So as I said before this is one of our favorite spots in Chicago, and we always go back for more. We don't usually deviate from our drink order of Strongbow cider for me and a Black and Tan for Caleb, so that's exactly what we got on Friday and they were just as good as they always are. We had a bit of a cold spring weekend here in Chicago, so Caleb and I decided we could go for some soup to start out with and lucky for us the soup of the day was clam chowder! Now if you've been reading here for awhile you know I'm pretty new to clam chowder (I tried it for the first time last summer at PIER 39 in San Fransisco), so I guess I haven't really had my fair share of bad clam chowders, but I like to think I started out with the best of the best. Well the clam chowder at Elephant & Castle was right up there with the bowl I had at PIER 39. It was the perfect starter to warm us up. Next we couldn't pass up the chance for one of their yummy appetizers, and this time around we went with the pub pretzels (I'm a huge sucker for pretzels...I almost always get them as an appetizer), and they didn't disappoint! They were huge soft pretzel sticks that came with a spiced ale mustard. So delicious! For our entree, we split the fish and chips and it was so much food it was a good thing we shared. Their fish and chips make me not mind that it is lent and I am limited to only fish and no meat options on Fridays!
Ambience + Atmosphere
So this past week we actually went to a different Elephant & Castle location than we normally do. We usually go to the one on Adams St. in the Loop but instead we went to their second location on Wabash in Streeterville. The reason behind the switch was the distance between the bar we checked out after dinner that was located in River North. The Wabash location was pretty crowded and loud when we got there and compared to a more mellow atmosphere at the Adams location. But about half way through dinner it died down and it was perfectly fine. I think the Wabash location is a pretty popular post-work drink spot for people. However, both locations are seriously great. Like I said above, it is a classic English pub so it's dimly lit and pretty casual. It's a great spot to meet friends for a delicious casual dinner or have a laid back date night like Caleb and I did.
Location + Transportation
Since I already went over location...Wabash vs. Adams...we'll just jump in to transportation. I do not suggest driving. There are some parking garages near by but they are very expensive. There is also limited meter parking in this area and good luck finding one on a weekend night. The best way to get to both locations is by train. The CTA or Metra both work for the Adams location and the CTA works for the Wabash location. The Wabash location is very close to the Clark/Lake stop or the State/Lake stop for the CTA and the Adams location is a couple blocks away from Union Station for the Metra and the Jackson CTA stop. They are both in great locations to also have a meal and then do something else in the city. The Adams location is near Michigan Ave (museums, parks, and shopping) and the Wabash location is near River North and the Magnificent Mile (bars and shopping).
Elephant & Castle does not accept reservations. When we went on Friday night around 7 PM, we were told it would be about a 45 minute wait. Not too bad for a Friday night, so we went with it. We fought our way through the crowd at the bar and got our drinks and sipped for a few minutes off to the side. They texted Caleb that our table was ready after only 20 minutes. It was a nice surprise that we only had to wait half the time! They seem to be pretty good with getting the food out nice and quick to get people in and out, which really helps with the wait times. However, they don't rush you out either. If you want to sit and chat for awhile when you're done eating that's always fine by them. We've done this plenty of times with friends in the past. They accept all major credit cards and are good about splitting the bill if you need to pay separately.
I really love both locations of Elephant & Castle. The service is great at both of them and the food is exactly the same. I would say it just depends on what you want to do before or after that will decide the location choice. This restaurant is one of my all time favorites in Chicago, and I will always highly recommend it. I already can't wait to go back myself!