Chicago is known for many things, including its deep-dish pizza, the iconic bean sculpture, and its vibrant music scene. But one aspect of the Windy City that often goes unnoticed is its dive bars.
These unassuming, hole-in-the-wall establishments may not have flashy signs or trendy decor, but they offer something that can't be found in any other type of bar: an authentic, no-frills drinking experience.
Dive bars are often the preferred destination for locals looking to unwind after a long day of work or catch up with friends over a cold beer. They're a place where you can let loose and be yourself, without worrying about dress codes or pretentious attitudes.
Whether you're a regular or a first-time visitor, dive bars offer a sense of community and camaraderie that is hard to come by in more upscale establishments.
Chicago is home to a plethora of dive bars, each with its own unique charm and character. Some are dimly lit and cozy, while others are loud and rowdy. Some serve up classic cocktails, while others specialize in cheap beer and shots.
But no matter what your preferences may be, there's a dive bar in Chicago that's sure to suit your taste. In this blog post, we'll be taking a closer look at some of the best dive bars in the city, from the north side to the south side and everywhere in between. So grab a stool, order a drink, and let's dive in!
Delilah's is a unique dive bar that stands out among others in the city. With over 300 types of whiskey and a great selection of beer, it's easy to see why it's a favorite among locals.
The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with punk and rock music playing in the background.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the extensive whiskey collection. The bar also features movie nights and DJs spinning music, adding to the overall experience.
If you're looking for a laid-back, fun night out, Delilah's is definitely worth checking out.
2. Old Town Ale House
Old Town Ale House is a historic dive bar with a unique character.
The walls are covered in risque and political satire art, making for an interesting conversation starter. Dim lighting creates a cozy and intimate atmosphere.
The bartenders are quick and friendly, serving up strong drinks at fair prices. The jukebox offers a great selection of music.
It's a great spot to pregame before a show at Second City or to spend a late night with friends. Cash only, but worth a visit for the experience.
3. Whirlaway Lounge
Whirlaway Lounge is a cozy neighborhood dive bar that has been around since 1980.
The bar serves a wide variety of bottled beers, and the selection of cans and bottles is better than expected. The bartenders are super nice, and the owner Maria is delightful.
The ambiance and vibe are great, making it a fun little joint to hang out with friends. Whirlaway Lounge is a perfect spot for watching sports, especially the Blackhawks games.
The bar is cash-only, and there are no drafts. If you're looking for a chill place to grab a drink and hang out, Whirlaway Lounge is definitely worth checking out.
Rossi's is a quintessential dive bar that exudes a cozy, small-town vibe. The bar's decorations are awesome, making it a great spot for an evening of drinks and socializing.
The bartender Desiree is friendly and welcoming, treating patrons like old friends.
The clientele at Rossi's are eager to socialize, adding to the bar's lively atmosphere.
While the restrooms may be difficult to access, Rossi's is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a low-key, budget-friendly bar with good beer and cider choices.
Moneygun is a hip and refined dive bar that serves classic cocktails and creative small plates. The atmosphere is intimate and inviting, with a chill vibe and dim lighting.
The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly, offering a wide selection of drinks to choose from.
While there may be a line to get in, it moves quickly and is worth the wait. Just be prepared to walk in only, as they don't take reservations.
If you're looking for a great spot to grab a drink and some bites with friends, Moneygun is definitely worth checking out.
6. Reed's Local
Reed's Local is a quintessential Chicago dive bar that's worth checking out. With a great beer selection and friendly staff, this bar offers a comfortable and laid-back atmosphere that's perfect for a night out with friends.
The bar also offers live music, karaoke nights, and quirky theme nights that are sure to keep you entertained.
While the drinks are reasonably priced, it's important to note that this is a cash-only establishment.
If you're looking for a low-key neighborhood watering hole with a local dive feeling, Reed's Local is definitely worth a visit.
7. Galway Bay
Galway Bay is a dive bar that's halfway underground in a historic building.
The staff is extremely friendly, starting with the doorman who personally shakes your hand as you enter and leave. Inside, there are darts, a pool table, and old-school video games.
The atmosphere is laid-back and perfect for a chill night out. Prices are fair and there are good drink specials throughout the week.
Free popcorn is also available. If you're looking for a low-key spot to hang out with friends, Galway Bay is worth checking out.
8. Chipp Inn
Chipp Inn is a well-worn, cash-only corner bar that has been around since 1897. It has a vintage decor, neon beer signs, and a pool table.
The bar is a great spot to pop in and have a drink in a comfortable setting. It's a no-frills neighborhood bar that offers a great selection of reasonably priced beers.
The bartenders and owners are friendly, and the atmosphere is perfect for a low-key night out. The regulars are entertaining and welcoming, and the bar is a great hidden gem.
If you're looking for a simple, infused, and great selection of beers, Chipp Inn is the perfect spot.
9. Archie's Iowa Rockwell Tavern
Archie's Iowa Rockwell Tavern is a classic dive bar with a friendly atmosphere. It's a great spot for locals to grab a drink and play some free pool.
The bar is dog-friendly and offers a diverse selection of beers at great prices. The staff is knowledgeable and attentive, making it a perfect spot for a low-key night out.
While parking can be an issue, the bar's community involvement and volunteer events make it a standout in the neighborhood.
If you're looking for a no-frills dive bar with a welcoming vibe, Archie's Iowa Rockwell Tavern is worth checking out.
10. Ten Cat Tavern
Ten Cat Tavern is a cozy dive bar that offers a great atmosphere and friendly staff. It's a perfect spot for a night out with friends to enjoy cheap drinks and play a game of pool on their well-maintained tables.
The bar has a relaxed and eccentric vibe, with funky furnishings and a fireplace that adds to the overall experience.
One of the highlights of the bar is its captivating patio where guests can relax and enjoy drinks.
The bar also hosts art exhibits, making it a unique spot in the city. Ten Cat Tavern is a must-visit for anyone looking for a laid-back and enjoyable night out.
11. Bernice's Tavern
Bernice's Tavern is a must-visit dive bar for anyone looking for an authentic Chicago experience. The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, with friendly bartenders and a rotating selection of Lithuanian bottles.
Live music on weekends adds to the fun, and Wednesday night "Stingo" is a unique and enjoyable experience.
The bar is cash only and does not serve food, but the cheap drinks and kitschy decor make up for it.
With its unpretentious vibe and no-nonsense bar feel, Bernice's Tavern is the perfect spot to grab a drink and unwind.
12. EZ Inn
EZ Inn is a dive bar with a fun and welcoming atmosphere. The spacious venue is great for groups, whether it's quiet or packed with loud music.
The bartenders are observant and offer a simple but thoughtful drink menu.
The DJ keeps the dance floor full with fun tunes, making it the ultimate bar experience. The wooden bar and beautiful room add to the general 70s vibe.
The prices are affordable, and the cocktails are always on point. EZ Inn is a great place to drink and hang out with friends.
13. Rose's Lounge
Rose's Lounge is a classic dive bar with a cozy and homey atmosphere.
The bartenders are friendly and the beer is cheap.
The bar has a great jukebox and a pool table for entertainment.
It's a great spot to hang out with friends and enjoy a few beers in a relaxed environment. Cash only, but worth the visit.