Best beer bars: Chicago's best bars and brewpubs for craft beer
These best beer bars cater to craft beer snobs looking for extensive draft beer lists and those just wanting to grab any old beer at one of our many brewpubs.
Atlas Brewing Company
It’s fitting that this micro-brewpub is located on the same stretch as Delilah’s; neither is your typical Lincoln Park bar. At Atlas, they are serious about beer-so serious, in fact, that they brew pale ales, IPAs and stouts themselves, in tanks on view behind glass at the back of the room. There’s also a chef-y food menu (example: hanger steak with slow-roasted tomatoes).
2747 N Lincoln Ave, (between Schubert Ave and Diversey Pkwy)
Bangers & Lace
At this bar by the owners of Bar DeVille, “bangers” stand for sausage (we dig the Chicago-style Vienna Beef over the fancier brat sandwiches), and “lace” for “Brussels lace,” i.e., beer foam on the edge of a glass. The stellar draft selection, two-ounce sample options and knowledgeable staff draw in a mix of beer geeks and neighborhood clientele.
1670 W Division St, (at Paulina St)
With its carefully attended-to beer list and homey, taverny look, this pub from the Bar on Buena folks has a serious Hopleaf vibe to it. The big difference? The crowds, though passionate drinkers, are not so large that they’re lining up on the sidewalk. So keep this underrated gem to yourself, or suffer the throngs of craft-beer geeks.
1970 W Montrose Ave, (between Damen and Winchester Aves)
Goose Island Clybourn
Watching beer ferment in tanks is about as exciting as C-SPAN, so we’re pretty sure it’s concoctions like Matilda and Sofie that bring in the crowds here. Nearly every Goose Island beer from 312 to Pere Jacques is on tap, but we drop in to check out the seasonal releases and chef collaborations.
1800 N Clybourn Ave, (at Willow St)
Half Acre Brewery
Beer. People drinking beer. Bearded people drinking beer wearing T-shirts bearing beer logos. This laid-back tap room adjacent to Half Acre’s brewing facilities swarms with all these things and more. Minimal picnic-style tables lend a beer-hall vibe, and on tap are the brewery’s classics (Daisy Cutter, Gossamer), its latest experiments (recently, barrel-aged Over Ale) and everything in between. You can peek through the doors into the brewery to see where the magic happens, but we guarantee this side of the building is having more fun.
4257 N Lincoln Ave, (at Cullom Ave)
Haymarket Pub & Brewery
There’s no doubt Pete Crowley is a great brewer. For his breakout bar, Haymarket, the former Rock Bottom brewmaster amassed an amazing bottle list, and some of the beers he’s brewed, such as the Mathias Imperial IPA and Oscar’s Pardon Belgian Pale Ale, are awesome. Still, the cavernous room and basic bar food don’t exactly make it an all-night destination, but it’s definitely worth a stop for a round or two.
737 W Randolph St
Thought this was just a bar to belly up to with a Belgian brew in hand? One bite and you’ll know there’s much more. Our perfect night involves sampling the drafts at the bar while slurping down the famous ale-steamed mussels, but you could also class it up, grab a proper table and dig into seasonal rotations such as wood-roasted spring chicken with morels and favas, available in the spring. Beer geeks know this is the place in town to school their palate on craft brews, and they do come in droves, but the addition of an adjacent space helps keep the place from feeling like a sardine tin.
5148 N Clark St, (between Winona St and Foster Ave)
Though it’s nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street, this is anything but your average Lincoln Park bar. The drafts (which rotate weekly) are a suds-geek’s dream come true, the stereo is heavy on metal and the bartenders know their shit, making this one of the most underrated beer bars in the city. Translation: Expect lots of beards.
1102 W Webster Ave, (between Seminary and Clifton Aves)
The Map Room
You couldn’t fit another beer on the killer list or another Bucktown local in this cozy tavern on occasional Tuesdays when the bar unveils new or limited releases of specialty beers. If you’re a more low-key drinker but like the vibe, stop by in the a.m. when the Map Room functions as a coffeehouse.
1949 N Hoyne Ave, (between Homer St and Armitage Ave)
Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar
Ed Marszewski – editor-publisher of Lumpen, festival host, gallerist and general Chicago indie-art-world guy-around-town – and his brother, Mike, remodeled and renamed Kaplan’s Liquors, the Bridgeport bar that was owned and operated since 1986 by their mother, Maria. The chandeliers built out of bottles and the 300-plus microbrews are notable, but the real standout feature is the welcoming scene: People like each other here.
960 W 31st St, (between Keeley and Farrell Sts)
You could wait up to an hour to get into one of this microbrewery’s booths. Or you could simply hover around the bar and snap up a stool as soon as someone else calls it a night. Either way, remember you’re here for the beer as much as the food. So pair that Workingman burger with a pint of Workingwoman brown beer. And follow that with a goblet of Bottom Up Wit and an order of pumpkin hand pies. The latter is a pairing good enough to make you forget about the wait for a seat, ambivalent service and disappointing pizza.
