Elizabeth Atkinson and Morgan Olsen | TimeOut
Chicago has no shortage of well-established bars, but it’s fair to say that city dwellers have a special place in their hearts for Chicago’s many dive bars. We’ve picked the most legendary, as decided by our editors, from a spot to grab a burger while rubbing elbows with local journalists to a South Side classic with craft beer and community feels galore. Here’s to the dive bars that define Chicago.
Billy Goat Tavern
This subterranean haunt has had its home under the Tribune Tower since 1934, when Billy Sianis founded it. It’s best known for being the inspiration behind the Olympia Café Saturday Night Live sketch starring John Belushi. Chicagoans know it best not for its “Cheezborger” (which is quite good, actually), but as an old journalists’ bar, where reporters from the nearby Chicago Tribune would come for beers and grub. The place still retains its character, with customers bellying up to the bar to grab a drink or lounging next to the “Wall of Fame”—filled with yellowed newspaper clippings from bar regulars. And let’s not forget, there’s also the whole thing with the Billy Goat. —Elizabeth Atkinson
This low-key Hyde Park dive might remind you of your grandparents’ basement—if your grandparents had a massive mural of Barack Obama in their home. Cheap beer and strong, no-frills drinks dominate the bar, where you can saddle up on stools and people watch the night away. Blue-collar regulars mix and mingle with students from nearby University of Chicago, creating one of the best crowds in the city. It’s the kind of place you feel warm just walking into—even when the temps dip below zero in Chicago. Plus, they accept credit cards—a huge bonus in our book. —Morgan Olsen
If you’ve come to Rossi’s expecting to be coddled, you’ve come to the wrong place. Longtime bartender Desiree is a no-bullshit kind of gal. The dive itself is a rarity in River North; it’s a cash-only spot that’s been around for decades, which is evident as soon as you walk in the door (no offense). It’s the kind of locals-only establishment that doesn’t register on tourists’ radar, which is fine for the dedicated post-work crowd. Don’t leave without checking out the row of refrigerators in the back, where you’ll find packaged beer to take home. —MO