The Best Bars in Chicago
There are Chicago bars for every type of person. Chicago’s been restless for years, and you can see all stripes of people roaming the streets on any given weekend night, looking for the next drink to sip, the next move to bust, and the next face to kiss.
Maybe you’re a bit artsy & want to hang out somewhere with a more creative energy. Maybe you’re ready to stay up till the sun comes & look brighter than it at the end of the party. Or perhaps you’re looking for an old-fashion place to get some drinks and hang out.
Whoever you are & however you like to spend a weekend, there’s a piece of the nightlife reserved for you. Here are some places you can check out to start the journey.
Being a restaurant, as well as a bar, this can be a great place to grab a bite to eat & start the night off on a spicy note. The place is decorated with beautiful Spanish tiles and decor that calls back to Mexican folklore, and the food & drinks call back to the same culture.
More than any drink or other item on their menu, though, they’re especially known for their churros coated with goodies like M&Ms, Pop Rocks & Nerds. Personally we can’t think of a better snack to help kick off your weekend adventure.
They also have an outdoor patio where guests can gather during the warmer months, helping the whole vibe heat up once the city does the same.
If you’re looking for something with a history in the city, look no further than the famous California Clipper. Despite the name, this is a uniquely Chicago institution with a straightforward attitude, although they definitely know how to have fun.
You can find whatever sort of drink you might want here, but those in the “whiskey & a pint” crowd will find themselves the most comfortable here. No matter who you are, though, you can enjoy some live music & a burlesque show with your beverage.
It’s been through a few iterations in its lifetime, but it’s been kicking since 1937 and shows no signs of slowing down, so make sure to stop by & experience what they have to offer.
Get you a bar that can do both. By “both,” we of course mean be both a coffee shop & hip watering hole for beer enthusiasts.
It open at 11:00 AM every day & they keep the party going until 2:00 AM (3:00 AM on Saturdays). They serve a wide range of beers, ciders, tea & coffee all day as people gather to conversate and catch live entertainment & events with performers from all over the city & world.
You’ll have to pay an admission fee to get into most of the shows, but they also host free events like DJ sets & ambient music/breakfast clubs at multiple points throughout the month.
Any bar on this list will serve you well, but we can understand if you want a bit more of a premiere experience. Enter the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, and find yourself at their elegant lobby’s Lockwood Bar.
When we say “elegant,” we mean ornately decorated columns & ceilings, cocktails that can cost more than lunch, and lobster rolls if you need something to soak up the martini with.
No one’s stopping you from putting on a fancy accent & pretending you’re one of the guests to really fit in, but we also can’t guarantee your success when you attempt it. That being said, make sure to send us a video if (read: when) you fail.
Chicago has long been known as a bastion for the LGBT+ community over the years, and Little Jim’s is a physical reminder of that long-standing presence in the city. It’s been open since 1975, and it’s considered the first gay bar in Chicago.
It’s pretty low profile, especially considering the historical significance, but this serves them well since they cater to the sort of people that want to cozy up with their friends, grab a drink, and maybe make a romantic rendezvous.
Even if you’re not trying to hook up, you’ve got pinball machines & cheap drinks to capture your attention, and in the past there were apparently videos of men doing the thing they do when they love one another very much. They aren’t there anymore, whether that’s for better or worse.
If pinball & history aren’t enough to get you excited about a gay bar, there’s a little place called Berlin that will likely be more your speed.
They’re known for some of the most elaborate & fun parties in the city, with an electric range of electronic music & themed nights, and they keep things rocking as late as 4:00-5:00 AM.
Located on the edge of Boystown, the center of Chicago’s LGBT+ community, they welcome some of the most exciting crowds you’ll find during a night out, and it’s considered a great place to hang out right before welcoming the first sun rays of the day.
“Dance parties are silly, I’d rather play shuffleboard,” you might very well be thinking. Honestly, the more I think about it myself, the more I agree. Let’s head to the Royal Palms & rent a court!
That’s right, along with being able to grab a tasty drink & enjoy the beautiful space, you can rent a court for you & your crew for $40 on a first come, first serve basis. I’ve never shuffled (or shuffleboarded, whatever) before, so I can’t tell you if that’s a deal or not, but it sounds like one.
If you find yourself in love with the sport, or if you already loved it before you stepped through the door, they also offer leagues you can join to see whether your claims of being the greatest of all time were anything more than the liquor talking.
“Do the drinks there come in mugs with dragons on the handle?”
No…and frankly that was a weird question to ask, but if that’s what you’re feeling we want to point you in the right direction.
As the name likely informed you, the good people running Leviathan want to pay tribute to all the powerful & glorious monsters that have haunted our imaginations through history.
The drinks bear names like Kronus, Siren Song, Makara, Scatha, and Maelstrom, and some ingredients for the drinks sound just as rooted in fantasy, including sasparilla syrup, falernum, and “Dark Matter Unicorn Blood” (the jury’s still out on whether that’s literal or not).
No matter how many times you read Lord of the Rings as a kid (& adult), you’ll be sure to enjoy whatever you end up sipping here.