Lakeview has the lion's share of Chicago nightlife, starting with Wrigleyville, home of the Chicago Cubs and major players in the city's theater and music scenes, and Boystown, one of the largest and most vibrant GLBT communities in the United States. Down the street from both is the Belmont strip, where teen punks flock to shop and show off in the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot.
Further west are the neighborhoods of North Center, Roscoe Village and St. Ben's, which have fun, laid-back bars and restaurants.
For many years, Lakeview was so far away from the action that opening a saloon on Clark Street was a considered a peaceful retirement for convicted ex-politicians in Chicago. With the expansion of the elevated train system, however, that changed rapidly, and with the 1914 construction of Weeghman Park, later to be known as Wrigley Field, Lakeview became the capital of the North Side. The Chicago Cubs, also known as the most dominant baseball franchise of the 19th century, took up residence at Wrigley and commenced the relentless lack of success that has made them famous. Other teams have slumps, but the Cubs are beyond compare, tormenting their fans a hundred years of near-misses, late collapses, and abject futility unrivaled in American professional sports. So why is Game Day still a joy in Wrigleyville? As the last franchise in baseball to install stadium lights for night games, the Cubs' schedule still features more early afternoon starts than any other team in the league, and the sun-soaked ivy walls of Wrigley Field are a pleasure no matter what the score. Today, it's a rare thing in America: a genuine neighborhood ballpark, surrounded by streets that amplify the Cubs fandom into frenzy on game day. As a nightlife destination, Wrigleyville also supports the Metro, one of Chicago's foremost rock venues, and other great ones like Schuba's, Martyrs', and The Vic. The storefront theater scene also thrives here.
But there's more to Lakeview than Wrigleyville. A short walk east is Boystown, home of a cheerful, lively GLBT community and a great destination for anyone who enjoys high-energy nightlife. It's also home to the massive annual Pride Parade in June. Roscoe Village is west of Wrigley, and is popular with older gay couples and young people lured in by fashionable boutiques and the promise of a sunny day at one of the many sidewalk cafes on Southport, not to mention Chicago's premier movie revival house, the Music Box. And Lakeview embraces its inner dive bar in North Center, full of converted warehouses, quality bowling alleys and cheap beer without the jocks.
The CTA Red Line makes stops in Lakeview (Belmont) and Wrigleyville (Addison, Sheridan). The Brown Line, further west, connects with the Red Line at Belmont, and makes additional stops in Lakeview (Diversey, Wellington, Southport), Roscoe Village (Paulina), and North Center (Addison, Irving Park). All but Belmont and Sheridan are wheelchair accessible. The Purple Line from the Loop and Evanston also stops at Belmont during weekday rush hours.
- 8 Halsted travels through Boystown. Be warned, though, that a recent poll named this the worst bus route in the city. It's late when it shows up and goes nowhere fast.
- 9 Ashland is an all-night route. Overnight service only runs between 95th and the North/Clark Red Line stop.
- 22 Clark runs the length of the north side, but it slows to a crawl through Wrigleyville, particularly on weekends and on days of Cubs games. It runs all night long.
- 36 Broadway comes in from Uptown and carries on to the Loop.
- 49 Western runs all night through most of the city and hits the Belmont/Western intersection, near which is the best of the Roscoe Village nightlife.
- 76 Diversey runs east/west on Diversey, the border between Lincoln Park and Lakeview, and continues to Logan Square.
- 77 Belmont runs all night and connects Roscoe Village with the Belmont Red/Brown Line stop and Boystown.
- 80 Irving Park runs most of the east/west length of the city, connecting with the Brown Line in North Center and the Sheridan Red Line.
- 152 Addison travels east/west through the edge of Boystown, Wrigleyville, and on to North Center.
Lake Shore Drive has an exit at Belmont. Beware of driving on Clark Street on weekends and during Cubs games, though. The taxis are a menace and the drunks are drawn to the middle of the street like flies to lights. You'll go nowhere fast and see Chicago at its worst in slow-motion.
- Horner Park, 2741 W Montrose Ave, ☎ . Great big wonderful park with plenty of softball fields, football and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts, trees, and a nice walking path. The leafy surroundings make it a great place for the annual pumpkin patch in the fall.
