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Chicago’s Essential Dive Bars

Where the malort pours freely and the good times never end

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Chicago tavern culture is legendary and helps makes the city special. Dive bars play a crucial role in keeping this culture alive as a welcoming place for people to gather no matter how much money they have to spend or what they look like. They can be used for happy hour, cheap dates, or ways to blow off steam. There’s rarely any judgement inside, just as there aren’t any fancy cocktails. Though cheap canned beer still is popular, Chicago’s beer culture has changed, and it’s now acceptable to drink an IPA with extra hops or a pumpkin peach ale. Just wash them down with a shot of malort and everyone can be friends.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Simon's Tavern

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5210 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-0894
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One of the preeminent dives in the city, Simon’s Tavern is a beer-and-a-shot kind of place but gets into the Andersonville spirit with glogg (warm mulled wine). There’s also a classic jukebox that features an impressive collection of tunes, plus occasional live music.

2. Lange's Lounge

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3500 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-6030

At the corner of Southport and Cornelia, Lange’s Lounge sits like a time capsule surrounded by newer restaurants and bars along the family-friendly Southport Corridor. Inside, regulars surround the old-school bar, a refreshing escape from nearby Wrigleyville. There’s an impressive selection of dad beer in cans. There’s nothing that supremely sticks out here, except that while everything on the outside changes, Lange’s remains the same, and that’s worth celebrating. 

3. Nisei Lounge

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3439 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-0557
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Yes, one of Chicago's best dive bars is just steps from Wrigley Field. Although fans can watch Cubs games at the self-proclaimed "oldest bar in Wrigleyville," Nisei Lounge is known for its delightfully no-frills atmosphere, cheap Old Style cans, free darts and board games, and plentiful malort.

4. L&L Tavern

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3207 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
773-528-1303

This prohibition-era tavern is a favorite last-call destination for neighborhood patrons in Lakeview. It carries one of the largest Irish whiskey collections in the city. L&L Tavern also carries an infamous history of rumors that murderers like John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer hung out at the bar. So go for that mystique.

5. Reed's Local

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3017 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(872) 806-0520
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Avondale faces the same predicament as Logan Square did a few years ago as Chicagoans “discover” this hip area where restaurants like Kuma’s Corner, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Parachute have called home for years. Crews from those restaurants descend on Reed’s Local (the name comes from the owner’s support of unions), the spiritual successor to Club Foot, the beloved dive bar full of pop culture trinkets that closed in Ukrainian Village years ago. Customers will find trinkets like the Tetris machine from Club Foot and other familiar items. This is a place fo a cheap beer and some fun chatter, as Reed’s took an old bar space and rehabbed it, but not to the point where character is lost. 

6. Alice's Lounge

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3556 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 279-9382

Alice’s is a 4 a.m. bar known for late-night karaoke in Avondale. While belting out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” on the bar top is not encouraged, it happens.

7. Liar's Club

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1665 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
773-665-1110

Liar’s Club lies in a hodge-podge part of Chicago near Lincoln Park and Bucktown. This two-floor hole in the wall is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a woman murdered in the apartment above the bar. Scenesters, med students, and more hang out for music, cheap drinks, and cool characters.

8. Whirlaway Lounge

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3224 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-6809
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Logan Square has no shortage of dive bars, but few offer the charm of Whirlaway. Longtime co-owner Maria James, who is affectionately referred to as "The Sweetest Woman on the Planet," will happily pour customers a beer or a shot of whiskey. The bar also has quite a Blackhawk fan following.

9. Rosa's Lounge

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3420 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 342-0452
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Around since 1984 in Logan Square, Rosa’s Lounge is one of the more special bars in Chicago thanks to the live blues music performed daily. It’s a dimly lit space with a customer mix of those visiting to see bands and locals just wanting a cold drink. Drinks are cheap, and people are friendly.

10. Old Town Ale House

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219 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 944-7020
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The Old Town Ale House is a slice of Chicago history, because they don’t make them like this anymore. A staple in Old Town, the dive features artwork of old-school regulars hanging on the walls and a lending library for bookworms.

An older man stands inside his bar in front of a wall covered with painted portraits.
Old Town Ale House owner Bruce Elliott.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

11. Innertown Pub

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1935 W. Thomas St.
Chicago, IL 60622
773-235-9795

Come for the open mic nights and stay for the grunginess. The Innertown Pub has the look and feel of an old timer with its colorful décor and ‘60s artwork. The basic beer selection is cheap, and the free pool table and dartboards will keep drinkers entertained until the wee hours.

