It’s no secret that Wicker Park has many well known spots to grab a drink such as; the Violet Hour, Big Star, Publican Anker etc. Although, the neighborhood still has a few hidden gems left when it comes to the bar scene. I’m here to tell you the classic bars of Wicker Park are still here and better than ever! Here are a few you must put on your to-do (or to-booze) list.
Gold Star Bar
The best way to begin guzzling a few drinks in Wicker Park is at Gold Star. This classic Dive Bar that has been around longer than any millennial, which is what I think gives it its humble appeal. Every time I step in the door there is a refreshing diversity of people. There’s alway’s wide age range of 20 something’s to the 70 year regular that has lived in the neighborhood before it was the cool place to be. The people are friendly, the bartenders are great, and you’ll never feel more at home in a Chicago bar.
There’s nothing boojee about it; just some good beers, simple cocktails, a juke box, and a pool table. It is a pleasant surprise when you go out for drinks in Wicker Park and your bill is under $20. In addition, even though it is one of the oldest bars in the area Gold Star still landed the Eater’s 2017 list of 18 of Chicago’s Best Dive Bar’s. Oh, and did I mention you can grab a bowl of complimentary popcorn everyday?
Blue Line Cafe
The Blue Line Cafe is actually one of the first restaurant and bars I ever went to when I moved to Chicago. The main seller for me; they had a sandwich board with $5 martini’s listed on it. The clincher; their martini list is 15+ martinis long featuring a Peanut Butter & Jelly martini – it’s amazing! It is always entertaining when visiting here since they stream many popular TV specials and shows such as; The Walking Dead, Mad Men, The Oscars, and The Emmy’s.
There is a lot of competition for the Blue Line Cafe with their (newly renovated) location being right under the Damen Blue Line stop. Since The Violet Hour is just down the road you would imagine it would be hard for them to draw in cocktail business. However, with a unique 50’s styled, train car pub it truly stands out.
If you take the blue line west to get home from work then this needs to be your new happy hour spot. The food is cheap and delicious and the martini’s are unique. Depending on the night, your favorite show might be streaming throughout the bar too.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate probably triggers you to immediately think about their delicious drinking chocolates and desserts. You could literally eat anything on their dessert menu and be blown away. Mindy Segal herself won a James Beard Award in 2012 for “Outstanding Pastry Chef”.
However, we are truly noting ways to drink your way through Wicker Park. This is where their Spiked Hot Chocolate, with a house-made marshmallow, comes in. Their hot chocolate made with the highest quality chocolate, but with a splash of whiskey it is a great way to get a buzz and stay toasty warm through the Chicago Winters. Don’t worry, they’ll make this an iced cocktail for you once the Summer season comes around! With 10+ different drinking chocolates on their menu, you’ll never get tired of these tasty drinks!
Nick’s Beer Garden
Nick’s Beer Garden actually got it starts in 1977 on the corner of Halsted St. and Armitage Ave in Lincoln Park, but moved to Wicker Park in 1994 onto the spotlight of Milwaukee Ave. It truly is a classic bar with a lot of life. They have a jukebox, shuffle board, pool, and live band performances.
Nick’s in a prime location at the center of Wicker Park, but it is also a late night bar; open Sun-Fri until 4am and every Saturday until 5am. If you’re out and about in Wicker Park, but not ready to stop the party at 2am then Nick’s is most definitely the place to be. If you’re lucky you’ll be there late enough to run into the Tamale Guy on his early morning tamale deliveries ;).
Hopefully after reading this you have had a full dose of Wicker Park bars and are looking forward to exploring more of these. Are you ready to start exploring another neighborhood for your upcoming weekend adventures? The next neighborhood feature from Gina’s Grub Guide will be the West Loop, otherwise known as Chicago’s Restaurant Row.
The West Loop is the hot spot to be right now for food & beverage. It’ll take quite a while to drink & eat your way through the West Loop and there’s no better way to start than Chicago Food Planets’ newest Food & Beverage Experience, Gateway to the West Loop.
As the Sales & Private Events Director of Chicago Food Planet, Gina has been given the opportunity to explore, travel, and indulge in all things food! She’s always repping Chicago as an Ambassador for Choose Chicago and an Associate Board Member for Growing Home. When she’s not working on Chicago Food Planet’s next food event you can find her grocery shopping for her favorite meals to cook, eating pasta at Eatly, or grabbing a drink at Gold Star Bar.
Gina’s Grub Guide tells you where to eat, drink, and wander in Chicago. Whether you’re the Chicago Local, Grub Globetrotter, or a Event Planner for Company Creative Outings you will always have a killer food & drink spot to go. We publish one cocktail & one food centric blog a month focusing on a different neighborhood.