If you’re looking for the ambiance of a bygone era, the warm atmosphere and upscale vibe of Marty’s Martini Bar is the perfect LGBTQ spot for you.

Crowd inside Marty's Martini Bar in Chicago

Dim, cozy, and adorned with an array of assorted mirrors, Marty’s is a unique treasure. This nightspot offers a great selection of drinks. The crew of skilled mixologists behind the mahogany bar take genuine pride in their craft and are generous with their drinks.

Currently, the trending drinks at Marty’s are the French Martini and the Manhattans. However, Marty’s also features an extensive wine list. If the interior gets too crowded and the weather is cooperative, Marty’s has an attractive outdoor patio which is perfect for unwinding after a long day or sharing an intimate conversation.

Marty Rogo of Marty's Martini Bar in ChicagoTen years ago Marty Rogo opened Marty’s Martini Bar at 1511 Balmoral in Andersonville. Rogo originally sought to create a small upscale bar, “a place where you could actually talk without being distracted by a TV, or overbearing music.” To Rogo’s credit, a decade later Marty’s still doesn’t have a television, a decision his clientele resoundingly supports. Instead, the light music playing is a wonderful accent to the surroundings.

Chicago's Marty's Marini Bar sign

Rogo describes Marty’s Martini Bar as a “small upscale martini bar that is like a hotel bar without the hotel.” Marty likes the mix of customers that the bar often attracts. “There are some that entertain clients, others are celebrating something, some are there to meet new people and still others are regulars who come to talk with neighbors and friends.”


So what made Andersonville the ideal neighborhood for his place?

Says Rogo, “10 years ago Andersonville wasn’t an ideal location but there were clear signs that the LGBTQ community was migrating north from Lakeview to Edgewater and Andersonville. Interestingly though, the migration was occurring for affordable housing reasons but there wasn’t many LGBTQ cocktail establishments at that time. If you wanted options you went back down to Lakeview. In this I saw an opportunity. I lived in the neighborhood and liked to walk to places. I suspected others felt the same. As more LGBTQ businesses opened more and more of the community migrated north.”

Rogo is a big fan of Andersonville eateries and is eager to recommend some of the best food in Chicagoland. For his three meal pic, Rogo says, “For breakfast I like Taste of Heaven (5401 N. Clark) for the Katie Cakes Buttermilk pancakes layered with a 3 berry compote, served with freshly whipped cream and lemon streusel, lunch at Lady Gregory’s (5260 N. Clark) for their veggie burger and brussel sprouts and for dinner it would have to be Anteprima (5316 N. Clark) for their roasted chicken or specialty pastas. 

Buttermilk pancakes from A Taste of Heaven in Chicago

For a day adventure, Rogo recommends a walk along the lakefront and is a big fan of shopping in Andersonville. ”Check out the Brown Elephant (5404 N. Clark), a second-hand store which supports Howard Brown Health. From there I’d walk north to the corner of Foster and Clark to the Nail Palette (5205 N. Clark) and get a mani/pedi checking the windows of all the small shops along this 3 block walk.  The good news is that I’m going to have you head back down that street after your mani/pedi break. Pop into the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark) a couple doors down. 

Before Andersonville was an LGBTQ neighborhood it was a Swedish neighborhood. There’s an interesting permanent exhibit on the second floor on Swedish migration. Once you're finished there go two more doors down and check out Scout (5221 N. Clark), a home décor store and then Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark) book store. From there the Andersonville Galleria (5247 N. Clark) awaits on the same side of the street which houses lots of local artisan wares. At this point most of us would need to chill out and relax somewhere so after lunch go to Kopi Café (5317 N. Clark) for a hot chocolate and check emails, Facebook, etc. on your phone."


Marty’s is the ideal spot for a drink before dinner or a cocktail to cap off the evening. The perfect addition to celebrating a wonderful and unique day exploring in Chicago.

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