12. Archie's Iowa & Rockwell Tavern

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2600 W Iowa St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-2626
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Archie’s, a longtime charming neighborhood dive, lies on the Humboldt Park/West Town border. This is an industry favorite which really ramps up for holidays. The bottled beer selection in the cooler is deep and is not the typical dive bar beer list.

13. Chipp Inn

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832 N Greenview Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 421-9052

If pool tables could talk, this one would have more than a few stories to tell. The Chipp Inn is a favorite for after-hours industry folks in West Town because of its cheap beer and popular — although its smaller than regulation size — pool table. The place dates back to 1897 and not many improvements have been made since then, as evident by the wood bar, ornate tin ceiling and mismatched folding furniture.

14. Rossi's Liquors

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412 North State St
Chicago, IL 60610
312-644-5775

Rossi’s is really the only true dive left in River North. It’s an incredibly friendly and tiny space in the shadow of the House of Blues and other tall buildings. The coolers in the back stock a nice selection of craft beer. Feel free to grab one and walk over to the bartender who will open the bottle up. This is the bar to take transplants and picky people who don’t think they like dive bars. Teach them a valuable lesson. 

15. Skylark

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2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 948-5275
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While Pilsen may be rapidly changing with an influx of entrepreneurs and artists reviving the neighborhood, Skylark remains the same. The bar strives to be part of the community, and there’s a solid menu of tater tots and other bar food. This is the bar Jon Favreu’s character owned in the movie The Break Up.

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16. Bernice's Tavern

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3238 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

Bernice’s, a hidden secret in Bridgeport, is small, dark, and cozy. Tunes ring out from the jukebox and Mike the bartender will make sure you’re well taken care of. The place is crawling with locals but don’t worry, staff will still buzz (yes, buzz) customers in through the doors even if they’re not from the neighborhood.

Posted by Bernice's Tavern - Open Microphone for musicians on Thursday, September 21, 2017

17. Shinnick's Pub

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3758 S. Union
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 376-3525
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Shinnick’s Pub carries a storied history, as the family-owned drinking hole spans four generations in Bridgeport. It’s a favorite of White Sox faithful due to the proximity to Sox Park and a time capsule of old-school Chicago drinking culture when bars were considered community beacons. This is a warm beer and shot kind of place.

A brick bar
Shinnick’s Pub is a hub for White Sox fans.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

18. Falcon Inn

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1601 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 288-2758
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Falcon Inn brings in a mixture of Hyde Park locals and University of Chicago students for cheap pitchers of domestic beer, though the “over 23 and up” sign may scare off the college kids. For sustenance nearby the bar neighbors Cholie’s Pizza.

The exterior of a neighborhood bar and pizza place in Chicago.
Falcon Inn neighbors Cholie’s Pizza in Hyde Park.
Google Streetview

19. Woodlawn Tap

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1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 643-5516
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No longer known as Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap (founder Jimmy Wilson died in 1999), this bar — which dates back to 1948 — is a classic Chicago tavern. Friendly bartenders, live music, and a location near the University of Chicago bring in a cool cast of customers. Despite Wilson’s absence, most customers still call the bar “Jimmy’s.” Prolific author Kurt Vonnegut was once a regular.

Posted by Woodlawn Tap on Monday, July 1, 2013

20. Delilah's Chicago

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2771 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 472-2771
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This two-level bar draws lovers of punk, goth, and metal music to an unlikely counter culture center in normally basic Lincoln Park. The bar’s selection including the usual suspect of canned domestics, but there’s a real deep selection of whiskies, and owner Mike Miller also raves about his wines by the glass. 

21. Matchbox Bar

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770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 666-9292
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In West Town, the Matchbox has stood the test of time as the self-proclaimed tiniest bar in town. This isn’t a good group for groups, but quirky craft beer selection and classic cocktail list make the bar a friendly spot to catch up with friends. But understand: space is at a premium. There may not be a place to hang bulky winter coats. Respect that.

22. Bob Inn

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2609 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 342-2309

This Logan Square dive has a laid-back vibe — the quintessential “old person’s bar” with a juke box, pool table, and plenty of shots and canned beer. A great place to introduce denizens to the world of malort. Sports fans should also beware: the Bob Inn is a North Side White Sox bar. They won’t throw Cubs fans out, but it’s just nice to see a tavern north of Madison embrace Chicago’s American League entry.

23. Turtle's Bar & Grill

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238 W 33rd St
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 225-7333
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Turtles has every White Sox fan’s game day needs covered. But the bar is about more than baseball with craft beer and affordable pub grub. The bar is simple and friendly, everything a dive bar fan would want.

