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A hand over a bar holding a cocktail.
Osito’s Tap has some of the best drinks in the city.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The 28 Essential Bars in Chicago

Bars are back, Chicago

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Osito’s Tap has some of the best drinks in the city.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bars are roaring once again in Chicago, a city with rich tavern history where a patron sipping a can of Old Style on Friday can be seen sipping a complex cocktail with an infused spirit on Saturday. Tavern culture is one of many components that makes Chicago unique. Making friends while sipping on a beer or cocktail at a bar is a treasured practice, one that everyone was deprived of during the last year.

What makes a bar essential will always remain in the eyes of the beholder. With this difficult mission, below is Eater Chicago’s list of the most essential bars in the city. While Chicagoans cherish their local bars, these are bars worth venturing to outside one’s comfort zone. It’s more than OK to visit someone else’s neighborhood pub for a night.

Note: Brewery taprooms aren’t a part of this list.

Is your favorite not on the list? Email chicago@eater.com or leave a comment and state your case.

As of June 11, Chicago restaurants have fully reopened and the city has lifted restrictions on capacity, masking, and social distancing. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following safety guidelines. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is available here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Hopleaf Bar

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5148 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-9851
Visit Website

Hopleaf has made Andersonville a destination with good Belgian-style pub food and great beer — and no TVs. Owner Michael Roper offers a craft beer selection great enough to satisfy any beer nerd, but the interiors are comfortable enough to make any patron happy.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

2. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

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4802 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-5552
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Famous for being Al Capone's former stomping grounds — complete with legendary subterranean pathways where the infamous mob boss used to run booze — the Green Mill in Uptown is a classic tavern for music and a stiff drink. They don’t make bars like this anymore with a rich interior that echoes the venue’s past. The bar has opened up its window, allowing patrons to sit on the sidewalk for outdoor seating.

3. Carol's Pub

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4659 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 754-8000
Visit Website

After a two-year slumber, Carol’s Pub, returned to Uptown with a new owner, fresh interiors, and a bonafide food menu. The refresh proved controversial for the bar that continues to host live music. The bar still retains much of its charm, minus some of the smoke damage from years and years of cigarettes. Customers still dance the night away until 5 a.m. on Saturdays as live country bands provide the soundtrack.

Carol’s Pub
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

4. Long Room Chicago

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1612 W Irving Park Rd #1
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 665-4500
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The Long Room doesn’t have the most creative name — it’s literally a long, narrow room along Irving Park. But owner Jason Burrell and his team have creative that type of tavern where the good times are never in short supply. It wasn’t possible for this unique space to operate during COVID-19, the bar was too small. But with management plotting to reopen soon, look for a great beer list, classic cocktails, and warm service.

5. Nisei Lounge

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3439 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-0557
Visit Website

Wrigleyville can be daunting during the summer with tourists and baseball fans crowding Clark Street making parking an impossible mission. Locals take the Red Line and stay away from the main drag, looking for shelter at bar like Nisei Lounge, which has spent nearly seven decades in the shadow of Wrigley. They were the first dive bar to be on Tock, the reservation system used by fine dining restaurants. Don’t let that association fool you — the bartenders service up shots, beers, and this might be the best place to enjoy malört. There are pool tables, friendly faces, and a mix of people who care about baseball and those who couldn’t care less.

6. Kingston Mines

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2548 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 477-4646
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There are few reminders left of Chicago's legendary blues scene, with Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park perhaps the best. Open until at least 4 a.m. every night, stop by with a group of friends, park at the communal tables or stand by the stage, and listen to Chicago musical history while downing beers and Southern food.

7. Logan Arcade

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2532 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 235-5030
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Arguably the best of the city's arcade bars stands in Logan Square at the corner of Western and Fullerton. The converted hardware store sports an eclectic craft beer selection. The gaming aspect isn't an afterthought. There's an excellent mix of vintage cabinets, as well as newer games like Killer Queen.

