Chicago has over 2,000 Bars, Pubs, Taverns or Nightclubs.Let that soak in for a second.
This stat builds a good case for exploring Chicago's nightlife. It's time to get out there and drink at new places in the city.
In 2014 I made a commitment to start visiting new bars. It's been a tough life, but I do this extensive research for you. For you! Below you'll find some great suggestions to try out. This list features solid favorites, old dive bars, and pubs that feature excellent beer gardens. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a life-long Chicago resident, this list is worth studying.
Note: This list ignores bars located in Chicago's Loop, West Loop, River North and Gold Coast neighborhoods (as well as some other areas I've yet to fully explore). The above four areas are omitted because I believe those areas are tainted by tourism, and quite frankly, don't need the exposure.
Diag Bar & Grill (2856 N. Southport - Lakeview)My inclusion of Diag Bar & Grill on this list is with great bias. Located at Southport and George, Diag is one block from my house. I consider this my "home bar". Aside from it's proximity from my house, Diag is featured here for the outstanding food menu (with legendary Honey Mustard sauce), beer selection (don't forget Fishbowls), and patio/beer garden with full bar outside. The downside? When the Michigan Wolverines are playing, you're stuck watching them play, among a varying level of annoyingly proud UM Alumni.
Night to Go? Any. Consider a weekend day drinking affair on the patio during Football season.
Read more after the jump...
Guthrie's Tavern (1300 W. Addison - Wrigleyville)Located in Wrigleyville, near the home of the struggling Cubs and twenty-something crowd, you'll find this hidden gem on Addison. Guthrie's Tavern is the place to be competitive with your friends (or on a date), as 40+ board games are available for your enjoyment. In addition to the board games, they feature an excellent craft beer list and allow you to place an order of food from nearby restaurants!
Night to Go? Midweek. Test your Tinder/Match.com date with a game of "Guess Who?" or "Sorry!". If s/he thinks it's too childish, maybe keep searching.
Happy Village (1059 N. Wolcott - Ukrainian Village)A dive bar, mixed with an outstanding outdoor area and Chicago's Ping Pong Society? Yep. Whoops, I meant "Table Tennis". Happy Village is an excellent "off the beaten path" choice if you're looking for cheap beer, a casual outdoor hangout, or if you're tempted to play some semi-pro table tennis players.
Night to Go? Thursday. Go on a night where plenty of Table Tennis will be happening, so you can gauge your level of skill. On your second visit, try your hand at Ping Pong with the experts.
|Table Tennis Hall at Happy Village!|
Lottie's Pub (1925 W. Cortland - Bucktown)It's tough to find a better local bar in the area. Lottie's is perfect to entertain out of towners (show them a real Chicago bar), visit after an intramural event, or just to enjoy a night out. Additionally, they have stellar bar food (Buffalo Chicken Sliders?!?), a fun and engaging staff, and decent drink specials.
Night to Go? Friday or Saturday night. The crowd is lively and the beer flows like wine!
|A Packed Lottie's Evening!|
Louie's Pub (1659 W. North - Wicker Park)With a bevvy of Karaoke bars in Chicago, Louie's Pub gets my vote for "Best Karaoke Bar" in Chicago. As an avid crooner and lead vocalist (I'm terrible at singing), my opinion counts. Hell, LP didn't even make the list from the link above. I call shenanigans!
Louie's tops my list because they don't have a stage (more intimate singing), have fantastic PBR and Shot deals, and (arguably) some of the best free popcorn in Chicago. Tip: Tipping your Karaoke Leader is encouraged, much like your bartender.
Night to Go? Avoid a singing queue on a weekday, sing for 100+ people on the weekends. Choose wisely.
|Can't Miss this Gem on North Ave.|
River Shannon (425 W. Armitage - Lincoln Park)Tough to beat out River Shannon in Lincoln Park (although Stanley's Kitchen & Tap comes verrry close, luckily they're 3 doors down from each other). River Shannon features a "No Bullshit" Irish Bar experience. Beer, shots (Read: Jameson), music and friendly bartenders. My crew makes it a point to stop here every St. Patrick's Day, which I've highlighted here.
Night to Go? Your choice. River Shannon is good any night of the week!
|Simple Irish Bar. River Shannon.|
Simon's Tavern (5210 N. Clark - Andersonville)Venture out of your comfort zone up to Andersonville and check out a staple of the Swedish community for 80+ years! Simon's Tavern (no website, awesome) is the truth. Plenty of Scandinavian nostalgia, warm Glogg in the Winter, and good ole-fashioned conversation (remember that?) is to be had at Simon's. Not to mention, this place was worthy enough for Anthony Bourdain to feature on his show "The Layover". Legit.
Night to Go? Screw the night, go during the day and have a real conversation with your local bartender.
|An Original Gangster on the Chicago Bar Scene|
Carol's Pub (4659 N. Clark - Uptown)Perhaps the truest country/dive/karaoke/live music bar in Chicago. Carol's Pub (no website, great write-up here) is a sight to be experienced. I've stepped foot in this establishment a handful of times, never before midnight, so I'm unable to comment on the "Honky Tonk" ambiance it garners from Yelp reviews. I can only tell you that it's definitely worth the cover and long cab ride north to this awesome relic.
|Carol's Pub. Y'all.|
Night to Go? Late night. Make this your first late night option, above Big City Tap and Trace.
There you have it! Eight awesome bars to check out in Chicago. Avoid the tourist traps and see more of our beautiful city!!!!