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The Chicago Nightlife Guide Everyone’s Talking About

How many times have you found yourself wondering what you should do tonight?

Chicago is an incredibly city, full of world-class nightlife options, yet we’ve all struggled to figure out what to do on a given night. Whenever you feel stuck, give this list a good once through and you’re sure to end up with at least a few viable candidates for any night out.

1. The Violet Hour

Credit to the super creative John Cimaglia

Credit to the super creative John Cimaglia

Big ups to the lovely @redsugar

Big ups to the lovely @redsugar

Address: 1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (773) 252-1500
Yelp: (4 stars 1800+ reviews)
Website

The Violet Hour serves artisanal cocktails in the heart of Wicker Park. Rooted in pre-prohibition style libations, the James Beard Award-winning bar program features a seasonally rotating cocktail list, as well as an extensive selection of approachable and sought-after spirits.

Divided into three salons, the interior features high-backed blue leather chairs clustered around small white tables that are illuminated by candlelight. A marble bar spans the length of the room and features cornflower-blue walls, white crown molding, crystal chandeliers and hardwood floors, giving the space an elegant feel.

  • A Chicago institution – you’re not doing Chicago right if you haven’t been to the Violet Hour
  • Super hip, popular, and LOUD speakeasy

2. Bangers & Lace

Address: 1670 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (773) 252-6499
Yelp: (4 stars 500+ reviews)
Website

A bar/restaurant with the feel of a Midwestern lodge, Bangers & Lace offers drinkers 32 draft beers from around the world, in addition to an extensive bottle selection.

  • Great selection of craft beers
  • Truffled Grilled Cheese & Tomato soup is to die for
  • Nice after work spot or for catching up with friends

3. Danny’s Tavern

Address: 1951 W Dickens Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 489-6457
Yelp (4 stars 300+ reviews)

Danny’s Tavern is one of our favorite hidden gems.  It’s small, their drinks are strong and cheap, their dance floor is always packed and the crowd is friendly.  Be forewarned – there will likely be a line, the bar is cash only and finding a place to sit can be hard – especially if you come with a large group.

  • Small/intimate & dark – like a houseparty meets speakeasy
  • Bring cash – no cards here (but the drinks are CHEAP)
  • Great if you’re in the mood to dance

4. Headquarters Beercade Lakeview

Shoutout to the lovely Oliva Harris

Shoutout to the lovely Oliva Harris

Address: 2833 N. Sheffield, Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (773) 665-5660
Yelp: (4 stars 500+ reviews)
Website

A beercade (that’s beer+arcade folks) that offers nostalgia-inducing arcade games alongside craft beers and cocktails.

  • Arcade games are free (with a few exceptions like Pinball)
  • The game selection is great – all the classics like Mortal Kombat, etc
  • Nice selection of craft beers, but a bit pricey

5. Nacional 27

Cheers & Credit to DJ-X and Francis Son

Cheers & Credit to DJ-X and Francis Son

Address: 325 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 664-2727
Yelp: (3 stars 700+ reviews)
Website

Swing by on Wednesday nights for complimentary salsa lessons at 7:30pm. Then come back to eat, drink & dance throughout the weekend with DJ-X spinning new beats on Social Fridays (11p-2a) and all Salsa, Merengue, Bachata every Saturday (11p-3a)!

6. Suite Lounge

Address: 1446 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: (312) 787-6103
Yelp: (4 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

The Suite Lounge is underground, kind of like a cross between a cave and a secret fort. Great service, and always a fun time.

  • The drinks were strong – their martinis were on point
  • The 90s music draws a fun, friendly crowd

7. Watershed

Thanks to @kailyns_dad

Thanks to @kailyns_dad

Big ups to the super dapper Matt Leung

Big ups to the super dapper Matt Leung

Address: 601 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 266-7677
Yelp: (4 stars 300+ reviews)
Website

Located below Pops for Champagne—the wildly popular champagne bar going strong in Chicago for more than 30 years now—Watershed is a parlour room dedicated to the ever-growing field of craft beers, artisanal spirits, and even a few fine wines, all from the Great Lakes region and surrounding areas.

