With Chicago being such a vast booze empire, figuring out which bars are worth your time can be an undertaking. To simplify things, make it your goal to have a drink (but most likely quite a few) in each of these 50 iconic Chicago bars. It feels good to have goals, right? Your life coach would be proud.
Whether you’re shooting pool, listening to weird old men rock out during open mic night, or staring at the giant Mona Lisa on the wall or Elvis by the door, you’re going to have a good time at Innertown. Mingle with neighborhood locals while smoking butts by the bike rack outside for the full Innertown experience.
2. Burton Place
The best part about late nights are the inevitable bad decisions they bring with them. And the best bad decision you can make is a trip to Burton Place where, despite three levels of drinking space, you will DEFINITELY run into at least two people from high school. Guaranteed.
Are you the type that takes ping pong so seriously you carry around your own custom paddle? If so, Happy Village and its back ping-pong room is the place for you. If not, the spacious outdoor garden (which, for the record, is not as spacious since they constructed the tent) is one of the best things about living in Chicago. Hands down.
While Logan Square has devolved into an endlessly looping cycle of new bars and restaurants, few places are as fun or as beloved as Slippery Slope. And if you can’t pick up babes on the skee-ball court, where the hell can you?
5. Violet Hour
Impress the hell out of your date as you spot the nondescript wall which hides some of the finest cocktails in America.
Schubas is a perfectly delightful old-time Schlitz bar whose back room has just happened to host some of the best bands in Chicago for decades. You can go here and be quite content ordering Green Line on draft bellied up to the bar and chatting up locals. Or you can head in back and slam dance in your button-down. Either way works.
7. Empty Bottle
Chicago’s finest live music venue is also one of its finest hipster bars. If you’ve been here (and if you’re the type that likes to shoot pool with the dudes from Interpol), you know why.
8. Tai’s Til 4
Tai’s may be located within close proximity to the Friendly Confines, but there’s nothing friendly about the dead-eye gaze from the meatheads who pack this place. Ignoring them and managing to have a good time regardless results in a feeling of accomplishment all Chicagoans should experience.
The best reason to visit the South Loop isn’t to dial up Orange Is the New Black with your married friends in their sweet new condo. It’s Reggies, where punk bands, killer bar food, a party bus to Bears games, and the "Trainwreck" rooftop deck conspire to create a bucket list-worthy experience.
The thing about Nick’s? It’s a perfectly reasonable neighborhood bar before 2am. After 2am? All bets are off, and you best find yourself a table in this suddenly packed space unless you’re really into uncomfortable shoulder rubs with strangers. Pro tip: get there early and grab a spot in the cozy little back patio, aka the “beer garden.”
11. Moody’s Pub
Brendan Sodikoff’s recent revamp may have brought a bit more sparkle, but the old-school charms and ubiquitous red-light vibes of this standout cocktail lounge remain the neighborhood’s number one draw card for booze.
13. Green Mill
It’s one of the oldest bars in Chicago. It’s the best bar in Uptown. It’s the most iconic bar in Illinois. It’s also one of 35 things to do in Chicago before you die. So what the hell are you waiting for? An invite to the reputed secret mobster tunnels under the bar?
Nudie paintings of Palin and Blago may get all the attention, but sitting here in the middle of the day grousing about politics with grizzled old-timers is one of finest pleasures in the entire city of Chicago.
If standing in line for a comically small bathroom is on your bucket list, Estelle’s is the place to emphatically cross that one off. On the plus side? The place is so small you are practically forced to talk to people, which is actually how hookups used to happen before Tinder and Grindr. And if you score a table, consider yourself a god.
One of America’s finest cocktail bars will make a gin lover out of even the most gin-averse of clientele. Just order anything and it’ll be good. And it’ll be even better when sipped on a funky antique sofa near the window.
17. Billy Sunday
18. Barrelhouse Flat
Barrelhouse Flat stands out from its Lincoln Park brethren simply by virtue of not being terrible. But look beneath the surface and you’ll see one of Chicago’s most beautiful bars as well as one of the best places for getting smashed in the wee hours. A late-night crowd that can actually handle its booze? This you gotta see.
