If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Chicago guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Chicago for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like Le Passage to busy places like Cullen's Bar & Grill that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Lake View area? No fear - we share all the facts!


Dean and Carolyn Armstrong bought the old Flossmoor Train Station building, built in 1906, and lovingly restored it into the brewery and restaurant that it is today. Partial to ales, the brewery also has handcrafted some stouts and Imperial IPAs in the Old World tradition. Visitors to the brewery can see the beer being brewed behind a glass wall. Floosmoor is a very family-centric community and the Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery is very family-friendly. In addition to a full lunch and dinner menu, including a kid's menu, the Old Caboose Ice Cream Shoppe is an authentic renovated Illinois Central caboose located on the south lawn of the brewery that serves premium ice cream from Spring to Fall.

Megy's expert tip: Try the "Brew Chips," Flossmoor Station's own fresh, house-made potato chips.

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Magnificent Mile

The Roof lives up to its name with impressive views of the Chicago skyline from the 27th floor of theWit Hotel. An outdoor lounge lets patrons soak in the sun on warmer days, while an indoor area (complete with fireplace) offers some respite from the brutal winter winds. The stainless steel and gray accents exude industrial cool, but plush lounge chairs and low tables keep the atmosphere light and enjoyable. Guests can listen to the grand piano or spy on the city below with a telescope.

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Magnificent Mile

Enter through the alley, move past the beautiful blond hostess (having met the cover charge and dress code), descend the stairs, and be transported to a 10,000-square-foot subterranean speakeasy of the new millennium. Le Passage's funky decor and talented DJs spin you from dance floor to two great bars. Yow Bar, named for legendary Trader Vic's bartender Yow Low, is a comfy VIP area. Beautiful, hip patrons can also enjoy live music, fashion shows, and a tasty late-night appetizer menu.

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Omnipresent 77-year-old Marie, the lounge's original owner and bartender, looks like your grandmother and acts like a truck driver. She runs the place, sings on occasion, does magic tricks, and for a shot of Jagermeister, she'll be your new friend. The place started as a polka joint in 1961, and although some original regulars still show up, the bar now belongs to the young during the late hours. The jukebox is crammed with great old 45's, from Elvis to Petula Clark, and an eclectic crowd gives the thumbs-up to Marie's penchant for kitsch and holiday decorations.

Read more about Marie's Rip Tide Lounge →

For a nostalgic experience with the requisite hint of trendiness, Cans is the place to go. While canned beer – 27 varieties – is definitely the specialty, bottles and cocktails can also be had. Grab a seat at one of the two bars, or sink into delightfully deep booths; thanks to waitstaff bearing Palm Pilots, your suds will be in front of you in no time. Continuing the low-key vibe, arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, and Tetris stand ready to challenge your skills. Alternatively, sit back and enjoy old-school flicks like "Sixteen Candles" on plasma screen TVs.

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A pressed tin ceiling and cozy booths lining one wall are just a few of the details that help Cullen's distinguish itself from Chicago's glut of Irish bars and restaurants. Folks come here to grab a bite to eat or simply to knock back a couple of pints. Shepherd's pie, burgers, and mac and cheese represent the edible offerings, while a decent selection of beer and spirits satisfies most merry-makers. Come on a weekend morning for a traditional Irish fry-up, or on Sunday night for energetic live Irish music.

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Lake View

199 bottles of beer on the wall...and 30 drafts, too. How do you choose? Just ask one of the well-versed waitstaff, who can also recommend an entree to pair perfectly with your brew of choice. A somewhat smoky front room doesn't discourage locals and visitors from crowding in, but the spacious backroom invites lingering and enjoying above-average food offerings that boast Belgian flair, like moules frites and stewed rabbit legs.

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A trendy, high-concept space draws crowds nightly to this happening bar, lounge, and restaurant. The bustling front bar is the place to see and be seen. Sample a specialty cocktail, like the Rockit Root Beer – root beer, Stoli Vanil, and Godiva white chocolate liqueur – while you take in the scene. Looking for something a little more relaxed? Head to the upstairs lounge, where pool tables, couches, and 50-in. plasma TVs can be found. There's plenty of upscale bar food to nibble on too – think Kobe burgers and fries cooked in truffle oil.

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This bar has become a Chicago landmark. It sports Prohibition-era decor, and low lighting sets the mood. The martini is the signature drink, and cabaret-style pianists and singers entertain nightly. The menu includes a number of items that come from the kitchen of the Drake's notable Cape Cod Room. Try the Bookbinder Soup or a fresh salad. Several televisions provide access to news and/or sports games, depending on the day and time. Casual attire.

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Magnificent Mile

One of Old Town's hippest nightspots, Spoon attracts a flurry of stylishly-clad beautiful people on a nightly basis. Come to this upscale restaurant/lounge for a terrific international dinner and an even better night of dancing and general merriment. DJs spin the hottest grooves until the wee hours at this trendy bar, so plan to wear something comfortable and plan to stay late. EL: Red Line to Clark/Division

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