The 9 Best Dive Bars in Chicago

In Chi-Town, you'll find affordable places to drink that suit everyone from punks to pacifists.

Nov 23 2016, 6:00pm

Everyone loves a good dive. Chicago is no exception. In Chi-Town, you'll find affordable places to drink that suit everyone from punks to pacifists. Consider the heavy jukebox of Gold Star Bar, or the dreamy goldfish pond of Happy Village, or the bluesy vibes of Rosa's Lounge. We should probably mention that a lot of these places self-identify as "lounges," giving you full permission to take it eeeeeasy.

Isn't that what dives are all about? First round's on us, friends. Read on for our picks.

Check out the MUNCHIES Guide to Chicago for more restaurants and bars that you can't miss while in the Windy City.

Happy Village: Dive bars aren't typically known for being all that peaceful, but that's definitely one of the best ways to describe Happy Village. Open since 1964, the location's history as a place of revelry dates back to the late 1800s (it was also briefly a grocery store during prohibition) and today its relaxed beer garden, goldfish pond, and indoor rec room (ping pong!) make it a great place to sit back with friends. It's also worth noting the bar is for sale, making now the perfect time to get in some fun before this classic drinking hall meets its ultimate unknown fate.

Gold Star Bar: Cheap beers, local art on the walls, a jukebox filled with punk and heavy metal, and a pool table. Put all of those things together, add a healthy dose of classic dive bar squalor, and you've got the Gold Star Bar (plus there's free popcorn).

Innertown Pub: The Innertown Pub is the kind of dive bar whose strange assortment of kitsch perfectly reflects the chaotic mental mishmash you wake up with after a good bender. It's busy all week and gets particularly slammed on the weekends, so get there early if you want a seat.

Rainbo Club: A dive bar incarnate, the Rainbo Club has been open since 1935 and is known for both its distinctive neon sign and its famous clientele, including musicians Liz Phair and James Iha, actor Vince Vaughn, and author Nelson Algren. Done up in red and black, and featuring works from local artists, visitors and regulars alike are drawn in by the cheap drinks, comfortable vinyl booths, and pinball machine. If you'd like to document your evening out, there's even a photo booth, although perhaps some drunken shenanigans are better left unphotographed.

Rosa's Lounge: Open since 1984, Rosa's Lounge is a jazz and blues club where the intimacy level matches the love that people seem to have for it. Visitors can expect nightly music from a variety of performers and cheap drinks of the unimaginative variety that are always well-prepared.

Alice's Lounge: If you're looking for an honest-to-god dive bar, you've found it. Alice's is no-frills, crowded, and rowdy, and you can expect heavy pours, raucous laughter, and surly bouncers.

The Cove Lounge: Located in Hyde Park just a couple of blocks from the lake and Promontory Point, the cash-only Cove Lounge is a place where college kids rub elbows with grizzled regulars. Low prices, good service, and an easy vibe keep this place rolling, and it's definitely one of the last of its kind in a neighborhood that's rapidly changing.

Maria's Packaged Goods: This speakeasy-style bar has a lot going for it: good people, good ambience, and good drinks. But, the real reason you want to go is to meet Maria herself. Regulars refer to the 79-year-old bartender as "mom" because she'll serve you life and love advice all night, whether you ask for it or not.

Check out more of the best fancy restaurants, cheap eats, and cocktail spots in Chicago in the MUNCHIES Guide to Chicago.