  • Great cocktails, some with a fun twist
  • Very chill, laid back, speakeasy vibe

8. The Mid

Cheers to these blindingly beautiful ladies: @kathytaffy821,

Cheers to Chicago’s most stunning ladies: @kathytaffy821, @elpantalones, @jmurrelly, @bad_news_bales, @carlycfisher, @molldollllll

Shoutout to DJ AC Slater

Shoutout to DJ AC Slater

Address: 306 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661
Phone: (312) 265-3990
Yelp: (2 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

  • Phenomenal House & Techno DJs
  • Be careful when getting a table
  • Ignore the service and just enjoy the scene, crowd & music

9. Smart Bar

Address: 3730 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
Phone: (773) 549-4140
Yelp: (4 stars 300+ reviews)
Website

  • LGBTQ Friendly
  • One of the best sound systems in the city
  • EDM + Dance music & popular DJs
  • Downside: Cover + expensive drinks

10. Forbidden Root

Cheers Anthony Bronuskas

Shoutout to Anthony Bronuskas

Cheers to the uber cool Jill Bernhagen

Cheers to the uber cool Jill Bernhagen

Address: 1746 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (312) 929-2202
Yelp: (4 stars 90+ reviews)
Website

  • Chicago’s first botanic brewery
  • Some of the best beers you’ll find in Chicago
  • Food is good too – we could drink here for hours

11. Brando’s Speakeasy

Address: 343 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (773) 216-3213
Yelp: (3 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

We’re fans of Brando’s – a vintage chicago tavern with on-demand karaoke.

  • There is karaoke with stage in front and then another bar in the back where it’s not as loud
  • $5 martinis everyday – worth a try

12. Vertigo Sky Lounge

Shoutout to insanely beautiful Victoria Krzysica & her baes

Shoutout to insanely beautiful Victoria Krzysica & her baes

and the always classy Anna B

and the always classy Anna B

Address: 2 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 202-6060
Yelp: (3 stars 500+ reviews)
Website

Ranked in the Top 3 of Hotel Bar of the Year Awards 2012 by the Nightclub Bar Awards, and one of what Thrillist calls a “jaw-dropping location with a view”, VSL, soaring 26 stories above the city, is one of Chicago’s premiere party lounges.

  • The first year-round, indoor/outdoor lounge in Chicago
  • Live DJs nightly and an outdoor fire-pit for added ambiance
  • In the colder winter months the have the city’s only Outdoor Rooftop Ice Bar

13. The Map Room

Shoutout to the always fly Tim Adams

Shoutout to the always fly Tim Adams

Shoutout to the dashing Danny Friedman

And a big thanks and credit to Jeffers Richardson

Address: 1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 252-7636
Yelp: (4 stars 700+ reviews)
Website

A bar with a traveler’s theme – with maps, nat geos, international beer selections and a friendly, beer-savvy staff

  • No food, but an extensive beer list
  • Tons of international choices too
  • Decorated with maps and other travel-related decor
  • Laid back vibe, great service (their owners Marc & Laura get major credit)

14. Three Dots and a Dash

Big ups to the jaw droppingly gorgeous June D'Silva

Big ups to the jaw droppingly gorgeous June D’Silva

And a big thanks to the charming Lexi Lopez and her lovely friends

And a big thanks to the charming Lexi Lopez and her lovely friends

and some of Chi-town's most charming: Danielle Beauchamp & Christy Gianneschi

and some of Chi-town’s most charming, Danielle Beauchamp & Christy Gianneschi

Address: 435 N Clark St, Back alley on Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 610-4220
Yelp: (4 stars 1400+ reviews)
Website

Love it or hate it, you will definitely have strong feeling about this place after visiting.  Known for their beautiful, tropical-vacation-esque drinks

  • Pricey, sweet/sugary drinks with a fun tropical style (but still strong)
  • Tiki decor and friendly staff and crowd give this spot a laid-back vibe
  • Their giant drink bowls for groups to share are a blast (and tasty)

15. The Whistler

Address: 2421 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 227-3530
Yelp: (4 stars 500+ reviews)
Website

The Whistler is a bar, gallery, record label, and venue that hosts live music and DJs seven nights a week. Their award-winning cocktail program features an always-changing menu of classics, contemporary favorites, and Whistler originals. Their stage hosts an eclectic mix of jazz, punk, rock, electronic, country, and soul, along with Movieoke, film screenings, literary readings, and other artistic endeavors.

