The inviting and relexed setting of a dive bar welcome visitors of all types. Neighborhoods offer up Chicago-style, speakeasy-esque, take-a-load-off, sit-back-and-relax atmospherics in it's vast array of watering holes. It's simplicity, vibrantly colored by each neighborhood's locals, make dive bar hopping a welcome option for a day off in our gorgeous city.
Let's start our day off mid-day with some spunk through punk at Reggie's. If the day allows, head to the rooftop for all kinds of tasty food specials (chorizo burgers, stuffed mushrooms) plus a fierce selection of daily drink specials and loads of drafts (Lindemans Framboise on tap!). You can shoot hoops or play a friendly game of pool. The train runs nearby and the skyline is quite the eye-poppin' sight. There's live music on the first floor and above that a book and record shop. Divey indeed.
West of Reggies you can take a stroll through Chinatown and head toward Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar in Bridgeport. The bar, which is located behind the storefront, is a beer lover's fantasyland come true. There are over three hundred frothy pints and bottles to choose from, not to mention their one of a kind artisanal cocktails and seasonal concoctions. There's usually a DJ playing something unique and if you're lucky you'll actually meet Maria, the inspiration behind this gem. She enjoys greeting the regulars and meeting newcomers alike.
Heading north on Halsted you must make a stop at Bernice's Tavern where you have to ring a bell to get buzzed in. This is a classic dive, low ceiling and tiny homey bar feel included. The bar's back wall is jam-packed with quirky knick-knacks old and new. The variety of beers to choose from is somewhat limited but the affordable prices make you forget all that. Grab a comfy tall table by the wall or a stool next to the bar near the back where local bands often play.
Pilsen offers many a film's choice for bar backgrounds - Skylark. It's so modest, people pass it up without knowing what's going on inside. That's how we like it. It's unpretentious, dimly lit, and there's live jazz on Mondays. Brian curates Thursday afternoons with an all 50s and 60s country western vinyl music selection. The cocktails are cheap and generous and there's craft beer for everyone (we enjoy anything from Three Floyd's).
If you're near Wicker Park, head down Thomas off Division for a blast from the past at bohemian Innertown Pub which boasts a creepy cool bust of Elvis by the entrance. It's dingy and dark and it looks like it never quite finished getting refurbished, but there's a jukebox, there's open mic, a pool table, darts and a hoarder's load of kitsch all over this former speakeasy.
In the heart of Wicker Park dive into Beachwood Inn. It's cash only and easy to miss off the bright lights of Milwaukee Ave, but well worth the visit. The place is super friendly and low-key, there's plenty of rock'n'roll on the jukebox as well as on the walls and it's an inexpensive drinking treat. There are plenty of board games if you're looking to relax away the afternoon and no matter if you walk in solo or with friends, you'll always leave knowing more people than when you arrived.
Visitors don't have to stray far from downtown thanks to the late night service at Beef n'Brandy on State Street. The brightly lit bar downstairs has homemade fruit-infused liquors (mango and pineapple rum), a modern selection of beers and drafts and one of the best burgers we've ever had the pleasure of eating at two in the morning. Service is impeccable and because of its location you'll never know who you might run into. DJs play everything from pop to disco and there's even karaoke. The place has been around since 1967.
Written by Sandra Treviño / Arte y Vida Chicago
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