- Wunders Cemetery, 3963 N Clark St (Sheridan Red Line), ☎ . Overshadowed by the magnificent Graceland Cemetery across the street in Uptown, the smaller, slightly overgrown Wunders was established in 1859 and features some intriguing monuments, with more of a forgotten-by-time atmosphere than its more famous neighbor. A third cemetery, Jewish Graceland, is directly south. Free.
Take me out(side) to the ball game
Cubs games can sell out months in advance, especially for weekend games and battles with their crosstown rivals, the White Sox, and their Midwest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. But if that's the only time you have to visit, don't despair. Show up early and inquire at the Day Of Game ticket windows at Clark and Addison. If they turn you away, walk around outside and see if the scalpers are offering anything within your budget. (If you're feeling really confident, slip into one of the long lines for the rooftop parties on Sheffield or Waveland and claim to be with whatever party the guy two spots ahead of you claims to be with. IDs are not always checked, and once you're in, security is nil.) Still no luck? Relax outside the sidewalk-level fence on Sheffield to get a decent view of the game. There are always a few people watching it there for free. Scalpers will get desperate by the fourth inning and approach you with offers. If you have no money at all to spend, head down to Waveland Avenue and join the die-hards camped out there to chase out-of-the-park home run balls. Somebody usually has a radio tuned to the game action, and you might come away with a souvenir.
- Music Box, 3733 N Southport Ave (Southport Brown Line), ☎ . Evening shows on weekdays, matinees and midnight movies on weekends. Chicago's foremost source of cinematic delight, with two screens for classic and world-premiere independent movies and the occasional mini-festival. Tickets $8.25-9.25.
- Timber Lanes, 1851 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM, Su 1PM-2AM. If you like to sample the bowling culture of any city you visit, this is a fine choice; there are eight well-kept lanes, a cash bar, a good jukebox, and a few references to The Big Lebowski. Might be wise to call ahead for availability in the early evening, though, as there are a few leagues. $2-2.50 per game, except F-Sa at night, when it's $20/hour per lane.
- Wrigley Field, 1060 W Addision St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, that damned billy goat, and the 1908 champs; yes, this is the home of the Chicago Cubs, the North Side's beloved, diabolically unsuccessful baseball team. Among ballparks, only Fenway in Boston can match the old-time beauty of Wrigley and its famous ivy-covered walls. If you'd like to see Wrigley without attending a game, tours are occasionally offered ($25). Tickets can be as low as $8 for 'value dates', but the prize seats in the bleachers are usually $32, and certain dates wind up in scalpers' hands long before regular folks get a shot at them. 'Associations' host 'guests' on the rooftops around Wrigley, usually with unlimited beer and burgers, for upwards of $100.
A few great venues are also listed under Drink as well.
- Metro, 3730 N Clark St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Chicago's foremost rock venue, although other genres like electronic and hip hop figure in the lineup as well. If a band is on the verge of stardom and they're on their way through Chicago, the Metro has a knack for booking them. Many shows are all ages, and are generally affordable. Tickets general admission (e.g. standing room only), so be prepared to stand, and press forward for your right to see a guitarist's nostrils. Smart Bar, next door, is owned by the Metro and features good DJs most nights of the week. Tickets vary by event.
- Schuba's, 3159 N Southport Ave, ☎ . Shows start 9-10:30PM. One of Chicago's landmark venues for cool music. The building was built over a hundred years ago by the Schlitz beer company, a heritage that is acknowledged by countless plastic cups serving that and other cheap beers for indie rock fans. Tickets $10-18.
- Martyrs', 3855 N Lincoln Ave (Addison/Irving Park Brown), ☎ . Shows start 7PM-9:30PM. Artists in Chicago have developed communities in so many different genres — rock, blues, jazz, classical, hip hop, house, reggae, folk, country & numerous traditional ethnic style — that Martyrs' strives to be the place to see each of them. Tickets $5-25.
- The Vic, 3145 N Sheffield Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Check website for movie showtimes; usually two shows, 8PM/10:30PM. The Vic hosts the Brew and View, a second-run movie theater with cheap Miller beer, and turns into a good concert venue on other nights — not dissimilar to the Metro in size or sound quality, but there are seats. Concert prices vary; movies are $5, plus $1.50 for cheap beers.
