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© The Chicago Bar Project   Written by Sean Parnell

Best of Chicago Bars 2008

Click here for Best of Chicago Bars 2009

Drum Roll, Please:

Best Bar By Locale:

Best Bar By Type:


Best Chicago Bar

  1. Sheffield's Wine & Beer Garden – the last puzzle piece is in place with barbeque
  2. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge – top-notch jazz in Al Capone's old hangout
  3. Hopleaf Bar – we are eagerly anticipating the expansion as it's getting too damned crowded...
  4. Goose Island Brew Pub – excellent brews in a very warm environment
  5. Duke of Perth – the best Chicago pub isn't Irish...

Honorable Mention: Billy Goat Tavern – can't be beat on personality
Special Mention: Safe House (Milwaukee) – how can you not love a bar with secret passages?

Best Loop – West Loop Bar

  1. Miller's Pub
  2. 17 West at the Berghoff
  3. Poag Mahone's
  4. Jak's Tap
  5. Exchequer Pub

Best South Loop – Printers Row – Bridgeport – Little Italy Bar

  1. Schaller's Pump (Bridgeport)
  2. Jazz Showcase (Printers Row)
  3. Kitty O'Shea's (South Loop)
  4. Bullpen Bar (Comiskey Park)
  5. Kasey's Tavern (Printers Row)

Best River North – Magnificent Mile – Gold Coast Bar

  1. Billy Goat Tavern
  2. Redhead Piano Bar
  3. Butch McGuire's
  4. Underground Wonder Bar
  5. Zebra Lounge

Best River West – Goose Island Bar – Noble Square Bar

  1. Emmit's Pub
  2. Twisted Spoke
  3. Matchbox
  4. Five Star
  5. Chipp Inn

Best Ukrainian Village – Humboldt Park Bar

  1. Empty Bottle
  2. California Clipper
  3. Inner Town Pub
  4. Rainbo Club
  5. Black Beetle

Best Wicker Park Bar

  1. Double Door
  2. Club Lucky
  3. Smoke Daddy
  4. Silver Cloud Bar & Grill
  5. Nick's Beergarden

Best Bucktown Bar

  1. Hideout
  2. Map Room
  3. Charleston
  4. Danny's Tavern
  5. Gallery Cabaret

Best Old Town Bar

  1. Twin Anchors
  2. Olde Town Ale House
  3. Fireplace Inn
  4. Bricks
  5. Corcoran's

Best Lincoln Park Bar

  1. John Barleycorn's Memorial Pub
  2. Goose Island Brew Pub
  3. Stanley's Kitchen & Tap
  4. Burwood Tap
  5. Sterch's

Best Lakeview Bar

  1. Duke of Perth
  2. Southport Lanes & Billiards
  3. Cullen's
  4. Toons
  5. Lincoln Tap Room

Best Wrigleyville Bar

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Irish Oak
  3. Gingerman
  4. Murphy's Bleachers
  5. Guthries Tavern

Best Andersonville Bar

  1. Hopleaf Bar
  2. Simon's Tavern
  3. Edgewater Lounge
  4. Ravenswood Pub
  5. Marty's Wine & Martini Bar

Best North & Northwest Side Bar

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Moody's Pub
  3. Cunneen's
  4. Long Room
  5. Gannon's Pub

Best Suburban Bar

  1. Hala Kahiki (River Grove)
  2. Tommy Nevin's Pub (Evanston)
  3. Pete Miller's (Evanston)
  4. Walter Payton's Roundhouse & America's Brewpub (Aurora)
  5. FitzGerald's (Berwyn)

Best Anglophile Pub

  1. Duke of Perth
  2. Globe Pub
  3. Elephant & Castle
  4. Moody's Pub
  5. Ole St. Andrew's Inn

Best Bar Brunch

  1. Stanley's Kitchen & Tap
  2. Duffy's Tavern Grille
  3. Four Moon Tavern
  4. Twisted Spoke
  5. Kuma's Corner

Best Bar Tradition

  1. Goose Island Brew Pub – MBA program (Master's of Beer Appreciation)
  2. Kingston Mines – two alternating blues acts from 9pm to 3am (4am Sat)
  3. Friar Tuck – shots out of an inflatable sheep's hind quarters
  4. Big Joe's 2 & 6 Pub – Friday night turtle races
  5. Ravenswood Pub – Thursday night Rock-Paper-Scissors tournaments

Best Barbeque

  1. Twin Anchors
  2. Gale Street Inn
  3. Miller's Pub
  4. Smoke Daddy
  5. Chicago Joe's

Best Beer Garden

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Castaways
  3. Mickey's
  4. Moody's Pub
  5. Kirkwood

Best Beer Selection

  1. Hopleaf Bar
  2. Map Room
  3. Quenchers
  4. Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden
  5. Goose Island Brew Pub

Best Blues Joint

  1. B.L.U.E.S.
  2. Kingston Mines
  3. Rosa's Lounge
  4. Buddy Guy's Legends
  5. New Checkerboard Lounge

Best Booze Selection

  1. Duke of PerthScotch
  2. Delilah's – Bourbon
  3. Southport Lanes & BilliardsScotch
  4. Stanley's Kitchen & Tap – Whiskey and Bourbon
  5. Bottom Lounge – "Volcano Room Rum Bar"

Best Burger

  1. Kuma's Corner – not only the best, but with death metal and the best mac & cheese to boot
  2. Moody's Pub – "Moody Bleu"
  3. Hackney's – the "Hackneyburger"
  4. Billy Goat Tavern – "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! DOUBLECHEEZ!!!"
  5. Twisted Spoke – "Fatboy"

