Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side) - 2011
According to legend, the large neon sign with the martini glass in front of Luna Cafe once doubled as a cryptic invitation for the johns who enjoyed cruising Route 66 in search of hookers. In the mid-1900s, the building's basement served as an illegal gambling outfit and the upstairs floor was a brothel; when a girl was available, the bar owners would light up the neon cherry inside the martini glass, beckoning randy travelers inside. These days the neon cherry is broken, though Luna Café's owner, Larry "Rooster" Wofford, intends to fix the sign by the end of the year. (Don't get too excited: Only the cherry's coming back, not the hookers.) Until then, there are plenty of other reasons to venture out to this unique spot, located in Mitchell, a couple miles north of Granite City. Step inside and hear Roy Orbison playing on the juke, play pool or hit the slot machines with a few locals (don't expect large groups of people here) and witness every square inch of wall covered with busted-up license plates, 1980s bumper stickers and old photos of Al Capone, who used the bar as a safe house. Asked why they call him Rooster, Wofford, who used to be a pipefitter for Granite City Steel, says: "I chased women in bars like a rooster in a barnyard. I didn't want to miss nothin'." You can hear those stories and more at Luna Cafe.