Food & Drink

The 12 best Illinois bars NOT in Chicago

Published On 07/23/2014 Published On 07/23/2014
Matt Lynch
Hangar 9
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1. The Blind Pig Co 120 N Walnut St, Champaign, IL 61820

The Blind Pig is well known in the Champaign area, thanks to some fine brewing and a draft list with Founders Rubaeus, Deschutes Hop In The Dark, and Stone Cali-Belgique.

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2. Richard's On Main 311 Main St, Peoria, IL 61602

This brick basement is a locals’ paradis, thanks to cheap PBR and a breathalyzer on the wall.

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3. Hangar 9 511 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901

This bi-level bar is known for top-flight local rock and bluegrass bands, but if you’re not up to that, you can have a few craft brews in the beer garden.

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4. Rock Island Public House 13328 Olde Western Ave, Blue Island, IL 60406

Named after the Rock Island Railroad -- its tracks still running through the city -- Rock Island Public House is Blue Island’s craft beer bar with a mission to support small, local businesses. Founded in 2012, Rock Island has 16 rotating taps featuring local brews (including one-offs and rare pours you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere), a spirits list that's chock-full of locally crafted options (Malort included), an in-house art gallery featuring the works of various local artists, and the selection of pinball machines rotates nearly as much as the beer taps to ensure the local patrons have a variety of options to feed their arcade fix.

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5. Palmer Place 56 S La Grange Rd, La Grange, IL 60525

Known locally as Palmer's, this beer joint has nearly 40 brews on tap and more than 300 bottles of fine American crafts, German, and Belgian brews. And they also feature a three-tiered patio to enjoy them on in nice weather.

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6. Firkin 515 N Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, IL 60048

With a thoughtfully curated, 30-strong tap list deep with up-and-comers like Destihl, Against The Grain, and Tighthead, Firkin has cemented its spot as the beer geek go-to on the North Shore, and a worthy destination from just about anywhere.

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7. Meier's Tavern 235 E Lake Ave, Glenview, IL 60025

A farmhouse-turned-speakeasy-turned-legit tavern when the Meier family purchased it at the tail-end of Prohibition, Meier's is the kind of timeless dive every town should have, with cheap booze, greasy burgers, no credit cards, and no frills, whatsoever.

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8. The Foundry 85 Executive Dr, Aurora, IL 60504

This huge, airy Aurora sports haven is home to a ton of cheap brew deals and deliciously greasy bar grub.

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9. Fast Eddie’s Bon Air 1530 E 4th St Alton, Alton, IL 62002

On the cusp of St. Louis territory is this Alton dive bar, serving up seriously reminiscent oddities and cheap brews.

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10. The Cafe 8 W Side Sq, Macomb, IL 61455

Catch some local music, enjoy the company of friendly local patrons, or find yourself a bartender and order a Jamaican Quaalude at The Cafe in Macomb.

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11. Liquid Blues 126 N Benton St, Woodstock, IL 60098

A flashback to the 60s, Liquid Blues is like a psychedelic haven, filled with kitschy decor like lava lamps, beaded curtains, and tie dye tapestries (and it’s located in Woodstock… Illinois, you know, like where Bill Murray filmed Groundhog Day?). The dive bar is home to live music, over 50 beers -- 14 on tap -- fish fry Fridays, steak Saturdays, and open jam Wednesdays. And Bill Murray has been known to drop by when he’s in the area; if you’re lucky, you might just get to drink a beer with Bill.

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12. Durty Nellie's 180 N Smith St, Palatine, IL 60067

Not only will you find both local and national acts headlining at this suburban music oasis, but you can find fantastic things to eat and drink, like beer-steamed mussels and Three Floyd’s Gumballhead on tap.