zm.toflyintheworld.com
New recipes

50 Best Dive Bars in the U.S.

50 Best Dive Bars in the U.S.


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.


A good dive bar has greasy food, music, things placed on the ceilings or walls by past patrons, and ice-cold adult beverages. It most definitely will not have clean floors, pink drink umbrellas, or good lighting.

You either love these places or you fear for your life at the thought of venturing into one. Whatever your pleasure, Yahoo Travel went in search of some of the diviest dives in the country. We aimed for an assortment of pubs, taverns, hole-in-the-wall bars, music venues, and even a couple of Tiki bars. We found bars with long histories and a few newcomers.

Alabama

The Nick Rocks bills itself as “Birmingham’s Dirty Little Secret.” That may refer to the atmosphere, but the music is the main attraction here. Whatever your preference, they have it on the schedule.

Alaska

The Salty Dawg Saloon is exactly the kind of place you want to visit in Homer. It has graffiti, dollar bills hanging from every centimeter of the ceiling, and locals with tall tales.

Arizona

The Buffet Bar & Crock Pot has a fascinating name and a long history. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but then it’s not supposed to, is it?

Arkansas

Midtown Billiards has something on their food menu called a “Gut-Bomb Burger.” That alone makes it a dive bar.

California

Bub’s Bar & Grill is a relative newcomer in the dive business, but any place that can turn tater tots into full menu page is dive-worthy.

Colorado

Ace Hi Tavern in Golden has a suspiciously un-divey website. But there’s no need to fear their Internet skills. This place is a dive worth the drive into the hills above Denver.

Connecticut

The Dive Bar & Restaurant in West Haven is about half dive and half regular bar. It flies the red and white scuba flag, making it more of a bar for divers and less of a dive for drinkers. Don’t hold those things against it. The burgers and the view are worthy.

Delaware

Zogg’s Raw Bar and Grill isn’t exactly in the same category as some of our grittier choices on this list, but who isn’t a sucker for a Caribbean bar?

Florida

Harry’s Banana Farm not only has a cool name with a story to go with it, but a cool mascot. Speedbump, the cat rules the stools in this dive. We don’t want to know the story behind his name.

Georgia

Moe’s & Joe’s Tavern started serving a thirsty public in 1947. Can’t go wrong in Georgia with burgers and PBR on tap.

Hawaii

Arnold’s Tiki Bar carries on when other traditional Tiki bars in Waikiki are fading into the sand. Live music, local brew, and pulled-pork sliders are the draw here.

Idaho

McCleary’s Pub takes some of the fun outdoors with covered patios and horseshoe pits.

Illinois

Fast Eddie’s Bon Air has a long history as a corner bar. The first owner was Anheuser Busch. Today’s dive features steak on a stick and homemade bratwurst.

Indiana

Five Star Dive Bar has an oxymoron for a name. The question is, which are they really? Answer—dive bar with fun, live music, events, and five-star bar food.

Iowa

The Deadwood is the place to hang in Iowa City. Games, grit, and cold beer.

Kansas

With a name like “The Red Room” you can be assured it’s a dive. If you need a spot to sip a brew and watch the Royals, this be the place in Overland Park.

Kentucky

Third Street Dive takes their divedom seriously enough to put it in their name. Don’t go here expecting a poser. This is a real dive.

Louisiana

In New Orleans there are dives, and then there are dives. You can feel comfortable at The Chart Room, which recently had a drink featured in Maxim.

Maine

Mama’s Crowbar is the kind of place where you can trust the name to tell you just how divey it will be.

Maryland

Bad Decisions not only has the perfect dive bar name, but a bacon-based selection of food to munch on while you sip.

Massachusetts

Quahog Republic Dive Bar is a cleaned-up sort of dive. They serve local brew, jazzed-up mixed drinks, and truffled parmesan fries. Oh my!

Michigan

Abick’s Bar has history, good drinks, and a good selection of bottled beer.

Minnesota

Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook puts an emphasis on fun and good burgers, but it’s the bowling alley that makes this place a real dive.

Mississippi

Gil’s Fish Camp is shoulder-to shoulder fun with all the prerequisites for a perfect dive bar, including live music and rowdy patrons.

Missouri

Zoo Bar is so far under the radar that it doesn’t even have a Facebook Page. That fact alone makes it a true dive. They get extra points for having a cigarette vending machine.

Montana

The Rock Pile is slightly more sports bar than dive bar, but with chicken-fried steak on the weekend breakfast menu, we proclaim it a dive.

Nebraska

Jerry’s Bar is another example of a well rehabbed dive from the 50’s.The jukebox works and the beer list is lengthy.

Nevada

Take everything you think you know about Vegas bars and throw it out the window. Double Down Saloon is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Serious. Dive.

New Hampshire

Eat clams. Drink beer. Repeat. Direct any questions to Perkins Pier Clam Shack & Bar.

New Jersey

You don’t need a cute name when you’ve been a neighborhood bar since 1932. Krug’s Tavern is what it is—dive bar with tasty food.