- Briar Street Theater, 3133 N Halsted St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Box office M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-10PM, Su noon-4PM. The Chicago home of the nationally famed performance art Blue Man Group. Shows in the evenings, with matinees included on weekends. (Be advised, though: if you've seen them elsewhere, you're not likely to see anything new here.) Tickets from $59.
- iO (formerly ImprovOlympic), 3541 N Clark St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Usually two shows a night, around 8PM/10:30PM, with midnight shows F-Sa. iO is the puppy mill of improv comedy: its training center churns out graduates at a rapid pace, and most are given the brief honor of performing unpaid on its two stages (both of which have bars) until there are more grads to rotate in. Shows are generally solid, if lacking the artistic direction that makes the other major comedy theaters great. However, when veterans and visiting luminaries take the stage on Monday nights for the Armando Diaz Experience or Wednesdays for TJ & Dave, the results can be exhilarating. W 8PM and midnight shows free; other shows $5-14.
- The Playground, 3209 N Halsted St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Usually two shows a night, around 8PM/10PM, with occasional midnight shows F-Sa. The Playground has a few things going for it: the perfect location for beginning or ending the night with a show, a BYOB liquor license, and a non-profit co-op structure that makes the performers here some of the most enthusiastic and committed you'll find. Quality will vary by ensemble. $5-10.
- Stage Left Theater, 3408 N Sheffield Ave (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Shows usually 8PM. One of the mainstays of Chicago's storefront theater since 1982, Stage Left hosts everything: new works of social, political, intently serious drama are balanced out by manic rough drafts of new comedies by guest ensembles. Tickets $10-20.
Events & Festivals
- Pride Parade, 3712 N Broadway St, ☎ . Last weekend of June. The annual celebration of Chicago's gay community, led by a parade down Halsted with floats and foam rubber contraptions that are not for the faint-of-heart. It's crowded, but it's a favorite of people from all over the city, and always high-energy. Most Boystown bars, clubs, and restaurants hold special events along with it.
There are a few shopping areas of note. The Southport Corridor (3300 N to 3800 N) has a row of independent boutiques along with a few specialty stores. Lincoln Avenue in Roscoe Village also has some worthwhile shops, particularly near the Paulina Brown Line stop. Clark Street near Diversey has a few chain retailers like Marshall's, and a number of upscale boutiques are crammed alongside resale behemoths on Belmont, near the train station.
On game days, the streets of Wrigleyville are packed with vendors selling cheap Cubs gear.
- The Alley, 3228 N Clark St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-Th noon-9PM, F-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-8PM. The rock 'n roll shop in Chicago. Styles extend into punk, mod, emo, rockabilly, and goth; offerings range from clothes, shoes, and jewelry to bondage gear. It's the kind of edgy that is loved by no one as much as teenagers. Look for the skull and crossbones logo.
- Anthropologie, 3532 N Southport Ave (Southport Brown Line), ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Librarian chic clothes boutique.
- The Brown Elephant, 3645 N Halsted St., ☎ . 11AM-6PM daily. Find bargains on a large selection of second hand merchandise, including many upscale brands. All proceeds support HIV/AIDS care and gay and lesbian services.
- Century Shopping Centre, 2828 N Clark St, ☎ . Most stores M-F 10:30AM-9PM, Sa 10:30AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM; open later for movies. A vertical mall headlined by the Landmark's Century Centre multiplex showing independent and foreign movies, and several floors of stores from fashion chains like The Express.
- Gaymart, 3457 N Halsted St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M,W-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. With a large variety of gay-themed items — from sex toys to mouse pads and greeting cards — Gaymart is a must visit for Boystown shoppers.
- Pink Frog, 3201 N Clark St, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-7:30PM, Su noon-5PM. One of the best places in Chicago for cute and stylish shoes for women, and a selection of jackets and skirts to match. If you can't find the shoes you want here, the DSW Warehouse at 3131 N Clark is huge and might have them.
- Ragstock, 812 W Belmont Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-8PM. Cheap re-sale clothes shop. They also have a location in Wicker Park, but this one is open later (for those impulse fedoras) and has two floors.