8. Map Room

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1949 N Hoyne Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-9351
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There was a time when Guinness was the only option for a craft beer option in a town with draft handles dominated by big beer companies. The Map Room, when it opened in 1992, was a refreshing change. With a “traveler theme” — the shelves are full of travel magazines like National Geographic, the beer list includes selections from all over the world. As American breweries gained traction, management weaved local options in as well. 

9. Scofflaw

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3201 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-9700
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Originally known for its gin focus, Scofflaw was at the forefront of the current Logan Square bar boom for a variety of reasons: fantastic cocktails at affordable prices, standout upscale bar food, and great crowds. Don’t forget about those late-night cookies.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

10. The Hideout

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1354 W Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 227-4433
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A den to counter culture, the Hideout is hidden between Lincoln Park and Bucktown in the area what developers are calling the Elston Industrial Corridor. It’s a civic-minded bar with a performance venue for concerts, stand-up comics, and newsy talk shows. Late night, find 20-something hipsters dancing the night away. Earlier, find the colorful, older customers lamenting the times when they had youth on their sides. Beer and simple drinks reign here as ownership hopes the looming Lincoln Yards development won’t kill tradition.

The Hideout is a performance venue that goes beyond just a simple bar.
The Hideout [Official Photo]

11. Old Town Ale House

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219 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 944-7020
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This late-night den was a favorite of the late Anthony Bourdain who filmed several TV segments here as it’s the antithesis of many of the yuppie Old Town bars around the corner on Wells. The dive sports inappropriate paintings of Chicago history, including depictions of incarcerated ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and is a destination for many, drawing a diverse group of patrons from all walks of life. Keep the drink orders simple.

A character leaning on a light pole in front of a bar.
Old Town Ale House’s Bruce Elliot in front of his bar.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

12. The Violet Hour

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1520 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 252-1500
Visit Website

This hidden drinking destination is widely credited with kicking off the mixology renaissance in Chicago and is a must-visit for Windy City newbies. It thrives on quiet sophistication (do read the house rules), a fantastic ever-changing menu, and is a breeding ground for local talent. Look for a massive mural outside — there's no sign — as well as a line on the sidewalk.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

13. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

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954 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 292-1616
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Rootstock in Humboldt Park has been on the cutting edge for wine in Chicago, providing a unique and intimate atmosphere. No matter if you’re craving a natural wine, Austrian, or something with bubbles, this space is great for dates and get togethers. It’s also got an underrated burger.

14. Sportsman's Club

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948 Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(872) 206-8054
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Sportsman's Club is a template for a new wave of reborn neighborhood dive bars with cocktails and beer selections that rival some of the country's best. Do take a shot from the in-house amaro machine while chatting up the chef and industry crowd, or play a game of chess on the boards built into the tables, or relax on the expansive backyard patio.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

15. Three Dots and a Dash

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435 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 610-4220
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Before Lost Lake became the apple of Chicago’s eye, bartender Paul McGee worked with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises on this basement tiki bar where patrons enter through a River North alley. Tropical vibes are prevalent, even in the middle of a frigid winter day. The bar is a popular after-work stop in Downtown Chicago, and there’s also a bar within the bar for a more intimate experience. Unlike Lost Lake, LEYE hasn’t addressed tiki’s complicated past, as it’s still known as a “speakeasy tiki bar.”

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

16. The Aviary

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955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-0868
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From the owners of Alinea, the Aviary takes chef Grant Achatz’s approach to molecular gastronomy and applies it to beverages. That might be off putting to dive bar lovers, but the result is a bar with vintage spirits, unique cocktails, and prices that make the well-to-do feel like they’re spending their money on something worthy. For pure cocktail fans, the presentation, glassware, and whimsical approach to beverages is worth scoring a reservation. There’s also a more exclusive space, the Office, located downstairs.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

17. Kumiko

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630 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 285-2912
Visit Website

From a national perspective, Chicago sometimes gets ignored for its innovative side. There’s plenty of talented people creating culinary cool, and Julia Momose and her team at Kumiko are the forefront. A sibling to Oriole, a two-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, Kumiko takes inspiration Japan (Momose is Japanese American), with a deep whisky list. But the highlights are the cocktails, carefully prepared and with top-notch ingredients. When the bar reboots for indoor service, Momose will once again offer her drink flights where bartenders create custom cocktails for customers. It’s like watching a story unfold, and something drinkers can’t find anywhere else in the country.

