It might not be the "hippest" place in Chicago's gay village, and you might not find the pretty boyz here, but Sidetrack has a deservedly great reputation as one of the most friendly and welcoming of all gay taverns on Halstead. It's big - with several separate bars and bar-areas, and well-run, but it's not too large so as to feel like a shopping mall. They guys who own this place have really put a lot of time and energy into updating it over the last few years. I like it because it's not as crazy as some of the throng-ier (or thong-ier) places nearby.
It's good to know about this River North tavern - non-chain, non-scene, non-yuppie. It has a very good beer selection (25 on tap) as well as generous number of wines by the glass. It's also home to some serious drinkers - not the touristy type of Michigan Avenue, but the real "pros" who take advantage of the Ale House's late license. (They are open till 4 on weeknights and until 5 on weekends.)
Yes, it can be loud and raucous: but this is Chicago, remember!
Great views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan are the big attraction at "16," the bar-restaurant on the 16th floor of the Trump Behemoth. High speed elevators whisk patrons immediately to the hushed comfort of an airy and well-appointed lounge - with commanding floor to ceiling windows that offer startlingly new perspectives on familiar landmarks like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.
The restaurant appeared to be ritzy and expensive. I went for a drink in the bar area and was given a table with a good view of the city. A small bar menu is available throughout the day. My waiter told me that an outdoor patio will be opening next summer, when construction on the Tower is actually complete. When I visited 16 for the first time in March 2008, the hotel was opening but construction was continuing on the top floors.
Dress Code: casual dressy
Nice place for a deluxe cocktail in the midst of North Michigan Avenue shops - up on the Sixth floor of the Park Hyatt. Lovely summertime patio. My friend Janet loves this place!
Dress Code: Nothing too informal here - you'd feel out of place
Last time we were in Chicago I insisted on going here ... because I love maps and travel. This travel theme bar is a rather funky neighborhood bar that is covered with maps and has lots of old travel books and guides. What better place to stop than the Map Room? I bought a T-shirt with their cool logo.
This place has a great selection of about 200 beers from around the world. No beer drinker would be disappointed. They have locally roasted coffee too.
Sports bars in Chicago tend to be affiliated with a particular university. It is important to know this or you could be in hostile territory routing for the wrong team. Here is a list of some of the most popular sports bars and their team affiliations:
Duffy's - Michigan
420 1/2 W. Diversey Pkwy. (just West of Sheridan)
McDunna's - Iowa
1505 West Fullerton (near Ashland)
Durkin's - Purdue (mostly recent grads)
810 W. Diversey Pkwy. (@ Halsted)
McGee's - Ohio State
950 W. Webster (under the El tracks)
BW3s - Colorado State
2464 N. Lincoln Avenue
They have the best wings in town.
Gin Mill - Michigan State (also Tin Lizzy)
2462 N. Lincoln Avenue
John Barleycorns - Ohio State (same bar- new name)
2142 N. Clybourn
Redmond's - Wisconsin
3358 N. Sheffield
Brownstone Tavern - Texas
3937 N. Lincoln (1 bk. south of Irving Park)
Kirkwood - Nebraska and Indiana
2934 N. Sheffield (@ Oakdale)
Schoolyard Tavern - Illini
3258 N. Southport (@ School)
Note that Northwestern does not have a bar for alumni- we drown our sorrors at any bar available. U of C does not have a football team anymore.
Dress Code: A team jersey would be appropriate.
Chicago is credited as the birth place of house and that tradition is very much alive with Crobar.
The last time I was in Chicago, I made sure to come back to Crobar every night.
Producers were dropping their unreleased tracks on the dancefloor, using it as a testing ground to see how the masses reacted to their work.
Great music, great club.
Dress Code: Trendy.
This is a great place for margaritas as they serve over 20 types of tequilas. I am partial to the swirlys which are a potent frozen concoction that mixes fruity sangria with golden margarita.
To be honest, I cannot comment much on the food. It is your basic mexican fare. I have usually had a few before we get seated so it all tastes good by then. The service is ok- the poor waiter/waitress is usually waiting on several tables with very large groups of inebriated people.
Dress Code: The trick is to put your name in when you arrive. Lie about having your entire party with you. If for some reason they have a table for you before everyone arrives- tell them that they are in the bathroom. Otherwise you will drop down to the end of the list.
Bar Styles: After Hours, Dance Club, Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Bi
Music Styles: DJ/Dance, Funk/Acid Jazz, Hip Hop, House, R&B/Soul, Reggae
The Prop House doesn't grab your attention from the outside -- a plain brick building with an uninviting sign is about all you'll see. Surrounded by a bunch of warehouses and a municipal filling station in the back, it's not exactly in the liveliest part of town. But once inside the spacious club, which has two rooms to choose from, the beats blaring from a state-of-the-art sound system grab you and the high-energy crowd welcomes you.
After you've entered, paid the required cover and stepped down the short staircase, be prepared to party. In the large front room, serious house beats bump with tunes from the old school to the new school. If you arrive early enough (before midnight), But it fills up quickly with serious dancers dripping with sweat -- legs and arms flailing. It doesn't seem to bother this crowd when the dance floor becomes slippery wet from hours of sweaty, drippy bodies. There's even a sit-down Pac-Man machine for the video game freaks.
Sounds: Some of Chicago's revered underground deejays, including Lego, Ron Carroll and Ralphi Rosario, join resident spinner Steve 'Miggedy' Maestro on Fridays. On Saturdays, DJ George, Tony T and others join hosts Sam Silk and Spank Boogie. The back room is hip-hop heaven and the deejays know how to get the crowd jumping, Beyonce', Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, and Chicago's own: Common. The front room is reserved for the house music lovers, but there is a steady stream of people flowing between both areas. There's no techno stuff in here. Chicago house music and urban hip-hop beats rule.