- Strange Cargo, 3448 N Clark St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-6:45PM, Sa 11AM-6:45PM, Su 11:30AM-5:30PM. Highly entertaining vintage t-shirt, souvenir, and anything-goes store. Great place to find annual Halloween, St. Pat's or Pride Parade clothing.
- Twosided, 2958 N Clark St (Wellington Brown Line), ☎ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Excellent selection of letterpress cards and other artful items, antiques, and one-of-a-kind objects. They also have a framing gallery in Andersonville, Foursided, but this one is a true gem.
- Uncle Fun, 1338 W Belmont Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-F noon-7PM, Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Somewhere between a treasure hunt, a toy store, and a state of derangement — all designed, in their own words, to Restore your Whimsical Nature.
It's not until you reach the high-end that Lakeview dining becomes especially memorable, but there are plenty of quick, reliable places. Most importantly, a lot of them are open late — this is probably the best place in the city to grab a bite after midnight.
- Bobtail Ice Cream Company, 2951 N Broadway St, ☎ . Oct-Mar Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM; Apr-Sept Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight. Terrific locally-made ice cream at half the price of Cold Stone. $3-6.
- Joy's Noodles and Rice, 3257 N Broadway St, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Long standing Thai food restaurant located on Broadway in Boystown. Numerous noodle, curry, and rice dishes at a very affordable price. BYOB, so stop at Treasure Islando before hand and get a nice bottle of wine to go with your meal. Good price on lunch specials, or use it as a great meal to start your night out on the town. $8.50-11.
- Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N Lincoln Ave (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . M-F 6AM-10:30PM, Sa-Su 6AM-11PM. The food is average/above average diner fare, and the decor hasn't changed for decades, but a certain kind of person will feel compelled to enter by the giant head of Abraham Lincoln hanging out front, and perhaps you are that person. There's no accounting for the Civil War-themed menus, though. Good stand-up comedy shows are sometimes held in the Lincoln Lodge side-room, and there's a bar as well. $8-13.
- Melrose Restaurant, 3233 N Broadway St, ☎ . 24 hours. Open around the clock and always busy, the Melrose is a diner of modest culinary aspirations (burgers, omelettes) but it's right at the center of Boystown whether it's time for brunch or long past time to sleep. $7-9.
- Nookie's Tree, 3334 N Halsted St, ☎ . Su-Th 7AM-midnight, F-Sa all night. Casual, unpretentious diner that has been in Boystown for a long time. It's great for brunch, late-nights on weekends, and people-watching. $9-14.
- Penny's Noodle Shop, 3400 N Sheffield Ave, ☎ . Su,Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-10:30PM, M closed. The original location and always busy. If you're looking for fast food, Penny's serves delicious Thai/Asian food and charges less than McDonald's. $4-8.
- Salt n' Pepper Diner, 3537 N Clark St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F-Sa 7AM-midnight, Su 7AM-4PM. This Wrigleyville greasy spoon has typical diner fare, but done in a way that makes it uniquely Chicago. The burgers are excellent, and so is the service. Lunch under $9.
- Satay, 936 W Diversey Pkwy (Diversey Brown Line), ☎ . Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su-M 4PM-10PM. Decent Thai, Chinese, and Japanese food directly under the Diversey station. (It's never too loud, though.) The menu is surprisingly long for the size of the place, and they tend to do tofu notably well. $7-11.
- Tac Quick Thai Kitchen, 3930 N Sheridan Rd (Sheridan Red Line), ☎ . M,W-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Good casual Thai food has been somewhat of a challenge in many parts of Chicago. This new BYO has succeeded when many other Thai restaurants have failed. Menu is available in both English and Thai. $7-14.
- Angelina's Ristorante, 3561 N Broadway St, ☎ . M-Th 5:30-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-11PM, Su brunch 10:30AM-3PM, 5:30-10PM. High-end Italian cuisine with a charming, intimate vibe. The pumpkin ravioli is a knockout. $14-25.
- Ann Sather, 929 W Belmont Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-F 7AM-3PM, Sa-Su 7AM-4PM. This Swedish standby is a can't-miss for one of the city's best breakfasts, served all day, including warm, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls dripping with sugary icing. Now a bona-fide chainlet with five locations around Chicago, but try the nicely renovated 50-year-old Belmont branch. $10-14.
