We're always getting spoiled by the number of notable new bars that pop up in Chicago. These are the recently opened bars making big blips on our radars.
Photo by Anthony Tahlier/Via Blind Dragon
613 N. Wells St. - River North
Much like its dining companion, Mason, the recently opened FOUND Hotel’s bar Blind Dragon brings classic elements to River North without any pretentiousness. Three private karaoke rooms, a downstairs speakeasy-style interior and a unique cocktail menu inspired by Asian flavors and 1970s tiki bars make it a fun hideaway when the rest of the neighborhood gets too overrun.
Photo via Facebook/VU Rooftop Bar
133 E. Cermak Rd. - South Loop
The area surrounding McCormick Place finally has a solid rooftop option. VU was conceived by the same team behind ROOF on theWit, but brings a more laidback atmosphere to the neighborhood than its DJ and bottle-service-heavy predecessor. Get a fantastic view of Chicago’s South Side (even during the winter months) or rent the bar’s private karaoke room if you need a little more activity to fill your evening.
Photo via Facebook/Bar Sótano
443 N. Clark St. - River North
Mezcal is one of the trendiest spirits right now, so much so that even big names like Rick Bayless are directing their full attention to it. Find the entrance to the renowned chef’s new speakeasy in the alley behind Frontera Grill and take a 100-plus-year-old freight elevator down to the 50-seat bar. There you’ll find cocktails highlighting flavors found in Mexican marketplaces, bar snacks inspired by the Oaxacan region and, of course, plenty of mezcal.
Photo via Facebook/The Darling
905 W. Randolph St. - West Loop
The resurgence of speakeasies and offbeat performance spaces like the Chicago Magic Lounge around town has signaled to bar owners that, yes, Chicagoans do still enjoy vaudeville-style performances often mislabeled as “dated.” The Darling capitalizes on the need for more entertainment along Restaurant Row by scheduling burlesque, drag and magic performances. Settle into one of the rustic bar’s cushiony couches and drink in whatever the evening brings.
Photo via Facebook/BiXi Beer
2515 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Logan Square
House-brewed beer? A rooftop outdoor dining space for summers? A trendy chef? Oh yes, Logan Square is—quite literally—eating this place up. When Owen & Engine’s Bo Fowler opened her much anticipated new brewpub, crowds flocked to taste the beers (containing Chinese flavors and spices), stayed for the food (that pays homage to Fowler’s Korean heritage) and are still coming in droves.
Photo via Facebook/Paradise Park
1913 W. North Ave. - Wicker Park
Wicker Park’s new trailer-park-themed bar is officially in full bloom. Paradise Park’s giant outdoor patio mostly lends to summertime hangs (though it's covered and heated during the winter). However, everyone loves pizza any time of year and they have plenty of that too.
Photo via Facebook/Dorian's
1939 W. North Ave. - Wicker Park
Dorian’s is another new name amongst a handful popping up along this prime stretch of North Avenue. Its record shop and bar concept is definitely working for us. A pleasantly crisp interior, solid lineup of DJs and carefully curated cocktail menu also help pull it all together.
Photo via Facebook/Neon Wilderness
1270 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Wicker Park
For such a bright and colorful name, Neon Wilderness’s opening has been somewhat hushed—in a good way. The dimly lit bar (highlighted with splashes of, you guessed it, neon) is a welcomed laidback spot for a shot and a beer or a cocktail on a quiet (for now) stretch of Wicker Park.
Photo via Facebook/Walton Street Kitchen + Bar
912 N. State St. - River North
Walton Street Kitchen + Bar checks all the standard River North boxes: beautiful bar and dining area, great wine selection, etc. However, it’s the 18-seat Walton Street Lounge, where Scotch and martini pitchers are served, that you’ll really want to take note of.
Photo via Facebook/Good Measure
226 W. Chicago Ave. - River North
For anyone still mourning the loss of Three Aces in 2017 (for instance, us), should check this under-the-radar spot under the CTA Brown Line out. Good Measure carries the same unapologetically punk attitude as the former Taylor Street hang as well as a similarly tantalizing bar snack menu like sunflower hummus, a puffed beef rind and burrata. No, it’s not the same place, but we’re open to new things (and places). Especially when they’re this enjoyable.
Photo via Facebook/TAO Chicago
632 Dearborn St. - River North
The Asian-themed chain of nightclubs brings its first Chicago location to town, keeping the nightlife legacy alive at the same address that formerly housed Castle and Excalibur. Following in the footsteps of its Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York locations, TAO has already brought big names in dance music like Deadmau5 and A-Trak to the club’s stage.
Photo via Facebook/Hey Nonny
10 S. Vail Ave. - Arlington Heights, IL
The ‘burbs are always in need of more live music and libations. Hey Nonny is the newest destination for both just north of the city. Focusing on folk, blues, pop and jazz performers, the new venue, bar and kitchen is a new source of fun.
Photo by Garrett Sweet/Via Chrome City PR
415 N. Milwaukee Ave. - River West
The historic former home of the Paramount Room has found new life thanks to The Pink Squirrel’s Dustin Drankiewicz. This new bar’s drink menu focuses specifically on local and regional breweries, wineries and distilleries. The Chit Chat Lounge resides in the basement under Swill Inn and brings a livelier vibe to the space—featuring DJs on the weekends and a separate food and drink menu.
Photo via Facebook/Le Piano
6970 N. Glenwood Ave. - Rogers Park
Things are heating up in Rogers Park with the introduction of its newest date destination, Le Piano. Nightly pianist performances—and special musical guests—are paired with boozy beverages, light bites and a French ambiance. Don’t worry, singles are still very much welcome at this cozy outpost. It’s all love here.
Photo via Facebook/Bibliophile
1644 E. 53rd St. - Hyde Park
Hyde Park’s Bibliophile brings books and boozy desserts along with a full-service food menu to a neighborhood already bubbling with amazing local businesses. The books that line the walls of this restaurant are all for sale. There’s even a librarian on staff to curate the collection. Stop in with a date for dinner or make a solo trip and find to find your new winter read and favorite glass of vino all in one place.