Prime time: The later the better. Since the club doesn't close until 4 a.m. on Friday and 5 a.m. on Saturday, the big rush starts around 1 a.m. Timing is everything. The club rocks as the night goes on.
People: Chicago's African-American gay community comes out in droves on Friday nights to support the Rails Entertainment Group.
Dress Code: Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights draw a 20-something, trendy, hip-hop crowd wearing chic, classy to club. Generally, Saturday does have a dress code if I'm not mistaken. No hats, gym shoes, or shorts; I believe.
Enjoy a diverse crowd with men and women of all kinds. However, the crowd is also bi and hetero as well, m & f. Enter on Halsted to find a large bar, a small dance floor, videos and a great atmosphere. Dance music and videos most nights, and on 2-3 Saturdays a month Hip-Hop and Reggae Dance Party with DJ Stoney. Cover charge $5 USD except Sundays.
Also, has a pool table and the main entrance has a video bar. On Sundays there are specials: Long Island ice tea pitchers for $10/imported beer pitchers $10/domestic beer pitchers $10.
Open until 2 a.m. daily and 3 a.m. on Saturdays.
Dress Code: Dress code is open-hats, sneakers, and shorts are allowed. This does tend to be a 20-30 somethings crowd. From what I've seen, no one is discriminated against ;-)
So after my great dinner at Topo Gigio, I met a close friend from high school out on Wells Street for an after dinner drink. Little did I know I would be in for a *few* awesome beverages.
The Fireplace Inn is well known for its Vodka Lemonade, as well as some mighty fine ribs. They claim to be the best ribs in Chicago, but for right now I will not lay claim to that until I have sampled others. Back to the Vodka Lemonade however...
We all know that Vodka is odorless and tasteless by default, however when you add in a flavoring to that vodka and mix it with lemonade, there is a potential for disaster. Add it into a 32 oz cup, and serve iced in the summer, and it is a night to remember all built in!
I would highly recommend stopping in for a vodka lemonade, and bring your hunger if you want some of the ribs!
Dining Room Hours
Friday 11:30am- 1:30am
Saturday 11:30am - 1:30am
Mon-Thu 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri-Sat 4:00pm - 11:00pm
Sun 1:00pm -10:00
This small spot serves great appetizers along with an extensive wine list. It is a great place to go in any season as they have a fireplace in winter and outside seating in the summer.
Websters is a little house across from the Webster Theater. Basically, the downstairs area consists of two rooms that contain wooden tables and two couches. The upstairs area is used mostly for private parties. In the front room, they display local artists paintings/photos for sale. The back room is our favorite- especially the big red velvet couch- were we had our first date and where Joe proposed. There is a bar- but I rarely see anyone sitting at it.
The bar was opened in the Fall of 1994 by two burned-out litigation consultants looking for a lifestyle change. They first dreamt of opening a wine bar while sipping on some simple local wine in a dusty old wine bar near the Cathedral in Seville, Spain while on a leave of absence from their consulting jobs.
There is live music (jazz) on Mondays.
Dress Code: You'll see a little of everything here.
They have wonderful cheese flights to accompany your wine choices.
Being right across from Wrigley Field, it is one of the best place to hang out before and after a game (I also like Yaktzee). At others times it tends to be fairly vacant. You will find lots of beer on tap inside and canned beer served in stations around the bar (the bar has extended into several bars and a beer garden).
An additional, rather elegant wooden bar that was imported from Ireland can be found all the way in the back at Murphy's. This area is closed in winter because it actually lies under a plastic roof that was part of a 1982 extension of the rear structure of the bar. Food (hotdogs, brats, chicken sandwiches and hamburgers) is served in outside windows. There are picnic tables in the back garden too.
Murphy's is part of Cubs history. Murphy's started out as Ernie's Bleachers in the 30's, a drive up hot dog stand selling beer by the pail. The hot dog stand itself was stolen from Peterson & Elston and set up on the corner of Waveland & Sheffield. In 1965 it became Ray's Bleachers when Ernie sold to Ray Meyers (hope you're catching on to how the name changes work.) It soon achieved renown as home of the Bleacher Bums who surfaced during the Cub's race for the pennant in 1969 & disappeared when the Cubs did in the early 70's. Ray sold to Jim Murphy in 1980 and the bar has grown in size and reputation ever since.
The beer garden is the real attraction at Murphys- and be prepared- it will be packed especially after a game. The area in front of the bar is usually standing room only. If you are lucky, you may be able to find a seat at one of the iron tables on the side area. There are beer stands on the side area too - so you don't have to wait inside for a refill.
Dress Code: Bleacher wear (t-shirts and shorts). Supposedly, Murphy's is internet ready so you can bring your laptop if you'd like.
This past weekend we all went out for happy hour for Betsy's birthday to a new bar in her hood- called Swig. The place was fairly empty the majority of the time that we were there- and it was a Friday night. Still, the place was comfortable.
Fair selection of beer on tap including Guinness, Stella, Pilsner Urquell and Hacker-Pschorr.
The food was pretty good. The tater tots were so good that we ordered a separate plate of them.
After the Touch & Go Festival's Saturday night wrapped up, we happened across Exit. What a great time? Great music. Pogo-ed through the bar to The Jam and got more drunk here than ever before in Chicago. Reports were that we left at 4.30. What a blast.