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Classic Bars

Recommended Classic Bars

  • The Berghoff
    Opened as a saloon (men only) in 1898, the Berghoff remains best experienced at the bar, where you can quaff the house beer by the stein while sitting at the handsome wooden counter. At happy hour there are some exceptionally »
  • Billy Goat Tavern
    Billy Goat Tavern Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville
    More than 25 years after the heyday of the SNL skit, the Billy Goat is still trading on John Belushi's famous tagline, "Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger. No Pepsi, Coke. No fries, cheeps." Tourists continue to find their way into the subterranean »
  • Bucktown Pub
    Music venue
    Bucktown Pub Wicker Park/Bucktown
    This neighborhood bar is comfortably middle-of-the-road, too upscale—with its polished wood, framed concert posters on the walls, and dozen craft beers on tap—to be a dive, but still mellow. Old-timers say that its character isn't what it once was, but »
  • Butch McGuire's
    Butch McGuire's Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville
    Bursting with gewgaws (lights, posters, a model train running around the bar), this Rush Street bar and grill has been feeding the partying masses since the 60s. —Laura Levy Shatkin
  • California Clipper
    Corner Tap
    California Clipper Humboldt Park
    This neighborhood landmark, complete with vintage neon sign out front, offers a uniquely appealing combination of dive bar affordability and art deco class—nowhere else in the city can you feel quite as Bogart-and-Bacall while kicking back cheap PBRs. Jeans and »
  • Candlelite Chicago
    Candlelite Chicago Rogers Park/West Rogers Park
    For decades the green martini glass on this neighborhood saloon’s neon sign was a beacon for wonderful cracker-thin-crust pizza—and still is. That’s even after a group of regulars took it over—including a culinary school grad—and installed flat-screen TVs in practically »
  • The Charleston
    Classic Bar
    The Charleston Wicker Park/Bucktown
    Some people still complain bitterly about the Charleston's remodeling a couple years ago: gone are the stuffed armadillo, the lamp made from a ram's head, the pool table, and some of the bar's signature quirkiness. But there's still a reel-to-reel »
  • Chipp Inn
    Dive Bar
    Chipp Inn West Town/Noble Square
    On a side street hidden from the rest of sleepy Noble Square, the Chipp Inn gives off a homey, Cheers-y vibe. The small, bright bar is the only neighborhood joint around, and there are always regulars of varied hipness hanging »
  • The Cove Lounge
    Classic Bar
    The Cove Lounge Hyde Park
    If the vintage marquee and "Welcome U of C Students!" banner don't make you feel all warm and fuzzy, the Croatian grog might. Karlovacko, slightly fruity with a mild body, is one of the Cove's staple bottled brews, with sops »
  • Cunneen's
    Classic Bar
    Cunneen's Rogers Park/West Rogers Park
    Old-time neighborhood bar with a wooden Indian, a Richard J. Daley clock above the bar, and hundreds of LPs lining the shelves beside a turntable. It's well preserved and comfortable, with seating in the windows and lots of (quiet) banter »
  • Danny's Tavern
    Classic Bar
    Danny's Tavern Wicker Park/Bucktown
    There's vinyl on both the seats and the record player at this neighborhood bar; DJs spin nightly and there are regular dance parties, plus a reading series. Early in the evening the place is usually fairly empty, and you can »
  • Del Toro
    Del Toro Pilsen/Little Village
    On Halsted between Nightwood and the Skylark, there's a little storefront without a sign. You should go in. It's more of a bar with small plates than a straight-ahead restaurant—the menu's drinks side certainly seemed bigger than the food side. »
  • Gold Star
    Gold Star Ukrainian Village/East Village  1
    Zakopane, Phyllis’ Musical Inn, and the Gold Star form a triangle of well-preserved Ukie Village saloons that have weathered Division Street’s transformation from "Polish Broadway" to hipster strip. Mary Ann Reid, who’s run the place since 1990, says »
  • Green Mill
    Music venue
    Green Mill Uptown  4
    Classic Chicago in bar form, Uptown’s Green Mill isn’t unlike a pricey glass of champagne with a fleck of cigarette ash floating near the rim. In operation since 1907 and once a haunt for Capone and showbiz personalities, the lauded »
  • Happy Village
    Classic Bar
    Happy Village Ukrainian Village/East Village
    With board games and a Ping-Pong room, this is a place where you could easily pass a few hours reconnecting with your childhood, and maybe for this reason it attracts a younger crowd than some of the other neighborhood institutions. »
  • Hideout
    Classic Bar
    Hideout West Town/Noble Square  37
    The Hideout's location, just off Elston in the middle of an industrial corridor, seems like an unlikely one. But that doesn’t stop lines from forming outside for the dance parties, live music shows, theatrical performances, and soup nights it hosts. »
  • Hungry Brain
