Most of Al Capone’s old haunts have vanished. Chicago’s elected leaders have taken care to wash away most of the evidence connecting the city to the man known as Scarface, history’s most notorious gangster. But if you know where to look, you can still catch a glimpse of Capone and the members of his outfit. You can also sample his spaghetti marinara and knock back a few drinks at some of his favorite bars. Tell the man at the door Snorky sent you.
Jonathan Eig is the best-selling author of three biographies and the creator of the Chicago Gangland Tour, an app for the iPhone and iPad. His latest book, Get Capone, is available from Simon & Schuster. He lives in Chicago.
Get Capone is now available from Simon & Schuster.
4802 N. Broadway
This funky nightclub dates to 1907, and the décor is little changed. Al Capone probably didn’t spend a lot of time here, but his top killer, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, had an ownership stake in the Green Mill, and Capone no doubt dropped in. Today, some of the best jazz musicians in the world play for much friendlier management. A picture of Al Capone sits behind the bar, and a trapdoor leads to a maze of underground tunnels.
Fox’s Beverly Pub
9956 S. Western Ave
Back in the 1950s, Al Capone’s sister, Mafalda, ran a delicatessen at this address. The sandwiches were killer. When she decided to retire in 1964, she turned the place over to the Fox family, and the Foxes turned it into a family-style restaurant that manages to be both Irish and Italian at the same time, a place with great pizza and terrific corned beef. Now, they’ve got a chain of four restaurants in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Plainfield and Orland Park. The Capones would be proud.
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap
1073 W. Vernon Park Place
The smell of garlic hits you before your turn on the block. This family-style restraunt, loaded with locals, has only been around 60 years. But its connection to Capone goes back to the 1920s. The owners don’t like to talk about, but when pressed they’ll admit that the restaurant’s founder, Joseph DiBuono, served as Capone’s personal chef. Is the eggplant parmigiana still made the way Capone liked it? Who knows? But it’s dangerously good.
3714 S. Halsted Ave.
Schaller’s got its name because, during Prohibition, they ran a hose to the nearby Ambrosia Brewery and pumped the beer into the bar. The Schallers ran the place then and they run it now. They’ve got great stories. They’ve got cold beer. They’ve got prime rib and pot roast and low prices. And they’ve got the White Sox game on the TV. If you want a taste of the real Chicago, then and now, this is the place to go.
Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
636 S. Michigan Ave.
They say Al Capone got his shoes shined here. Maybe so. But one thing’s for sure: This recently remodeled hotel evokes the swagger of the gangster age with a handsome dash of modernity. They even offer a “Good to Be a Gangster” package, which includes tickets for a gangland bus tour, a copy of “The Untouchables” DVD, and an Outlaw Graffiti Cocktail. And if you slip the concierge a small gratuity, they’ll throw in a signed copy of my book. Because that’s the Chicago way.