The 10 Best Dives
Archie’s Iowa Rockwell Tavern
The 69-year-old family-run tavern (now manned by Archie’s granddaughter Katrina) still offers some of the best deals anywhere: $3 monthly craft beer special, $2 Hamm’s, and free pool and cheese puffs all night. Dogs welcome, too.
Find it: 2600 W. Iowa St., 773-486-2626
It’s not quite Texas, but it’s certainly not Chicago. The late-night honky-tonk joint is beloved for the country crooners who take the stage in the wee hours, baskets of fried stuff (indistinguishable, but satisfying nonetheless), and cheap beer. If you want to impress a date, trek on. But if all you want is sloppy fun in a cowboy hat, few places can beat Carol’s.
Find it: 4659 N. Clark St., 773-334-2402
How the fave spot of boho Logan Squarers stays so clean is one of the city’s great mysteries, but it’s a reason—along with the impressive bottled beer selection and chummy bartenders—to keep going back. Owner Coleman Brice hosts weekly concerts and comedy sets, if you’re looking for more than just drafts.
Find it: 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-276-5802
With comfy couches and every Nintendo game under the sun, you might swear you walked into your childhood rec room. But the free popcorn, jovial bartenders, and $2 PBRs remind you you’re in Chicago’s homiest basement hideaway.
Find it: 500 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-348-3750, galwaybaypub.com
With daily specials like $2 PBR and Old Style, an all-season beer garden, and free Ping-Pong, it’s no wonder this place draws a crunchy crowd. It’s cash only, but with those deals, you won’t need more than $20 in your pocket.
Find it: 1059 N. Wolcott Ave., 773-486-1512, happyvillagebar.com
Peanut shells strewn across the floor guarantee this is not the place to meet a date. But that’s OK; the after-work set that packs the tables is only looking for a lively scene with good burgers and brews, and Monk’s has those in spades.
Find it: 205 W. Lake St., 312-357-6665, mmonks.com
The Old Town Ale House
A modestly grungy joint in slick Old Town, this Chicago classic is famous for its R-rated paintings of the famous and infamous (Blago, Sarah Palin). But the real draw is the jazz-heavy jukebox, which features giants like Coltrane along with locals Josh Berman and Jason Adasiewicz and a smattering of country and classical tunes.
Find it: 219 W. North Ave., 312-944-7020, theoldtownalehouse.com
Simon’s wears its Nordic roots on its glögg-stained sleeve: Viking artifacts, Swedish flags, Pripps lager, deer-hunting murals. And the weathered mahogany bar, bookended by bronze cherubs, is a tribute to the Andersonville that once was.
Find it: 5210 N. Clark St., 773-878-0894, myspace.com/simonstavern
From the famous late-night Tots and the free jazz on Mondays to the 20 beers on tap, this is a neighborhood haunt better than most. And there’s no finer marker of Skylark’s devoted following than the constant clutter of parked bikes just outside its doors.
Find it: 2149 S. Halsted St., 312-948-5275, skylarkchicago.com
Where else does bar chatter include discussions of Nietzsche, postmodernism, and hyperbolic geometry? This standby, popularly known as Jimmy’s, may be a dive, but there’s nothing lowbrow about it. Tote your best academic armor: The Hyde Park watering hole is a University of Chicago favorite.
Find it: 1172 E. 55th St., 773-643-5516