50 unknown bars: Unsung but lovable dives, lounges and taverns.
Chicago dives, lounges and taverns.
SOUTH SHORE INN
This shot-and-a beer joint, located across the street from the Hegewisch South Shore Line stop, seems to have picked a date sometime around the midcentury and stuck with it. The grandparents of owner Dean Ubik bought the building in 1921 and it operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when “working girls” rented rooms upstairs. The tavern, last rehabbed in 1949, features sparkly gold vinyl booths and a gorgeous Art Deco bar. Bud Light and AmberBock are on tap ($1.55 per pint), and vintage ads for the train line adorn the walls. Extra shot Check out a collection of black-and-white family photos on the wall, including pictures of Ubik’s mom’s bowling team from the ’50s. 13611 S Brainard Ave (773-646-0350).—John Greenfield
When a bar has 4am hours, it’s usually a sign of personal sorrow if you’re there before midnight. Not so at Alice’s, where karaoke veers from expected to epic beginning at 11pm (Tuesday, Thursday–Saturday). Two very sweet older ladies (including the namesake Alice) serve cheap-enough beer to old-school locals and fixed-gear-transported hipsters biding their time before their two minutes of stardom. Extra shot You have to ring a doorbell to get in. Welcome home. 3556 W Belmont Ave (773-478-5975).—Julia Kramer
Anyone who thinks Wrigleyville has denigrated into shopping-mall hell hasn’t stumbled into this 31-year-old country-western juke joint, where bands play country classics on weekend evenings. Drunks who stumble over from whatever Irish McSurly’s kicked them out will rejoice at the $2 drafts of macrobrews; locals enjoy having a neighborhood lounge blocks from the ballpark madness but miles away in terms of attitude. Extra shot The house band, Justus, may seem like weekend warriors, but guitarist Bobby Lee played with Eric Clapton for more than a decade. 3900 N Sheridan Rd (773-929-9543).—Karl Klockars
A shrub trimmed into the shape of a beer bottle outside this tavern is a sign you’ve found dive-bar gold. The front room features a serpentine brass bar, while the walls of the lodgelike back room are decorated with antique tools and Abe Lincoln prints. Owner Warren Johnson, an ex-marine who played semipro football with the Chicago Gladiators in the ’70s, shows off a scrapbook of vintage ads for gorgeous former proprietor Trudy De Ring, a ’30s burlesque dancer. Extra shot The plush barstools were salvaged from skyboxes during the Soldier Field rehab. 4035 W Fullerton Ave (773-342-2808).—John Greenfield
MR. C's MIDWAY LOUNGE
Incoming planes pass startlingly close to Mr. C’s, a welcoming dive a block from Midway Airport. It’s been a tavern since the mid-’40s, “back when the neighborhood was mostly prairie,” says owner Andrew Chilmon, and vintage airport photos hang on the wall, along with a stuffed marlin from one of Chilmon’s fishing trips. By day, the bar draws carpenters and other tradesmen; at night, airline crew members and flight attendants show up. Extra shot Given the shabby surroundings, there’s a respectable selection of bottled beers, including Wild Blue blueberry lager ($4). 4654 W 63rd St (773-582-0833).—John Greenfield