Hopleaf is a popular Andersonville bar with a very extensive list of beers, specializing in Belgian beers but also serving North American microbrews and select beers from the rest of Europe. Many of the beers have their own distinctive glass. You can see the list on the attached website. We headed here after our VT meeting at Turkish Cuisine and Bakery, Hopleaf is about 4 blocks to the south on Clark Street. We got there a little after 3 pm when they open and were able to snag a table for all 7 of us, the place fills up quickly though and by the time we left a few hours later, the place was jam packed.
Hopleaf also has a food menu, I've not had a chance to try their food yet but I did see some of it go by and it looked very good. Hopleaf was also recently reviewed on Check Please!, the Chicago dining show with reviews by normal people just like you and me and it received raves from all three reviewers.
If you want to find some European glamour - or Eurotrash pseudoglamour - Le Bar (in the Sofitel Water Tower) is a good place to find it. From the thump-thump-thump of the piped-in techno music, to the wall-of-clocks showing the time in the high-cheekbone capitals of the world, this is a watering hole with aspirations. My friends like to come here for "Le Bar's" good choice of scotches and martinis; it's the kind of place where it's fun to guess where people bought their clothes and how much they spent on them. Sometimes I feel like spending some of my Chicago drinking time here: they don't call me "jet set chet" for nothing!
Dress Code: There's no dress code here - it's a hotel bar, after all - but some of the patrons do tend to look like they just crawled off a catwalk. (They have a hungry look to them.) Men in suits, too, and in the winter, women from Highland Park wearing furs. If this kind of thing turns you off, you probably should find another establishment.
Having a Martini at the Coq d'Or is so very "Nick and Nora Charles"! The Drake Hotel, at the head of Michigan Avenue, may lack the surface glitter of some of the gaudy hotels in Chicago, but it is a remarkable gem, one of my absolute favorite places in Chicago - and I especially love the cocktail bar whose name in English would be "the Golden Cockerill." If you've ever had a fantasy of appearing in one of "The Thin Man" movies, than the Coq d'Or is just the place for you!
Simply put, BEER, BEER and more BEER.
They usually have over 200 different beers (minimum)* from all over the world. And I mean even some of the small, remote microbreweries in Europe, South America and all over the states.
The walls are painted with a huge world map to give the place its name. Its just a pub, but can have a good lively crowd. Great for socializing. If you are late, its often standing room only.
Dress Code: Casual
Don't let the theme fool you... no food is served here. However, you can bring your own since there is no kitchen. Also, sometimes local guys bring in homemade tamales and sell from bar to bar.
Excalibur at the corner of Ontario and Dearborn looks like a "real" Castle. It is newly remodeled and features three distinct areas within the building.
This area features a new fun format with performing DJ's, classic tunes, and dancing.
Open: 365 days a year
Three floors of high-energy dance. A LOUD new sound system, eye-popping lights and video walls.
The Dome Room...
Chicago's "cutting edge", alternative dance and LIVE music.
Excalibur has over 50,000 square feet of entertainment in their three clubs in one, and they advertise it as "the ultimate adult playground!" There is also billiards in one of the game rooms.
Excalibur has participated in the "Taste of Chicago" for about seven years. They have an elaborate replica of their enormous castle-like club, and is one of the most popular of the entire festival. They serve hot chicken wings, hot and spicy garlic shrimp, watermelon, and Italian nachos.
Dress Code: No tank tops or cut offs. Even though there is not a strict dress code, most people really dress to be seen at Excaliber.
When you are in Chicago, be sure to visit the Underground Wonderbar at 10 E. Walton street between State and Rush.
Lonie Walker, singer, bar owner, with a Janis Joplinesque style, sets the atmosphere of the Underground Wonderbar. Herb Walker, lead guitar has incredible talent.
The pop, rock, funk, soul, jazz, blues mix is the best music in Chicago.
Dress Code: Wear Jeans! Go early if you want a seat. Be prepared for a unique musical experience.
When you step into the Red Lion Pub, it feels exactly like the pubs found throughout England. This is not a place to meet your next boyfriend or girlfriend, but pull a seat up at the bar and within minutes you will likely be engaged in the topic of the hour. It's a perfect meeting place because you won't feel strange waiting there alone. There are some good English brews on tap and the kitchen serves up fish 'n' chips and other traditional pub meals.
There is additional seating on the second and third floors, which is perfect for groups. You might be the only people up there. Also, there are quite a few ghost stories attached to this pub's history.
Dress Code: Come as you are.
This is a nice bar because of it's location near downtown in Greektown, but it still has its neighborhood feel. Lots of cops hang out here, and it's always easy to find parking nearby. This is a good place to go watch a game and have a beer after dining in the city or in Greektown. Check out their website for daily specials on drinks. On Fridays there is free pizza after 5pm.