19. Kingston Mines
Like partying with an oddball mix of tourists, college kids, and scraggly old blues dudes? Then you’ll love Kingston Mines, where this weird mix of energy is actually one of the bar’s finest assets. If you wanted to go to any other interchangeable bar, you’d go almost anywhere else in the neighborhood.
Underbar gave us all quite a scare by announcing its closing last winter. But spring brought with it the return of Chicago’s finest late-night institution. Have people here had a few too many? Of course. Are they puking on your shoes and trying to fight you? No. And therein lies the difference.
21. The Owl
For a neighborhood as bar-heavy as Logan Square, its late-night options are somewhat limited. And a trip to the Owl after hours (where you’ll bask in the glory of its life-giving fountain) is like discovering the entire neighborhood in one place. So yeah, there’s gonna be a lot of flannel.
Everyone loves the Hideout. And seriously, what’s not to love? Understated, fun, and full of life, this place is about as Chicago as they come. Check out live bands, party in the parking lot during the Hideout Block Party, or just chill in the front room making friends with strangers. It’s all good.
aliveOne is a rite of passage for any self-respecting Chicagoan. The city’s finest live music jukebox, alarmingly fun live shows in the back room, and an always-a-good-time, up-for-anything young crowd of 20-somethings make it the kind of place that old dudes in their 30s can’t resist either.
If the mussels and frites is a dish to eat before you die, then surely the bar itself (which just so happens to be one of America’s finest beer bars) is somewhere to drink before you die, right? That’s just logic.
So you’ve danced at late-night bars. Ever dance in a late-night chain link fenced-in dancing cage? If not, you’ve obviously never been to Exit. Stop by on the third Thursday of the month for one of Chicago’s craziest parties. Yes, it involves blacklights and body paint.
26. Alice’s Lounge
Karaoke 'til 4am. We repeat: karaoke 'til 4am. What more do you need to know?
While not quite as heralded as its big brother Hopleaf, Simon’s keeps the vibe fun and low-key with a neon sign of a fish drinking a martini, Schlitz cans, and plenty of Viking paraphernalia. Plus Al Capone was rumored to supply this Swedish stalwart with bootlegger whiskey during Prohibition, so that’s something.
28. Map Room
Love to show off your knowledge of the location of Kyrgyzstan while drinking with your buddies? Love thumbing through old copies of National Geographic to spot nudie pics? Come to think of it, both of these activities would make decent drinking games.
Why would arguably the worst bar in Chicago be on a bucket list? If you start here, there’s nowhere to go but up.
30. Crabby Kim’s
Crabby Kim’s is a bikini bar -- which means bachelor party or no bachelor party, this is one of those things you need to do at least once in your life. Because twice would be creepy.
What can be said about Maria’s that hasn’t already been said? A top beer bar in the nation, where the Marz drafts runneth over, combined with the liquor store selections worth picking up on the way out, make it a Bridgeport institution.
Making our list of bad decision bars in Chicago is an accomplishment in itself. But you know you’re really occupying rarefied air when you are one of the worst decision bars in AMERICA. Which is a pretty big place.
33. Twisted Spoke
It's got whiskey. It's got Bloody Marys. It's got nachos, fried jalapeño poppers, and hell, it's even got rooftop brunch. But what does this biker bar have that other bars don’t? Smut and eggs. Which is exactly what it sounds like.
34. Fischman Liquors
Everyone loves a good slashie. But if you can get yours with the occasional food truck and live band in the parking lot, why the hell wouldn’t you?
With punk music blaring and walls as black as night, Delilah’s is the quintessential shot-and-a-beer type of place. And with shots coming in more than 600 varieties, you could be here a while.
36. Local Option
The mainstay beer bar with 30+ taps and 100+ bottles is your go-to source for Morning Wood -- the oak-aged coffee amber ale, not the, well, other kind. Complete your own beer pairings with a Creole-inspired pub menu that features some tasty tots.
Drinking? Fun. Drinking in a Tiki bar? More fun. Drinking in a secretive Tiki bar pouring one of the strongest drinks in the city? Bucket list-worthy fun.
As Chicago’s most jaw-dropping location for drinks and one of the city’s finest rooftop bars (also open year-round), inclusion of the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building should surprise exactly no one. Just be sure to bring plenty of pocket change.
