The Best Bars for Single Mingling in Chicago
Remember when Tinder was actually good? Of course not. While online dating makes some parts of meeting people easier, it also means creepazoids sending you horrific all-caps messages when you don’t respond within seconds. Luckily, there is another way: actually going to a place where IRL human beings congregate to strike up conversations with other IRL human beings.
But just because a bar is popular doesn’t mean it’s a good place to meet your next life partner (or make out partner, either way!). Luckily, we’re here to help. Using metrics like price, volume level, activities offered, and general vibe, we’ve created a list of Chicago-area bars that are mathematically proven to give you the highest chance of meeting someone to binge-watch The Office with in your pajamas. Or, you know, whatever it is you're looking for.
Reasonable prices, kitschy decor, and an intimate downstairs speakeasy
In a whirling miasma of River North bars that charge $17 for an “elevated” 7 and 7 and cater exclusively to recent business school graduates, The Green Door Tavern is a breath of fresh air. A full menu, reasonable drink prices, and an open floor plan make the bar a safe, spacious haven for folks to meet and mingle. After you meet someone at the bar, head downstairs to The Drifter, a speakeasy that, between its live burlesque performances, tarot card-inspired drink menu, and intimate decor, is probably the best date spot in the city.
You'll want to dance here, even if you're not the dancing kind
Meeting people at a live music venue can be tricky, especially when the bar area is relatively small. Though The Hideout falls into this category, it’s also one of the least intimidating spots in the city to just go and dance before or after a show. The vibe is kind of like going to a house concert your cooler friend told you about, from the tables out front, to the porch that overlooks the street. Come for the music (or the comedy, or the podcast taping), stay because you’ve met somebody.
Dive with the perfect conversation starters: trivia, board games, and karaoke
Though it's only one of a billion dive bars along its section of Broadway, Friar Tuck is far and away the best spot along that strip to meet someone new. Uniquely positioned within walking distance from Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, and Boystown, the clientele is varied enough that no matter what you’re looking for in a partner, you’re likely to find it there. Plus, there are events every night of the week tailor-made for meet-cute opportunities, like board game and video game nights on Mondays, trivia on Tuesdays, and karaoke on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
The most unique arcade bar in the city, complete with movie nights
No, Logan Arcade doesn’t have the name recognition of the city’s more popular arcade-bar chains, but if you’re searching for your pinball wizard, look no further. The space is large and quiet enough that it’s comfortable and easy to start up a conversation, and the bar’s huge collection of obscure and imported arcade cabinets are tailor-made for bonding over. That’s not even mentioning events like movie Mondays and magic Wednesdays. Looking for a quick way to make a new connection? Saunter over to the Killer Queen machine and politely ask someone to explain it to you.
Live music performances and the world's largest whiskey collection
Untitled isn’t the only bar that’s trading on a gilded-age-revival aesthetic, but it’s one of the few that does it right. Not only does the bar feature the world’s(!) largest(!!) whiskey collection (!!!), there are also live events every day of the week, from blues to burlesque, from soul to rhythm & blues. Wear that fancy outfit you save for special occasions.
Dive bar that's always packed with a talkative crowd
If you’re looking to bag yourself the next Tina Fey or Stephen Colbert, you should be making Old Town Ale House a part of your regular bar-hopping. A traditional after-show hangout both for folks taking classes at Second City and folks who perform there, Old Town Ale House is an extrovert’s dream. Just make sure you’re not too engrossed in your new beau to take note of the *ahem* unique art on the walls.
Legendary music venue with a punk vibe
There’s this really interesting stretch of Belmont Avenue between Damen and Leavitt where you can find tons of tattoo parlors, custom guitar shops, open-late Mexican restaurants, and liquor stores. The crowning jewel of this Roscoe Village punk oasis is undoubtedly Beat Kitchen. Of course, it’s a legendary music venue that caters primarily to the hardcore and punk crowd, but it’s also a great bar in its own right. Finish sewing those patches onto your denim vest and get on out there.
Dance club, skee-ball lounge, dive bar, speakeasy, and more
Slippery Slope might be the most unique, odd bar in the city. It is, at once, a packed dance club, a skee-ball lounge, a dive bar, and an intimate upstairs speakeasy. This might be what makes it such a gathering space for folks trying to meet someone new. Feeling extroverted? Swing by on a weekend and leave your heart on the dance floor for someone else to find. Social anxiety taking over? Drop by on a Monday with a buddy and play skee-ball with them until someone else wants to play. Strike up a conversation, and if sparks fly, go upstairs to the cocktail lounge and enjoy a classic Ramos gin fizz.
Sake, private karaoke, and an incredible happy hour
Tucked between a couple towering office buildings on Ontario street sits Murasaki Sake Lounge, one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. Though they offer private karaoke for groups, the front bar is an incredible place to meet someone after work, or really at any other time. The menu of otsumami (Japanese small plates) is extensive, as is the selection of whiskey, sake, and shochu. Van Paugam spins Japanese city pop classics every third Saturday night, so post up at the bar and strike up a conversation.
Bright, sunny, spacious atmosphere perfect for conversation
Lakeview East’s DryHop was also a contender, but its cousin to the west gets the nod thanks to the spacious and social atmosphere. That said, since it’s owned by the good folks behind DryHop, you can expect a wide, rotating selection of brewed-in-house beers sold at reasonable prices, with delicious food to back it up. Set against the backdrop of the bustling Southport shopping corridor, it’s a spot that really seems to encourage socializing at the bar.
A welcoming scene before and after killer concerts
Go to Schubas, any night of the week. Spend, like, $20 and see a concert put on by an artist that’s going to be headlining a show at The Metro in three months. Hang out afterwards, and order a Chicago Handshake at the bar as people trickle out of the show. Ask someone how they liked the concert.
Outdoor activities like curling and bocce year-round
If you’ve visited Kaiser Tiger before, you already know that its claim to fame is that it’s one of the only spots in the city to offer ice sheet curling to the public, as well as bocce in the summer months. That’s enough to make Kaiser Tiger a popular spot for people looking to try something new for the first time, which in turn makes it a great spot to try and meet folks.
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