Taylor Street Tattoo

Taylor Street Tattoo and Body Piercing
1150 W. Taylor Street
Chicago, IL

Established: 2003
Artists: Keith Underwood, Chris Smith, Lana Wingo, and Chad Ramsay; piercing by Tim GoodingOpening up a shop in Chicago’s Little Italy wasn’t easy for Keith Underwood. In fact, the Taylor Street owner has become almost as famous for the battle he faced trying to get his business open as he has for his art. “You can’t just rent and open here,” says Underwood of his difficulties. Strict laws about property ownership, coupled with ambiguous, antiquated licensing and regulations edicts in the state of Illinois, meant that attempting to open a business centered around tattooing was not only a hassle, but a big gamble as well. Then, there was the trouble with the neighbors. “It was a real us-versus-them-situation,” says Underwood about the college-prep and Catholic schools that showed up at his community hearing to voice protests and air concerns that the shop would bring violence and miscreants into the neighborhood. But what arose from the fight was an establishment devoid of any arrogance. “Tattooing is for the masses,” Underwood says. “This is not an elitist thing. [Some] tattoo artists are more interested in what is going to make them look great then what is going to make the customer look good. I think tattooing is about the customer, not the artist.” Although he describes himself as a “one-trick pony” specializing in traditional Americana imagery, he points out that the shop itself is known for its bold clean lines and solid color. “We can handle anything,” he says. “But that’s what we do best.”
EAT: RoSal’s Italian Cucina, 1154 W. Taylor St., 312-243-2357. You’re in Little Italy, so you might as well chow down on some authentic Sicilian cuisine. Sample RoSal’s famous frezzelle (it’s kind of like bruschetta) or gather fifteen of your closest pals and gorge yourself on a six-course “Big Night” meal.

DRINK: Little Joe’s Circle Lounge, 1041 W. Taylor St., 312-829-5888. With $6 pitchers of PBR served by a guy who will remember your name after your first visit, this is just what a neighborhood bar should be.

SPEND: Ralph’s Cigars, 1032 W. Taylor St., 312-829-0672. Stop by this cozy cigar shop and light up with one of the guys. Or, better yet, grab a box and take it home to celebrate.

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