39. Twin Anchors
One of Chicago’s oldest bars is famous as a former Sinatra hangout. And if it was good enough for Old Blue Eyes, it’s certainly good enough for you and your idiot friends.
40. Punch House
If you’re a fan of consuming strange punch concoctions in basements (and, honestly, who among us isn’t?), you’re a fan of Punch House. If the tequila- and wine-packed Space Juice isn’t enough to get you all hot and bothered, the bar’s proximity to upstairs restaurant Dusek’s and adjacent music club Thalia Hall is. It’s not a bad date idea, either.
For all the hoopla surrounding the West Loop’s food and drink scene, there are surprisingly few bars that are bucket list-worthy. While Lone Wolf and Kaiser Tiger are fine establishments in their own right, Maude’s stands out from the pack thanks to its sleek European feel, killer cocktails, and sexy vibe fit for any occasion. Like crossing bars off of bucket lists.
If you like your bar food meat-free, this is the place for you. Cap off your 606 stroll with a pair of catfish tacos, you’ve earned it.
If a band like Neon Indian is WAAAAY too mainstream for you, check the obscure band section off your bucket list at the tucked-away venue inside the Burlington.
45. Big Joe’s
Two words: turtle racing.
46. Smart Bar
A dance club for people who don’t like dance clubs, Smartbar consistently hosts the finest DJs in the city with a dance floor that is practically calling out for you to spill beer on it while attempting to “dance.” Its chill vibes and lack of pretension make it bucket list-worthy in its own right, but when bands DJ here after playing a show at Metro upstairs you’re really getting your money’s worth.
47. Schaller’s Pump
It’s Chicago’s oldest bar. It was built in 1881. It’s where Mayor Daley celebrated his 21st birthday. If that’s not Chicago bucket list-worthy, we don’t know what is.
48. Rose’s Lounge
If you’ve ever partied in your grandparents’ basement, it surely bore a striking resemblance to this funky hodgepodge of dusty old furniture, Christmas lights, gumball machines, and $2 Old Style drafts. Well, your grandma lives in Lincoln Park. Her name is Rose. And she lives upstairs. Go say hi.
49. Liar’s Club
Your choice of bar can say a lot about you. And at Liar’s Club, it says one thing and one thing only: you came to party.
50. Carol’s Pub
You haven’t experienced Chicago late night until you’re experienced the joys of a Chicago country bar late night. And unlike most late-night bars stuffed with meatheads and girls crying into their cellphones, Carol’s is a joyous place full of friendly people, good vibes, and yes, country music.
1. Innertown Pub1935 W Thomas St, Chicago
2. Burton Place1447 N Wells St, Chicago
3. Happy Village1059 N Wolcott Ave, Chicago
4. Slippery Slope2357 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
5. The Violet Hour1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago
6. Schubas Tavern3159 N Southport Ave, Chicago
7. Empty Bottle1035 N Western Ave, Chicago
8. Tai's til 43611 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
9. Reggies2105 South State, Chicago
10. Nick's Beer Garden1516 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
11. Moody's Pub5910 N Broadway St, Chicago
12. California Clipper1002 N California Ave, Chicago
13. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge4802 N Broadway St, Chicago
14. Old Town Ale House219 W North Ave, Chicago
15. Estelle's2013 W North Ave, Chicago
16. Scofflaw3201 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
17. Billy Sunday3143 W Logan Blvd, Chicago
18. Barrelhouse Flat2624 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
19. Kingston Mines2548 N Halsted St, Chicago
20. Underbar3243 N Western Ave, Chicago
21. The Owl2521 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
22. The Hideout1354 W Wabansia Ave, Chicago
23. aliveOne2683 N Halsted St, Chicago
24. Hopleaf5148 N Clark St, Chicago
25. Exit1315 W North Ave, Chicago
26. Alice's Lounge3556 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
27. Simon's Tavern5210 N Clark St, Chicago
28. The Map Room1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago
29. Beaumont2020 N Halsted St, Chicago
30. Crabby Kim's3655 N Western Ave, Chicago
31. Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar960 W 31st St, Chicago
32. The Hangge-Uppe14 W Elm St, Chicago
33. Twisted Spoke501 N Ogden Ave, Chicago
34. Fischman Liquors & Tavern4780 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
35. Delilah's2771 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
36. Local Option1102 W Webster Ave, Chicago
37. Three Dots and a Dash435 N Clark St, Chicago
38. The Signature Room at the 95th875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
39. Twin Anchors1655 N Sedgwick St, Chicago
40. Punch House1227 W 18th St, Chicago
41. Maude's Liquor Bar840 W Randolph, Chicago
42. Skylark2149 S Halsted St, Chicago
43. The Handlebar2311 W North Ave, Chicago
44. The Burlington3425 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
45. Big Joe's1818 W Foster Ave, Chicago
46. Smart Bar3730 N Clark St, Chicago
47. Schaller's Pump3714 S Halsted St, Chicago
48. Rose's Lounge2656 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
49. Liar's Club1665 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
50. Carol's Pub4659 N Clark St, Chicago
Innertown Pub is home to one of the best hipster dives in Chi. Sidle up with a cold brew, cheap 'tail, or hit some pool and darts in the back.