- Cesar's Restaurant, 3166 N Clark St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-8PM. Mind-blowing margaritas and Mexican food at a price that practically demands over-indulgence. There's another location nearby at 2924 N Broadway. $9-14 for a meal, although the sky's the limit with the margaritas.
- The Chicago Diner, 3411 N Halsted St, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 10AM-11PM, Su 10AM-10PM. A restaurant serving vegetarian-only food on Chicago's north side, the Diner's emphasis on quality — and its vegan shakes, which it proudly describes as "the shiznit" — has kept it around for more than 20 years. $11-16, but $5.99 veggie brunch is offered until 3:30PM.
- Chilam Balam, 3023 N Broadway St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Tu-Th 5-10PM, F-Sa 5-11PM, Su-M closed. Cash only BYO creative Mexican joint with a continuous line out the door for dinner. Known for fresh ingredients, moles, and small plates. $14-30.
- La Creperie, 2845 N Clark St (Diversey Brown Line), ☎ . Tu-F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Big, tasty crepes for breakfast, dinner, and dessert, with plenty of wine and beer. The outdoor seating is especially nice. $8-14.
- Laschet's Inn, 2119 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . Kitchen Tu-Th 2PM-10:30PM, F-Sa noon-10:30PM, Su noon-10PM; tavern M 4PM-2AM, Tu-Th 2PM-2AM, F,Su noon-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Originally a tavern, Laschet's now has a full kitchen for German food and meaty dinner specials. $7-20.
- Leona's, 3215 N Sheffield Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F 11:30-midnight, Sa 10AM-midnight, Su 10AM-11PM. The original location of the Chicago chainlet, serving good Italian and American fare. They serve plenty of meat, but the menu is friendly to vegetarians. Also notable for their fried mozzarella sticks, which are huge enough that they must be ordered individually. $12-18.
- Mixteco Grill, 1601 W Montrose Ave, ☎ . Tu-Th 5-10PM, F-Sa 5-11PM, Su 5-9PM. Someone finally figured out a historically cursed location. Excellent pollo en mole and other unique Mexican entrees in a slightly cramped setting. BYO. Friendly service once you sit down, but be patient with the host staff. Reservations recommended. $18-30.
- New Tokyo, 3139 N Broadway St, ☎ . Noon-10:30PM daily. A small, unpretentious sushi joint at the edge of Boystown, and BYOB as a bonus. The menu has a good variety for budget and taste. $10-16.
- Que Rico!, 2814 N Southport Ave, ☎ . M-Th 5-11PM, F-Su noon-10PM. Great Mexican/Argentinean food with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating that can turns one hour into three before you ever think to look at your watch. There's a second location at 2301 W Roscoe (tel. 773-248-7426) in Roscoe Village. $14-22.
- Mia Francesca, 3311 N Clark St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Dinner M-Th 5-10PM, F 5-11PM, Sa 3-11PM, Su 3-10PM; brunch Sa-Su 10AM-3PM. The original location for Mia Francesca's fine Italian dining, and the best — it's noisy, crowded, and not the place for an intimate meal, but Mia's has great pasta & fish, and offers a very Chicago atmosphere of hustle & bustle. $18-30.
- Sola, 3868 N Lincoln Ave (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . Lunch Th-F 11:30AM-2PM, Sa-Su 10AM-2PM; Dinner Su-Th 5:30-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-11PM. Chef Carol Wallack was Jack Nicholson's personal chef, which is about as fine a qualification as anyone could have. The menu covers contemporary American cuisine with Hawaiian, Asian, and Polynesian accents. $15-28.
- Tango Sur, 3763 N Southport Ave (Southport Brown Line), ☎ . M-Th 5-10:30PM, F 5-11:30PM, Sa 3-11:30PM, Su noon-10:30PM. Argentinean steakhouse with fantastic beef. There are a few side dishes like empanadas and a good dessert menu, but the beef is the star attraction. It's BYOB. $20-30.
- Turquoise Restaurant, 2147 W Roscoe St, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 9AM-10PM. Extensive menu of fresh seafood, Mediterranean, and vegetarian specialties. Plenty of fruity and exotic drinks and lounging space on offer, too. $18-26.
