What is a dive bar?

That's the type of rhetorical question all of these lists begin with, right? It's usually followed by the author pumping their hipster credentials by giving an answer worthy of only the coolest of the cool kids who are comfortable enough to slum it with the real dregs and degenerates, every 6 months or so. Huff it with the hoi polloi for a night. Find the best instasnap filters to best highlight those popped blue collars.

  • "You guys...they had cans of beer my Grandpa used to drink and they only charged us like $3.00... In. The. City. Isn't that so cool?!"
  • "Like, OMG you guys, can you believe they ONLY take cash?!"
  • "OMG you guys! BOARD GAMES!"
  • "You guys! OMG... Okay, the people were just like...super chill. Really real, y'know? Like really, really real. No one cared about anything. Like, at all."

That's okay. Bless their heart. It's good to see them figuring things out.

Nah. We don't need to spoon feed you. If you're seeking them out, we know we don't need to tell you what really makes a dive bar. We know you like it cheap, a little dirty, and have seen it all and then some. Just like your favorite place.

When we decided we wanted to catalog all the dive bars Chicago has to offer we knew it would become a true project of passion, labor of love, and journey to joy. If you're seeking them out, we know you know that, when it comes to drinking, the word "dive" is not a four-letter pejorative it's a four-letter affirmation.

We need your help.

Like most of our features, none of the Chicago Journal's Guide to Dive Bars is ranked in any particular order. I mean, how could you possibly rank dive bars anyway? That's absurd.

Also, like most of our features, it will be continually added to or subtracted from as we see fit. If you have any favorites you think we should add, reach out to us and make your pitch. If your pitch is good enough, we may even add it to the listing.

And we don't mind if you've had a cuppa two tree when you do reach out...because we understand that making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away?

Drink local. Bring cash.

439 Nightclub

Fulton Market

439 N Ogden Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

If your favorite dive bar doesn't have a painted naked lady above the bar, ask yourself, is it really a dive bar?

And yes, this is how this list starts. Did you think the Chicago Journal was playin' around?

Alice's Lounge


3556 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 279-9382

Archie's Iowa & Rockwell

Ukrainian Village

2600 W Iowa St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-2626

The vast majority of Chicago dive bars will have Old Style signs hanging above their entrance. Archie's prefers Hamm's.

Regardless, Archie's status as a proper Chicago dive bar is as clear as the land of the sky blue waters...

BallPark Pub


514 W Pershing Rd
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 675-4687

Around the corner from Comiskey Park, it'll be tough to find a better place on game day to soak up all the beer with their fries.



3238 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

Frequent drink specials includes Bug Juice. So, yeah, I don't think we really need to say anymore than that.


Logan Square

3653 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 227-5662

A relative unknown compared to many on our list, Bialystok's reputation as a quality dive in a neighborhood with no shortage of dives is quickly growing.

Big Joe's


1818 W. Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 874-8755

If the classiest/most expensive bar in the world raced turtles, they'd probably make a list of dive bars. Big Joe's is not the classiest/most expensive bar in the world and they race turtles. Yes, turtles.

Billy Goat Tavern, The Original

Near North

430 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 222-1525

Due to its infamy, we know the Billy Goat's inclusion on this list will be controversial. The original is a dive, through and through, in the best way possible.

You're probably going to have to ask a local how to find it, but boy is it worth it.

Bob Inn

Logan Square

2609 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 342-2309

Bridgeport Inn


2901 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 523-5468



4659 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 754-8000

Do you like Country AND Western music?

Chipp Inn

Noble Square

832 N Greenview Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 421-9052

The Chipp Inn has been serving the same corner since the '70s. The 1870s.

As they themselves say, they've been there long before any of us had been born. So you know it's good.

Christina's Place


3759 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 463-1768


West Town

1935 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-5600


2338 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-5802

Continental, The

Humboldt Park

2801 W. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 292-1200

The competition for the best dive bar sign in the city is tough, but the sign at The Continental is a top seed.

Corner, The


2224 N. Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 697-9934

Cove Lounge

Hyde Park

1750 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 684-1013


Lincoln Park

2771 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 472-2771

Well, we already know you like dive bars. Do you like Whiskey? Go.