24. The North End

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3733 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 477-7999
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A gayborhood staple since 1983, North End is part sports bar with a pool table, darts, plenty of TVs, and a friendly atmosphere. A modest beer selection allows this bar to function as a true dive without pandering to hop heads or other beer nuts.

1. Simon's Tavern

5210 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

One of the preeminent dives in the city, Simon’s Tavern is a beer-and-a-shot kind of place but gets into the Andersonville spirit with glogg (warm mulled wine). There’s also a classic jukebox that features an impressive collection of tunes, plus occasional live music.

5210 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

2. Lange's Lounge

3500 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

At the corner of Southport and Cornelia, Lange’s Lounge sits like a time capsule surrounded by newer restaurants and bars along the family-friendly Southport Corridor. Inside, regulars surround the old-school bar, a refreshing escape from nearby Wrigleyville. There’s an impressive selection of dad beer in cans. There’s nothing that supremely sticks out here, except that while everything on the outside changes, Lange’s remains the same, and that’s worth celebrating. 

3500 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

3. Nisei Lounge

3439 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Yes, one of Chicago's best dive bars is just steps from Wrigley Field. Although fans can watch Cubs games at the self-proclaimed "oldest bar in Wrigleyville," Nisei Lounge is known for its delightfully no-frills atmosphere, cheap Old Style cans, free darts and board games, and plentiful malort.

3439 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

4. L&L Tavern

3207 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

This prohibition-era tavern is a favorite last-call destination for neighborhood patrons in Lakeview. It carries one of the largest Irish whiskey collections in the city. L&L Tavern also carries an infamous history of rumors that murderers like John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer hung out at the bar. So go for that mystique.

3207 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657

5. Reed's Local

3017 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Avondale faces the same predicament as Logan Square did a few years ago as Chicagoans “discover” this hip area where restaurants like Kuma’s Corner, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Parachute have called home for years. Crews from those restaurants descend on Reed’s Local (the name comes from the owner’s support of unions), the spiritual successor to Club Foot, the beloved dive bar full of pop culture trinkets that closed in Ukrainian Village years ago. Customers will find trinkets like the Tetris machine from Club Foot and other familiar items. This is a place fo a cheap beer and some fun chatter, as Reed’s took an old bar space and rehabbed it, but not to the point where character is lost. 

3017 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

6. Alice's Lounge

3556 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Alice’s is a 4 a.m. bar known for late-night karaoke in Avondale. While belting out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” on the bar top is not encouraged, it happens.

3556 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

7. Liar's Club

1665 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Liar’s Club lies in a hodge-podge part of Chicago near Lincoln Park and Bucktown. This two-floor hole in the wall is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a woman murdered in the apartment above the bar. Scenesters, med students, and more hang out for music, cheap drinks, and cool characters.

1665 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

8. Whirlaway Lounge

3224 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Logan Square has no shortage of dive bars, but few offer the charm of Whirlaway. Longtime co-owner Maria James, who is affectionately referred to as "The Sweetest Woman on the Planet," will happily pour customers a beer or a shot of whiskey. The bar also has quite a Blackhawk fan following.

3224 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

9. Rosa's Lounge

3420 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Around since 1984 in Logan Square, Rosa’s Lounge is one of the more special bars in Chicago thanks to the live blues music performed daily. It’s a dimly lit space with a customer mix of those visiting to see bands and locals just wanting a cold drink. Drinks are cheap, and people are friendly.

3420 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

10. Old Town Ale House

219 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610
An older man stands inside his bar in front of a wall covered with painted portraits.
Old Town Ale House owner Bruce Elliott.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Old Town Ale House is a slice of Chicago history, because they don’t make them like this anymore. A staple in Old Town, the dive features artwork of old-school regulars hanging on the walls and a lending library for bookworms.

219 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610

11. Innertown Pub

1935 W. Thomas St., Chicago, IL 60622

Come for the open mic nights and stay for the grunginess. The Innertown Pub has the look and feel of an old timer with its colorful décor and ‘60s artwork. The basic beer selection is cheap, and the free pool table and dartboards will keep drinkers entertained until the wee hours.

1935 W. Thomas St.
Chicago, IL 60622

12. Archie's Iowa & Rockwell Tavern

2600 W Iowa St, Chicago, IL 60622

Archie’s, a longtime charming neighborhood dive, lies on the Humboldt Park/West Town border. This is an industry favorite which really ramps up for holidays. The bottled beer selection in the cooler is deep and is not the typical dive bar beer list.