- Yoshi's Cafe, 3257 N Halsted St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Tu-Th 5-10:30PM, F-Sa 5-11PM, Su 11AM-2:30PM, 5-9:30PM. Yoshi himself is a constant presence at the enormously popular local hangout. At times it seems as though half the restaurant knows Yoshi personally. Seasonal, creative entrees representing cuisine that stretches far from just an Asian influence. Nice, well-priced wine list as well. $32-80, Th fixed price: $25.
The nightlife in Boystown may be the best in Chicago. It's wild, uninhibited and just plain fun, regardless of sexual orientation. Most of the action is on Halsted/Broadway between Addison and Belmont.
- Charlie's, 3726 N Broadway St, ☎ . Su-F 3PM-4AM, Sa 3PM-5AM. Late night dance bar and a great place for the after hours party, although they play country for the early crowd before midnight on weeknights or 2AM on the weekends. Karaoke hits on Sunday and Thursday.
- The Closet, 3325 N Broadway St, ☎ . M-F 2PM-4AM, Sa noon-5AM, Su noon-4AM. Forgive the pun if you can — this lesbian dive bar is another great after hours destination and the place to go for hook-up attempts that drag late into the night. It's open a lot earlier in the day than most Boystown spots and usually has sports or music videos on by day.
- Cocktail, 3359 N Halsted St, ☎ . Su-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM. A small, fashionable bar that anyone can walk right into for a drink at the bar or a dance among the eye candy at the back.
- Hydrate, 3458 N Halsted St, ☎ . Su-F 8PM-4AM, Sa 8PM-5AM. Inheritor of the space formerly owned by the infamous Manhole, Hydrate is now the ultimate dance club to See-and-Be-Seen on Halsted. On a night out in Boystown, everybody winds up here at one point or another. Cover $10-20, depending on DJ and event.
- Roscoe's, 3356 N Halsted St, ☎ . M-Th 3PM-2AM, F 2PM-2AM, Sa 1PM-3AM, Su 1PM-2AM. Roscoe's is a multi-purpose bar — by night, there are good drink specials and a great dance floor, but by day, you'll find a relaxed neighborhood bar with artwork by local artists and a sidewalk cafe (in the summer) for lunch.
- Sidetrack, 3349 N Halsted St, ☎ . Su-F 3PM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM. A large, stylish, multi-room bar that makes a great place to start the night, with slushy drinks and showtunes on a big screen. (Sundays are sing-along nights.) Gay or straight (but predominantly gay), this is one of the best bars in Chicago.
Yes, Elwood, the address is correct
The Captain Morgan Club, at 1060 W Addison, is attached to Wrigley Field. Non-ticket holders may enter and imbibe to their hearts’ content while watching the game on TV. Ticket holders will find a separate entrance to the ballpark inside the bar that circumvents the chaotic Sheffield entrance right next door. It's open 10AM-10PM Su-Th; 10AM-11PM F-Sa.
There is a watering hole for just about every personality type in Wrigleyville, particularly if you venture off the Clark Street drag near the ballpark. If you're here for a Cubs home game, rest assured that you'll be surrounded by thousands of merry Cubs fans and a world that desires nothing more than to put beer in your hands; on the downside, you'll be surrounded by thousands of Cubs fans and a world that desires nothing more than to spill beer on you, so get comfortable with sharing personal space with strangers. If you're drinking well into the night, choose wisely; as the evening wears on, a few of the bars on Clark turn into half-eaten piles of rancid nachos and the city's ripest gathering ground for date rape statistics.
- Bernie's Tavern, 3664 N Clark St, ☎ . Su-F 10AM-2AM, Sa 8AM-3AM. One of the most popular bars with locals and out-of-towners alike. The rather small inside bar opens to a large back patio. Crowd has gotten younger the past few years, but you'll still find fans from ages 20 to 90 having a good time.
- The Ginger Man, 3740 N Clark St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . M-F 3PM-2AM, noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. Guaranteed the only bar in Wrigleyville with Joy Division and Public Enemy on the jukebox. If you want a beer after a Cubs game and you don't want to be surrounded by frat boys, this is the place. Next to the Metro and Smart Bar.
