on a burger mission, so I put the perch aside for another day. I've got to agree with GWiv. My burger arrived a past its ordered temperature and was a bit underseasoned (I had to salt it, which is something I rarely do), but the bar more than made up for any percieved shortcomings...and the fries were cooked perfectly.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - October 25th, 2006, 10:04 am
    Post #12 - October 25th, 2006, 10:04 am Post #12 - October 25th, 2006, 10:04 am
    threadkiller wrote:I've been to UBAA many times, as I grew up about two miles away, and a friend of mine is a regular. I understand the need for the wall, but I must admit I don't like it at all, as it changes the entire dynamic of the bar area.

    The food is good, but if I was going someplace for a burger I'd still drive the extra ten minutes down Old Orchard to Harms and choose Hackney's or Meier's first.
    Yeah, I was a little taken aback by the fact that the bar is now sealed off from the rest of the place. It does make the bar feel disconnected from the kitchen. I guess it was either that or make the whole place non-smoking.

    Funny you should mention Meier's. I was going to suggest it as a possible destination to AlexG in the "north burbs bar food" thread. Then I realized, that it has been many years since I have actually been there. It is another old timewarp type hangout of mine that I have ignored for probably a decade or more. I was wondering how the food is these days. Coincidentally, I have a doctors appointment just down the street from there today, so I may have to pop in for a burger and a brew.
  • Post #13 - October 25th, 2006, 10:09 am
    Post #13 - October 25th, 2006, 10:09 am Post #13 - October 25th, 2006, 10:09 am
    d4v3 wrote:Coincidentally, I have a doctors appointment just down the street from there today, so I may have to pop in for a burger and a brew.


    Don't forget the tater tots!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - October 25th, 2006, 1:09 pm
    Post #14 - October 25th, 2006, 1:09 pm Post #14 - October 25th, 2006, 1:09 pm
    I can tell you from recent experience that you're missing nothing if you skip the meatloaf.

    Real mashed potatoes, at least.

    Wish I'd looked at the burger pictures before I went.

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #15 - January 20th, 2009, 4:20 pm
    Post #15 - January 20th, 2009, 4:20 pm Post #15 - January 20th, 2009, 4:20 pm
    Has anybody been to this place recently? It's near work, and I have a hankerin' for a burger...
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #16 - January 20th, 2009, 8:15 pm
    Post #16 - January 20th, 2009, 8:15 pm Post #16 - January 20th, 2009, 8:15 pm
    How recent is recently? Here's a report from last summer:

    viewtopic.php?p=204934#p204934
  • Post #17 - January 20th, 2009, 9:54 pm
    Post #17 - January 20th, 2009, 9:54 pm Post #17 - January 20th, 2009, 9:54 pm
    Has anybody been to this place recently? It's near work, and I have a hankerin' for a burger...


    No worries. Nothing every really changes at the U-Bar. Just have a burger,and a cup of their good cumin-y old-school chili. Sit on the bar side, too. Have fun! It's a piece of North Shore history.
  • Post #18 - September 17th, 2009, 8:14 am
    Post #18 - September 17th, 2009, 8:14 am Post #18 - September 17th, 2009, 8:14 am
    this place now serves weekend breakfast- havent been yet, but i intend to go. has anyone indulged yet? i'm betting its good. justjoan
  • Post #19 - October 9th, 2011, 6:50 pm
    Post #19 - October 9th, 2011, 6:50 pm Post #19 - October 9th, 2011, 6:50 pm
    I heard from a friend who lives a couple blocks from UBAA/Old Crawford Inn that it recently closed. Can anyone confirm? If so, that's a shame. A friendly place with a lot of history and a pretty darned good burger too.
    Native Chicagolander Since 2003
  • Post #20 - October 9th, 2011, 11:30 pm
    Post #20 - October 9th, 2011, 11:30 pm Post #20 - October 9th, 2011, 11:30 pm
    chitownhowie wrote:I heard from a friend who lives a couple blocks from UBAA/Old Crawford Inn that it recently closed. Can anyone confirm? If so, that's a shame. A friendly place with a lot of history and a pretty darned good burger too.


