Billy Goat Tavern, Chicago

4 out of 5 stars 11 Reviews

430 N. Lower Michigan Ave. 312-222-1525
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  • deecat's Profile Photo

    The Billy Goat Tavern: "Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger"

    by deecat Updated Jan 7, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Second Photo: Michigan Ave. Directions down to lower level.
    Third Photo: 1934 Establishment Sign for Billy Goat Tavern.
    Fourth Photo: Famous Saturday Night Live Satire of Billy Goat Tavern.
    Fifth Photo: Lower Level Michigan Ave.: Location of Billy Goat Tavern.

    If you watched "Saturday Night Live" when John Belushi was still alive, then you've heard the famous lines,"Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!". This famous Saturday Night Live skit was inspired by the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, and John Belushi pretended to be the cook at this unique Greek "greasy spoon".

    William Sianis (1895-1970) recognized an opportunity in 1934 when a goat fell off a truck and wandered into his original tavern at 1855 West Madison Street. Sianis had a court declare that the goat was legally his, and then adopted the goat's persona, growing a beard and calling himself "Billygoat" instead of William.

    In 1964, the tavern relocated to Lower Michigan Avenue and became a reporters' hangout because it's close to the two newspapers here in Chicago. Because of the skit on TV, the tavern is now a tourist stop with its own T-shirts and hats. It also has become a chain with at least six locations.

    Columnist Mike Royko came here and watched the Cubs lose games on TV . He wrote often about this tavern. Legend has it that Billygoat Sianis hexed the Cubs when his goat, WHOSE HEAD IS NOW MOUNTED ABOVE THE BAR, was not allowed in the 1945 World Series game at Wrigley Field.

    Favorite Dish: This tavern is famous for it's Cheeseburgers, chips and Cokes. It was Julia Child who determined that toasted buns made the culinary difference at this subterranean institution. It also has cheap beer or straight drinks. But, it's the atmosphere that brings in the customers.

    Door Entrance to Billy Goat Tavern Michigan Ave. Directional Sign To Billy Goat Billy Goat Tavern Established 1934 Famous SNL Saying Lower Level Michigan Avenue
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  • antistar's Profile Photo

    Billy Goat Tavern: Billy Goat Tavern

    by antistar Written Apr 23, 2007

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You have to eat here for the experience, but you probably won't come back for the burger. It's pretty good, but there is better. What you come here for is to see the place made famous on Saturday Night Live by John Belushi.

    "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!"

    And as you walk in you'll quickly have to make up your mind from the limited menu, or you can let them decide for you. I walked in and the loud, friendly Greek guy went down the line shouting out "Dobble cheezborger! Dobble cheezborger! Dobble cheezborger! Dobble cheezborger! No? Cheezborger? Dobble cheezborger? Dobble cheezborger! Dobble cheezborger! Dobble cheezborger!" I swear he was putting the accent on for the visitors.

    Once you have your order, just grab chips and a coke if you want them, and then throw on as much sauce, onions, and other bits and pieces you want yourself and sit down. Eat and then go. It's all over very quickly!

    Great experience. Good burger.

    Favorite Dish: Hmmm.. cheeseburger?

    Billy Goat Tavern

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  • worldglobetrotter's Profile Photo

    The Billy Goat Tavern: Cheezeborger! Cheezeborger

    by worldglobetrotter Written Oct 9, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!"
    (Saturday Night Live skit)

    Famously portrayed on "Saturday Night Live" in the mid-'70s, it's long been a local legend, since original owner William Sianis was forbidden by the Chicago Cubs to bring his goat into Wrigley Field during a 1945 World Series game. Sianis was thrown out and because of this, he put a curse on the Cubs so they would never again win a championship.

    A popular newpaper writer hangout. Walls are plastered with blown-up bylines and numerous articles. (No wonder I was drawn to it!)

    Because of its subterranean location beneath the Chicago Tribune Building, the present location of the Billy Goat has been an underground oasis for journalists and tradesmen seeking a break from sobriety during lunchtime and after work.

    Legions of tourists also descend upon The Goat to get yelled at and to enjoy some of the best burgers in the city. As a result, the Billy Goat Tavern has become a true Chicago classic and required stopping point for both hungry locals and visitors wishing to gain some insight into the City that Works.

    Favorite Dish: The burgers are great. I recommend the double-cheeseburger, since that is probably what you'll wind up with regardless of what you attempt to order. Part of their appeal is that they're served on a Kaiser roll. The other part: the best sandwich pickles in the city. Perhaps this is why, in 1999, Vlassic unveiled the world's largest pickle at The Goat – its likeness is encased in plastic on the counter, above the plastic donut case and next to the chip racks.

