The 21 Best Chicago Bars

Goose head beer taps at Goose Island Brew Pub, Lincoln Park.
Charles Cook / Getty Images

Chicago is one of the best bar towns on the planet, so it follows that the best Chicago bars are some of the best in the world, full of intriguing character, décor and history, occasionally attracting celebrity patrons, and frequently being featured in movies and TV shows. They’re known for their live bands, killer jukeboxes, or for hosting other performances and literary events. Not only are the cocktails and booze offerings legendary, the food usually isn’t bad either. Whether you’re in the mood for speakeasy vibes or craving craft beer and cocktails from this century, there’s something for everyone in this town. Here are the best bars in Chicago to celebrate the end of the workday, raise a glass on special occasions, and otherwise have a good time with locals and visitors alike.

Note that hours and offerings may vary according to Chicago Covid-19 guidelines.

01 of 21

Sheffield's Wine and Beer Garden

The bar at Sheffield's Wine and Beer Garden

Sheffield's Wine & Beer Garden

Address
3258 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Phone +1 773-281-4989

On that first warm day of the year in Chicago that occurs sometime between March and July, nothing beats the beer garden at Sheffield's. The bar also features an impressive selection of beer (and wine), "barbeque in the back room," literary events, expressionist artwork, and classic Chicago architecture augmented by recent renovations and additions.

02 of 21

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

The sign for Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Address
4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
Phone +1 773-878-5552

Now over 114 years old, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is the crown jewel of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and is the best jazz club in the known universe. Green Mill is a place for people of all walks of life to relax, enjoy martinis or Schlitz beer, and listen to some of the best music around, from traditional jazz to swing orchestras. The Green Mill even hosts the longest running poetry slam, every Sunday night at 7 p.m.

Inspired by the Moulin Rouge in Paris (Red Mill), the Green Mill has attracted many celebrities through the years from Charlie Chaplin to Al Capone to Frank Sinatra to Bill Gates and has been filmed in "The Untouchables," "High Fidelity," and the 80s TV series, "Crime Story." After much resistance, Uptown has finally succumbed to the gentrification surrounding it for the past 15 years now that Starbucks moved in. One has to wonder if this would have been possible if owner Dave Jemilo hadn't rescued the Green Mill from squalor in 1986 and restored its former luster, both in terms of décor and in hosting the best jazz around, a tradition that dates back to the club's beginning, so many moons ago.

03 of 21

Hopleaf Bar

Inside Hopleaf Bar in Chicago

Hopleaf Bar

Address
5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
Phone +1 773-334-9851

Well, the secret is out: one of the best neighborhood bars in Chicago is not in Lincoln Park, Bucktown, or even Lakeview. It's in the far north Chicago hamlet of Andersonville, and its name is the Hopleaf Bar. Locals know it simply as "Hopleaf" and desperately try to guard its eroding anonymity from those bar-hopping further south.

Even though the weekend crowds can get brutal, Hopleaf has been around since 1992, remaining true to its design as a very cool neighborhood joint that draws its loyal and increasing following from its laid-back vibe, tasteful decor, eclectic music, the best steamed mussels in the city, a most pleasant outdoor beer garden, and one of the best "hop" selections in the city with Belgian beers and Trappist Ales on tap.

04 of 21

Goose Island Brew Pub

Goose beer taps at Goose Island Brewpub in Chicago

Bernt Rostad / Flickr

Address
1800 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Phone +1 312-915-0071

This original Goose Island location on Clybourn is one of the most universally loved pubs in all of Chicagoland. Those who are hungry will appreciate the endless rotation of hand-crafted brews made with superb quality. Those who hunger will appreciate the well-designed menu that provides the ideal accompaniment to the fine selection of ale.

Those who are bored will appreciate the pool tables, the Golden Tee, and the general camaraderie that accompanies a room full of people getting sauced on some of the best beer they've ever had. As a result, few pubs in the city have been more talked about, recommended, or more frequented by locals and travelers than the Goose Island Brew Pub since it opened in 1988. While its newer location in Wrigleyville is hard to beat after a Cubs game, the original spot remains a true Chicago classic.

