This is the kind of place where you can expect to find cigar-smoking, oyster-chugging guys at the bar, tables of wide-eyed tourists in the nonsmoking dining room and eager singles just about everywhere. J. Paul's is a classic saloon with all the pertinent hallmarks (dark wood, reproduction gaslights, tin ceiling, checkered tablecloths, etc.). The bar itself is a bona fide antique that came out of a real Chicago saloon. Crab cakes and baby-back ribs are the standouts here; but don't overlook the salads, which are long on taste and innovation but not so low in calories. J. Paul's was the first restaurant opened by Capital Restaurant Concepts, a local company with a proven track record, so expect things to run pretty smoothly here. The raw bar, with four different types of oysters as well as clams and spiced shrimp, is a bit of a sleeper here. The desserts, which are all made inhouse and change frequently, are downright deadly. Come before 6:30 p.m. if you want to be seated without delay. On weekends the wait can be up to 45 minutes for a table. Also, while there's a nice children's menu available, come early if you're with the family. Things can get pretty lively here as the night wears on (and the brews keep pouring). -- Kathleen Stanley
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