2600 W Iowa St
Chicago, IL 60622

13. Chipp Inn

832 N Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

If pool tables could talk, this one would have more than a few stories to tell. The Chipp Inn is a favorite for after-hours industry folks in West Town because of its cheap beer and popular — although its smaller than regulation size — pool table. The place dates back to 1897 and not many improvements have been made since then, as evident by the wood bar, ornate tin ceiling and mismatched folding furniture.

832 N Greenview Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

14. Rossi's Liquors

412 North State St, Chicago, IL 60610

Rossi’s is really the only true dive left in River North. It’s an incredibly friendly and tiny space in the shadow of the House of Blues and other tall buildings. The coolers in the back stock a nice selection of craft beer. Feel free to grab one and walk over to the bartender who will open the bottle up. This is the bar to take transplants and picky people who don’t think they like dive bars. Teach them a valuable lesson. 

412 North State St
Chicago, IL 60610

15. Skylark

2149 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

While Pilsen may be rapidly changing with an influx of entrepreneurs and artists reviving the neighborhood, Skylark remains the same. The bar strives to be part of the community, and there’s a solid menu of tater tots and other bar food. This is the bar Jon Favreu’s character owned in the movie The Break Up.

2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

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16. Bernice's Tavern

3238 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Bernice’s, a hidden secret in Bridgeport, is small, dark, and cozy. Tunes ring out from the jukebox and Mike the bartender will make sure you’re well taken care of. The place is crawling with locals but don’t worry, staff will still buzz (yes, buzz) customers in through the doors even if they’re not from the neighborhood.

3238 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

17. Shinnick's Pub

3758 S. Union, Chicago, IL 60609
A brick bar
Shinnick’s Pub is a hub for White Sox fans.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Shinnick’s Pub carries a storied history, as the family-owned drinking hole spans four generations in Bridgeport. It’s a favorite of White Sox faithful due to the proximity to Sox Park and a time capsule of old-school Chicago drinking culture when bars were considered community beacons. This is a warm beer and shot kind of place.

3758 S. Union
Chicago, IL 60609

18. Falcon Inn

1601 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615
The exterior of a neighborhood bar and pizza place in Chicago.
Falcon Inn neighbors Cholie’s Pizza in Hyde Park.
Google Streetview

Falcon Inn brings in a mixture of Hyde Park locals and University of Chicago students for cheap pitchers of domestic beer, though the “over 23 and up” sign may scare off the college kids. For sustenance nearby the bar neighbors Cholie’s Pizza.

1601 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615

19. Woodlawn Tap

1172 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615

No longer known as Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap (founder Jimmy Wilson died in 1999), this bar — which dates back to 1948 — is a classic Chicago tavern. Friendly bartenders, live music, and a location near the University of Chicago bring in a cool cast of customers. Despite Wilson’s absence, most customers still call the bar “Jimmy’s.” Prolific author Kurt Vonnegut was once a regular.

1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615

20. Delilah's Chicago

2771 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

This two-level bar draws lovers of punk, goth, and metal music to an unlikely counter culture center in normally basic Lincoln Park. The bar’s selection including the usual suspect of canned domestics, but there’s a real deep selection of whiskies, and owner Mike Miller also raves about his wines by the glass. 

2771 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

21. Matchbox Bar

770 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

In West Town, the Matchbox has stood the test of time as the self-proclaimed tiniest bar in town. This isn’t a good group for groups, but quirky craft beer selection and classic cocktail list make the bar a friendly spot to catch up with friends. But understand: space is at a premium. There may not be a place to hang bulky winter coats. Respect that.

770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

22. Bob Inn

2609 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This Logan Square dive has a laid-back vibe — the quintessential “old person’s bar” with a juke box, pool table, and plenty of shots and canned beer. A great place to introduce denizens to the world of malort. Sports fans should also beware: the Bob Inn is a North Side White Sox bar. They won’t throw Cubs fans out, but it’s just nice to see a tavern north of Madison embrace Chicago’s American League entry.

2609 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

23. Turtle's Bar & Grill

238 W 33rd St, Chicago, IL 60616

Turtles has every White Sox fan’s game day needs covered. But the bar is about more than baseball with craft beer and affordable pub grub. The bar is simple and friendly, everything a dive bar fan would want.

238 W 33rd St
Chicago, IL 60616

24. The North End

3733 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60613

A gayborhood staple since 1983, North End is part sports bar with a pool table, darts, plenty of TVs, and a friendly atmosphere. A modest beer selection allows this bar to function as a true dive without pandering to hop heads or other beer nuts.

3733 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60613

Related Maps