Where to drink and eat in the West Loop
Addiction Sports Bar Beware the “sports bar” moniker: At this new West Loop spot, it’s a little misleading. The place is really more of a bare-bones lounge, with a few flat-screen TVs, a serviceable selection of bottled beer and nightly specials on food and martinis. 1023 W Lake St between Morgan and Carpenter Sts (312-421-8845). El: Green, Pink to Clinton; Blue to Grand. Bus: 8, 20 (24hrs), 65. Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 10:30am–6pm. Average cocktail: $8.
Athena The massive outdoor patio with a close-up view of the city skyline is the main draw of this Greektown spot in the warmer months, but there are reasons to head inside, too. The signature dish—lamb and artichokes in lemon sauce—is tender and nicely tangy, and there are plenty of good value wines and a couple of interesting beers to wash it down with. 212 S Halsted St at Adams St (312-655-0000). Bus: 8 Halsted, 20 Madison (24hrs). Sun–Thu 11am–midnight; Fri, Sat 11am–1am. Average cocktail: $9.
Bar Louie The Little Italy outpost of this national chain sticks to form with oversized sandwiches, classic cocktails and a surprisingly hefty beer list. The crowd is a mix of students and families from the neighborhood. The bar seems to have developed a following for its burgers, but there are plenty of salads and pizzas to choose from as well. 1321 W Taylor St at Ada St (312-633-9393). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 9 (24hrs), 12, 60 (24hrs). 11am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Beer Bistro Doing its part to keep the West Loop from succumbing to all the glitz and glamour of Randolph Street is this tavern, which carries upwards of 100 beers, including Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Lindemans’ Framboise lambic on draft—both of which you can witness guys downing on game day. 1061 W Madison St between Morgan and Aberdeen Sts (312-433-0013). Bus: 8, 19, 20 (24hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $4.50.
de cero You could brave the wait for a table at this trendy taqueria, or you could simply head for the bar and take your ahi tuna tacos there—the mango salsa will be just as tasty and you can actually watch the bartender shake one of the signature, tart hibiscus margaritas. Not hungry for a full meal? Some guac and a lime-spiked beer should stave off any stomach growling until dinner. 814 W Randolph St between Green and Halsted Sts (312-455-8114). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 20 Madison (24hrs). Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm; Sun–Thu 5–10pm; Sat 5–11pm. Average cocktail: $10.
The Drum and Monkey This cozy, immaculately detailed Irish pub (formerly Four Corners) might be the last thing you’d expect on the spaghetti strip of Taylor Street, but soon it’ll be first on your “places to swig pints and shovel eats from across the pond” list. Just ask any of the UIC doctors who are regulars. 1435 W Taylor St at Bishop St (312-563-1874). El: Pink to Polk. Bus: 12 Roosevelt. Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $5.
The Bottom Lounge Music fans no doubt rejoiced when this multipurpose venue was resurrected by Delilah’s Mike Miller a few months ago. But it’s really the foodies who should have been excited. With more than 100 beers and 80 rums, the bar goes above and beyond to give you a quality drink. And the food—burgers with chipotle ketchup, nachos topped with chorizo, grilled cheese stuffed with bacon—fulfills every hankering a drunk could ever acquire. Even at—especially at—1am. 1375 W Lake St between Ada St and Loomis St (312-666-6775). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 9 (24hrs), X9, 20 (24hrs). Tue–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 4pm–3am; Sun 5pm–2am. Average main course: $9.
Dugan’s Pub Who knew the Irish and the Greeks got along so well? Early in the evening, this friendly watering hole seems to be filled with people waiting for a table at Greek Islands. Later, off-duty cops start filing in, not so much to keep the peace, but to grab a beer and a handful of free popcorn. 128 S Halsted St between Washington Blvd and Randolph St (312-421-7191). El: Green to Clinton. Bus: 8, 20 (24hrs), 126. Mon–Sat 2pm–4am; Sun noon–4am. Average beer: $4.
Francesca’s on Taylor The portions are generous, the room is comfortable and the food is reliable. This, plus the place’s ability to glide from family-friendly pasta joint to romantic trattoria as the night progresses, is what packs ’em in every night. Slide up to the bar or take one of the lounge’s high-tops and start with a quattro stagioni pizza and a nice bottle of wine—from there you can dive into pastas or just keep with the liquid diet. 1400 W Taylor St at Loomis St (312-829-2828). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 9 (24hrs), 12, 60 (24hrs). Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm; Mon 5–9pm; Tue–Thu 5–10pm; Fri, Sat 5–10pm; Sun 4–9pm. Average cocktail: $7.