  • Great bartenders, great jazz, great vibe and (but?) very hipster

16. The Victor Bar

Cheers @juf3

Cheers @juf3

31

Address: 4011 N. Damen, Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (312) 526-3233
Yelp: (4 stars 40+ reviews)
Website

A cocktail bar that’s killin it in a beer dominated part of the city – cheers to that.  We’re huge fans – the Victor Bar is great for dates, catching up with friends or just a fun night out.  Great drinks, great atmosphere – everything is just on point.  Two thumbs up.

  • If you are looking for expertly executed cocktails this is what you’ve been looking for

17. Mezcaleria Las Flores

Cheers to dapper Michael Padron

Cheers to dapper Michael Padron

Big ups to Angel

Big ups to Angel

Address: 3149 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 278-2215
Yelp: (4 stars 20+ reviews)
Website

  • Huge selection of Mezcal
  • Popular drinks include Unknown Death and Illumanti Handshake

18. The Barrelhouse Flat

Shoutout to Laura Daina

Shoutout and credit to Laura Daina

and one of Chicago's cutest couples, @theotherrkelley & @zws1

and one of Chicago’s cutest couples, @theotherrkelley & @zws1

Address: 2624 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 857-0421
Yelp: (4 stars 400+ reviews)
Website

  • Upstairs is dimly lit and great for dates and conversation
  • Downstairs is lively, a little bro-y but fun
  • Food & drinks are both great

19. Queen Mary Tavern

Big ups to the classy @madamestgermain

Big ups to the classy @madamestgermain

and the Dapper Jack Gerber

and the Dapper Jack Gerber

Address: 2125 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (773) 697-3522
Yelp: (4 stars 20+ reviews)
Website

Opened in November 2015, the time capsule bar explores British maritime drinking traditions, highlighting the finest gin, rum and scotch available.

  • Nautical theme (but not overdone / cheesey)
  • $12 cocktails are good, not great, but good
  • Gets packed, for good reason – definitely a cool, fun spot

20. Sidetrack

Address: 3349 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (773) 477-9189
Yelp: (4 stars 300+ reviews)
Website

Over the years, Sidetrack has grown from one room with less than 1000 square feet to a collection of spaces spanning more than 8 storefronts and multiple levels that can host more than 1000 people at a time. A popular LGBTQ bar where you can enjoy the music and still hold a conversation.

  • LGBTQ Friendly
  • Huge venue with multiple rooms, each having it’s own vibe

21. Emporium Arcade Bar

Cheers to the brilliant Pedro Revilla

Cheers to the brilliant Pedro Revilla

Address: 1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (773) 697-7922
Yelp: (4 stars 400+ reviews)
Website

Old-skool arcade games & booze – count us in.  Always a fun night.  Our only gripe is that the games aren’t free here. Drinks are reasonably priced and overall a great spot to have fun with friends and dates alike.

22. Delilah’s

Cheers to the always cool Phil Wills

Cheers to the dapper Phil Wills

Address: 2771 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 472-2771
Yelp: (4 stars 400+ reviews)
Website

  • Dive bar
  • YUUUUUGE selection of Whiskeys
  • You can shoot pool upstairs

23. Green Mill

Cheers to Denver's Kathryn Lee

Cheers to Denver’s Kathryn Lee

Address: 4802 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 878-5552
Yelp: (4 stars 600+ reviews)
Website

  • Excellent jazz speakeasy with reasonable cover ($5-15)
  • Cash only & bartenders can be a little standoffish – but hey maybe it’s part of the charm
  • Come here for the music – one of the best, jazz venues we’ve been to anywhere

24. Spy Bar

Address: 646 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: (312) 337-2191
Yelp: (2 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

Literally underground, Spybar is 4500 square feet located directly below street level in the heart of the city’s nightlife epicenter, featuring minimal chic decor and mod cluster seating for the ultimate table experience. Rolling Stones calls Spy Bar a “River North party Paradise.  We might not be as generous with our words, but enjoy a night here every so often

25. Arbella

Address: 112 West Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 846-6654
Yelp: (4 stars 20+ reviews)
Website

Quickly rising in the ranks – a rising star of the Chicago nightlife scene, Arbella won us over with their creative, well executed cocktails. Our favorites include: Chicago Fire Extinguisher and Chilicano

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