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05 of 21

Duke of Perth

The outdoor garden at Duke of Perth Chicago

Duke of Perth

Address
2913 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Phone +1 773-477-1741

While being cheaper than a trip to Edinburgh and more pleasant than a poke in the eye, the Duke of Perth is the best Scottish pub. Okay, it's only one of two Scottish pubs in Chicago, but it's still pretty cool (we like Ole St. Andrew's Inn further north as well). It's also considered to be one of the best whiskey bars in Chicago.

And folks, it's a pub. There are no televisions at the Duke, so you may have to talk to somebody. Open since 1989 and known for its all-you-can-eat fish and chips on Wednesdays and Fridays and 90 blends of single-malt scotch (the best variety in Chicago), the Duke has something for everyone and their brother, which causes the pub to get very crowded, so get there early.

06 of 21

Billy Goat Tavern

Cheezborger signs outside Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago

Eric Kilby / Flickr

Address
Lower, 430 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Phone +1 312-222-1525

Ever hear of the "Curse of the Billy Goat," also known as the Cubs Curse? Remember reading about Mike Royko's favorite place in his nationally syndicated column? Or, do you recall the Saturday Night Live sketch in which a short order cook would yell out to incoming patrons: "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!"? All of the above have one thing in common: the Billy Goat Tavern.

Because of its subterranean location beneath the Chicago Tribune Building, the present location of the Billy Goat has been an underground oasis for journalists and tradesmen seeking a break from sobriety during lunchtime and after work. Many of them became regulars as colorful as the original owner, William "Billy Goat" Sianis, and his nephew and current owner, Sam Sianis. Legions of tourists also descend upon The Goat to get yelled at and to enjoy some of the best burgers in the city. As a result, the Billy Goat Tavern has become a true Chicago classic and a required stopping point for both hungry locals and visitors wishing to gain some insight into the City that Works.

07 of 21

Twin Anchors

Inside Twin Anchors Bar in Chicago

Stephen Hogan / Flickr

Address
1655 N Sedgwick St, Chicago, IL 60614-5718, USA
Phone +1 312-266-1616

Twin Anchors stands out as one of the most notable rib joints in the city. Especially impressive is that it remains unknown to many, even though the restaurant and tavern has been in business for more than 85 years and serves what many claim are the best baby back ribs in the city.

While many suburbanites and conventioneers stick with the steakhouses further south, Old Town neighborhood-types and savvy North Side diners pack the place almost every night. Add to that patronage from Old Blue Eyes himself as well as other local celebs, its feature in the Minnie Driver and David Duchovny film, "Return to Me" and the fact that it's become a Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmark in this beautiful area of town known as the Old Town Triangle District. Twin Anchors is also a great place to kick back with a cocktail and listen to the Rat Pack play on the jukebox.

08 of 21

Moody’s Pub

Inside Moody's Pub

Moody's Pub

Address
5910 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660-3519, USA
Phone +1 773-329-5694

Moody's Pub is one of the best Chicago bars that you've never heard of. Located in the heart of the Edgewater neighborhood at Broadway and Rosedale, not many people beyond Loyola students know it's there, waiting in all its dark wood and brick glory. Not sure you want to head up to Edgewater to check out the place? Perhaps you should consider that Moody's serves up one of the best burgers in the city, the Moody Bleu.

Still not convinced? How about this: Moody's has one of the largest and most pleasant beer gardens in town, and one of the most comfortable, fireplace-heated rooms in winter. Combined with a laid-back atmosphere and cheap prices, Moody's is hard to resist if you can motivate yourself to get up north. Originally located in ​Old Town, it’s been around since 1967.

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09 of 21

The Violet Hour

Alcoholic beverages at The Violet Hour Chicago

Star5112 / Flickr

Address
1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Phone +1 773-252-1500

Don’t miss the seasonal artisanal cocktail list at this Wicker Park institution, which operates Tuesday through Sunday and offers Prohibition-era cocktail-making classes for those who really want to improve their personal bartending skills. Choose from a list of specially made shaken or stirred cocktails, or splash out for one of three $40 luxury cocktails like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, Vieux Carré, or the signature Old Fashioned.