New Mexico

Taos Mesa Brewing draws an eclectic crowd, but then so does Taos itself. Don’t let the funky, artistic building scare you away. It lives up to dive bar standards with cold beer and entertainment. Try the Conspiracy Burger if you dare.

New York

Duck Duck Bar is a neighborhood bar on Montrose. It’s a little tame by some dive bar standards, but just quirky enough to squeeze onto the list. Get lost in their Bermuda Triangle featuring jalapeno-infused tequila.

North Carolina

The name alone puts The Thirsty Beaver Saloon on our list. Live music. Cold drinks. Nothing fancy here, not even the ugly beaver logo.

North Dakota

The Bowler has 24 bowling lanes, fresh pizza, and three dive bars. No Fargo weirdness here—just fun.

Ohio

Beck Tavern is a no-frills neighborhood bar in the German Village. Three dart boards, sports on the flat screens, and weekday happy hours.

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, dive bars are all about the music. At Grady’s 66 Pub in Yukon, the music is mostly Red Dirt with an occasional rock band thrown in for good measure. You can trust that the beer is cold and the crowd friendly.

Oregon

The Rialto Pool Room Bar & Cafe has been a staple of the Portland scene since 1920. The smack of billiard balls surrounds you as you dig into a plate of food that is better than it has to be in this historic dive.

Pennsylvania

Tatooed Mom has a name that makes it hard to ignore, but if there is any doubt about its dive-worthiness, check the brunch menu. The Breakfast Bomb Pita is pizza, eggs, and tater tots rolled into one meal. Dive bomb.

Rhode Island

Nick-a-nee’s calls itself a “heavenly dive.” Got to love it when a bar embraces the dive mantle. Lots of live music and a jukebox are the qualifying factors.

South Carolina

Did we mention that basement bars almost always qualify a place as a dive? Throw in some taxidermy and divedom is a lock. The Whig has both.

South Dakota

Monks House of Ale Repute has a name that is a little too cute for the typical dive bar, but 40 beers on tap and a list of more than 150 bottled beers is the qualifying factor. The fireplace is a bonus.

Tennessee

Ernestine & Hazel’s has Memphis soul. A sure sign of a good dive bar is a one-item menu. It shows a distinct take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Try the Soul Burger. Or don’t.

Texas

In Texas, it’s not a dive unless there’s a dance floor. Stepping out onto the dance floor at Gruene Hall is a rite of passage in this state. There is live music seven days a week and a bar serving cold beer.

Utah

The Bar in Sugarhouse is a simple bar in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City. Cold beer and friendly conversation with the locals are guaranteed.

Vermont

Olde Northender Pub has tap beer, friendly staff, and a live band now and then.

Virginia

Inland Reef is a smoky pool hall with cold drinks and a lively crowd. You expected more?

Washington

Stop by Tim’s Tavern in North Seattle for pulled pork and you may find yourself happily whiling away the day waiting on the eclectic evening music scene to begin. This is Seattle dive-bardom at its best.

West Virginia

Big Joe’s Bar & Grill has games, homemade potato chips, and plenty of screens for WVU games.

Wisconsin

Blackbird Bar has pinball! And music. And 100 bottled beer selections.

Wyoming

For the uninitiated, all cowboy bars are dive bars. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has a history dating back to the 1890’s. When in Jackson Hole, this is where you belly up to the bar.

  • The 11 Best Bar Bites in America
  • Bar Crawl: How to Successfully Drink Your Way Through Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  • From an Underwater Bar to One 30,000 In the Air: World’s Best Bars for Thrill-Seekers

8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!


8 Great Dive Bars In Chicago

If you’ve ever sat around drinking in your grandmother’s musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose’s Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of kitschy décor to take in, it’s the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students out of their element and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother’s age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Chicago is a fantastic city for dive bars. It's so great that my initial list of contenders for the city's best consisted of 42 bars, and I'm positive that I could have added more places if I asked more people. Many of the city's divey neighborhood bars have been around—and beloved—for decades.

What is a dive bar, by definition? While I love places to get great cocktails, I also love places where I can only get PBR and where I won't even venture into the bathroom unless it's a dire emergency. The latter are dives. Dives also tend to be populated by old men, and the more old men in an establishment, the better things are going to be. A few more rules: if the bar even has a website, it should look like it was made in 1995. Dives have to be cheap—charging $6 for a can of cheap beer is putting on airs. There should be nothing remotely pretentious about a dive bar, and if I walk in wearing a sundress and ballet flats, I should feel overdressed.

A great dive should have its own personality—you should be able to immediately distinguish one wood-paneled interior from another. In the case of Rose's Lounge, it's a bar that makes you feel like you're drinking in your grandmother's basement. At Club Foot, it's the '80s and '90s toys lining the walls. At Carol's, it's the country music and the mélange of patrons, some cowboy-hatted seriously, some ironically.

With so many to choose from, assembling a list of every essential Chicago dive bar would be more than even the eagerest drinker could manage. So we've narrowed it down to 8 great Chicago dive bars we've enjoyed recently, and plan to return to soon.