Burton's is a place where any folk that like to linger around cheap booze, good bar grub, and an old-school jukebox, call 'home'.
Happy Village is a neighborhood bar located in Ukrainian Village. While it may be unassuming from the outside, the interior is sleek and lively, and there’s a back room housing two ping pong tables. The backyard beer garden -- fully equipped with a pond and goldfish -- is open year-round, though let’s face it, this is Chicago. The neighborhood bar is cash only, but with daily specials, perpetually cheap beers (Old Styles for just $2… again, the Chicago thing), and free ping pong, a visit to happy village will leave your wallet happy, too.
Skee-ball, tamales, and and an expansive, crimson-lit dance floor await at this two-story club made to replace what Bonny's once was. The beer is cheap, the wine is boxed, and we promise this will probably be one of the only times you'll hear "Mother-In-Law" (a tamale-chili combo) and not be filled with dread.
The first clue that this Wicker Park cocktail lounge is different from its neighboring bars is the house rules, the first of which forbids cellphones. The second is the James Beard Award-winning cocktail program. The drink menu is organized by alcohol type, and though you'll find vodka, brandy, tequila, gin, and rum cocktails, The Violet Hour's speciality seems to be whiskey, and a sip of the eponymous Old Fashioned confirms it. This is your Chicago destination for a night of refined, expensive drinking -- there is a dress code, and it's fancy.
This American-style music venue and bar is a great place for a Friday night on the town.
Empty Bottle's got awesome live music, a photobooth, and a cheap booze selection.
This lounge is a dualing DJ/jukebox situation that seems to bring ALL of the people you once knew (Becky from Social Studies in the fourth grade still lives in Chicago?!) together into one rowdy place.
This multi-stage music venue/record store/restaurant has a great rooftop bar compete with a basketball hoop and pool table. Plus the 30 specialty bottles, 24 drafts, and 17 flat-screens with the game on TV.
Nick's is a neighborhood bar that transforms into a packed madhouse in the early hours of the morning. Get there early to snag a table on their little back patio or, as they call it, the beer garden. To avoid the madness, arrive (and leave) before the 1:30am mark to enjoy the more laid-back and friendly crowd. They often have insanely cheap drink deals, which help the conversation if you're headed to this popular late night spot to meet someone new (if you know what we mean.)
Step behind the heavy, wooden door of Moody’s Pub, and into its ski lodge-reminiscent dining room in Edgewater for cheap drinks, locally acclaimed cheeseburgers, and free peanuts. The pub, born in 1959, features two fireplaces, oak wood tables, stained glass windows, and beamed ceilings, lending to the cozy, lodge-like atmosphere. During the few weather-permitting months, an enormous and extravagant (there are waterfalls and ivy-lined brick walls) beer garden fills up fast with pub goers, but in the winter, it’s the roaring fires indoors that draw the crowds. And the cheeseburgers, pitchers of sangria, and wallet-friendly prices, of course.