Empty Bottle

Ukrainian Village

1035 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 276-3600

While the Bottle is yet another place that could rightfully compete for hipster central, there's no shortage of stories told from when we were young that took place here.

EZ Inn

Ukrainian Village

921 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 698-7372

Falcon Inn

Hyde Park

1601 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 288-2758

Frank & Mary's

Lakeview West

2905 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 463-8179

Friar Tuck

Lakeview East

3010 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 327-5101

Gold Star Bar

East Village

1755 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 227-8700

Some say it's not the same since new ownership took over and it's tough to disagree. That said, the building has been there since the Prohibition-era, the upstairs apartments were rumored to be a brothel, and many say it's haunted which, not sure if you can get a better dive bar batting average than that. Plus, they still serve $3 PBR cans.

Hideout, The

Elston Avenue Industrial Corridor

1354 W Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 227-4433

With the incoming Lincoln Yards development looming, The Hideout may be an endangered species not long for this earth. Which is sad because, though some say it's hipster central, this tiny gem remains one of the best little venues for live music in the whole city.

Hidden Cove, The

Budlong Woods

5336 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 275-6711


West Town

1935 W. Thomas St.
Chicago, IL 60622

J&M Tap

Ukrainian Village

957 N. Leavitt St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-0499

Jack's Place


618 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60616

Kingston Mines

Lincoln Park

2548 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 477-4646

The relatively steep cover charge will anger some for our inclusion of the Mines on this list. And that's fair, the cover can be steep when you're looking for cheap.

Truth is, any place that goes as hard and as long as the Mines has will get our respect.

Until recently they were 7 nights per week, but they still have live music until 4am weekdays and 5am on Saturdays, and still serve BBQ and drinks on old wooden picnic tables.

L&L Tavern

Lakeview East

3207 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657



3500 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-6030

Levee, The

Logan Square

4035 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60639
(773) 342-2808

Liar's Club

Lincoln Park

1665 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Loop Liquors

West Town

1610 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 226-6740

Native, The

Logan Square

2417 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(872) 206-5526

Nilda's Place

Ukrainian Village

1858 W Iowa St
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 879-9645

Nisei Lounge


3439 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-0557
Visit Website

Within 1 mile from Wrigley Field there are approximately 42,495 bars. That number just so happens to be the current seating capacity of Wrigley Field.

Nisei is its finest dive.

Oasis Tavern

Rogers Park

6809 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 973-7788

Ola's Liquors

East Village

947 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-7250

Old Town Ale House

Old Town

219 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 944-7020

Phyllis' Musical Inn

Wicker Park

1800 W. Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-9862

Rainbo Club

Wicker Park

1150 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-5999

Reed's Local

3017 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(872) 806-0520


West Loop/River West

491 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60610

Quite possibly one of the last spots where a man or woman is allowed to destroy their body as they see fit. And it's beautiful.


Lincoln Square

4644 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 271-3127


Wicker Park

1649 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-6257

Rossi's Liquors

River North

412 North State St
Chicago, IL 60610

It may be the only dive bar that residents of River North have ever been to but, in their defense, Rossi's is a damn good one.

Rosa's Lounge

3420 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 342-0452

Rose's Lounge

Lincoln Park

2656 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 327-4000

Shamrock Club

River North

210 W Kinzie St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 321-9314



3529 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60686



3758 S. Union
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 376-3525

The unofficial City Hall of Chicago. If it's happening in the city, someone at Shinnick's knows about it.


Irving Park

4424 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-6212

Simon's Tavern


5210 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-0894

Visiting from Sweden? You'll feel right at home. We suggest you make a point to go around Christmas-time to get yourself some Glogg.



2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 948-5275

In the running for one of the best bar signs in the city.

Sky-Ride Tap

The Loop

105 W Van Buren St
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-3340

Not many places in the actual Loop but this one has been around forever. You instagrammers we mentioned above will love the exterior aesthetic. The sign alone is guaranteed likes.


West Town

935 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-0077

Teddy Bear Lounge


3513 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 267-5490


Logan Square

3224 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-6809

Woodlawn Tap

1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 643-5516


Wicker Park

1734 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-1559