10 of 21

The Aviary

Bartender at The Aviary in Chicago

Star5112 / Flickr

Address
955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607-1324, USA

You’ll find The Aviary, a cocktail lounge concept brought to you by The Alinea Group, in Chicago’s West Loop, offering craft cocktails and creative 3- 5- and 7-course cocktail tasting menus. Reservations for a la carte snacks and drinks are recommended (you’ll need to book the multi-course cocktail tastings in advance as well) though walk-ins are allowed based on availability. Make time to visit The Office, the speakeasy style bar located just beneath The Aviary.

11 of 21

Scofflaw

Cocktails at Scofflaw Chicago

Edsel Little / Flickr

Address
3201 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Phone +1 773-252-9700

This gin-centric cocktail bar in Logan Square is sure to please, whether you choose to imbibe indoors, on the dining room patio, or outside in the cocktail garden. With seasonal cocktail menus, a vast list of spirits including American whiskey; bourbon; rye; Scotch, Irish, and Japanese whisky; tequila; Mezcal; vodka; rum; Pisco; brandy; and a host of other liqueurs and bitters. Munch on bar bites like steak frites or satisfy that sweet tooth with Zeppole (Italian-style fried doughnuts) and ice cream sandwiches made with house-made chocolate chip cookies.

12 of 21

Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar

Bottles at the bar in Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar in Chicago

Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar

Address
960 W 31st St, Chicago, IL 60608, USA
Phone +1 773-890-0588

Located in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar is what happens when a local tavern meets your favorite liquor store. Formerly known as Kaplan's Liquors, it's been proudly serving artisanal cocktails and craft beers since Maria Marszewski took over the place in 1987. During the pandemic, the attached Polish and Korean restaurant, Kimski, became known as the Community Canteen, providing pay-what-you-can take-out meals five days a week to help the community in its time of need.

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13 of 21

Three Dots and a Dash

The Tiki Bar at Three Dots and a Dash Chicago

Steven Miller / Flickr

Address
435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone +1 312-610-4220

If you’re in the mood for a tropical island atmosphere, head to Three Dots and a Dash for craft cocktails made with fresh seasonal fruit, spices, cold-pressed juices, and top-notch rum and spirits. The island-centric theme is legit, with orchids brought in from Hawaii, mint brought in from Colombia, and cane sugar brought in from Martinique. Stick to single-serve cocktails like Mai Tais or Painkillers, or if you’re visiting with a group, opt for larger options like the Bali Bali or Zombie, which serve four to six.

14 of 21

Kingston Mines

Blues musicians performing at Kingston Mines in Chicago

Jason Saul / Flickr

Address
2548 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Phone +1 773-477-4646

For cocktails with a side of Blues guitar, come to Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park, the oldest and largest blues club in Chicago, operating continuously since 1968. Blues musicians like Joanna Connor, Mike Wheeler, and Koko Taylor have performed here, and the bar does its best each night to live up to its motto (”Hear Blues, drink booze, talk loud, you’re among friends!”) with a full menu of hard ciders, IPAs, wine, Champagne, and cocktails (try the rockin’ root beer float, made with vanilla vodka and Chila Orchata rum) alongside tasty Southern fare.

15 of 21

The Press Room

Bartender mixing drinks at The Press Room in Chicago

The Press Room

Address
1134 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Phone +1 331-240-1914

Talk about interesting buildings: this 1920s-themed bar and restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop once served as a museum of holography, the Free Methodist Publishing House, and a casket factory. Today, it’s a modern-day speakeasy where you can pick your poison (a number of cocktails, spirits, beers, ciders, and wines are available); enjoy tasty treats like raw oysters, scallops, and steak frites; and catch a cabaret show (on Sunday, pending Chicago’s Covid-19 guidelines).