A highball glass filled with a cocktail.
Kumiko has creative drinks.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

18. Chicago Athletic Association

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12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 940-3552
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This reborn hotel on Michigan Avenue is already one of the biggest draws in Chicago thanks to a gorgeous restoration and multiple acclaimed spots to eat and drink: perhaps Chicago's best rooftop bar (Cindy's); a rec room with bocce courts, other table games, pitchers of beer and good, quick cocktails (Game Room); a historic full restaurant and large bar (Cherry Circle Room); and one of the most unique and creative drinking spots in town, the tasting menu-esque Milk Room.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

19. The Gage

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24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 372-4243
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This Irish stalwart in prime real estate downtown is where it's at for people in the Loop or walking down Michigan Avenue. Impeccably run with a beautiful design, the Gage is always a massive hit for after-work drinks and great Irish food, and a mix of tourists, professionals, and people taking in downtown attractions.

The Gage’s main bar
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

20. Buddy Guy's Legends

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700 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 427-1190
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Legendary musician Buddy Guy opened this club in 1989 in the South Loop and it’s become one of the most venerable places to hear blues and jazz in the country. It serves Cajun and soul food, and a beer named after Guy: Buddy’s Brew. Celebrities are known to show up to jam or even quietly take in a show.

21. M Lounge

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1520 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 447-0201
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South Loop is a neighborhood that has yet to hit its stride when it comes to carving out a unique identity. But M Lounge, which has been around since 2006, has stood out with martinis, live music, and a come-as-you-are vibe. 

22. Thalia Hall

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1807 S Allport St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3851
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Thalia Hall is a historic music venue, a massive building along 18th Street in Pilsen, that’s owned by 16” on Center, a company that runs venues like Promontory Hall in Hyde Park and Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village. The building also houses Punch House, a lower-level ‘70s chic bar where patrons by drinks by the punch bowl. Then there’s Tack Room, a piano bar that dabbles in things like punk rock karaoke. Main restaurant Dusek’s with its craft beer list rounds out the total drinking experience.

23. Skylark

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2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

Skylark is the prototype for the modern Chicago dive. The aesthetics, with its dim-lit atmosphere, give off a “we’re not trying too hard” vibe that provides a welcoming experience. The beer list is full of local craft breweries, the sandwiches — while simple — are tasty. This bar has legions of fans who will take issue if you say something negative about their watering hole, and in the end, that’s the best endorsement.

24. Osito's Tap

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2553 S Ridgeway Ave
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 277-8117
Visit Website

Osito’s Tap is an outgrowth of Moreno’s Liquors, a family-owned store in Little Village. The bar offers a deep beer list with plenty of rare releases to satisfy craft fans, and the cocktails push the envelope using techniques and ingredients that prove that mixologists at upscale downtown bars aren’t the only ones who can’t enjoy a fancy drinks.

A lavish drink with ancho and blood orange.
Osito’s Tap features ancho and blood orange in drinks.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

25. Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar

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960 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 890-0588
Visit Website

Maria’s has served Bridgeport well in various capacities. It’s a small liquor stores with a mighty beer selection. Walk by the cashier and pass through two bars with old-school charm. Find a deep beer selection, classic cocktails, and even beer from the owners’ brewery, Marz. Food comes from Kimski, the Ko-Po fusion spot the meshes Korean and Polish, and Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream.

Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar [Official Photo]

26. Bernice's Tavern

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3238 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 961-5516

Since the 1930s, this Bridgeport bar has been serving beer and shots to a customer base that fawns over this low-ceilinged space. Current ownership, the Badauskas family, took over the bar the 1950s. This charming corner bar even has an open mic for musicians.

27. Woodlawn Tap

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1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 643-5516
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Locals still tell friends to meet them at “Jimmy’s” the name of the the bar’s former owner (Jimmy Wilson died in 1999). Regardless, this tried and true dive bar has provided a meeting point for generations of college students, professors, and Hyde Park residents. Pitchers of beer are popular here as are the burgers. An affordable spot that caters to the University of Chicago’s community.