Best Christmas Pubs

  1. Butch McGuire's
  2. Cork & Kerry
  3. Miller's Pub
  4. Marie's Riptide
  5. Simon's Tavern

Best Cocktail Lounge

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Coq d'Or (Drake Hotel)
  3. Violet Hour
  4. Signature Lounge (Hancock Building)
  5. Bungalow

Best Dive Bar

  1. Weeds Tavern
  2. Kelly's Pub
  3. Inner Town Pub
  4. Simon's Tavern
  5. Old Town Ale House

Best Fireplace

  1. Fireplace Inn
  2. Moody's Pub
  3. Hidden Shamrock
  4. Fireside Restaurant & Lounge
  5. Wilde Bar & Restaurant

Best Folk Music

  1. Old Town School of Folk Music
  2. Hideout
  3. Abbey Pub
  4. Martyrs'
  5. Schuba's Tavern

Best Former Speakeasy

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Club Lucky
  3. Twin Anchors
  4. John Barleycorn Memorial Pub
  5. Rainbo Club

Best German Bar

  1. Chicago Brauhaus
  2. Resi's Bierstube
  3. Mirabell Restaurant & Lounge
  4. Laschet's Inn
  5. Huettenbar

Best Haunted Bar

  1. California Clipper
  2. Gold Star Bar
  3. Ole St. Andrews Inn
  4. Excalibur Nightclub
  5. Webster's Wine Bar

Best Irish Pub

  1. Irish Oak
  2. Cullen's
  3. Mystic Celt
  4. Tommy Nevin's (Evanston)
  5. Celtic Crossings

Best Jazz Club

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Jazz Showcase
  3. Andy's Jazz Club
  4. Pops for Champagne
  5. BackRoom

Best Late-Night Bar

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Marie's Riptide
  3. Redhead Piano Bar
  4. Deja Vu
  5. Underground Wonder Bar

Best Literary Pub

  1. Woodlawn Tap
  2. Lottie's Pub
  3. Danny's Tavern
  4. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  5. Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden

Best Neighborhood Joint

  1. Old Towne Ale House
  2. Schaller's Pump
  3. Sterch's
  4. Gingerman
  5. Charleston

Best Piano Bar

  1. Redhead Piano Bar
  2. Zebra Lounge
  3. Underground Wonder Bar
  4. Hugo's Frog Bar
  5. Davenport's

Best Place to See a Cover Band

  1. Cubby Bear
  2. Joe's Sports Bar & Grill
  3. McGee's
  4. McDunna's
  5. Castaways

Best Place to See a Fight

  1. Kincade's
  2. Liar's Club
  3. Wrigley Field
  4. Big City Tap
  5. Zella

Best Pool

  1. Southport Lanes & Billiards
  2. Gingerman
  3. Seven Ten Lounge
  4. Dave & Buster's on Clark
  5. Ten Cat

Best Pub Game

  1. Turtle Racing: Big Joe's 2 & 6 Pub
  2. Bocce Ball: Cody's
  3. Cornhole: Joe's Bar on Weed Street, John Barleycorn Memorial Pub and Weeds Tavern
  4. Shufflepuck: Toons and Wellington Tap
  5. Board Games: Guthrie's Tavern, Beachwood Inn and Blue Frog

Best Pub Grub

  1. Bricks
  2. Kuma's Corner
  3. Silver Cloud Bar & Grill
  4. Twin Anchors
  5. Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Rock/Alternative Music

  1. Empty Bottle
  2. Hideout
  3. Double Door
  4. Elbo Room
  5. Beat Kitchen

Best Slam Poetry

  1. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  2. Weeds Tavern
  3. Funky Buddha Lounge
  4. Estelle's Café & Pub
  5. Trace

Best Sports Bar

  1. Joe's on Weed Street
  2. Casey Moran's
  3. Red Ivy
  4. ESPN Zone
  5. Gamekeepers

Best Sunday Night Bar

  1. Stanley's Kitchen & Tap
  2. Cullen's
  3. Long Room
  4. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  5. Double Door

Biggest Tourist Trap

  1. Howl at the Moon
  2. Blue Chicago
  3. House of Blues
  4. Kingston Mines
  5. Dick's Last Resort

Farthest Back in Time

  1. Schaller's Pump – oldest bar in Chicago
  2. Marge's Still
  3. 17 West at the Berghoff
  4. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
  5. Kasey's Tavern

Funkiest Bar/Club

  1. Liar's Club
  2. Funky Buddha Lounge
  3. Delilah's
  4. Neo
  5. Hungry Brain

Most Fun Cheeseball Palace

  1. Hangge Uppe
  2. Irish Eyes
  3. Burwood Tap
  4. Butch McGuire's
  5. Marie's Riptide

Most Underrated Beer Garden

  1. Resi's Bierstube – Chicago's oldest beer garden
  2. Twisted Spoke
  3. Southport City Saloon
  4. Weeds Tavern
  5. Happy Village Pub

Most Underrated or Unknown Bar

  1. Quencher's
  2. Toons
  3. Edgewater Lounge
  4. Ten Cat
  5. Half Shell

Most Unique Bar

  1. Signature Lounge Hancock Building
  2. Billy Goat Tavern – Cubs curse, Mike Royko hang, Saturday Night Live
  3. Castaways – boathouse... in the shape of a boat
  4. Silver Palm – train car
  5. Trader Vic's – the return of the original and still the only tiki bar within Chicago city limits

Smallest Bar

  1. Matchbox
  2. Zebra Lounge
  3. Dram Shop
  4. Half Shell
  5. Matisse

Weirdest Crowd

  1. Friar Tuck
  2. Clark Street Dog Bar
  3. Delilah's
  4. Charleston
  5. El Gato Negro

Bars We Miss the Most

  1. Playboy Club
  2. Red Lion Pub
  3. Brother Jimmy's
  4. Lounge Ax
  5. Bamboo Bernie's

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