Dress Code: Anything goes... I've seen people in jeans and I've seen people in suits coming in after a formal party.
Side Street Saloon is a great little neighborhood dive bar. If you're looking for a place where the locals hang out, this is a favorite. It's dark and a little on the smoky side. They have a great jukebox, a pool table and darts in the back room. The drinks are cheap and they serve cheap bar food all night long. They also have daily specials - so check the board over the bar when you walk in. The front room is lined with old books in the window if you feel like sitting back and reading while you're waiting for your friends to arrive. And the back room also features a variety of board games. Just pick one up and grab a table with friends. The big screen is usually tuned to a local sporting event. Make nice with the bartenders and they'll treat you like family.
Dress Code: Casual. This is a neighborhood dive. Come as you are.
The Grand Central is a bar located in Lincoln Park. The website correctly describes it as having "the comfort of a lounge, the entertaining aspect of a sports bar, and the elegance of a piano lounge." Every time I have been there, the place is packed with college kids and 20-somethings. Some nights have special events planned, so check the website for more info.
There is a good selection of specialty drinks, and also a menu of salads, sandwiches, and appetizers.
Sometimes the lines can get long and you will have to wait outside - the longest I waited was a half hour at about 11pm. There is no cover unless there is a special event.
Dress Code: Casual
We went to Schubas on my last night in Chicago. It served as a meeting/pre-funk, basically a staging area for our later Whirlybal hijinks. Schubas is kind of your typical frat bar...it reminds me of Taylor's in Eugene, but slightly better-I didn't see anyone drinking straight from pitchers.
They have a good selection of beers-and for all you malt liquor fans, they even have Schlitz. Another important feature, well important if you're an alcoholic, is the Jaegermeister tap at the end of the bar...I hate Jaeger, but that's beside the point.
Schubas also has a music performance space (in a room behind the bar) that draws quite a crowd. We never made it back there, but it has a pretty good reputation, so it's definitely worth checking out.
If any of you who read pages (6 people) ever go to Schubas, tell me if it gives you a compulsive urge to call everyone you know...for some reason that's what I felt like the whole time I was there, and finally succumbed and turned into the annoying person talking on their cell phone in a bar that's way too loud to be talking on a cell phone.
Dress Code: Pretty much whatever you want...jeans and baseball caps seemed to be the standard.
Great location in Greektown. Wonderful ambiance, and the absolute best Chocolate Martinis (a great after dinner dessert drink)!!! In nice weather, the large windows are fully opened and it's as if you're eating outside. It's fabulous! They also serve casual Greek food here until 1am!!!
Dress Code: More classy than a regular bar, but no requirements.
This place has a few pool tables in the downstairs section and a steady clientele of locals. Its a very nice place, comparable with any other of the trillions of upscale Irish Pubs that have been opening in the last few years. Nice people, good food, and imported beers for $3 a pint, domestic for $2.50. I get a half pound cheeseburger with fries for $2.95, I recommend you do, too. They also serve up a mean steak for just over $5. The downside of this place, is that people just don't seem to socialize as much as they do at similar establishments. Or maybe I'm just ugly?
Dress Code: There is no dress code, but its not the kind of place you want to go looking like a slob.
Excellent Belgian Tavern/Bar on N. Clark, with suberb range of beer selections - over 200 in all, with and abundant selection on tap. I was introduced to the Hopleaf in Febraury 2006, after a VT meet-up with Dabs and David, dlandt, "it's fun having fun," and my friends Gerard and Janet. We had a merry time tippling. A Talking bar: it's an excellent place to pass an afternoon with a convivial social group. I like how they follow tradition and serve the Belgian beers each in its own particular glass. A beer for every taste, I would think.
In all, there were about two dozen beers on tap. Ten Belgian, about the same number American micros, and the others German or Canadian. I recommend the de Konick, a lovely pilsener style ale, or the Leffe Brun (Brown) ale - though you can't go wrong with the aptly named Delirium Tremens either.
(Selected by the Beer Advocate as one of the Top 50 Places for a Pint in the USA: http://beeradvocate.com/acbw/2006/places)
They serve Belgian inspired food here as well, and there's a dining room in the back which is quieter and less beery than the very social front saloon. I'd like to try their mussels sometime.
Irish Eyes is probably Lincoln Park's most popular destination for weeknight fun and conversation, with live music on weekends - and sometimes during the week. They have a great selection of Irish beer on tap, with daily specials, and you can pass the time playing Golden Tee golf or a game of darts.
The best time to go is on a weekend, when they have live music- usually part of the Irish genre. But the musicians, like Mulligan Stew, Whitey O'Day and Gerry O'Connell that play are known for playing sing alongs, amusing tunes, and limericks set to music (which can be pretty funny.)