The best bars in North Center
With its carefully curated beer list and homey, tavern-like look, this pub from the Bar on Buena folks has a serious Hopleaf vibe to it. The big difference? The crowds, though passionate drinkers, are not so large that they’re lining up on the sidewalk. So keep this underrated gem to yourself, or suffer the throngs of craft-beer geeks.
Consider a night at the Northman a lesson in cider. Two years in the making, the bar on the border of North Center and Lincoln Square offers an extensive list of interantional and local ciders and bartenders who can talk you through the choices. The list boasts page after page of draft, canned and bottled ciders, along with a French- and English-inspired bistro menu.
Beer. People drinking beer. Bearded people drinking beer wearing T-shirts bearing beer logos. This laid-back tap room adjacent to Half Acre’s brewing facilities swarms with all these things and more. Minimal picnic-style tables lend a beer-hall vibe, and on tap are the brewery’s classics (Daisy Cutter, Pony Pilsner), its latest experiments and everything in between. You can peek through the doors into the brewery to see where the magic happens, but we guarantee this side of the building is having more fun.
Dovetail Brewery is a comfortable neighborhood brewery focusing on classic European style beers. The taproom is dog-friendly and BYOF, with regular food trucks stopping by outside. While we're big fans of the beers they have on tap, don't miss the perfectly refreshing radlers made with soda.
Roscoe Village has gentrified over the last few years, and the same goes for its watering holes, especially this one. These days it’s yuppie central, but it’s still one of the best places in town to grab a beer from the extensive list, chat with the friendly bartenders and test your alcohol-addled vocabulary with a game of Scrabble.
Begyle Brewing Company's tasting room serves a wide selection of its beers in the pint variety with board games, skee-ball and even the occasional food truck. They also offer growler fills of their brews. Select 32- or 64-ounce growlers and fill 'em up with beers like Birds of Paradise American pale ale or Crash Landed American pale wheat ale, and enjoy Begyle from the comfort of your own home.
After construction of a new Brown Line station displaced its original location, Tiny Lounge relocated a mile north. Make no mistake: The cocktail lounge isn’t what it used to be. It’s bigger now, and gone is the old-school decor—this place is slick and a little mod. But sitting here with a Sazerac or a sidecar (both impeccably crafted) is so undeniably pleasant that it’s hard not to believe that the changes were for the better.
This North Center cocktail bar stands out in a neighborhood dominated by craft beer, giving local mixed-drink enthusiasts a haven to try interesting offerings like the Optimo, smooth with a fruity kick from pineapple rum and sherry. There’s also a menu of old-fashioneds available with varying spirits, from rye to rum. With a dark speakeasy feel, this one is on the list for date night.
Whether 11am or 11pm, it’s hard to find a seat at this North Center Brit pub. Call it European-style drinking, buffered by U.K. pub grub. During soccer and rugby matches, the crowd of regulars vacillates between raucous and downright scary, but fair-weather fans are welcome to join the zoo.