Best Logan Square bars
Paul McGee's Logan Square tiki haven wholeheartedly embraces his passion for island drinks. The core components of the tiki style are here—cocktails that double as flower arrangements, lush tropical decor, Hawaiian print–clad bartenders and Americanized Chinese snacks—but the drinks are more challenging (and interesting) than you find at most tiki bars.
Veterans of the Whistler and Boiler Room joined together to open this bar. One of the two rooms here (the one filled with couches and curtains) looks a lot like the Violet Hour, which makes sense since cocktails (specifically gin cocktails) are a focus of the place. The other room is less loungey and truer to what Scofflaw is, which is a top-notch, friendly neighborhood joint.
Unlike other ‘70s fern bars, the Heavy Feather feels less like a theme park and more like a refined bar that just happens to serve drinks from the era. There's a list of 14 balanced drinks, like a velvety amaretto sour, improved with the addition of bourbon. If the fern bars of yore were half as good as the Heavy Feather, they would never have gone out of style.
Who would have guessed longtime Trotter's chef Matthias Merges would find his calling checking IDs at the door of a Logan Square bar? Granted, his is not just any bar: Here, barkeep Alex Bachman combines his penchant for unusual ingredients with an uncanny sense of balance, turning out creations that both pay homage to and defy tradition—often simultaneously. Though Billy Sunday is squarely a bar, the food is a worthy companion to the drinks with a menu featuring mushroom pot pie, baked oysters and cherries jubilee.
Everything about Estereo feels calculated, from the pleasant curves of its triangular bar to the breeze that wafts in through the open garage doors on a warm day. Latin jazz and Tropicália will likely be spinning as you look through the menu, which focuses on cocktails made with Latin spirits like pisco, tequila and mescal. Not in the mood for booze? There's also Dark Matter coffee available when this all-day spot opens its doors at 11am each morning.
Brothers Chris and Calvin Marty bought the old Marble Bar and reopened it as Best Intentions. The dive bar charm remains, although the bar is a little sleeker and the drinks are much better. Settle into a table on the big back patio, or sidle up to the bar for minty Wondermint Malted shakes, shots of Angostura bitters (they're the only bar anywhere with the bitters on draft) and a list of well-made classics.
From the outside, this place looks like a gallery (which, technically, it partially is). On the inside, it’s open and loftlike, with a permanent stage set up for weekly live music and performance. But behind the bar, the drink-slingers have perfected the art of the cocktail, skillfully crafting colorful refreshments that pack a punch. One sip and there’s no doubt that despite everything else going on here, the drinks are the reason to stick around.
Tucked away in one of the far corners of Logan Square, this combination bar and liquor store is one of the neighborhood's best kept secrets. Formerly known as Dorothy's Liquors, manager Mike Stellatos changed the bar's name and menu while retaining some of its divey charm (including ceiling tiles decorated by regulars). Drink your way through an affordable selection of craft beers on draft or grab a six pack from the coolers and bring the party back to your couch.
Look for the mural depicting a bottle being spilled and follow the contents to the door of Spilt Milk Tavern, a Logan Square establishment that can't seem to decide if it's a classy cocktail bar or a neighborhood watering hole. Sit back in a booth and embrace the disparity of this corner bar, where you'll find variations on negronis and sazeracs on the short cocktail list, as well as beer options from the likes of Forbidden Root and Maplewood. There's no use in crying over Spilt Milk's strange duality—after a few drinks you'll feel right at home.
The negroni slushy gets all the attention at Parson's, but the secret is that all the cocktails are excellent. With a well-made margarita, canned beers, the option to spike your Steigl radler with a shot (do it), and the best patio in the city, there's no excuse to not drink at Parson's.
Ten years from now, when this strip of Armitage is populated with coffee shops and vintage clothing stores, this old-school, soul record–playing, classic cocktail–mixing bar will be overrun with hipsters vying for their turn in the photo booth. Start hanging out here now so you can say you knew it in the good old days.
The former home of Bonny's has left the late-night dance parties and ill-advised hook-ups behind in favor of the slightly more grown-up atmosphere of the Native. This is a neighborhood bar through and through, complete with a basic beer menu, stiff cocktails and just enough seating for a small group of friends to sit together. In an area crowded with cocktail bars, it's nice to have a place where you don't feel out of place ordering a beer and a shot.
You could wait up to an hour to get into one of this microbrewery’s booths. Or you could simply hover around the bar and snap up a stool as soon as someone else calls it a night. Either way, remember you’re here for the beer as much as the food. So pair that Workingman burger with a pint of Working Woman Brown beer. And follow that with a goblet of Bottom Up Wit and one of the beer inspired seasonal pastries. The latter is a pairing good enough to make you forget about the wait for a seat, ambivalent service and disappointing pizza.
Logan Arcade was originally located in the back room of Logan Hardware, a record store and vintage arcade museum, but once that moved down the street, the Arcade took over the space. Inside, you'll find a fully stocked bar and a blinking, beeping menagerie of lovingly restored arcade games. The back room is filled with pinball tables (which account for roughly half of the available games), so flipper fanatics will be able to waste away hours setting new high scores.
Weeknights are low-key at this retro dive from the Estelle’s folks, but the rooms fill up by midnight on weekends and stay packed until the 4am closing time (5am on Saturdays). Cheap drinks and less-cheap craft beers abound at all times, hipster tunes rule the jukebox, there’s a dance floor in back lined with mirrors and, if all that doesn’t do it for you, there’s a waterfall—a waterfall—behind the bar.
Though its kitchen and bar is housed in a former auto repair garage, Park & Field's main draw is its gigantic patio, which features a bocce court, hammocks, fire pits and a camper that has been retrofitted to serve as an outdoor bar. Back inside, you'll find the game on TV, a long list of cocktails and a menu that includes burgers, chicken nuggets and chili—yes, this is a sports bar. DIY s'mores and a wine list packed with rosé options might seem out of character for a Logan Square bar, but it's simply a reminder that no neighborhood can remain the epicenter of hipness (just look at Wicker Park).
Nothing brings together the hip kids and blue-collar Chicagoans better than cheap alcohol, and this no-frills Logan Square dive across from the Fireside Bowl is living proof. Watch as the earnest mustaches of Blackhawks and Sox fans mingle amiably with ironically bearded Black Keys and White Stripes fans. And if that gets dull, just head to the back for a 75-cent game of pool.
This Logan Square watering hole glows with charm—or is it the string of Christmas lights behind the bar? Either way, retired rock stars put away beers next to their disciples under the soft lights, snapshots of regulars and the warm smile of the maternal owner-bartender, Maria.