    Classic Bar
    Hungry Brain Roscoe Village  5
    Hungry Brain is one of the coziest spots in Chicago. You've probably passed this small bar over and over and never realized it was there. Its interior is comfortable and lit with the glow of beer signs and Christmas lights. »
  • Inner Town Pub
    Inner Town Pub Ukrainian Village/East Village
    This hole evolved from one of the area’s many Prohibition-era speakeasies. Its muted vintage exterior gives way to a subterranean-feeling interior full of haphaz­ardly curated clutter—moose head, army helmet, stained glass, sad clowns, dwarves, elephants, Elvis, wooden Indian, etc. Booze »
  • J&M Tap
    Classic Bar
    J&M Tap Ukrainian Village/East Village
    Perhaps better known as the "Secret Squirrel" because of its blink-and-you'll-miss-it exterior, this corner dive does everything right: ice-cold PBR pitchers for seven bucks, mugs full of salty pretzel rods, a well-used pool table, and the sweetest bartender you’ll ever »
  • Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap
    Classic Bar
    Quintessentially Hyde Park, and frequented by an eclectic mix of locals, students, game watchers, and professors, Jimmy's is a dive with a dim, cavernous interior and a quirky soul. The businesslike bartenders make their martinis strong, and the burgers and »
  • Liberty Lounge
    Classic Bar
    Liberty Lounge Roscoe Village
    The bartender, who was so sweet that she greeted me with a handshake and an introduction upon my arrival, described Liberty Lounge perfectly: "It's a hillbilly bar by day, local bar by night." The patrons are clearly regulars who know »
  • Map Room
    Music venue
    Map Room Wicker Park/Bucktown
    The Map Room honors its name with a huge relief map painted on the wall, flags of the world hanging from the ceiling, and an impressive draft list—26 taps and one firkin—that's roughly half imports, with regular appearances by Stiegl »
  • Old Town Ale House
    Basically, the bar that Second City players go to after a performance (for proof, check out the caricatures on the walls: look familiar?). Filling pitchers of Old Style until 5 AM on Saturday, this is one of the liveliest dives »
  • Rainbo Club
    Dive Bar
    Rainbo Club Ukrainian Village/East Village  1
    The gorgeous Rainbo is hallowed ground for successive generations of musicians, artists, writers (Nelson Algren among the earliest), and hangers-on, all of whom vie for position on the annual photo-booth calendar—the nonconformist's equivalent of the high school yearbook, issued every »
  • Richard's Bar
    Classic Bar
    Richard's Bar River West
    Open since 1926, Richard's Bar is old-school to the bone—the bar menu above the register looks like it hasn't been updated since the 50s, most of the bartenders were probably cracking Old Styles before I existed, and the vibe is »
  • Rite Liquors
    Classic Bar
    Rite Liquors Wicker Park/Bucktown
    Rite Liquors isn't just an old-man bar—it's a place to hang out while you're growing old, as many regulars already have in the 90 years this neighborhood slashie has been in business. It’s got an impressive liquor selection, from Woodford »
  • Rogers Park Social
    Rogers Park Social Rogers Park/West Rogers Park  1
    he owners of Rogers Park Social claim that it reflects the spirit of the neighborhood. If comfortable vintage couches, a regularly updated cocktail menu (including, in the winter, a superb hot buttered rum), an eclectic playlist of cool music ranging »
  • Simon's Tavern
    Classic Bar
    Simon's Tavern Andersonville
    This popular longtime Andersonville mainstay ("Your home for gløgg in Chicago") has a solid selection of beers on tap and more than 25 in bottles, along with a number of ciders. It can get packed on weekend nights, but it's »
  • Skylark
    Skylark Pilsen/Little Village
    Fitting nicely into its rather desolate industrial surroundings, Skylark is a relatively no-frills neighborhood bar delivering something much more than a neighborhood-bar experience. The spot—co-owned by the same principals as the Ukrainian Village institution Rainbo—serves better-than-average bar food, including its »
  • Underbar
    4 AM Bar
    Underbar Roscoe Village
    Closed. As oxymoronic as it may sound, Underbar is a classy 4 AM bar. The inside is dark and candlelit, and the staff has a pretty firm handle on keeping the really drunk people out. The bar boasts an extensive »
  • The University of Chicago Pub
    Classic Bar
    Tucked into the basement of the U. of C.'s Ida Noyes Hall, the Pub is semiprivate, with a $10 annual membership for those affiliated with the university and $5 cover for nonmembers or members' guests. There are more than 100 »
  • Zebra Lounge
    Music venue
    Zebra Lounge Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville  1
    It’s tucked into the lobby of a surreptitious apartment building. It’s a piano bar. It takes its name seriously, with pictures of zebras and zebra-striped red lamps. It smells like a toilet. It might be the saddest bar in the »

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