My Top 3 Chicago Dive Bars

November 20, 2013

birthday birthday birthday!  i don't even care that it means that i'm 29.  i just like my birthday.  over the years, i've done a lot of different things for my birthday - bar crawls, clubs, live bands, parties at home, sports bars with wristband deals.  but one thing about my birthday parties that you can always count on is that it will, 100% of the time, end at a dive bar.  i just adore dive bars and i always have.

dive bars can be icky, but my favorites aren't really gross.  they're just small neighborhood bars that you don't need to dress up to go to.  they have a relaxed feel, bartenders remember you.  i don't mind occasionally wearing dresses and heels to go out but i'm usually in jeans and flats, i refuse to pay cover or go anywhere with a line (i hate the idea of cover, and i also tend to hate the types of places that charge cover), and i generally dislike places that have dress codes, even if i'm not in violation of it.  dive bars it is.  dive bars are where you go to relax and be comfortable, you can hear your friends talk, you can play card games and drink normal beer and well liquors.  icing on the cake if they also have room for beer pong and flip cup.  (which my favorites do, of course.)

i narrowed it down to my top 3.  do you know how hard that was?!  honorable mentions include snickers, raven's, carol's, and dugout.


beer on clark.  well they just get right to the point with that name, don't they?  beer.  you know what you're getting in a place called beer.  this one is in wrigleyville.  our pal adam bartends here, and he cracks open my tall boy of pbr (refer to my 'things i am not above post') the minute i walk in the door and i'm greeted by a 'you again?' and a $5 bill so i can put my country songs on the jukebox.  and then we have a 'where's tara?' conversation because somebody likes that little ginger and was very sad when she moved.  to say this is my favorite establishment would be a gross understatement.  even though it isn't huge, they have karaoke and beer pong tables, and even a crack machine.  everything i look for in a bar.  plus no cover, no dress code, no line, no crowds.  every time i text kelli about playing beer pong, she texts back 'let me guess. beer on clark?!'  and i promise, being named beer and all, they have a lot of very good beers.  i just happen to enjoy cheap ass pbr.


yak-zies.  located in lincoln park and they have free popcorn.  i honestly think it's the epitome of dive bar to have this.  both 'free' and 'popcorn' are infinitely better when you're drinking.  yak-zies is strictly an after hours bar.  you know, one of those places that's open til 4 a.m. so you only go there once wherever you previously were closes.  this is where we end up after my friends' band plays.  they close down at some place like cubby bear and we move on over to yak-zies.  my only issue here is that you have to go down stairs to get into the place and then up stairs to get to the bathroom.  i don't like stairs when i'm drinking.  or maybe it's that they don't like me.


mother's.  this place is gross and a dive bar and a multitude of other things yet it ranks probably second on my list only to beer on clark, and it's located in the gold coast.  it's the first bar my mother went to when she turned 21 (and the first bar she threw up at) and it probably hasn't been cleaned since.  they have karaoke in the front, where my pal matt dj's and lets me sing whatever i want even though i have no talent, and pool tables that mostly just get used for beer pong.  and free popcorn.  seriously, something about that free popcorn makes it a dive bar, i don't really know the rules on that.  see yak-zies.  in the back they play dance music and have another bar and more beer pong tables under black lights so you really get just about everything in this joint.  most importantly, it's open til 4 a.m. and 5 on saturdays.  i don't know why i care, i rarely make it that late any more, but the option pleases me.  they do charge cover for guys... but i'm not a guy, so what do i care?  as with yak-zies, i just don't enjoy the stairs, but oh well.  win some, lose some.  they make up for it by having a bathroom attendant with watermelon blow pops.

what do you think?  are you a fan of the classy joints, or are you a true dive bar lover like myself?

(and the places where my friends work?  they are my friends because i started going there.  i didn't know them first.  that's a true dive bar.  and maybe also i'm just a friendly creature of habit.)

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23 comments

  1. Dang! Why can't you live closer. I just know we'd get along. lol
    We are "regulars" at this little tiny bar across from my husband work and probably wouldn't be as much if I wasn't friends with the bartender. haha HA and yes i met him there ;)

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    1. Haha I love that!! You meet the best bartender friends at places like that. I wish you were closer, we'd have a great time!

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  2. i LOVE/ADORE dive bars. The ones I go to the most often are all out by the beach.. which then leads to drunken 4 am last call shenanigans involving the ocean..

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  3. Dive bars are the BEST! I would pick a dive bar over a dress up place or "club" ANY night. The atmosphere is so much better all around.

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  4. in my party days, i lived at dive joints. their secret is that it's dark inside so you just don't see how dirty the place really is. when i went to drop off a few things at one of my dive joints, it was 2pm and 1) i wasn't sure if i was at the right place because i swear, it looks different at night 2) the inside looks TINY in daylight 3) the floors and tables are DISGUSTING. i liked it better when i couldn't see anything! ignorance is bliss

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  5. I love me a good dive bar! They are just so much more fun and I love not having to get dressed up.

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  6. I'm all about the dive bars! But you probably could've guessed that ;) hope you're bday was fab!

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  7. first of all, happy belated birthday! second of all... love this. I'm more of a Sunday morning drinker so I definitely need a briefing on the dive bars around here! I'll just have to try them out myself now. ;)

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  8. beleive it or not I have been kicked out of mothers!!!! happy almost birthday, you are a pretty thang!

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  9. I want to go to all of these places with you! Is that creepy?

    And I know what you mean about the difference between dive bars and gross bars! I am a huge fan of dive bars, but not gross ones.

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  10. Dive bars all the way. I can't do the trendy/dress-code-having/expensiveasfuck bars.

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  11. Happy belated Birthday!! Yours is exactly 1 month before my baby's so I'll probably always remember this :)

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  12. just when I think you don't get any cooloer, you go and write a post on dive bars. and your distinction is legit; some bars are just gross. love the cubby bear reference b/c I've definitely had my flops stuck to that floor! I need to plan a trip to see my sister and meet up w/ you at your favorite dives!

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  13. free popcorn definitely = dive bar!

    I'd much rather hit up bars like this for a night out. The packed "hip" clubs....let's just say I have to be pretty drunk to enjoy them!

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  14. I much rather drink at home in my jammies with friends but if i do go out it would be to a dive bar. Not dressing up is so much more comfortable.

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  15. I haven't been to a bar in years but if and when I go it's a dive bar always!

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  16. I have a group of friends that are always at Beer on Clark! Especially if NIU is playing. I guarantee you've been around some of those hoodlums before.

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  17. I am coming up on the icky 3-0 in January, and told my husband I wanted a proper pub crawl! It's been years, and I am so due. Happy Birthday!

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  18. I love a good dive bar and much prefer it over a classy joint! Beer is usually cheap, you don't have to dress up and you don't have to care too much about snotty people. Hope you have the best birthday!

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  19. Oh Yak-zies it's been way to long haha. Seriously there are lots of shows coming up and I will be going out. We also need to discuss a little thing called t-box : )

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  20. Dive bars all the way. I wanna wear what I want and not be judged for it. And people are less douchey at dives too. For sure!

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  21. I love dive bars and haven't been to any of these!!! Let's go out soon!!

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