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Cafe Brauer, Chicago

4.1
#134 of 159 in Nightlife in Chicago
Café Brauer (also known as the South Pond Refectory) is a restaurant building and official landmark located in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, at the edge of the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was designed by Dwight H. Perkins and completed in 1908.


The building, known for its green roof, red bricks, second floor ballroom, and lagoon-side setting, has been called "an outstanding example of the Prairie School of architecture" and "perhaps the finest expression of Perkins' design philosophy". It was financed by the Brauer family of Chicago, who worked in the restaurant business, and was one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago during the early twentieth century. Caspar Brauer, who died at age 68 on April 29, 1940, was the longtime proprietor of Cafe Brauer.
The original restaurant closed in the 1940s. In 1947, Cafe Brauer's second floor ballroom was opened to the public as an indoor recreation room featuring ballroom dancing for children, square dancing, and waltzing. At the time, it was announced that the facility would be renamed the Lincoln Fieldhouse. By the 1960s, the structure was largely used for storage. Part of the second floor was used as a theater, and there was a small cafeteria on the first floor. A nine-member committee was chosen on October 10, 1967 by Chicago Park Board Vice-President Daniel Shannon to look into restoring the structure as a restaurant-ballroom and adding an outdoor dance pavilion. Their project never moved forward because of restrictions on the sale of alcohol in park district facilities.
In 1987, the Lincoln Park Zoo Society began a $4.2 million restoration project. The second floor ballroom was renovated so that it could be used for private events, and the first floor was remodeled as a small family restaurant and ice cream parlor.
Cafe Brauer was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, and it received Chicago Landmark status on February 5, 2003.
The building is located on the site of the South Pond Refectory, a wood-frame boathouse and restaurant designed by William Le Baron Jenney which was open from 1882 until 1908. Café Brauer is sometimes called the South Pond Refectory, the primary name for the site used in its National Register nomination.
Take a look at our Chicago trip planner to schedule your visit to Cafe Brauer and learn about what else to see and do during your holiday.
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Cafe Brauer Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
17 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • I used to frequent this cafe with my girlfriend, and it was a great place after a run, bike or walk where you could get a bottle of wine and some appetizers or split a sandwich and enjoy each others.....  more »
  • Dined @ Cafe Brauer yesterday. It was a beautiful day, and the ambience and view from the cafe is wonderful. It very relaxed vibe, and my daughter and I weren't in a rush, so the extremely slow...  more »
Google
  • Was beautiful. Went to a family wedding there . Loved it. Friendly and courteous staff. Food was excellent. Not really a huge room dance floor a little tight but over all NICE👍
  • Located in the Lincoln park by the zoo. Nicely designed and large hall for banquets. Good food but limited wine and beer selection. Covered open space with the bar. Planty parking space. Short walking distance to lake lake Michigan's public beaches. Would recommend for organizing large business or private parties, lunches or dinners.

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