- Goose Island, 3535 N Clark St, ☎ . M-W 4-11PM, Th 4PM-midnight, F 4PM-2AM, Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11PM. As the name suggests, you can drink the full range of the local Goose Island microbrews here, and it's reasonably spacious by Wrigleyville standards. Tasty food, too.
- Guthrie's Tavern, 1300 W Addison Ave, ☎ . M-Th 5PM-2AM, F 4PM-2AM, Sa 2PM-3PM, Su 2PM-2AM. Cozy neighborhood bar known for its extensive collection of board games and bottled wines. It's a local favorite that escapes most of the obnoxious behavior found down the street.
- Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N Sheffield Ave, ☎ . Su-F 9AM-2PM, Sa 9AM-3AM. Granddaddy bar for all bleacher bums. Get there early if you want one of the coveted outside tables. It's always packed on game days; expect to pay $5 for a can of domestic beer. In the off-season, Murphy's turns into a rather cozy neighborhood bar.
- Nisei Lounge, 3439 N Sheffield Ave, ☎ . Su,T-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, M 6PM-2AM; open at 11AM on game days. Local cult favorite with an interesting Japanese backstory. No sushi here; just a great bar with a few pool tables.
- Piano Man, 3801 N Clark St, ☎ . Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 8AM-3AM; may be sporadically closed during the week in the off season. Popular local bar that has no piano, just a jukebox. Neighbors want to keep this place a secret, but the word has gotten out.
- Sluggers, 3540 N Clark St, ☎ . 10AM-2AM on all Cubs home game days, otherwise: M-Th 3PM-2AM, F,Su 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM; Piano Bar F 8PM-2AM, Sa 8PM-3AM. Home away from home for suburbanites. Packed on game days; some say too packed. Sing to your heart’s content with the piano guys upstairs or get out your pent-up aggression from another Cubs’ heartbreaking loss in the batting cages.
- Trace, 3714 N Clark St, ☎ . Su-F 5PM-4AM, Sa 5PM-4AM; 4PM-4AM for all Cubs night games; open two hours prior to home games. Less overtly sports-focused than its neighbors. Great place if you are thirsty at 3AM.
- Uncommon Ground, 3800 N Clark St, ☎ . Su-Th 9AM-11PM, F-Sa 9AM-midnight. It's almost unbelievable that such a lovely, relaxed bar/cafe is this close to Wrigley, but there it is. Evenings see a full schedule of acoustic music with a full bar of beer, cocktails, and wine, while organic breakfast, lunch and dinner are served all day, and two fireplaces await in the winter. Uncommon Ground also hosts the annual Jeff Buckley Festival, now in its tenth year, in honor of the singer's legendary 1994 performance there.
- Yak-Zies Bar & Grill, 3710 N Clark St, ☎ . Su-F 11AM-2AM; Sa 11AM-3AM. Surprisingly good food at this cash-only joint. Owners will put just about any sport that’s televised anywhere on at least one TV if asked. Cornell vs. Harvard Men’s Ice Hockey anyone?
Lakeview bars may get a bad name from the roiling mess on Clark Street, but there are actually several great places to drink within range of Wrigley.
One man connects the many bars of Roscoe Village and North Center. His name is unknown to most, but his offer is a local legend: "Hot tamales?"
- 404 Wine Bar, 2852 N Southport Ave, ☎ . M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM. Comfortable atmosphere and a wide variety of wines. It may not be the first thing you think of when you think about a wine bar, but they serve a chicken pot pie that is delicious. It's connected to Jack's next door, which is more of a sports bar.
- Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont Ave, ☎ . M-Th 4PM-2AM, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 11:30AM-3AM, Su 11:30AM-2AM. There's beer and late-night food in the quiet front room, but the Beat Kitchen is worthy of recognition as one of the best venues in the city outside of Wicker Park for double or triple bills of excellent, little-known local and touring bands. Tuesdays are set aside for the Chicago Underground Comedy stand-up showcase.
- Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont Ave, ☎ . Tu-Su 8PM-2AM. There's a lot to like at this small Roscoe Village bar: a few pinball and arcade machines, the sense of being in someone's comfortable basement (with beer), and the Sunday night (10PM) Transmission series for improvisational and experimental jazz.
