City Cast

Beat the Heat at These Chicago Dive Bars

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on August 1
Beer in Bucktown

Beer in Bucktown in 2005. (Scott Olson / Getty)

Looking for more ways to beat the heat this summer? Dive bars are notoriously dark, often windowless, and filled with ice cold beer and cocktails.

The person behind Chicago Dives helped us curate a list. (The individual asked to remain anonymous to make sure all focus is on the bars.)

Whacky Shack in Portage Park/Belmont Cragin

“It’s a Polish dive, with a few Polish beers on tap and in bottles. It’s slightly dilapidated … and it has several odd figurines, but that just adds to the charm!”

The Levee in Hermosa/Logan Square

“When I first came here, they had a bunch of fabric office chairs to sit in around the unique curved bar … The current owner, Warren, has run the place for over 40 years.”

Sky-Ride in the Loop

“This is one of a very short list of downtown dives! It's only open Monday through Friday, and not open very late, so the whole purpose is for lunch break or post-work beers.”

“‘Trebol’ means ‘clover’ in Spanish, and they have a few taped onto what is maybe the oldest working cooler in town. … This bar is in the way back of the liquor store.”

J&R Lounge in Chatham/Greater Grand Crossing

“Probably wins the strength-of-drink-poured versus cost ratio. Some dives are quiet, but this one is always a party.”

Uncle Bobby’s in Hegewisch

“Don’t be intimidated that you have to be ‘buzzed in.’ It’s

a good friendly crowd, and the owner, an actual Uncle Bobby, will probably buy you a round or two if you get to chatting.”

Max’s Place in Uptown

“Named for the owner, Maxine, her family still runs the bar. It’s always a tough no-nonsense lady serving your beers at this joint."

Question Mark Bar in Montclare

“The décor is great, with a tin ceiling and a beautiful wood backbar. It also has an old CD jukebox.”

Stanley’s in Back of the Yards

“This tavern is a historic relic of the stockyard days. It’s only open Monday through Friday, and the main draw is it serves an excellent different home-cooked meal every day.”

Kazmierzanka Lounge in Archer Heights

“The owner is an older Polish woman who insists on just being called Mama. And if you are lucky, she sometimes cooks food for the bar in the small kitchen!”

Rudy and Ann’s in Garfield Ridge

“Its bottled beer is stored in old wooden cabinet coolers. Beer just tastes better out of those things.”

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