Dive Bars in Blue Island


Select Local Merchants

  • Old Town Ale House
    A self-proclaimed dive, Old Town Ale House doles out drinks until just before dawn in a dim, often-cramped space that exudes an enticing dinginess. Its proximity to Piper's Alley--home to The Second City--as well as to Zanie's Comedy Club and the Orchid Theater almost guarantees a steady crowd of performers and theatergoers who sidle up to the cash-only bar for beers on tap, shots, and cocktails. There’s not a lot of fuss here, but that’s where its charm comes from. The bar is cash-only and a bag of chips is the only available entrée option. Even the jukebox is filled with old-timey crooner tunes and jazz. It’s the type of music that was appreciated by the hotshot newspaper reporters, such as Roger Ebert, that called this place their late-night haunt of choice and their preferred spot to duck in during killer-bee attacks. Portraits of famous faces stare down from the walls, frozen in pigment by artist Bruce Elliott, whose paintings depict notable Chicagoans, Second City alums, and naked women in equal measure. Visitors can check out renditions of famous Old Town Ale House regulars, such as John Candy and Jim Belushi, and also ogle at paintings that have garnered national attention, such as nudes of Sarah Palin and Rod Blagojevich. Mr. Elliot is not only the bar’s interior decorator, he’s also the one running the show. Mr. Elliot befriended longtime owner Beatrice Klug over the more than four decades that he was a regular at the bar, and she decided to hand over the keys to the joint after she fell ill with cancer. Beatrice bequeathed Old Town Ale House to Mr. Elliot and his wife under the condition that they would not make any changes. Since opening in 1958, Old Town Ale House continues to remain suspended in time.
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    219 West North Avenue
    Chicago, IL US
  • Nisei Lounge
    Nisei Lounge is a relaxed restaurant with an elegant decor and classic American dishes. Low-fat and gluten-free options are featured on the menu as well. Never miss a play with TVs broadcasting the biggest games in the bar area. Weekend diners may find themselves waiting for a table, as Friday and Saturday nights tend to draw a crowd. Jeans are just right for a meal at Nisei Lounge, which embraces a casual vibe. Throwing a big party? Count on Nisei Lounge to provide top-notch catering with the same great dishes you love. Drivers should plan to park on the street when dining at Nisei Lounge's N Sheffield Ave residence. If you feel like saving gas, opt for public transportation, with stops conveniently located at Addison (Red) and Belmont (Purple Express, Brown, Red). You'll find your bill at Nisei Lounge to be more than reasonable, with most meals costing less than $15.
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    3439 N Sheffield Ave
    Chicago, IL US
  • Honky Tonk BBQ
    Ranked as some of the Best Barbecue in Chicago by CBS News, Honky Tonk Barbecue is the brainchild of pit-master, chef, and owner Willie Wagner. Within the Pilsen space, Wagner rubs and smokes his famous pulled pork for 17 hours, using the same recipe and technique that won him third place at the world Championship Barbecue Cooking contest in 2008. Barbecue-loving Midwestern crowds—and celebrity chef Guy Fieri—flock to Honky Tonk for not just the pulled pork, but also to sample bacon candy, beef brisket sandwiches, and bold slabs of dry-rub St. Louis ribs.
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    1800 South Racine Avenue
    Chicago, IL US
  • Cody's Public House
    Situated on a quiet corner in Lakeview, Cody's Public House embodies the spirit of a neighborhood tavern. The dog-friendly drinking hole doles out beers on tap in a casual atmosphere bereft of much glamor, and that's how most patrons like it. An old-school jukebox pumps music across the expansive main bar area, which features a pool table, and into an adjacent room where dartboards line the walls. Cody's ample square footage extends outside onto a large back patio featuring TVs, bags, and even more dartboards. To complement the libations, guests can fire up their own meats on the outdoor grill or snag a handful of pretzels from the bar.
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    1658 West Barry Avenue
    Chicago, IL US
  • The Windy City Inn
    Windy City Inn's bartenders wet parched whistles with beer by the glass, bottle, and bucket, as well as cocktails and myriad libations, late into the night seven days a week. Wall-mounted televisions pour sporting events into fans’ thirsty eyes at this friendly North Center pub. Its atmosphere drew praise from the Chicago Bar Project, which wrote, "the camaraderie at Windy City Inn is amazing." Occasional music and open-mic nights accompany the melody of clinking ice cubes, and a brief menu of bar nibbles keeps stomachs from growling out sea chanteys.
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    2257 W Irving Park Rd
    Chicago, IL US
  • Schaller's Pump
    A quintessential Chicago bar, Schaller’s Pump boasts a storied history that’s built on a foundation of baseball and politics. The tavern is a mainstay of Bridgeport in every sense of the word. It’s Chicago’s oldest continually running bar (since 1881) and over the years it has served as a shot-and-beer hangout for blue-collar workers, a pre-game dining spot for White Sox fans, and a hangout for the deal-making politicos that work across the street at the 11th Ward Democrats. Visitors walking up to the tavern should enter through the side door next to the parking lot; the large, arched-wooden door in the front of the bar remains shut at all times to ward off door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen. Once inside, visitors may not be blown away by the unassuming décor, but they’ll soon warm up to the cheap beer, singing old-timers, and menu of hearty eats such as butt steak and corned beef hash. However, the real draw is the chance to hear a good story. Owner Jake Schaller has lived upstairs for 35 years, and can talk anyone’s ear off with tales of illegal booze-running and Chicago big-shot sightings. For example, The South Side Brewing Co. operated next door during the Prohibition, under the guise of making non-alcoholic beer. Little did the authorities know that barrels of booze constantly rolled through underground tunnels connected to Shaller’s Pump. Future mayor (da mare, in Chicagoese) Richard Daley spent his 21st birthday here, and White Sox owner Bill Veeck used to stop in regularly for a cold brew. One time, Mr. Veeck took a $20 bill, covered one side with butter, put a silver dollar on the other side, and threw it (true it, in Chicagoese) at the ceiling. The bill supposedly stayed there for 20 years. It’s the type of longevity that makes this place so charming.
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    3714 South Halsted Street
    Chicago, IL US
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