Whether you're with a high school buddy who's hellbent on partying ("Sorry I party, bro!") or an old sorority sister who wants to "just dance like we used to, Kathleen!", at some point, you're likely to find yourself -- totally against your will -- in Wrigleyville on a Saturday night.
As you tread through Chicago's public urinal overflowing with short-fused meatheads, Taylor Swift remixes, and $7 beer "specials", know that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. There are, in fact, seven bars around Wrigley that are decidedly douche-free. Here's the list...
Nisei Lounge (click here for address and info)
Nisei (pronounced “knee-say”) has been open since 1951, and just like wine, whiskey, and other dive bars, it's aged well. This Malort haven has a dartboard you can actually play darts on, and a bar that you can manage to order a drink at on a crowded Saturday night without fear of walking into a mist of body spray.
The Gingerman Tavern (click here for address and info)
Recently bought by Joe Shanahan (who also owns The Metro next door), The Gingerman is an eclectic oasis in a desert of douche. The atmosphere is laid back, the staff is friendly, and the pool tables are almost always running parallel to the ground. The old-school juke box is well-stocked, so you can listen to Springsteen instead of listening to Eric Church sing about listening to Springsteen.
Lucky’s Sandwich Company (click here for address and info)
The sandwiches here are so huge, that everyone is too full to dance on top of the tables. Escaping the train-wrecks on Clark St and heading into Lucky’s is a little like falling through Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, only instead of finding the train to Hogwarts, you find easy-drinking beers and a magical sandwich stuffed with slaw, fries, and all sorts of hot meats.
Guthrie’s Tavern (click here for address and info)
Well off the bro-levard on Addison, Guthrie’s has a prime selection of 75 craft brews, ranging from locals at Spiteful Brewing to beers brewed by Trappist monks. There’s also an impressive wall of board games (drinking + Jenga!), and ceiling tiles with some very weird paintings.
Goose Island Wrigleyville (click here for address and info)
At least your friends will be debating which tasty Goose Island beer to get at this brewpub, instead of which borderline-hate speech to scream from the party trolley. You can order a Green Line straight from the source, or try the Stilton burger (with garlic cloves and German mustard on pumpernickel) with a house root beer.
L & L Tavern (click here for address and info)
Even though it's just a 10 minute walk from Wrigley Field, L & L Tavern feels like it’s miles away. If you love Irish whiskey and hate bright lights, this place is for you. Back when it was the Columbia Tavern, the bar was reportedly a haunt for Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy. But hey, it’s better than having to drink next to the country bros at Houndstooth, right?
Flaco’s Tacos (click here for address and info)
While Flaco’s leans more toward “not terrible” than “great”, the food gets the job done and the bar has decent drink specials. So until Taco Bell starts serving Malort, it's the most viable taco spot near Wrigley where you can also tie one on.
Brian McGovern is a freelance writer and comedian. He almost always wears pants. Follow him @brianmcgo.
1. Nisei Lounge3439 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
2. Lucky's Sandwich Co.3472 N Clark St, Chicago
3. L&L Tavern3207 N Clark St, Chicago
4. Flaco's Tacos3550 N Clark, Chicago
5. Goose Island Wrigleyville3535 N Clark St, Chicago
6. Guthrie's Tavern1300 W Addison St, Chicago
7. The Gingerman Tavern3740 N Clark St, Chicago
Pronounced “knee-say”, this Wrigleyville bar has been open since 1951 and like a typical dive bar, it has cheap drinks and plenty of bar games to pass the time.
Lucky's serves up Pittsburgh-style sandos that'll fill ya up, especially if you get a side of their deep-fried hunks of Provolone. Attempt the Lucky’s Challenge, because why opt for just one Pittsburgh-style hulk sandwich with fries and coleslaw in it when you could have THREE stacked with different kinds of deli meats? Devour all overstuffed sandwiches within an hour, and all of 'em are on the house and your pretty mug will live on wall of fame style, which is just as cool as doing it for Man v. Food, right?
L & L is a dive bar situation that's doling out low-price booze and sporting an awesome jukebox.
This Wrigleyville drinkery will quench your thirst with quality specials, and the food also gets the job done with a variety of tasty Mexi-treats on hand, making it the most viable taco spot near Wrigley.
Located not far from the ball park, you can pull up a seat at this drinkery and order a Green Line straight from the source, or try some tasty eats like the Stilton burger (with garlic cloves and German mustard on pumpernickel).
A Great Lakes draft and a side of Scrabble. That's what this tavern specializes in: beer, wine and board games. In the summer, a seat out on the back patio will allow you to enjoy the breeze while waiting for the next round of Apples-to-Apples while winter time may find you staring at the ceiling art in search of your next play for Scrabble.
Unlike its neighboring bars on North Clark St., and despite being located in the shadow cast by Wrigley Field, GMan Tavern is not a sports bar. It’s a cash-only dive with a serious beer selection, a back room with pool tables and board games, and when it’s on, the lone TV at the bar airs the local news. GMan is a solid spot to shoot pool and drink beer -- their list features over 100 labels -- and avoid America’s pastime in the heart of it all.