North of Wicker Park and east of Logan Square lies Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, a creative epicenter and home to galleries, boutiques, second-hand havens, and trendy restaurants alike. Designated a Chicago Landmark District, Bucktown offers a number of attractions, but bars are among its best. The Culture Trip has gathered 10 for you to try.
Bar, Pub Grub, American, $$$
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A warm corner in a busy and bustling neighborhood, The Charleston offers an oasis to the working class, to the misfits, to the inhabitants of Bucktown and the outer ‘hoods. The laid-back bar has seen better days, but necessary updates and a facelift have welcomed new guests to kick back and relax. There are likely to be DJs spinning beat driven jams on the weekends. If you’re really lucky, it’ll be a live jazz band pumping out the tunes.
Map Room, where the walls are lined from corner to corner, floor to ceiling with maps. Map Room welcomes a wide range of beers sourced from all corners of the world and offers literature on travel for casual browsing. This small Bucktown bar has long been a staple for locals. Map Room offers specials, so be sure to look out for the friendly discounts and try a new beer.
Danny’s almost closed its doors after decades of business due to the rising rent prices. However, customers who love the beloved shack of cheap cocktails, classic jams, and a cozy dance floor demanded that it stay. This staple bar is tucked away on Dickens Avenue in an old residence. Its bones still remain, making the space that much more unique and somehow more genuine.
The Bristol is a stand-out New American gastropub with craft cocktails, superb wines, and craft beers. Located on one of Bucktown’s busier streets, The Bristol is a little difficult to find parking for if you aren’t a resident, so take a cab or prepare yourself for a little walk between car and bar. This is an excellent spot for dates, celebrations with small groups, or a refined solo snack and drink. The Bristol has begun offering brunch and draft IPA deals, so be sure to consider this place for a mid-day getaway.
Gallery Cabaret is a hole-in-the-wall bar that features live bands and an open-mic night. The almost-retro, almost-your-grandfather’s-basement décor is just the cherry on top. Beer is cheap, drinks flow like water, and the bartenders offer a shoulder to cry on. Of course there are shot and beer combos, happy hour specials, and PBR on draft. Gallery Cabaret is a definite Bucktown staple.
Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, Vegetarian
Red Door has one of the best patios in Bucktown, but it’s more than just a big and beautifully green and leafy outdoor space. Red Door has an inside, too, wood-trimmed, with a bar that is stocked with the best booze and a menu of snacks that will make you smile. This gastropub is located on one of Bucktown’s busiest streets but keeps patrons feeling like regulars. The community-style tables add to the casual ambiance, and the charming space offers an ample beer list, craft cocktail menu, and seasonal pairings. Red Door is great for groups, small gatherings, celebrations, dates, and even families with kids. Except for the weekends, Red Door opens at 5pm and keeps its lights on late. It also delivers (sorry, booze not included), takes reservations, and offers take out.
Club Lucky is a little Italian lounge and dining room that offers both beverages and bites. Customers rave about the stellar tiramisu, calamari Calabrese, antipasto, and the Alfredo sauce. The portions are hearty and the quality heavy, so come hungry and you’ll leave happy. The dining room is a great place for dancing dates, gatherings, and reunions. During the week it’s a great day oasis for those with kids or families. The cocktail offerings include an array of specialized martinis, such as the ‘Always Lucky,’ with blue cheese stuffed olives. The Negroni, beer, and wine, along with other classic Italian cocktails, can be had for a fair price.
Floyd’s Pub offers the basics in a fantastic way. An array of reputable domestic beers and international offerings and bar snacks that are something to brag about. For sports fans, Floyd’s Pub offers a few TVs for your viewing pleasure. This isn’t the bar for first dates or quiet surroundings in the evening, it’s a pub! If you order food, be prepared to indulge in your bar food dreams, tacos, cheeseburgers, nachos, fish and chips, and tots. Albeit a heavenly bar during the day, Floyd’s is not ideal for kids.
The Corner Bar is literally the neighborhood’s quintessential corner bar. It’s cheap, it’s good, and it’s one of the best dive bars in Bucktown. Daily specials are in play, with draft beers, your basic cocktails, and great prices. This 2am bar is great for special occasions, singles, or late nightcaps. The music is good, have a dance or two after a few PBRs! The Corner Bar is one of the rare bars that is dog-friendly. The Corner Bar is cash only.
The Mutiny offers patrons more than just five dollar mini pitchers and live shows. It has been a Chicago music scene staple for decades and a haven for punk, metal, and rock fans. Packed with regulars by night, the (free) pool table and darts wall is often occupied, the place is dimly lit, and the energy is good fun. Best is the ceiling tile, which has remnants of rock band album covers turned into psychedelic murals. Open until 2am most nights (3am on Saturdays), The Mutiny is great for celebrations, dancing, and other dive bar shenanigans. It does not accept credit cards, children, or those seeking a quiet corner.