Chicago is a large city. It has millions of drinking age men and women. Dozens of neighborhoods with thousands of bars, clubs and restaurants. Meet People Chicago is in a unique position. We have been to hundreds of locations with thousands of our members. And with each event, we experience the good, the bad and the ugly. Besides our superhosts' experiences, we get immediate feedback from our members.
A vast majority of bars we go to are good. It's because we always do our homework. We make sure the bar we pick is in a good location, in a safe neighborhood, has an excellent vibe, excellent drinks, good reviews, etc. And based on our superhosts and members' feedback, here is our list of the best bars in Chicago.
1. Citizen Bar
Citizen Bar is at River North, a Chicago neighborhood. This is important because River North is currently the premier destination for nightlife in Chicago. But I say that with a caveat: I wouldn't say River North is the premier destination for Chicagoans. You will find many Chicagoans, tourist and suburbanites come to this party district. Because it is so crowded with party goers, there are tons, I mean tons, of bars and restaurants here. And because of this you will find many of the bars here don't have the best service just because they can afford to in some sense due to the sheer number of visitors. And because of that most bars are very pricey, both in drinks and food.
Citizen Bar comes across as different. Though they are not a michelin restaurant, Citizen serves more than just bar food. Besides good food, their drinks are wide and affordable, unlike most River North bars.
The layout of Citizen is elegant. It has two floors, the ground level with a nice bar and plenty of tables and seating. What makes it special is it's rooftop, with an amazing view of downtown.
But what makes Citizen Bar a top destination for our members is because of their top quality service. Servers are prompt and friendly and any questions we had, they were answered quickly and satisfactory. Whether you are alone, with a date or with friends, you will find you'll be welcome at Citizen Bar.
Check out Citizen Bar and see for yourself. We would love to hear your feedback.
Pint is an Irish style bar in Wicker Park, though with its red telephone booth outside, it can feel like an English pub as well. And that is the part of the charm of Pint, the character and feel of the bar. Inside, the brick walls and columns give patrons a feel that they are no longer in Chicago or at least not contemporary Chicago. And the servers, some with British or European accents help in this regard.
The staff are very nice here. Each one will talk to you for as long as possible until they need to satisfy their next patron. Or they will leave you alone because you like your solitude for the moment. Whatever, the case, they seem to know the pulse of their customers. Always friendly, courteous and fun.
The crowd at Pint usually is never too big or too small. People mind their own business but are friendly when approached. If you go alone, you will find the bar welcoming.
Best time to experience Pint is on a Friday or Saturday evening for dinner or right after dinner.
3. Small Bar
Hands down, Small Bar is our favorite neighborhood bar. It's a small neighborhood bar in the Avondale neighborhood, not too far from busy Logan Square. Small Bar's local neighbors love to come here but so do many outside the neighborhood. That's why even on a Tuesday, Small Bar can be filled. In fact, we have never seen the bar empty.
The bartenders are of the hipster variety. Not the most talkative (they will if you talk) but they are still friendly and they know their craft. Beers are good and cheap.
Come to Small Bar if you like a crowd but without the superficiality and definitely come to Small Bar if you like a neighborhood bar with good drinks and food.
4. Revolution Brewery Taproom
Revolution Brewery is probably the most well known craft brewery in Chicago. It's famous beers include the Anti-Hero, Bottom Up Wit, Eugene Porter, Coup D'etat, among others.
Revolution Brewery has two locations. The main bar at Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square. Their brewery, however, is in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago on Kedzie Ave. We love both places but this recommendation is for the Kedzie brewery and its taproom.
What we LOVE about Revolution Brewery besides their incredible beers is their amazing taproom. The taproom is next to their brewery which can be seen through clear, wide and tall windows. See the brewmasters do their work or better, join him in a tour. Tours are given almost daily.
The cavernous taproom is surrounded by beer barrels which can serve as beer stands. Plenty of old-beaten looking tables for large groups to gather. The immensely long bar curves beautifully like the Aurora Borealis. And a giant American flag hangs proudly overlooking it all.
Service is solid and even when the crowd is large, is fairly quick. The patrons come from all walks of life. Hipsters, professionals, artists, blue-collar, white-collar, young and older.
And despite the size of the room and maybe because of everything I described above, the crowd, the service, the flag, bar, the incredible beers, Revolution Brewery taproom to me is like a bar where everyone knows my name.
Next time when you want to drink a Revolution beer, instead of ordering from a regular bar, go to their taproom and see if you feel everyone knows your name.
5. Dusek's Board and Beer
Not many people north of Roosevelt Ave. know about Dusek's. That is because Dusek's is in Pilsen, a south side Chicago neighborhood. Pilsen used to be heavy with Mexican immigrants and there is still a strong Mexican influence but many students, artists and even professionals have moved into this dynamic neighborhood. Because of this a growing number of great restaurants and amazing bars are popping up. And Dusek's is in the top of Pilsen's list.
Dusek's is great. It has two floors. The top floor is more of a sit down area while downstairs has more of a speakeasy cocktail feel. What we love about Dusek's is that you could be dressed however you are and no one cares. In fact, you'll fit in perfectly.
The vibe is pure heaven. Drinks are not expensive (it's Pilsen after all), people are friendly, and music speaks to everyone but no pop 40 here. Even lighting is perfect.
At midnight the fish in the giant aquarium facing the bar gets fed. To "celebrate" the fish's dinner time, everyone sitting at the bar gets a free shot! Where else can you get that welcoming feel?
Many of us don't go to the south side since there are so many options on the north side for drinks and food. But if there is one bar you should check out in the south side, it's Dusek's.
6. Holiday Club
Holiday Club is one of our favorite bars. It is located at the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Old school, old style, "older" music, but fun young crowds. They are famous for their old TVs, playing old music videos from the 80s and 90s though they also play contemporary music. They are more of a bar than a club though they do have a back room that is made for dancing. Women love this place because of this and everyone love the owner Pete, his staff, and their inexpensive drinks. Food is ain't too shabby either.
If you want to have a guarantee good time with great service, meeting friendly people at a unique Chicago establishment, go to Holiday Club. You'll be glad you did!
Right now these are the best bars in our list. As you can see there are different reasons but also some commonalities. One of them is good and friendly service and the other is excellent vibe.
Come back and check this blog to see what other bars we will add to the list. Hopefully, we will add many more bars to this list in the coming months.
Do you have an awesome bar to recommend? Email me and I will check it out. Who knows, I might add it to the list!
Peter Shen, Founder, MeetPeopleChicago.com