Dive bar culture is one of my favorite parts of the Windy City. Every neighborhood in Chicago has at least a few mixed in with the higher brow bars and restaurants. I’ve lived in the Chicago area most of my adult life and definitely have frequented a few dive bars in my time. Whether you’re looking for tasty pub food or just a cold beer, here are my favorite Chicago dive bars
Empty Bottle (Ukrainian Village, 1035 N Western Ave, 5:00PM-2:00AM)
Empty Bottle is not only an awesome dive bar, but a music venue. I have gone to many awesome performances while enjoying ice cold beer. If you’re into independent music or new acts there is one playing nearly every night. If you take public transport, you are going to want to hop a bus if possible because the train is a little far. Parking is pretty easy to find nearby if you’re going to drive. The atmosphere inside is like a community, and everyone seems to know someone even if they’re new. It’s small, dimly lit and everything a dive bar should be. One thing to note is that Empty Bottle is cash only, so hit up the ATM before you head out for the night. Check out their website: Empty Bottle.
Hungry Brain (Roscoe Village, 2319 W Belmont Ave, 8:00PM-2:00AM)
If you’re looking for a spot that is hardly ever crowded and has that real dive bar feel, check out the Hungry Brain. The dim lighting and odd assortment of furniture make the spot feel homey and ecclectic. The décor is full of a variety of knick knacks and decorations that are from who knows where. Check out their jukebox filled with a huge mix of music, and if you’re feeling lucky, you can play old school arcade games. I’ve spent a few nights glued to the Pac-Man machine. The drinks are cheap, so you can hang out all night without breaking the bank. This is another cash only bar so be sure to have money ready. There is street parking available, and your best bet for public transit is the CTA bus. Check out their Twitter: @HungryBrainChi
Delilah’s (Lincoln Park, 2771 N Lincoln Ave, 4:00PM-2:00AM)
Delilah’s just might be my favorite bar in Chicago. Rock music from Ska to Classic Rock to some Motown favorites set the musical ambiance in this dive. The rock décor and dim lighting makes the atmosphere even more rockabilly chic and feel like a true dive. The huge selection of whiskey along with cheap drink prices means you can keep drinking and partying all night long without spending your entire check. I like to sample several bourbons while there and try something new each visit. There are old video games and pool if you feel up to a friendly game. You won’t want to leave when the bar closes. Delilah’s is accessible by the Purple and Brown CTA trains, and also has street parking. Check out their website: Delilah’s Chicago
The Corner Bar (Bucktown, 2224 N Leavitt St, 4:00PM-2:00AM)
Bustling Bucktown is home to the Corner Bar, another true dive. With $1.50 beers and constant drink specials, you can get your drink on for true dive prices. The dim lighting and comforting atmosphere make you feel at home. The staff are incredibly friendly and I always have a great time. You can catch everything from karaoke to sports in the eclectic bar. If you’re hungry, grab a cheap pizza or some of their free spicy snack mix. Another cash only joint means grabbing some green at the ATM first. The Corner Bar is near the Blue Line CTA train and has street parking. Be sure to come back on a variety of nights to get the true Corner Bar Experience. Check out their website: Corner Bar Chicago
There are plenty more awesome dive bars in the Second City you can check out, but these are by far my favorites. As always, be safe and drink responsibly when you’re checking out these awesome dives. Who knows what crazy characters and fun you will discover during your night on the town.