16 of 21

Map Room

The bar at Map Room Chicago

Andrew Seaman / Flickr

Address
1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Phone +1 773-252-9351

Feeling nostalgic but won't be traveling for a while? Head to Map Room in Bucktown, where you can travel vicariously or get inspired for future trips via National Geographic magazines, travel books, maps, and a selection of internationally sourced beers. While there’s a full bar, there's no kitchen, though you’re welcome to bring in outside food or visit in the morning when coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Inc., pastries from Bennison’s Bakery, and sandwiches from Brobagel are brought in until 11 a.m.

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17 of 21

Pilsen Yards

Outside at Pilsen Yards in Chicago

Pilsen Yards Chicago / Sammy Faze Photography

Address
1163 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608-2355, USA
Phone +1 312-243-2410

Feast on Latin-style street food like shrimp, pork, fish, and sweet potato tacos and ceviche at Pilsen Yards, which hosts live music and vinyl DJ sets on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There's an outdoor patio, though with a clear roof, the inside bar feels very open and roomy. Catch one of the rotating art exhibits, sip on house margaritas, and check out The Alderman, a secret in-house speakeasy bar, for a more intimate 16-seat setting.

18 of 21

The Inner Town Pub

Inside The Inner Town Pub in Chicago

The Inner Town Pub

Address
1935 W Thomas St, Chicago, IL 60622-3732, USA
Phone +1 773-235-9795

Located in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood in West Town, The Inner Town Pub has been around for more than 35 years and is known for its love of the arts and everything Elvis. Play your favorite tunes on the jukebox, shoot some free pool, and unwind with a selection of regional craft beers, bottled beers and ciders, or specialty cocktails like the Limoncello Shot (think of it as a classy lemon drop), Blackbird (bourbon mixed with blackberry, lavender, lemon, blueberry, and garnished with mint and bubbles), or a Mopiscojito, a sort of Pisco-sour-meets-mojito creation.

19 of 21

Utopian Tailgate

Colorful seating at Utopian Tailgate in Chicago

Utopian Tailgate

Address
1608 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
Phone +1 312-210-7799

Situated above the legendary comedy club, The Second City, Utopian Tailgate offers views of Chicago from its 10,000-square-foot Piper’s Alley rooftop bar, an adult playground for anyone who loves putterball, giant Jenga games, drinking games, Plinko, and disco dance parties. Enjoy epic cocktail concoctions like Lip Service (made with vodka, mint, lemon, and watermelon) or Gin & Chronic (gin, with green tea, lime, CBD oil, and Cocolero); nosh on nachos, hot wings, and other tailgating bites; or kick back with a draft beer or two.

20 of 21

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery

The bar at Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery in Chicago

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery

Address
5215 S Harper Ave, Chicago, IL 60615, USA
Phone +1 773-643-8008

With other locations around Michigan, the Chicago outpost of Jolly Pumpkin serves up Detroit-style pizza, burgers, artichoke sandwiches, salads, and other lite bites like truffle fries, cheesy bread, and chicken wings, as well as a mix of beer from its own brewery and that of North Peak Brewing Company in Traverse City. Want to take it to go? Order food and beer through the bar online or by phone as take-out, whether you’re in the mood for a single serving or a growler full of the good stuff.

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21 of 21

Sparrow

A look inside Sparrow in Chicago

Sparrow

Address
12 W Elm St, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
Phone +1 312-725-0732

Reminiscent of classic Chicago lobby bars, Sparrow’s Gold Coast location and sophisticated 1930s-inspired cocktails make it a great spot to unwind after a long day. Founded in 1927 with that very purpose in mind, the bar offers rum-centric drinks like the Hotel Nacional (made with pineapple rum, pineapple and lime juice, and apricot liqueur) and craft creations like the Rosado (an Ecuadorian twist on a Pisco sour, made with gin, Pisco, Curaçao, lemon, bitters, grenadine, and egg whites), as well as spirits and a variety of European wines, beers, and ciders.

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The Top Bars in Chicago