Changing Tastes: The Chicago Bars To Party At Now

Before you go out, grab your besties, and get a little crazy, there's a few questions you have to ask yourself about where you're going to hang: What's the menu like? How's the music? Is it populated with dudes rocking sideways baseball caps (shiver)? See, as we mature and our tastes become more refined, the elements that were fun a few years ago are no longer part of our ideal evening. When greasy wings, blaring speakers, and screaming post-college coeds are no longer for you, it's time to upgrade your nighttime itinerary and hit a new round of bars.
Because you'll never stop evolving, but you'll always be partying, we've created a roundup of the best new nightlife options around town. Click through to discover some new joints that will, we promise, get you out of your routine and add some excitement to your schedule.
1 of 5
When you want to get a little crazy, head to Double A. Located below the upscale Mexican spot Mercadito, it remains a hot dance space with thumpin' music. But if you want to trade raising the roof for laid-back conversation, take a walk down the street to Sable. The sophisticated spot has plenty of energy, though it's far more refined and contained. Along with a nice glass of bubbly or craft beer, you can explore the expertly curated cocktail list, discover mezcal, and learn everything you'd ever need to know about bourbon. Whether you're with friends after work or on a third date, the vibe here just works.

Double A, 108 West Kinzie Street (between North La Salle and North Clarke streets)
Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 North State Street (between North Dearborn Parkway and North Wabash Avenue); 312-755-9704

Photos: Double A, Courtesy Double A; Sable Kitchen & Bar, Courtesy Sable Kitchen & Bar
2 of 5
A bustling neighborhood sports bar with a nostalgic feel and a cocktail named for the Brady Bunch's Hawaiian vacation (a favorite), The Anthem is ideal for gathering your friends and taking in a game. But when the final drink is downed and the last bite of that intense cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucy burger devoured, try The Bedford. Occupying a landmark 1920s bank just below Division Street, this jewel features a gorgeous, black-marble mosaic wall and a massive vault — complete with glimmering, copper-fronted safety-deposit boxes — that the owners have converted into one of the city's coolest lounges. Chef Mark Steuer's food is excellent, but, if you ask us, the beer, wine, and refreshed cocktail lists from beverage director Michael Simon are the real draw. Order the Bangkok Mule or Manhattan Project, for sure. Oh, and that DJ you're dancing to — don't be surprised when you discover they're from Cut Copy, OK Go, or another musical group passing through town.

The Anthem, 1725 West Division Street (at North Hermitage Avenue); 773-697-4804
The Bedford,1612 West Division Street (between North Marshfield and North Ashland avenues); 773-235-8800

Photos: The Anthem, Courtesy of Marc Moran; The Bedford, Courtesy of Jesse Lirola
3 of 5
One of the first truly modern taverns to land in the gentrified Bucktown (way back in 1989), Northside has survived when many others have fallen by the wayside. An excellent brew-and-burger joint with a great beer garden out front and pool tables in the back, it can get loud and crowded — but sometimes that's exactly what you're looking for. If you're up for something a little more laid-back, Bar DeVille is just a quick jaunt down Damen. The dark ambiance only gets better as you make your way through the hipster crowd, past the vintage furniture, photo booth, and red-felt-topped pool table to the dance floor in the back room. Sip a Chartreuse-based cocktail or the Hard Sell (with Chicago's own Malort), wash it down with your choice of PBR or craft beer, then kick back and enjoy the energy 'til they boot you out.

Northside, 1635 North Damen Avenue (at West Concord Place); 773-384-3555
Bar DeVille, 710 North Damen Avenue (between West Superior and West Huron streets); 312-929-2349

Photographed by Cara Hunt
4 of 5
There's no question the food (from chef Jared Van Camp), cocktail lists, and even the people at Old Town Social are flat-out gorgeous. On top of that, it's a lively spot where great tunes play when its 24 massive TVs aren't showing a game. But just 'round the corner, at the north end of Lincoln Park, cocktails from another era are drawing some of those gorgeous folks to the bi-level temple of Barrelhouse Flat. To eat or sip a drink at the long bar under brighter lights, stay downstairs. When you're ready to graduate to the speakeasy and enjoy a craft cocktail while seated in red velvet, high-backed chairs, climb the stairs. Either way, it's addictively easy to get lost in a tasty drink and great conversation in a jewel like this.

Old Town Social, 455 West North Avenue (between North Cleveland and North Hudson avenues); 312-266-2277
Barrelhouse Flat, 2624 North Lincoln Avenue (between West Wrightwood and West Schubert avenues); 773-857-0421

Photos: Old Town Social, Courtesy Old Town Social; Barrelhouse Flat, Courtesy of Jesse Lirola
5 of 5
People who love quality beer and baseball can stumble down Clark Street from Wrigley Field after a Cubs game and get their fix at Sheffield's, one of Chicago's top beer bars. The wood-laden space attracts a younger set just mature enough to appreciate quality brews and great barbecue in the beer garden out back. A few miles north in Andersonville, The Hopleaf is where you graduate to when you want to get away from the baseball-loving masses. Not only does it possess one of the most-respected Belgian beer lists in Chicago, but with arguably the best steamed mussels and frites in town, it's the top place for a truly unbeatable pairing. Hopleaf skews a bit older and laid back, but don't worry about getting dressed up: here, it's really about the beer.

Sheffield's, 3258 North Sheffield Avenue (between West School Street and West Belmont Avenue); 773-281-4989
The Hopleaf, 5148 North Clark Street (between West Foster Street and West Winona Avenue); 773-334-9851

Photos: Sheffield's, Courtesy of Patrick Eberle; The Hopleaf, Courtesy of Grant Kessler

More from Chicago


R29 Original Series