50 unknown bars: Unsung but lovable dives, lounges and taverns.
Chicago dives, lounges and taverns.
WABA KOREAN RESTAURANT AND BAR
Private-room karaoke costs $25 per hour at this upscale spot, but thrifty regulars know to head here 6–10pm Thursday nights when the purchase of any entrée comes with one free hour of crooning. Those uninterested in singing can watch the game outside of karaoke earshot and nosh on Korean apps or make a special request for the off-menu Yummyberry cocktail ($6.50), a mixture of soju (a Korean spirit that tastes like a cross between water and aloe-vera-ish vodka), pomegranate and housemade ginger simple syrup. Extra shot Co-owner Jamie Kim, a virtual soju sommelier, stocks dozens of varieties—including aloe and yogurt—that she handpicks on trips to Korea. 5100 N Western Ave (773-728-3222).—Christina Couch
There’s a recession going on? Not in here. At the Elysian Hotel’s clubby, second-story bar, it might as well be Reagan’s ’80s—every texture is plush, every server is formal, and every drink is, um, about $15. But when you want to sit in the lap of luxury (literally—you’ve never felt a softer seat cushion), there’s no better place to do it. Because unlike other hotel bars, this one isn’t full of tourists—or anyone else, for that matter. Extra shot Each table gets unlimited snacks, such as housemade potato chips fried in beef fat. 11 E Walton St (312-646-1300).—David Tamarkin
This bare-bones dive, in operation since 1978 on Hegewisch’s main drag, takes the prize for Chicago’s most irresponsibly named bar. The grinning cartoon rabbit hoisting a brew on the sign threatens to lure children into a lifetime of boozing, although owner Keith Essary says he’s had no complaints. That said, this is a friendly place to sip $1 PBR pints or down $5 Vegas bombs (Crown Royal, schnapps, cranberry and Red Bull) with factory workers and police officers. Extra shot Mugs Bunny is home to one of the city’s few shuffleboard tables. 13401 S Baltimore Ave (773-646-4560).—John Greenfield
Those who reminisce about a time before craft cocktails will find comfort in 21-year-old Sidekicks, where nachos and chicken wings hold court with beer and whiskey. While the 4am bar boasts six dartboards, the main attraction is free nightly karaoke, drawing everyone from divas and ponytailed crooners to birthday girls and folks from Rockford. The price for liquid courage—bottled beer runs $3 weekdays, $3.50 weekends—compensates for the rec-room ambience. After a round of shots, the crowd might even slow dance to your rendition of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Extra shot Sidekicks sells thongs embellished with its logo. 4424 W Montrose Ave (773-545-6212).—Kate Leahy
The first thing you need to know about this second-story bar is how to find it: tucked between Blackbird and Meiji, up a flight of neglected stairs, into the den of Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles. The young Korean-Americans don’t arrive until midnight, but when they do, they order rounds of soju and anjou (hearty snacks, such as a seafood pancake, that come steaming from the kitchen in minutes). Extra shot Stay late enough and you’ll meet the host of the party, Alan Chou, who also owns Meiji restaurant downstairs. 623 W Randolph St (312-887-9999).—Julia Kramer