    When your cheesburger is served to you, take the piece of wax paper holding your burger over to the condiment counter and load up with the aforementioned pickles, ketchup, mustard, onions, etc.

    Breakfast is served from 7 a.m to 11 a.m. For those of you keeping score at home, the Billy Goat shuts at 2:00 a.m., leaving the city goat-less for only five hours each night.

    Butt in any time

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  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo

    Billy Goat Tavern: World Famous, but just OK

    by TravellerMel Written Sep 3, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Several people told us we needed to eat at the World Famous Billy Goat Tavern, and my friend remembered it from an old Saturday Night Live skit (Cheezborger! Cheezborger!), so when we found ourselves at the Navy Pier at lunchtime, we thought we'd give it a try.

    We were a little disappointed... The burger was just OK, and they do not offer french fries (she remembered that from the skit too - "no fries - CHEEPS!"). It wasn't terrible; it was just OK.

    There is baseball memorabilia on the walls which relate to the Billy Goat's original owner putting a curse on the Chicago Cubs baseball team when they wouldn't allow him to bring his mascot billy goat to a game.

    Since this is such a Chicago institution, I would be willing to try it again. Maybe they were having an off day, maybe I was having an off day...

    Billy Goat Tavern Signage Billy Goat Tavern Cheezeborger at Billy Goat Tavern Billy Goat Tavern
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  • Billy Goat Tavern: Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No Fries, Cheeps!

    by grkboiler Updated Dec 4, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Billy Goat Tavern is a Chicago legend. A favorite of locals and local columnists for years, it was made famous in the Saturday Night Live "Olympia Restaurant" skits by John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray, and its founder is also known as the reason for the Cubs curse. This place is definitely worth a stop just to get yelled at while ordering.

    The original Billy Goat opened across the street from the old Chicago Stadium on Madison Ave. in 1934. It got its name because a goat fell off a truck on the street outside and wandered into the bar. Owner Bill Sianis, a Greek immigrant, adopted the goat and grew a goatee.

    The curse of the Cubs is also Bill's doing. He bought 2 tickets to game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Cubs and the Detroit Tigers - 1 for him and 1 for his goat. He was denied entry because the goat smelled. He then said "Cubs, they not gonna win anymore." When the Cubs lost the series, he sent a telegram to their owners which said "Who smells now?". And the rest is history - the Cubs haven't made it back to the World Series since.

    There are many locations in Chicago. The main location and best to visit is on Michigan Ave. (listed below). Others are:

    309 W. Washington St., (312) 899-1873
    330 S. Wells St., (312) 554-0297
    1535 W. Madison St., (312) 733-9132
    3615 N. Clark St., (773) 327-4361 (near Wrigley Field)
    Navy Pier

    Hours at the Michigan Ave. location are: 7am-2am Monday through Friday, 10am-3am Saturday, 11am-2am Sunday, closed Christmas day. It is cash only. Hours at other locations vary.

    Favorite Dish: Don't even bother to look at the menu because you are going to end up with a double cheezborger no matter what you do. Seriously, they have single, doubles, triples, dogs, and more. You put the toppings on yourself.

    The burgers are great, and its definitely the bread that makes the burger.

    (The picture is of the Madison St. location)

    Billy Goat on Madison

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  • goingsolo's Profile Photo

    Billy Goat Tavern: Cheezborger cheezborger

    by goingsolo Written Jun 2, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Billy Goat Tavern is a kitschy place- a combination of fast food and a diner and a definite attempt to capitalize on its notoriety from the Saturday Night Live skit. But its also a good place to get a cheap meal and to crack a smile at the antics of its staff,

    This is a Chicago chain restaurant, with a Navy Pier and a downtown location. The menu is pretty simple, much like the SNL skit: cheeseburgers, roast beef sandwiches, chips and sodas. Food is ordered at the counter (at least it is in the downtown location) and served on wax paper in lieu of plates. You can take it to go or sit at one of the red and white checkered tables. In the evenings, this is a popular dive bar as well.

    Lunch cost the equivalent to a fast food restaurant and was decent, although nothing worth traveling great distances to consume. I decided to try the roast beef, which was sadly nothing like an Italian Beef sandwich that I'd been wanting to try, but, other than that, no complaints. It was filling, I was satisfied and, while my artieries may have been a bit clogged, my wallet was not emptied.

    Favorite Dish: I think the famous cheeseburger is more popular here than the roast beef. I didn't try it, so I can't comment, but they looked pretty good.

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  • Billy Goat Tavern: Billy Goat Tavern

    by Gamoke Written Apr 22, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Billy Goat Tavern has an exciting atmosphere that everyone should experience. Although being world famous, Billy Goat Tavern isn't a fancy restaurant by any means. The prices are very low, the menu is simple, and the food is good, but order atleast a double hamburger or you will still be hungry. The staff is friendly and the location at 430 North Michigan Avenue at the lower level is quite unique as you appear to be entering a subway on your way down to the restaurant. Overall, Billy Goat Tavern is worth a stop if you want a quick and simple bite of food and want to experience a big part of Chicago history.