- Jake's Pub, 2932 N Clark St, ☎ . M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. A good place to recover from shopping binges at the Century Shopping Centre and its neighbors (see Buy). Jake's has a good beer selection and dependable jukebox. Dogs are not only welcome — they're encouraged.
- Katerina's, 1920 W Irving Park Rd, ☎ . M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM. A small and intimate setting for jazz, funk, blues, and Greek music most nights, and poetry, performance and movies when there isn't music. Southern European cuisine served along with the drinks.
- The Long Room, 1612 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM, Su 7PM-2AM. A low-lit neighborhood lounge with a casual atmosphere worth settling into for a while — and, yes, it's a very long room.
- Resi's Bierstube, 2034 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . 3PM-2AM daily. A fine old-fashioned brauhaus, with high marks for the music, the beer garden, and the ambiance. Food on offer from the kitchen (closed Mondays) includes sausages and schnitzel, of course.
- Ten Cat Tavern, 3931 N Ashland Ave (Irving Park Brown Line), ☎ . Su-F 3PM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM. The kitty on the sign is cradling a ten-ball because there's pool to be played here, but in most other respects, this is someone's apartment that happens to have a bar in it (and a pretty good backyard).
Most visitors will feel comfortable staying here in terms of safety, and Lakeview is a better place to experience something of the real city than the retail isolation of the Near North. Given the boozy atmosphere, though, it's probably better for singles and young couples than families with kids in tow. (You can get to Wrigley from anywhere in the city via the Red or Brown Line, after all.)
There are also a handful of budget and mid-range options just south of Boystown in Lincoln Park. Hotels are usually booked solid for the Pride Parade in June, so make reservations early or be ready to check in other areas.
- Old Chicago Inn, 3222 N Sheffield Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Reasonably priced bed and breakfast in a turn-of-the-century greystone building, not far from Wrigley Field and the nightlife on Belmont. Amenities include internet access in the lobby, continental breakfast, and a complimentary lunch or dinner at Trader Todd's restaurant/karaoke bar two doors south. Rooms from $99.
- Villa Toscana Bed & Breakfast, 3447 N Halsted St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Closest accommodations to Wrigley Field, in a turn-of-the-century building. Rooms from $99/$109 off and on-season.
- Best Western Hawthorn Terrace, 3434 N Broadway St (Addison Red Line), ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 83 rooms with wireless internet and a breakfast buffet. It's close enough to walk to Wrigley Field and the bars on Clark Street, but not close enough that you'll have to listen to them while you try to sleep. Rooms from $189.
- City Suites Hotel, 933 W Belmont Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Art Deco interiors and elegant furnishings, right next to the Belmont train station — so light sleepers may want to look elsewhere. Among the amenities are wi-fi, afternoon cookies, and access to Bally's Fitness Club. Rooms from $189.
- Majestic Hotel, 528 W Brompton Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . Boutique hotel in a residential pocket, with olde worlde touches like poster beds and butler pantries. Similar amenities to the City Suites Hotel, which is under the same management. Rooms from $209.
- The Willows Hotel, 555 W Surf St (Belmont CTA), ☎ . European decor in a city-designated landmark building, two blocks from the lake. Same management as the City Suites and Majestic hotels. Rooms from $179.
- Lincoln/Belmont Library, 1659 W Melrose St (Paulina Brown Line), ☎ . M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access. Three blocks south of the train station.
- Merlo Library, 644 W Belmont Ave (Belmont CTA), ☎ . M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access. Three blocks east of the train station, near Boystown.
- If it's a crosstown baseball series, you'll need to get on the Red Line and head south to Bridgeport for the Chicago White Sox.
- It would take more than one curse to put the Cubs in their current condition, but the most famous of them, the Billy Goat Curse, began with the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern in the Near North.
- Follow the theater trail in the storefront comedy direction to Uptown or the big-name comedy/drama direction in Old Town.
- Andersonville is a stylish neighborhood a short trip northwest of Boystown with several gay and lesbian-friendly bars and businesses.
- Edgewater has the GLBT Gerber/Hart Library and the less scholarly Leather Archives and Museum. During the summer, Chicago's gay community tans at Edgewater's Hollywood Beach.
- Dedicated to original theater that explores gender and sexual identity, the About Face Theater Company performs at major theaters like Steppenwolf in Old Town and storefronts around Boystown.