Greek Islands The large bar area of this Greektown stalwart is often really just a holding room for parties waiting to be sat for dinner. Don’t get caught in that tourist mode; make like a regular, grab a seat at the bar and order up a beer and some of the fantastic Greek sausage. Just guard it closely if the wait for the dining room turns the crowd rowdy. 200 S Halsted St at Adams St (312-782-9855). El: Blue to UIC/Halsted. Bus: 8 Halsted, 126 Jackson. Sun–Thu 11am–midnight; Fri, Sat 11am–1am. Average cocktail: $6.
Greektown Gyros Your credit card is no good here. The all-night gyros joint and this attached bar speak in dead presidents only. You won’t need many for the jukebox, unless you’re into mid-’90s hits, or for the dartboard, as every dart is missing its tip. But still, the bartenders and patrons are all smiles. Their hospitality plus the cheeseburgers and Czech Republic beer will have you thanking Zeus for this late-night haunt. 239 S Halsted St between Adams St and Jackson Blvd (312-236-9310). El: Blue to UIC/Halsted. Bus: 8, 20 (24hrs), 126, 156. Sun–Fri 11am–4am; Sat 11am–5am. Average beer: $2.50.
Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill Chicago Come for the pitchers, stay for the pizza—or something like that. Hawkeye’s doesn’t really impress in either department (unless you like your Miller lite and your pies plain), but when you’re rolling deep in a pack of Phi Kappa Psis out on the prowl and you’ve managed to catch the eye of one of the well-endowed waitresses, it doesn’t really matter what she’s carrying to your table, now does it? 1458 W Taylor St between Bishop and Laflin Sts (312-226-3951). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 9 (24hrs), 12, 60 (24hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $3.
Illinois Bar & Grill One could do a lot worse than grabbing a bucket of beer and a cheeseburger as big as a sofa cushion at this sports pub—especially when said burger comes with grilled onions and hand-cut fries. This is the flagship joint (one of three locations in and around Chicago), and it’s a comfortable spot, with an old-fashioned tin ceiling, brick walls and plenty of flirty UIC students. 1421 W Taylor St between Loomis and Bishop Sts (312-666-6666). El: Pink to Polk. Bus: 9 Ashland (24hrs), 12 Roosevelt. 8am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Jak’s Tap If you’re wondering what sets this friendly West Loop bar and grill apart from every other pub that’s packed tightly with graduate- and law-school types, it’s the selection of 40 draught beers (including three tasty styles from our Hoosier faves Three Floyds). The large food menu goes beyond the average pub, with eats like baby back ribs, a hummus platter and an assortment of salads. 901 W Jackson Blvd at Peoria St (312-666-1700). El: Blue to UIC/Halsted. Bus: 8, 20 (24hrs), 126. Mon–Wed 11am–midnight; Thu, Fri 11am–2am; Sat noon–2am; Sun noon–1am. Average beer: $4.
Junior’s Sports Lounge You can take the sports fan out of the sports bar and put him in this sophisticated University Village lounge. But even couches covered in faux suede and slick flat-screens in each booth won’t take the sports bar out of the fan. For that we’re thankful because despite the swankiness, this college spot from the folks behind Cans and Evil Olive doesn’t have an ounce of attitude. 724 W Maxwell St between Union Ave and Halsted St (312-421-2277). Bus: 8 Halsted, 12 Roosevelt. Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Lake & Union Grill & Tap When the whistle blows, this West Loop hideout turns from desolate dive to serious unwinding joint. The peanuts might be complimentary, but the lap dancers sure aren’t ($10 a pop, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 8pm). What these fly-by-night amateurs lack in youthfulness, they overcompensate for with changes of clothes. It’s worth it just to chat up a working stiff with a, well, you get it. 666 W Lake St between Desplaines St and Union Ave (312-559-0036). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 14, 20 (24hrs), 56. Mon–Fri 5am–10pm; Sat 11am–2pm (closed Sun). Average beer: $3.
Lumen If a lounge with a lot of low, comfortable couches; chill, unobtrusive tunes at a reasonable level; and a beautiful lighting system that wraps everybody in soft, moving colors sounds like the kind of place where you’d like to hang out, get there early—you’re not the only one. Some of Chicago’s harder-hustling disco and electro DJs man the booth. 839 W Fulton Mkt between Green and Peoria Sts (312-733-2222). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 65 Grand. Tue, Thu, Fri 8pm–2am; Sat 8pm–3am. Average cocktail: $8.
Marché No those aren’t jewel-toned pin cushions—those are Jerry Kleiner–designed bar stools, and they’re perfectly comfortable enough to make a whole night of it at the bar here. French bistro best sums up the menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a simple, well-cooked steak and a nice cold beer. Should someone in your group want a fancy cocktail and some fudge-topped profiteroles, well, this place has you covered on that front, too. 833 W Randolph St at Halsted St (312-226-8399). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 20 Madison (24hrs). Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm; Sun–Thu 5:30–10pm; Fri, Sat 5:30pm–midnight. Average cocktail: $10.