    Favorite Dish: The double cheeseburger with bacon on it is very tasty.

    The original Billy Goat Tavern.

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    the famous Goat Tavern: Double Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger

    by machomikemd Written Oct 29, 2010

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    this famous chicago institution claims to have the best cheezborgers! yes you heard it, they mispelled deliberately as a twang. Made famous by the assorted skits in Saturday Night Live, this active and busy restaurant is in the middle of the amusement area on the Navy Pier. Cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn beef sandwich, and etc., but no fries! Billy Goat Tavern is a chain of taverns located in Chicago, Illinois, founded in by Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant. It achieved fame primarily through newspaper columns by Mike Royko, a supposed curse on the Chicago Cubs and the Olympia Cafe sketch on Saturday Night Live. It now has several locations in the Chicago area, including here in the Navy Pier, the Merchandise Mart, O'Hare Airport, and the West Loop, and expanded to Washington, D.C.

    Favorite Dish: alhtough they have other food items like assorted sandwhiches and a small rib eye steak, what else would you order but the double cheeseburger with no fries! for just $ 4.55 and a draft beer for $ 6.

    Hours:Mon-Fri: 7am-9pm
    Sat-Sun: 7am-11pm

    at navy pier yum inside vouchers pics
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  • HotSpotJ's Profile Photo

    Billy Goat Tavern: Break the curse!

    by HotSpotJ Updated Nov 6, 2006

    I don't have a picture of this one, someone had knocked the sign off, which is the only thing identifying where those steps lead... it is located just outside of the Marriotts Michigan Avenue entrance, and legend has it, that this place was owned by the gentlemen that cursed the Chicago Cubs baseball team after they would not let him watch a game with his goat in tow. A very unique place, with a very unique location. Don't be afriad, just walk down the steps....

    Favorite Dish: All I had was an appetizer and a cocktail- a speacialty drink called "The Horny Goat"

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  • bryINpoland's Profile Photo

    Billy Goat Tavern: A Part of Chicago's Colorful History, In The Dark.

    by bryINpoland Updated Apr 16, 2005

    Theres so much to write about this unique location, that i am just going to compile a list of all the intersting facts about the Billy Goat Tavern.

    Billy Goat Tavern Facts:
    * Billy Goat Tavern was open in 1934, by a man named William "Billy Goat" Sianis.
    * The orignal name of the bar was Licoln Cavern, and was located next to the United Center, and a popular destination for sports fans.
    * The Bar was renamed Billy Goat tavern, when a goat fell off a passing truck and found its way into the Tavern. William Sianis, adopted the goat, and changed the name of the Tavern to Billy Goat Tavern.
    * The Tavern is said to be behind the Chicago Cubs curse. In 1945 William "Billy Goat" Sianis had tickets fro himself , and his goat for Game 4 of the worlds series. When denied access, because of the claim that the goat stinked. William "Billy Goat" Sianis said "The Cubs will never win again!". The cubs went on to lose the World Series, and have never been back since. After the lost in 1945 World Series, William "Billy Goat" Sianis sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley that said "Who smells now?"
    * The Tavern became known world wide, in the 1970s, when Saturday Night Live comics, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, did a skit on it. John Belushi and Bill Murray use to regularly visit the Tavern while living in Chicago.
    * The Tavern now sit on 430 N. Lower Michigan Ave. and is a favorite to the Chicago Tribune journalist and the Sun Times. One of the Taverns walls is dedicated to news articles that have been written about the famous Tavern.
    * The Tavern now has locations at Washington Street , Wells Street , the "Billy Goat Inn" on Madison Avenue , O'Hare International Airport and at Navy Pier.
    * William "Billy Goat" Sianis died in 1970 , and the Tavern is now ran by his newphew Sam Sianis.

    If in the Chicago area, and in the mood for a good double Cheeseburger, then stop into the Billy Goat Tavern, and get a taste of Chicago history.

    Lower Michigan Avenue Location

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  • Billy Goat Tavern: Billy Goat Tavern

    by t_diddy Written Aug 26, 2002

    You've been to hole-in-the-wall places- this is a hole-in-the street. Take the stairs down one level BELOW Michigan Avenue, then around the corner and down more stairs. Imagine the perfect hangout for the uberYuppie, the Billy Goat is its polar opposite. It's dark, it's dingy, and it's served the needs of the broad=shouldered cogniscenti for generations.

    Favorite Dish: Doublecheez- it's why you came here.

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