2401 N Western Ave, (at Fullerton Ave)
This huge beer garden turns into a laid-back college reunion on weekend nights in summer, with baseball-capped dudes and spaghetti-strapped chicks flanking the outdoor bar. In colder months, the attention turns to the more sophisticated picks on the beer list and the slabs of ribs that go a long way toward warming the belly.
3258 N Sheffield Ave, (between Belmont Ave and School St)
Since chef Justin White came on board, the name of this place may as well be Small and Underappreciated Beer-Focused Restaurant. Yes, there are still burgers and poutine, the satisfying snacks that, along with Small Bar's encyclopedic beer selection, have made this a low-key neighborhood favorite. But White's menu offers more than elevated bar food tropes: This guy is serving toasts with savory tomato jam and a sophisticated romaine salad rife with herbs. Even if he made nothing besides the perfectly fried whitefish sandwich, it would be enough to put him—and Small Bar—on the gastropub map.
2049 W Division St, (between Damen and Hoyne Aves)
Best wine bars: Best bars for pinot noir and more in Chicago
Enjoy wine and cheese, sauvignon blanc and other types of wine from Chicago's best sommeliers at the city's best wine bars.
Old World wine list and Mediterranean small plates: Scott Harris has nailed the formula at Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca, so why mess with a good thing? Admittedly, the scales at DiSotto (in the cellar-like basement of Francesca’s on Chestnut) tip toward drinking – the food is limited to antipasti, bruschette, cheeses and salumi. But when you’re spreading thick ricotta and fragments of honeycomb on toasted bread or sampling warm, marinated olives or indulging in the toast with a truffled egg yolk at its center, the appeal of this wine bar can’t help but feel unending.
200 E Chestnut St, (between Mies van der Rohe Way and Dewitt Pl)
Pops for Champagne
This sleek, shiny bar in Tree Studios boasts – as the name suggests – the city’s best selection of bubbles. Most of it doesn’t come cheap (it never does, honey), but you’re not just paying for the booze – you’re paying for some of the most educated bartenders in town. Take advantage of their knowledge and ask lots of questions. And when you’ve had enough education (and wine), head downstairs to Pops’ cocktail bar, WaterShed.
601 N State St, (at Ohio St)
RM Champagne Salon
You enter through an unmarked alleyway, glowing strings of lights leading you to a cobblestone courtyard and ornate parlor that resemble a Parisian hideaway. You forget where you are. You order glasses of Champagne you’ve never heard of, you gently unhinge oysters from their shells, and when dessert comes, your selection is plucked from a fanciful cart, replete with bite-size macaroons and caramels and marshmallows. Heaven? Who needs it when there’s RM?
116 N Green St, (at Randolph St)
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar
The novella-length menu at this low-key alcove contains loving and helpful descriptions of an impressive selection of wines and beers. And thanks to the array of small plates served until 1am, this is the kind of warm, simple neighborhood place you’ll never want – or need – to leave.
954 N California Ave, (at Augusta Blvd)
Webster’s owners Tom MacDonald and Jason Normann have narrowed their focus for their second wine bar, which has a prime perch overlooking Logan Square. Sommelier Jeremy Quinn has assembled a list of pretty exciting naturally made old-world wines, and the staff that serves them couldn’t be more easy-going or attentive. Meanwhile, chef John Anderes (ex-Avec) elevates Telegraph into a full-fledged restaurant with a menu that showcases the season (e.g., a grilled baby cucumber salad with Pleasant Ridge cheddar) and sates wine-induced cravings (case in point: a ham-and-coriander-mustard tartine).
2601 N Milwaukee Ave, (at Logan Blvd)
Webster’s Wine Bar
We’ve missed many a movie because we stopped by this funky wine bar across the street from Webster Place theater for a pre-show cocktail. When tasting pours are this affordable (and interesting), we pretend it’s for educational purposes and stay all night, soaking up the dark, Bohemian vibe and munching on tasty cheese plates. We’ll catch the movie on Netflix.
1480 W Webster Ave, (between Clybourn Ave and Dominick St)
Best sports bars in Chicago: cheap beer, good food & plenty of TVs
Whether you want to watch a Cubs game with a PBR or a Bulls game with charcuterie, here are the best sports bars in Chicago.
The first thing you see is the game, projected onto the wall to a scale so large it’s visible down the block. Then the hightop communal tables, the ceiling draped with an American flag. You take a seat and there’s a bartender who’s as happy to make you a cocktail (try the tiki-ish Episode 73) as to crack open a PBR tallboy. He serves you a Jucy Lucy, a stroke of Minnesotan genius that injects a greasy, juicy burger with Velveeta cheese. And that’s the last thing you can, and need to, remember.