28. Jeffery Pub

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7041 S Jeffery Blvd
Chicago, IL 60649
(773) 363-8555

Chicago’s oldest LGBTQ bar resides on the South Shore. Since the 1960s, Jeffery Pub has serve patrons bright-colored cocktails while giving them the space to cut loose. Look for DJs and other entertainment at this venerable venue.

1. Hopleaf Bar

5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Hopleaf has made Andersonville a destination with good Belgian-style pub food and great beer — and no TVs. Owner Michael Roper offers a craft beer selection great enough to satisfy any beer nerd, but the interiors are comfortable enough to make any patron happy.

5148 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

2. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

4802 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640

Famous for being Al Capone's former stomping grounds — complete with legendary subterranean pathways where the infamous mob boss used to run booze — the Green Mill in Uptown is a classic tavern for music and a stiff drink. They don’t make bars like this anymore with a rich interior that echoes the venue’s past. The bar has opened up its window, allowing patrons to sit on the sidewalk for outdoor seating.

4802 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

3. Carol's Pub

4659 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Carol’s Pub
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

After a two-year slumber, Carol’s Pub, returned to Uptown with a new owner, fresh interiors, and a bonafide food menu. The refresh proved controversial for the bar that continues to host live music. The bar still retains much of its charm, minus some of the smoke damage from years and years of cigarettes. Customers still dance the night away until 5 a.m. on Saturdays as live country bands provide the soundtrack.

4659 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

4. Long Room Chicago

1612 W Irving Park Rd #1, Chicago, IL 60613

The Long Room doesn’t have the most creative name — it’s literally a long, narrow room along Irving Park. But owner Jason Burrell and his team have creative that type of tavern where the good times are never in short supply. It wasn’t possible for this unique space to operate during COVID-19, the bar was too small. But with management plotting to reopen soon, look for a great beer list, classic cocktails, and warm service.

1612 W Irving Park Rd #1
Chicago, IL 60613

5. Nisei Lounge

3439 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Wrigleyville can be daunting during the summer with tourists and baseball fans crowding Clark Street making parking an impossible mission. Locals take the Red Line and stay away from the main drag, looking for shelter at bar like Nisei Lounge, which has spent nearly seven decades in the shadow of Wrigley. They were the first dive bar to be on Tock, the reservation system used by fine dining restaurants. Don’t let that association fool you — the bartenders service up shots, beers, and this might be the best place to enjoy malört. There are pool tables, friendly faces, and a mix of people who care about baseball and those who couldn’t care less.

3439 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

6. Kingston Mines

2548 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

There are few reminders left of Chicago's legendary blues scene, with Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park perhaps the best. Open until at least 4 a.m. every night, stop by with a group of friends, park at the communal tables or stand by the stage, and listen to Chicago musical history while downing beers and Southern food.

2548 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

7. Logan Arcade

2532 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Arguably the best of the city's arcade bars stands in Logan Square at the corner of Western and Fullerton. The converted hardware store sports an eclectic craft beer selection. The gaming aspect isn't an afterthought. There's an excellent mix of vintage cabinets, as well as newer games like Killer Queen.

2532 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

8. Map Room

1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

There was a time when Guinness was the only option for a craft beer option in a town with draft handles dominated by big beer companies. The Map Room, when it opened in 1992, was a refreshing change. With a “traveler theme” — the shelves are full of travel magazines like National Geographic, the beer list includes selections from all over the world. As American breweries gained traction, management weaved local options in as well. 

1949 N Hoyne Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

9. Scofflaw

3201 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Originally known for its gin focus, Scofflaw was at the forefront of the current Logan Square bar boom for a variety of reasons: fantastic cocktails at affordable prices, standout upscale bar food, and great crowds. Don’t forget about those late-night cookies.