California Clipper, an iconic Humboldt Park hideaway, is still as charming today as it was in the 30s. Though more recently revived by Hogsalt’s Brendan Sodikoff, California Clipper’s dim, red lighting and old-school jukebox help the decades old dive retain its vintage reputation. As well does the beverage list, which is over 20 pages long, designed with the30s in mind, and features staff favorites, punches, long drinks, shaved ice, and ice cream drinks, as well as beer, wine, and other spirits. Enjoy a bowl of punch over conversation, or grab a can of beer to and listen to the live music, multiple nights a week.
Famed for being Al Capone's favorite bar during the heyday of Prohibition, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is now known as one of the finest jazz clubs in the country. The Uptown bar hosts live performances every night of the week, and the acts range from contemporary jazz bands and quartets to swing orchestras and solo guitarists. The cover charge is usually between $4 and $15, depending on the band. Note: Green Mill is cash-only.
Old Town Ale House is an iconic Chicago dive bar whose crowd varies between comedians from nearby Second City, hipsters, tried-and-true regulars, and tourists (due in no small part to the bar's feature on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. ) The jukebox, which is usually playing jazz, rules the show, but don't be surprised if one of the bartenders puts on some opera to water down the crowd. The wall is covered with funky paintings of everyone from longtime regulars to celebrities and politicians... case in point: a portrait of a naked Sarah Palin holding a rifle.
Estelle's... where $2 beer Tuesday's live-on, and the jukebox is chock full of tunes that'll make you feel like you're back in college again.
This classy bar in Logan Square will make a gin lover out of even the most gin-averse of clientele. It's one of Chicago's top cocktail bars because it proves that the versatility of gin extends far beyond the usual G&T and because it's outfitted with antique sofas that are palatial AND comfortable. Scofflaw also serves a menu of better-than-basic small bites, and the kitchen is open until 1am daily.
This 50-seat tavern has an appropriately turn-of-the-century feel courtesy of its china-filled hutch, lantern-esque lighting, and old-timey photos of people not smiling. While small plates are served, the libations here rule.
This two-floor throwback cocktail bar in Lincoln Park churns out classic tipples like Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds and Manhattans alongside lesser-known drinks like the Jimmie Roosevelt, a blend of cognac, green chartreuse and Champagne. Choose from 60+ varieties of shaken or stirred drinks.
The moment you step inside Kingston Mines, you’ll immediately feel displaced from the bone-chilling Chicago air and at once in the warmth of Blues Country. Two stages in two separate rooms -- each with a variety of seating or standing options to enjoy the music -- feature nighty live. You can dine on a platter of New Orleans-style ribs and drink your way through a bucket of beers while someone sways to the beat over peanut shell-lined floors, cocktail in hand. It’s an iconic blues haven, but it doesn’t come for free. Purchase tickets in advance to avoid a higher entrance fee.
This bar's late night hours and eclectic crowd make it a noteworthy spot in Roscoe Village. The laid back vibe and inexpensive drinks make it worth returning to.
From the folks behind laid-back landmarks Easy Bar and Estelle's, The Owl sports a similarly dive-y vibe, with dim amber lighting, a softly curving, 40-stool'd bar, and, held over and spruced up from the previous occupants, a retro-looking waterfall, which you're sure to go chasing...with a beer!
What looks like a modest two-story house in a neighborhood full of warehouses and chain stores is actually one of Chicago's top indie performance venues. The building was originally built in the 1890s, and it's been in continuous operation as a bar (under various names) since a year after Prohibition. Now, the Hideout mostly operates as a quasi-community center that hosts everything from live music and bingo to dance parties and writing clubs.
This rite of passage bar for Chicagoans has a live music jukebox, shows in the back room and a crowd of 20-somethings who are always game for a good night.
This Andersonville beer bar is known for its rotating selection of draft beers primarily from the Midwest and Belgium. More than just a bar that serves food, Hopleaf has an outstanding menu of Belgian-inspired food like mussels from Prince Edward Island, charcuterie, and steak frites. The place is casual and laid-back, just like a neighborhood bar should be.
This Goose Island establishment is a dive bar, through and through, with dim lighting, cheap drinks and live punk rock music.