    This would be terrible news if true - Ive stopped in occasionally for a burger and waffle-fries, which were always terrific, in a very friendly environment. Will make it a point to check in when I pass in the next few days, and report back if I can..

    c8w
  • Post #21 - October 9th, 2011, 11:52 pm
    Post #21 - October 9th, 2011, 11:52 pm Post #21 - October 9th, 2011, 11:52 pm
    Hi- I went to this place a few times when I had an entertainment coupon for it, and it was good food, but not great. It kind of has a homey feeling to it.

    It's been in business since 1939, and I could not believe it when somebody said that it had possibly closed. I just went to their facebook page, which says that the restaurant is closed. It does not say why. That is too bad. They were still posting specials on their facebook page a month ago, so this musty have come up suddenly. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #22 - October 10th, 2011, 7:52 am
    Post #22 - October 10th, 2011, 7:52 am Post #22 - October 10th, 2011, 7:52 am
    I didn't see anything on their Facebook page, but their website no longer works and no one's answering their phone, though if they don't open until 11 it might be empty now (8:54) regardless.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #23 - October 10th, 2011, 2:55 pm
    Post #23 - October 10th, 2011, 2:55 pm Post #23 - October 10th, 2011, 2:55 pm
    I stopped by there about 3 weeks ago for dinner and it was closed. Sign on the door said something along the lines of "closed due to electrical problems". Drove by again last week, and it was still closed with what looked like the same note on the door (I didn't go right up to verify).

    Pretty sad, I really liked that place.

    Cameron.
  • Post #24 - October 11th, 2011, 10:02 am
    Post #24 - October 11th, 2011, 10:02 am Post #24 - October 11th, 2011, 10:02 am
    Drove past there this morning. For Sale/Lease sign prominently displayed next to the building.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #25 - October 11th, 2011, 12:17 pm
    Post #25 - October 11th, 2011, 12:17 pm Post #25 - October 11th, 2011, 12:17 pm
    This was a favorite hang out of my nursing friends from Evanston Hospital. We would go there after our shift ended. This was in the days before Evanston had bars.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #26 - October 31st, 2011, 2:24 pm
    Post #26 - October 31st, 2011, 2:24 pm Post #26 - October 31st, 2011, 2:24 pm
    Noticed the sign as I drove past on the way home from my daughter's Halloween parade at Highland School up the street. This was posted on Facebook

    "Thank you all for sharing some fond of your memories... It's nice to know the impact we had on our neighborhood! Closing was a decision made by the family, with many factors involved. This was not strictly a financial decision..."
  • Post #27 - December 13th, 2012, 9:18 pm
    Post #27 - December 13th, 2012, 9:18 pm Post #27 - December 13th, 2012, 9:18 pm
    According to the Skokie Review - a Walgreens might be appearing at that location.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #28 - December 13th, 2012, 10:00 pm
    Post #28 - December 13th, 2012, 10:00 pm Post #28 - December 13th, 2012, 10:00 pm
    Hi- Just what we need is another Walgreen's. There is a CVS right down the street from there.
  • Post #29 - December 14th, 2012, 11:18 am
    Post #29 - December 14th, 2012, 11:18 am Post #29 - December 14th, 2012, 11:18 am
    Hi- Just what we need is another Walgreen's. There is a CVS right down the street from there.


    Heh - that's deliberate. A long-time corp-lawyer buddy of mine did legal work for them, and verified that Walgreen's expansion in a market is directly based on the locations of its biggest competitor, and since CVS moved in to the Chicago area so aggressively, Walgreen's took that as the metaphorical dropping of the gloves. The next time you drive from Evanston into Skokie via Dempster, start counting both chain outlets - you may run out of fingers. (I noted recently that Walgreen's also just opened an enormous location at Edens Plaza on Lake St. in Wilmette, just off of I-94, where the former Borders was housed. HUGE.)
  • Post #30 - December 18th, 2012, 11:52 am
    Post #30 - December 18th, 2012, 11:52 am Post #30 - December 18th, 2012, 11:52 am
    I have occasion to patronize that CVS, and I think they can use the competition. Every time I'm in line there, the transactions between customers and cashiers seem to be a combination of brain surgery and rocket science for both parties involved.

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