Moretti’s Ristorante & Pizzeria Specials abound at this United Center–area veteran: Mix and match buckets of beer are always $16, but pitchers are $6 on Tuesdays, domestic bottles are $2.75 on Wednesdays, and a wing buffet is gratis on Fridays from 4 to 8pm. A shuttle to games is a draw during the season, while the patio and sand volleyball court out back come calling once the sun’s out. 1645 W Jackson Blvd between Ashland Ave and Paulina St (312-850-0208). El: Blue to Medical District. Bus: 9 (24hrs), X9, 126. Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 9am–5pm. Average beer: $4.
Morgan’s Bar & Grill on Maxwell St The thin-crust pizzas that earned this spot acclaim in the southern suburb of Mokena are also a draw at this newer University Village outpost, where they share menu space with homey classics like fried chicken and barbecue ribs. The grill is aimed at UIC students for lunch and the area’s new residents for dinner, with spacious windows brightening up the place during the day and a lengthy bar menu making it a drinking destination at night. Look for two-dozen import drafts and signature cocktails, like the vodka-based Morgan’s Up. 1325 S Halsted St between Maxwell and 14th Sts (312-243-4800). El: Blue to UIC/Halsted. Bus: 8, 12, 168. Sun–Fri 10am–2am; Sat 10am–3am. Average beer: $4.50.
Stanley’s on Racine You’re not seeing double; there’s a second Stanley’s in town. This West Loop sibling offers the same affordable comfort-food menu as the original—mini corn dogs, Kentucky tomatoes, hush puppies, pot roast, meat loaf, fried chicken, sweet-potato pie—plus plenty of good beers to wash it all down. 324 S Racine Ave between Gladys Ave and Van Buren St (312-433-0007). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 60 (24hrs), 126. Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Sushi Wabi We could be snarky and say that it’s all about the scene here, but the sushi is so damn good, we won’t. Countering the aloof, black-clad servers, the Sade-remix–loving DJ and the throngs of clubgoers filling up on preparty snacks are incredibly fresh sushi and creatively cooked dishes. Sit at the sushi bar and ask for the chef’s specialty—you won’t be disappointed. 842 W Randolph St between Green and Peoria Sts (312-563-1224). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 20 Madison (24hrs). Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm; Sun–Tue 5–11pm; Wed–Sat 5pm–midnight. Average cocktail: $8.
Third Rail Tavern West Loop residents have this comfy place to escape their condos, lofts and loft-condos. The owners say they’re trying to capture “old-school Chicago,” which to them means 14-foot exposed-brick walls, warm earth-tone lighting, a beautiful antique bar and well-dressed clientele —not rusty Old Style signage and sepia-toned photos from the 1893 World’s Fair. 1133 W Madison St at May St (312-432-9107). Bus: 20 Madison (24hrs). Mon–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.
The Publican This minimalist, golden-hued beer hall is a foodie destination of major proportions. Oysters and pork rule the roost, so move between freshly shucked mollusks and lightly charred cuts like maple-glazed shank. Nonswine plates are just as good, from roasted chicken with thick rounds of summer sausage to pan-seared whole fish stuffed with greens. Dining or not, the massive beer list (heavy on the Belgians) is worth some exploring of its own. 837 W Fulton Market at Green St (312-733-9555). El: Green, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 65 Grand. Dinner. Average share plate: $19.
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap This old-school Italian joint is holding strong in its ever-changing ’hood. As has been the case since opening 75 years ago, cash is the only thing accepted, both by the cute Italian boys parking your car (permits rule the block so valet is the only option) and the indifferent waitresses who all seem to be related. Families hold court in the main room, but the bar is the spot to chat up the Hawks’ chances over a cold one. 1073 W Vernon Park Pl between Carpenter and Aberdeen Sts (312-733-3393). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 12, 60. Tue–Thu 11am–10pm; Fri 11am–11pm; Sat 4–11pm; Sun 3–9pm. Average beer: $4.
Union Park If you want to be close to Blackhawks action but prefer to have your own booth, a few cocktails and a kitchen nearby just waiting to pump out buffalo wings, this bar should do fine. Nearly every wall in the spacious two-room pub boasts a handful of flat-screens, so the bird’s-eye view of the game should keep you busy, but if you do get bored, pick up a pool stick and start some action of your own. 228 S Racine Ave between Adams St and Jackson Blvd (312-243-9002). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 20 (24hrs), 60, 126. Sun–Fri 10:30am–2am; Sat 10:30am–3am. Average beer: $5.
Westend The bar stools at this new sports bar are extra-wide, and the dark room (yes, even in the middle of the day) draws the focus to the game shining brightly from the numerous TVs. It looks as if the nearby United Center may have some competition on its hands: Here you see the game better, cheaper and more comfortably than you would if you were actually there. 1326 W Madison St at Ada St (312-981-7100). El: Green, Pink to Ashland. Bus: 9 (24hrs), 20 (24hrs). Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.