Rose's Lounge

If you've ever sat around drinking in your grandmother's musty basement, chances are it felt something like Rose's Lounge. Frosted mugs to hold $2 pours of Old Style come out of a kitchen-sized fridge behind the bar, there are mismatched couches, a discarded dining room table set, Christmas lights, figurines, alarm clocks, and a Blockbuster video gumball machine. Despite the overload of décor to take in, it's the people watching the steals the show. There are quirky older drinkers from the neighborhood, wayward DePaul students, and low-key types who need a break from typical Lincoln Park bars. The dusty bottles behind the bar seem to have been there for decades, so everyone drinks the frosty mugs of Old Style. As an added bonus, bartenders, who may or may not be your grandmother's age, will pass out dollars for the jukebox.

Rose's Lounge: 2656 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map) 773-327-4000

St. Pauli Club

When we arrived at St. Pauli Club at 11 p.m., the older woman working there had to come unlock the door and let us in. And the bar was empty. While only three more people joined us before we left at 2 a.m., and we were the youngest people there by about 30 years, the oak-wood bar somehow felt completely convivial. The bar has a jukebox with German music, a pool table, and episodes of Matlock on TV—there's a lot to keep you entertained until 4 a.m., when the bar closes. The draft selection rotates, but we had steins of Spaten, plus a whiskey shot the bartender bought us.

St. Pauli Club: 5109 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map) 773-769-1922

George's Cocktail Lounge

Chicago has hybrid bars and liquor stores, where you can drink alongside cases of Bud Light and sip your drink while the bartender sells people to-go beverages. George's is one such place. Located in the South Loop, it's dead until about 11 p.m., and nuts starting around 2 a.m. Open until 4 a.m. during the week, and 5 a.m. on weekends, George's is located across the street from Buddy Guy's Legends, and draws industry folks after their own bars close. It also draws tourists, since hotels send visitors looking for a downtown dive here, as there are few other nearby options. Despite the name of the establishment, everyone drinks the Bud or Bud Light on draft or orders a bottled beer. Or you could get a whiskey and Coke, or take a bottle of whiskey home with you.

George's Cocktail Lounge: 646 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605 (map) 312-427-3964

Rossi's Liquors

Many Chicago dive bars open in the morning even before offices, so third shifters can unwind before going home. So it seemed necessary to visit one bar early in the morning to explore the full range of dive bar experiences. I found myself at Rossi's Liquors at 8:24 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, with a PBR in front of me, and I was not the only one. I met someone who had just gotten off work and was winding down with a beer and someone else having a drink alongside coffee before they went to work. The guy clearing out the ATM was there too. Rossi's inexplicably has Revolution beer on tap, but the seats feel like they're going to collapse beneath you, the ceiling on top of you, and most people just drink bottles of PBR. I couldn't manage a whole PBR that early and wound up wandering to Xoco, Rick Bayless' torta restaurant, for a chorizo-egg sandwich. That's one upside to early morning drinking—morning breakfast drunk food beats drunk pizza any day.

Rossi's Liquors: 412 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map) 312-644-5775

Club Foot

Imagine your house if you never threw out a single toy from your childhood. That's what Club Foot is like. Walls are lined with action figures and dolls, and there are games to play, and beer to drink. There's a full lineup of liquor, but PBRs are $2 each weeknight, so that's what everyone drinks. The Ukrainian Village spot has been a bar since the 1880s, and the owner told me that it was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. While the bar is dark, and DJs are spinning, Club Foot still manages to feel like your childhood bedroom.

Club Foot: 1824 West Augusta Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-489-0379

L&L Tavern

The L&L Tavern is notorious for its serial killer connections—apparently John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were both regularly in attendance at the Lakeview dive. These days, you'll find a mix of neighborhood residents, bands playing nearby, and people who wandered down after a Cubs game. Vintage beer signs line the walls, and the tables are so wobbly, you should probably just sit at the bar. PBRs are $2.50, and there's a surprisingly good selection of Irish whiskeys, but you won't find anything on draft. The closest dive on the list to my house, the L&L is my go-to bar.

L&L Tavern: 3207 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60657 (map) 773-528-1303

Bob Inn

The Logan Square bar is located just across the street from Fireside Bowl, so hitting the two in one night is a solid plan. Bob Inn has pool tables and cheap beer and 20-something Logan Square kids mingling with older blue-collar types. It really feels like the perfect neighborhood bar, where anyone would feel comfortable stopping for a drink. It doesn't have the grimy, falling-apart element that the other bars on this list have, but it's dark, cheap, and people only drink PBR or whiskey. Order those and call it a day.

Bob Inn: 2609 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647 (map

Carol's Pub

We may have saved the best for last: this Uptown country bar features a house band on the weekends, cheap drinks and one of the most fascinating groups of people I've ever seen. There were girls sporting ironic-colorful cowboy hats sitting next to people seriously wearing cowboy hats. There were truck drivers and people in pearls. The crowd may be diverse, but everyone hits the dance floor and embraces the live music, grimy bar tops and unstable stools. While there is food available, I didn't see a single person order anything—instead, head to the cheap burrito spot next door to soak up the booze.

Carol's Pub: 4659 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map) 773-334-2402

Where's your favorite Chicago dive bar? Add to the list in the comments below!