50 unknown bars: Unsung but lovable dives, lounges and taverns.
Chicago dives, lounges and taverns.
THE FIFTH PROVINCE
Who would’ve guessed one of the city’s best Irish pubs was hidden inside a former school? Steps from the Blue Line’s Montrose stop, the Irish American Heritage Center’s in-house pub, open Fridays and Saturdays only, draws a cast of neighborhood regulars, as well as actors and theatergoers from its two resident companies, Seanachaí and Shapeshifters. Admire the bar—crafted from repurposed chalkboards—while you order a Bushmills or a proper pour of Guinness ($5). Extra shot On chilly nights, take a seat near the stone fireplace for live Irish rock and trad bands—there’s rarely a cover. 4626 N Knox Ave (773-282-7035).—Martina Sheehan
No relation to the tourist trap to the east, this tiny Art Deco bar serves pizza and booze to Edgewater gays and straights. For the past 29 years, the gorgeous 81-year-old Peggy Gelsomino has manned the ovens, making the dough and sauce herself. Grab a seat at one of the five half-circle booths or at the curvy wood bar and order from the list of 17 bottled beers ($4–$4.75), or go for a cocktail ($3 margaritas on Wednesdays). Make sure to visit during the holidays, when ornaments and lights transform the room. Extra shot Check out the working fountain behind the bar. 1111 W Granville Ave (773-465-1616).—Laura Baginski
Everyone is family at the Lighthouse. Bartenders call the owner “Uncle” and the patrons “Sugar,” Bears games are celebrated with potluck barbecue, and a memorial board displays the obits of past regulars. Hell, the whole bar feels as if it’s housed in your ship-loving grandpa’s rec room. Marked only by a drawing of a lighthouse on its awning, this place isn’t easy to find (the door’s at 1236 West Chase Avenue). The clientele comes for cheap Old Style via long habit, word of mouth or drunken stumbling. Extra shot Grab a six-pack to go from the carryout cooler. 7301 N Sheridan Rd (773-764-9414).—Angela Barnaby
Ex-cop Tony Anthony’s down-home soul-food restaurant and blues lounge features country breakfasts and dinners of rib tips, chicken wings and catfish, drawing workers from the nearby juvenile detention center and board of education, plus police officers and politicians. Miller Lite, MGD ($3 drafts) and Tres Mujeres tequila are the most popular tipples, and blues men Little Milton and Bobby “Blue” Bland dominate the free jukebox. Extra shot The back room hosts no-cover blues concerts, with regular appearances by Slim James, Mary Lane and Charlie Brown. 1400 S Western Ave (312-243-7988).—John Greenfield
Skyline vistas from the sixth-floor terrace; German draft beers for $5 ($4 refills); live jazz and dancing to kitschy German acts—how has this bar evaded a hipster takeover? For one, it’s open only about four nights per month. Run by the DANK German cultural organization, the Skyline’s third-Friday Stammtisch open house brings in a regular crew of spry Deutsche grandmas who pull dance partners from the young crowd; jazz attracts a younger set on fifth Fridays; and German-language students flock to the TreffpunktDANK kaffeeklatsch every second and fourth Wednesday. Extra shot Ask your bartender for German board games. 4740 N Western Ave, sixth floor (773-561-9181).—Martina Sheehan