1725 W Division St, (at Hermitage Ave)
It’s got the requisite menu of fried food and burgers, televisions in every corner and a shot-and-beer–loving clientele. But the surroundings – stone walls, glass facade – lend this Lakeview sports bar a sensibility so laid-back and inviting that even the least sports-enthusiastic people can get into it.
2916 N Broadway, (at Oakdale Ave)
Crew Bar and Grill
Whether you’re hungry for baseball, football, rugby or just beer, this straight-friendly gay sports bar will work. Forty beers on tap (75 total), tasty (and even healthy) pub grub, lots of TVs and a rah-rah decor make this a fun place to cheer for your team, whatever team you’re on.
4804 N Broadway, (between Lawrence Ave and Gunnison St)
This loud, sports-crazed triangular pub fills up fast, mainly because it plays host to boisterous beer-swilling alums, with alliances leaning toward University of Arkansas, UNC, Penn State, Syracuse and University of Kentucky. On Thursdays, its asses-to-elbows when 10-cent wings and $7 pitchers of Bud Light draw even nonsports fans out of the woodwork.
345 W Armitage Ave, (at Lincoln Ave)
The Globe Pub
Whether 11am or 11pm, it’s hard to find a seat at this North Center Brit pub. Call it European-style drinking, buffered by U.K. pub grub. During soccer and rugby matches, the crowd of regulars vacillates between raucous and downright scary, but fair-weather fans are welcome to join the zoo.
1934 W Irving Park Rd, (between Wolcott and Damen Aves)
With Three Floyds Gumballhead and Goose Island 312 on tap and wings hot off the grill, this well-lit bar will never truly be a dive. But we don’t care, because we feel at home among the concert posters on the walls and the red-velvet booths. And if we’re going to drink out of bottles, it might as well be from this 50 beer–strong selection.
1938 W Chicago Ave, (between Winchester and Damen Aves)
The corner where this North Center tap sits has been a neighborhood hot spot since Prohibition: the former Schulien's featured a basement speakeasy and a house magician. The ’hood has changed – today's O'Donovan's operates as a laid-back hangout for younger couples and small groups – but the tableside magic shows (and the occasional balloon sculptor) remain on weekends. Escape the crowds in the tucked-away beer garden, heated and enclosed in the winter.
2100 W Irving Park Rd, (at Hoyne Ave)
Old Town Social
The yuppie crowd at this glamorous bar might have other things on its mind, but to come here and not order chef Jared Van Camp's charcuterie is to miss the point: More than a dozen varieties are cured in house, including standouts like the fennel-scented finocchiona. And the kitchen doesn't stop there: Everything from the hot sauce to the hot dogs is made from scratch.
455 W North Ave, (at Cleveland Ave)
The glitzy sports bar from the Bull & Bear folks is a hit, and why not? The food – pretzels with cheese fondue, burgers with crispy fries, desserts by HotChocolate’s Mindy Segal – is as good as you could eat while Sugar Ray is blasting. The awesome beer list makes the extensive offerings accessible via icons that even denote what kind of glass each brew is served in. As for the much buzzed-about table-taps and wall-taps (yes, that’s beer taps built into the walls), our server was so on top of her game, we’ll gladly leave those to the high rollers.
400 N State St, (at Kinzie St)
The Rail Bar & Grill
How did one of the best sports bars end up in Ravenswood? More than a dozen beers on tap, almost that many plasma screens (42 inches, and size does matter) and 25-cent jumbo wings on Mondays – beats the sticky floors and drunken screaming at your current spot.
4709 N Damen Ave, (between Leland Ave and Giddings St)
There’s no better place to cheer on your team than this down-home, blue-collar institution that’s been serving up cold ones since 1881. Arrive at least a half hour before game time if you plan to eat – and you should definitely plan to eat. Just-like-Mom-made classics include crispy pork tenderloin smothered in perfect pan gravy and greaseless fried chicken. Add doting servers, cheap beer and a living room – like atmosphere, and you’ve got the best sports experience short of front-row tickets.
3714 S Halsted St, (at 37th St)
There are other sports bars in Chicago. There are even other sports bars in the South Loop. There is, however, no use in telling either of those things to the crowd of Bears fans waiting up to an hour to secure a table (and with it, a 14-inch grilled-cheese sandwich and a prime view of a TV or 30) at the Scout: They'll just think you're trying to cut in line.
1301 S Wabash Ave, (at 13th St)
Wild Goose Bar & Grill
The paint's chipping off the walls here and there, the bathroom is a claustrophobe's nightmare, and if it's busy, you might be forced to belly up to a folding table. Then again, this surprisingly spacious bar is filled with so many flat-screen and projection TVs and fills our stomachs with enough yummy bar food that we almost didn't notice.
4365 N Lincoln Ave, (between Hutchinson St and Cullom Ave)