Alice’s is largely known as one of Chicagoland’s premier spots for late-night karaoke. The Avondale dive is otherwise what you’d expect -- wood-paneled walls, cheap drinks, bowls of free snack mix, and a motley crew of lady bartenders, Alice included if you’re lucky, shaking up shots for the neighborhood’s locals. If you make your way up Belmont late one Saturday evening and the door happens to be locked, don’t despair! Ring the doorbell, and keep ringing it until someone hears you… which will likely happen when there’s a break between slurred versions of “Like a Virgin” and “Africa.”
This Swedish-centric joint in Andersonville is decked in Viking swag and serves up warm winter drinks like Glögg, a hot mulled wine.
With flags and world maps decking the walls, Bucktown's The Map Room is a self-described "traveler's tavern." Appropriately so, it's a drinking destination for any beer geek passing through Chicago. Since opening in 1992, the bar has struck up deep ties in the brewing community, and the rare and varied brews on its insanely long beer list are proof of its status as a beer mecca. The Map Room takes tastings to the next level with "Beer School," a 20-plus year tradition hosted by various brewmasters that will teach you everything you need to know about beer.
Beaumont's a full-on dive that's got a DJ, complete booze-access, and a very loud clientele that'll make you happy you're just "staying for one round".
The beers at this dive bar are slung by bikini-clad women, making it an ideal stop for a bachelor party or, you know, you and your buds on an average weekend.
Maria's is an awesome dive bar with eclectic selections and friendly staff.
Getting lost in a bar may never have been so fun. As a Chicago staple for more than 30yrs, this massive dual-level dance haven offers five differently themed bars, three dance floors, and a variety of '50s through '80s rock and disco on one floor and modern hits on another. With drink specials galore and a pair of all-request DJs, we dare you not to break a sweat at the Hangge-Uppe.
In case the exterior motorcycle art and bike handlebars on the front door didn't tip you off, Twisted Spoke is a biker bar. The West Town hangout is beloved by Chicagoans of all stripes thanks to a massive selection of whiskey and beer, legendary Bloody Mary menu, rooftop garden, and sinister bites like barbecue nachos and fried jalapeño poppers. Of all the things that make Twisted Spoke stand out though, it's the weekly Saturday night "Smut and Eggs," when you can order breakfast food and watch porn. Um.
Most well known for its huge warehouse of rare craft brews, this slashie is also noteworthy for its bi-monthly food trucks outside (including the in-house Chi Town Chow Down, formerly Wagyu Wagon) and events in the parking lot with live bands. It remains both a neighborhood staple and a destination for beer geeks, especially because Fischman Liquors throws ticketed events that feel like amazing mini-beer fests (because that's basically what they are). No matter when you visit, come prepared to spend more time than you anticipated and drop some money in the bottle shop on some selections you just couldn't bear to go home without.
Delilah’s is a truly remarkable place disguised by the facade of a dreary, punk rock dive. Monday through Saturday, it’s an above-average Lincoln Park hangout with some 200 beers, 750 whiskeys, music, and a rotating art gallery featuring local artists. But the real magic happens on Sundays during football season, when Buffalo fans unite in the narrow dive to shout at TVs showing their beloved Bills. This is no average football viewing, this is serious -- I’m talking tears, dolphins engulfed in flames during Miami match-ups, and bear hugs in victories and losses alike. With every touchdown, a devoted fan buys a round of shots for the bar, and every surface is constantly covered in cans of Labatt Blue. Game days at Delilah’s are not for fair weather Bills (or Sabres) fans, nor for anyone shouting anything other than “Let’s Go Buffalo!”
The reverberating heavy metal and serious brew selection here will make you completely forget that just before you entered, you saw a nice-looking couple walking their French bulldog down a sleepy, tree-lined street in Lincoln Park. If you can’t find something you like on draft (highly unlikely), there’s also an impressive bottle selection (the rarer, large-format options included). Really, though, you’d be remiss not to sample at least one of the house-branded options they make at other Midwest breweries (the small dive's big personality doesn't leave enough room for fermentation tanks).
Three Dots and a Dash is a tiki-themed speakeasy in the back of Bub City that's pouring out crazy tropical cocktails in vessels like glass skulls and treasure chests.
