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The Alderman
Photograph: Sammy Faze Photography

The 14 best bars in Pilsen

The best bars in Pilsen include breweries, a basement punch bar and Mexican spots with great margaritas

Written by
Amy Cavanaugh
&
Morgan Olsen
Contributor
Shanti Chu
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While Pilsen is home to some of the best Chicago restaurants, it’s also a great place to grab a cocktail or sip a local beer. Once you’ve finished your meal at a Pilsen restaurant, continue your night out or day drink at some of the best bars in Pilsen. Cocktail enthusiasts can enjoy lively libations from virtuoso mixologists while craft beer lovers can find something brewed in the neighborhood. Some of the best bars in Pilsen also feature local DJs spinning house music and New Wave tunes in dimly-lit settings—the ideal accompaniment to a good drink.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more things to do in Pilsen, Chicago

Best Pilsen bars

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

Round up a group before heading to Punch House, since the drinks are priced to benefit those who order the carafes or punch bowls. You won't have trouble finding people to commit to a night at this Pilsen basement bar, which offers both traditional punch recipes and contemporary versions—the ’70s dad's basement vibe (compleye with an aquarium behind the bar) is cool and the drinks are excellent, like Space Juice for Jered, a sage and black pepper-laced tequila punch.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

This speakeasy-esque space—a vacuous room lined with booths and sprinkled with tables and chairs—is a nightly respite for local artists. The tater tots and mac and cheese are greasy must-haves that pair perfectly with $3 PBR. Don’t miss the photo booth tucked in the back corner.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Located just across the street from Thalia Hall, the Green Room offers a laid-back vibe for post-concert drinks or relaxing on the weekend. Football enthusiasts can get to this spot as early as 11:30am on Sundays to get a seat for the day’s games. If you're looking for some affordable, try the “Please and Thank You”, a can of Montucky and a shot of agave or bourbon that will only set you back $6. And if a beer and a shot isn’t your speed, try one of their eight draft cocktails, like the savory Green Room Michelada featuring a concoction of toasted chilis or something sweeter like their Casino Boogie with rum and Aztec chocolate bitters.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

Located in a corner of Thalia Hall that was formerly a carriage house where horses were kept, Tack Room is now a boozy piano saloon that's outfitted with equestrian-themed decor and wax-dripping candelabras. The menu offers a curated mix of well-priced craft cocktails that are the ideal fuel for tipsy sing-alongs. Coordinate your visit with a rotating schedule of piano players and singer-songwriters, who take a seat every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Have your requests ready and your falsetto in tune.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

If you want to taste Alulu's small-batch craft brews, you'll have to head to their Pilsen outpost. You'll find everything from kettle sours to imperial stouts on the menu, with options shifting as the seasons progress. The beer-averse aren't left out—there are "hazy seltzers" made with fruit and a selection of draft cocktails. Plus, Alulu fills 64-, 32-, and 16-ounce growlers so that you can take some beer home with you.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower West Side

If you’re looking for a quieter spot away from the DJs at Pilsen Yards, enter this swanky and intimate cocktail bar located within the space. Award-winning mixologist Lance Bowman serves as the beverage director at this innovative spot, serving “classic-ish” cocktails such as a Manhattan as well as signature shaken or stirred cocktails. Go big with the sophisticated Sichuan Panda, which features ingredients like yuzu sake, Sichuan peppercorn, sesame oil and Baijiu (a clear Chinese liquor). Be sure to make a reservation here on the weekends as this tiny speakeasy draws a crowd.

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  • Bars
  • Lower West Side

Live music is honored and celebrated at this neighborhood dive bar, alongside plenty of local and international beer available on draft. If you’re looking for something less carbonated, there are seven featured cocktails for $10, including the Slip Heat with bourbon, amaro and bitters. You’ll find live music nearly every night, with a focus on DJs who spin records while revelers squeeze into a vintage photo booth or shoot pool.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Though it’s best known for its hand pies, Pleasant House is a British-style pub where you can sit down and sip a pint, choosing from one of the 13 beers on draft. Sample international selections like the Belhaven Scottish Ale and Veltins Pilsener, or opt for something from the nearby Whiner Beer Company, which specializes in barrel-aged creations. If you’re sober (or sobering up) non-alcoholic options like herbal tea, caffeinated Chai, Four Letter Word coffee and ginger beer should do the trick. You can also come here in the spring to watchPremier League games on the weekends if you’re a fan of British football.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

If you can’t make it to Mexico, you can still take a journey through America's southern neighbor with La Mejikana’s tequila and mezcal flights, featuring three different spirits for $16-18. There are also six different michelada options and eight margarita flavors to choose from. If making decisions is too challenging, go with a refreshing cocktail featuring mezcal, rum or vodka. La Mejikana also offers Mexican food to soak up those spirits while gazing at thought-provoking murals from local artists.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

This environmentally friendly bar—complete with rooftop herb garden and solar panels—is the place to be if you're looking for live music, art or just a unique place to drink. In addition to the extensive booze menu and bar bites available in the main room, it has two additional spaces for DJs, art exhibits and salon-style discussions. The entire venue is made from repurposed materials, including the bar top built from a bowling alley lane and a DJ station built from old pinball machines.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

It’s not uncommon to see the crowd at least four deep on a Friday night at the bar of this tiny, popular Pilsen taco joint. But the skillfully made tacos and flavorful bebidas make the oft-long wait times worthwhile. The margarita menu is plentiful, with varieties spanning mango and hibiscus to passion fruit and jalapeño. The classic mojito—which arrives packed with fresh mint and seasonal fruit—is an excellent match for the carne asada tacos.

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Lower West Side

Pilsen has collected its fair share of breweries, with each newcomer offering a wildly different vibe. The folks behind Lo Rez Brewing have managed to re-create the simple pleasure of drinking at home inside a funky, no-fuss warehouse space. Avoiding the hops hype, the brewers here offer a short list of draft options that focus on Belgian-inspired ales and fruited sours, plus a fridge of to-go cans in the back.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Nestled just steps away from the Damen Pink Line stop, this cozy neighborhood spot serves a rotating list of cheap craft brews along with a few signature cocktail options. The focus local at The Barrel, with selections on tap from Chicago beer staples like Revolution, Off Color and Penrose.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

Grab a bottle of High Life and a pork tenderloin sandwich at this classic corner bar. Martin's is a neighborhood spot that is perfect for watching the game, arguing about Chicago politics with colorful locals or belting out some karaoke while friendly bartenders quickly grab you another round. An abundant list of specials keeps your tab low, so go ahead and share an order of Martin's namesake poutine with the older gentleman at the end of the bar.

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