3201 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

10. The Hideout

1354 W Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
The Hideout is a performance venue that goes beyond just a simple bar.
The Hideout [Official Photo]

A den to counter culture, the Hideout is hidden between Lincoln Park and Bucktown in the area what developers are calling the Elston Industrial Corridor. It’s a civic-minded bar with a performance venue for concerts, stand-up comics, and newsy talk shows. Late night, find 20-something hipsters dancing the night away. Earlier, find the colorful, older customers lamenting the times when they had youth on their sides. Beer and simple drinks reign here as ownership hopes the looming Lincoln Yards development won’t kill tradition.

1354 W Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

11. Old Town Ale House

219 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610
A character leaning on a light pole in front of a bar.
Old Town Ale House’s Bruce Elliot in front of his bar.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This late-night den was a favorite of the late Anthony Bourdain who filmed several TV segments here as it’s the antithesis of many of the yuppie Old Town bars around the corner on Wells. The dive sports inappropriate paintings of Chicago history, including depictions of incarcerated ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and is a destination for many, drawing a diverse group of patrons from all walks of life. Keep the drink orders simple.

219 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610

12. The Violet Hour

1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This hidden drinking destination is widely credited with kicking off the mixology renaissance in Chicago and is a must-visit for Windy City newbies. It thrives on quiet sophistication (do read the house rules), a fantastic ever-changing menu, and is a breeding ground for local talent. Look for a massive mural outside — there's no sign — as well as a line on the sidewalk.

1520 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

13. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

954 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Rootstock in Humboldt Park has been on the cutting edge for wine in Chicago, providing a unique and intimate atmosphere. No matter if you’re craving a natural wine, Austrian, or something with bubbles, this space is great for dates and get togethers. It’s also got an underrated burger.

954 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

14. Sportsman's Club

948 Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Sportsman's Club is a template for a new wave of reborn neighborhood dive bars with cocktails and beer selections that rival some of the country's best. Do take a shot from the in-house amaro machine while chatting up the chef and industry crowd, or play a game of chess on the boards built into the tables, or relax on the expansive backyard patio.

948 Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

15. Three Dots and a Dash

435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Before Lost Lake became the apple of Chicago’s eye, bartender Paul McGee worked with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises on this basement tiki bar where patrons enter through a River North alley. Tropical vibes are prevalent, even in the middle of a frigid winter day. The bar is a popular after-work stop in Downtown Chicago, and there’s also a bar within the bar for a more intimate experience. Unlike Lost Lake, LEYE hasn’t addressed tiki’s complicated past, as it’s still known as a “speakeasy tiki bar.”

435 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

Related Maps

16. The Aviary

955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

From the owners of Alinea, the Aviary takes chef Grant Achatz’s approach to molecular gastronomy and applies it to beverages. That might be off putting to dive bar lovers, but the result is a bar with vintage spirits, unique cocktails, and prices that make the well-to-do feel like they’re spending their money on something worthy. For pure cocktail fans, the presentation, glassware, and whimsical approach to beverages is worth scoring a reservation. There’s also a more exclusive space, the Office, located downstairs.

955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

17. Kumiko

630 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661
A highball glass filled with a cocktail.
Kumiko has creative drinks.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

From a national perspective, Chicago sometimes gets ignored for its innovative side. There’s plenty of talented people creating culinary cool, and Julia Momose and her team at Kumiko are the forefront. A sibling to Oriole, a two-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, Kumiko takes inspiration Japan (Momose is Japanese American), with a deep whisky list. But the highlights are the cocktails, carefully prepared and with top-notch ingredients. When the bar reboots for indoor service, Momose will once again offer her drink flights where bartenders create custom cocktails for customers. It’s like watching a story unfold, and something drinkers can’t find anywhere else in the country.

630 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60661

18. Chicago Athletic Association

12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

This reborn hotel on Michigan Avenue is already one of the biggest draws in Chicago thanks to a gorgeous restoration and multiple acclaimed spots to eat and drink: perhaps Chicago's best rooftop bar (Cindy's); a rec room with bocce courts, other table games, pitchers of beer and good, quick cocktails (Game Room); a historic full restaurant and large bar (Cherry Circle Room); and one of the most unique and creative drinking spots in town, the tasting menu-esque Milk Room.