This fancy schmancy bar and restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center boasts panoramic city views through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. The Signature Room is probably Chicago's most jaw-dropping location for drinks, but beware: the prices are steep. It doesn't really matter what you order -- be it a martini and high-end tater tots or champagne and a seafood tower because after all, you're there for the ambience.
You'll feel like a pair of Twin Anchors after you leave this cozy Old Town bar/restaurant, stuffed with ribs, chicken, chili, and whatever else you chose to soak up their awesome selection of beers.
Located underneath Thalia Hall, Punch House is Pilsen’s underground, 70s-inspired basement pub specializing in… well, punch. With eight options on draft -- including classics like Milk Punch and Pisco Punch, and contemporary concoctions -- you can enjoy any one of them in a single-serving glass, in sno-cone form, in a carafe, or in a large-format bowl for groups. While punch is the real draw, they have an abbreviated list of craft cocktails, and a more extensive list of beer and wine for those less punch-inclined.
A second installment from the Gilt Bar folks, Maude's is a two-level gastro-tavern that feels like a lived-in Parisian dive, with mismatched chandeliers, candles in vintage jars, and weathered, "electric blue" metal chairs, fortunately the type of electri
Not only does this dive bar have some of the best tater tots in the area and an awesome beer list -- it's got a photo booth too. Warning: cash only.
This hipster-approved restaurant and bar in Wicker Park serves a vegan and vegetarian menu of American classics. Breakfast is served daily until 3pm (don't worry, there are plenty of egg dishes) but expect seitan sausage instead of bacon. The rest of the menu (it serves lunch and dinner too) is filled with meat-free bar bites like fried avocado tacos, chili cheese fries (available with vegan queso), soy-based sloppy Joes, all of which taste especially good when paired with a drink in the beer garden.
This bar in Logan Square is one of Chicago's most authentic of hipster bars, thanks to obscure bands playing every night and an insider’s vibe that makes you feel like this is where they shoot indie rock videos (which they totally do...)
So you don’t put ketchup on your Chicago dogs and you’ve jumped into Lake Michigan in polar temperatures, and maybe you even actually enjoy drinking Old Style, but if you’ve never partaken in turtle racing at Big Joe’s dive bar on Foster Ave., you’re not really a true Chicagoan. Get to the Lincoln Square “tracks” early on Fridays, get in line for a chance to race the turtle of their choice, and let the reptilian race begin! If your turtle wins, you get a Big Joe’s t-shirt. If your turtle loses, you still get a free drink. Turtle racing, cheap (if not free) drinks, and t-shirts? Win,win,win.
Smart Bar has a great sound system, as well as frequent DJs and awesome drinks.
In continuous operation since 1881, Schaller's Pump is Chicago's oldest bar. A former speakeasy, the Bridgeport tavern changed ownership at the end of Prohibition when George Schaller bought it and changed the name to what it is now, a play on "Schiller's pump," a device used to pump beer between breweries. The beer bar is a regular hangout for an unusual mix of local politicians and White Sox fans due to it being across the street from the district's Democratic Party headquarters and a short walk from U.S. Cellular Field.
Through the screen door of Rose’s Lounge in Lincoln Park, you’ll find mismatched lounge chairs, couches, and dining room table sets, wood-paneled walls, and christmas lights year-round for a pop of light and color in an otherwise musty, basement-reminiscent dive bar. It’s been run by a woman named Rose since the late 70s, which seems to be the last time the bar’s interior was designed. The mugs are frosted for your pints of Old Style, which run for just a couple dollars, and is the perfect beverage to pair with a game of billiards.
Liar's Club is the best bar in all of Chicagoland, in my humble opinion. Should you find yourself wandering near the intersection of Clybourn and Fullerton, drop into the dark dive behind the steel door and treat yourself to a night of cheap drinks, dancing... and ghosts. It's (objectively) haunted by the ghosts of those murdered on premises, which is ironic because the '50s-style space looks like a cross between a butcher shop and an asylum (padded walls, metal doors and ceilings, black carpeted floors). But in the best way! In the back, the tiny dance floor is overflowing, lights flashing, disco ball spinning, and up a rickety set of wooden stairs is a pinball machine, but it's also allegedly where the murders took place... take it or leave it.