12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603

19. The Gage

24 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
The Gage’s main bar
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This Irish stalwart in prime real estate downtown is where it's at for people in the Loop or walking down Michigan Avenue. Impeccably run with a beautiful design, the Gage is always a massive hit for after-work drinks and great Irish food, and a mix of tourists, professionals, and people taking in downtown attractions.

24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603

20. Buddy Guy's Legends

700 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Legendary musician Buddy Guy opened this club in 1989 in the South Loop and it’s become one of the most venerable places to hear blues and jazz in the country. It serves Cajun and soul food, and a beer named after Guy: Buddy’s Brew. Celebrities are known to show up to jam or even quietly take in a show.

700 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

21. M Lounge

1520 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

South Loop is a neighborhood that has yet to hit its stride when it comes to carving out a unique identity. But M Lounge, which has been around since 2006, has stood out with martinis, live music, and a come-as-you-are vibe. 

1520 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

22. Thalia Hall

1807 S Allport St, Chicago, IL 60608

Thalia Hall is a historic music venue, a massive building along 18th Street in Pilsen, that’s owned by 16” on Center, a company that runs venues like Promontory Hall in Hyde Park and Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village. The building also houses Punch House, a lower-level ‘70s chic bar where patrons by drinks by the punch bowl. Then there’s Tack Room, a piano bar that dabbles in things like punk rock karaoke. Main restaurant Dusek’s with its craft beer list rounds out the total drinking experience.

1807 S Allport St
Chicago, IL 60608

23. Skylark

2149 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Skylark is the prototype for the modern Chicago dive. The aesthetics, with its dim-lit atmosphere, give off a “we’re not trying too hard” vibe that provides a welcoming experience. The beer list is full of local craft breweries, the sandwiches — while simple — are tasty. This bar has legions of fans who will take issue if you say something negative about their watering hole, and in the end, that’s the best endorsement.

2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

24. Osito's Tap

2553 S Ridgeway Ave, Chicago, IL 60623
A lavish drink with ancho and blood orange.
Osito’s Tap features ancho and blood orange in drinks.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Osito’s Tap is an outgrowth of Moreno’s Liquors, a family-owned store in Little Village. The bar offers a deep beer list with plenty of rare releases to satisfy craft fans, and the cocktails push the envelope using techniques and ingredients that prove that mixologists at upscale downtown bars aren’t the only ones who can’t enjoy a fancy drinks.

2553 S Ridgeway Ave
Chicago, IL 60623

25. Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar

960 W 31st St, Chicago, IL 60608
Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar [Official Photo]

Maria’s has served Bridgeport well in various capacities. It’s a small liquor stores with a mighty beer selection. Walk by the cashier and pass through two bars with old-school charm. Find a deep beer selection, classic cocktails, and even beer from the owners’ brewery, Marz. Food comes from Kimski, the Ko-Po fusion spot the meshes Korean and Polish, and Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream.

960 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608

26. Bernice's Tavern

3238 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Since the 1930s, this Bridgeport bar has been serving beer and shots to a customer base that fawns over this low-ceilinged space. Current ownership, the Badauskas family, took over the bar the 1950s. This charming corner bar even has an open mic for musicians.

3238 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

27. Woodlawn Tap

1172 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615

Locals still tell friends to meet them at “Jimmy’s” the name of the the bar’s former owner (Jimmy Wilson died in 1999). Regardless, this tried and true dive bar has provided a meeting point for generations of college students, professors, and Hyde Park residents. Pitchers of beer are popular here as are the burgers. An affordable spot that caters to the University of Chicago’s community.

1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615

28. Jeffery Pub

7041 S Jeffery Blvd, Chicago, IL 60649

Chicago’s oldest LGBTQ bar resides on the South Shore. Since the 1960s, Jeffery Pub has serve patrons bright-colored cocktails while giving them the space to cut loose. Look for DJs and other entertainment at this venerable venue.

7041 S Jeffery Blvd
Chicago, IL 60649

Related Maps