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Photograph: Kailley LindmanKumiko

The 16 best bars in the West Loop

There's more than just restaurants in the West Loop—stop by these great cocktail lounges, beer bars and rooftops.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
&
Samantha Nelson
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The West Loop is one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods, home to some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants. Reservations at the best West Loop restaurants can be hard to come by, meaning you might wind up visiting at odd hours or pop in to inquire about a walk-in table. Use the downtime to your advantage by starting or finishing your night at one of these West Loop bars, which include some of the top Chicago breweries. The area is also home to some of the best cocktail bars in Chicago, making it worth the trip even if you aren’t trying to score a table at a place run by a celebrity chef. No need to be disappointed—just hit up these excellent West Loop bars and tell them we sent you.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best bars in Chicago

Best West Loop bars

  • Bars
  • West Loop

There are several different drinking experiences you can have at the Hoxton hotel, but none is better than basement bar Lazy Bird. When your eyes adjust to the dimly lit room, page through the menu of 52 classic cocktails that have been refined and perfected for your drinking pleasure. Start with the Negroni and work your way up to the Grasshopper, which is crafted with oat milk and tastes like a Thin Mint cookie in liquid form.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Kumiko has reconcepted to embody the Japanese concept of a dining bar where both the drinks and dishes are treated with equal weight and meant to be enjoyed side by side. Owner Julia Momose draws on her Japanese heritage to serve imported spirits and sake, plus enticing ingredients such as shiso bitters, purple sweet potato and matcha tea. There’s also a menu of delicately simple highballs as well as sake flights and vertical tastings.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

When Grant Achatz does a cocktail bar, it should go without saying that it's no ordinary cocktail bar. At the Aviary, which opened in 2011, cocktails receive the same innovative treatment from beverage director Micah Melton as the food at Next or Alinea. Order drinks a la carte, choose from a three-course cocktail progressive cocktail tasting or indulge in a pairing menu featuring five of the bar’s most popular cocktails matched with bites. Single-serve drinks like the strawberry Old Fashioned are also available for pickup.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • West Loop

If it's wine and charcuterie you crave, let the Press Room be your beacon. This subterranean wine bar is located beneath West Loop bed and breakfast the Publishing House, but you don’t have to be a guest to drop by. Expect interesting, globe-trotting pours available by the glass and bottle, a small cocktail list and a menu of small plates that shouldn't be missed. If you want to take the guesswork out of your visit, ask the friendly staff to point you toward a delicious red and order the chocolate cremeux, a delicate chocolate pudding that's studded with sesame crisp and cocoa crumble. The speakeasy also hosts ticketed cabaret shows and cigar events, transporting you back to the 1920s.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • West Loop

Neapolitan pizza, draft beer and a TouchTunes jukebox serve as the inspiration for PB&J’s name, though the menu also features several types of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Chill on the patio while sipping a frozen cocktail or sharing a pitcher of sangria. Select pizza and cocktails are half price from 3–6pm Tuesday through Thursday and 5–7pm Wednesday is doggy date night, where you can enjoy half-price beer while picking out a treat for your pooch from a special dog menu.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Loop

Lone Wolf is the unofficial waitlist bar of the West Loop. Whether you're waiting for your table at Au Cheval or Little Goat Diner, this neighborhood tavern is happy to whet your whistle with delicious cocktails and plenty of craft beer (plus, they nearly always have Three Floyds Zombie Dust on draft). If you decide that your reservation isn't worth the wait, you can always fill up tamales provided by the Tamale Guy, who briefly cooked out of Lone Wolf's kitchen (he's at Bangers & Lane in Wicker Park now). 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

CH is one of Chicago's most innovative distilleries, producing everything from vodka and gin to Malört and aquavit. Tour the distillery on Saturdays at 5:30pm for just $15 per person, which includes "The Tradition," a tasting of ice-cold CH vodka paired with rye bread and pickles. Just here to drink? Sip seasonal cocktails like Rising Plum, a blend of house-made gin with sake, plum and lime. You can also opt for a flight featuring four half-ounce tasting glasses of any of the distillery’s spirits.

  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Haymarket Brewing opened in 2010 in Haymarket Square, the site of an 1886 labor demonstration and bombing. The owners embrace that history with brews like the Demonstrator doppelbock and Oscar’s Pardon Belgian-style pale ale, which is named for labor activist Oscar Neebe. Haymarket regularly works with other local breweries on collaborative beers—you can enjoy the latest options alongside a rotating selection of house made sausages or a 14-inch pizza topped with oyster mushrooms, garlic and Calabrian chili oil.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop

This bar nearly doubled in size recently, adding a 4,000-square-foot second-floor space decked out with Christmas lights, glitter-tufted booths and vintage chandeliers plus a suspended DJ booth and an illuminated gold sequin wall. Both of the spot’s dog-friendly patios are decorated with tropical plants and West Coast kitsch to provide a chill space for sipping an Aperol Spritz and sharing craveable bites like crispy mozzarella sticks and Nashville hot chicken tenders. Get the party going with a throwback shot like a Flaming Dr. Pepper.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Though it dubs itself "just a bar," there's way more to Moneygun than meets the eye. Located on the east side of the Kennedy Expressway, this West Loop spot specializes in classic cocktails—40 to be exact. Sip sidecars, cosmopolitans, mojitos, negronis and martinis for $12 each, which is a steal when you consider the bar team is using house-made syrups, sodas and elixirs to craft perfectly balanced sippers. Additional perks: old-school hip-hop beats, plates of house-made pickles and grilled cheese made with apple butter and sundried tomatoes. What's not to love?

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  • Bars
  • West Loop

Situated on the mezzanine level of Soho House Chicago, Fox Bar is modeled after an English pub and serves up Chicago-themed drinks and seasonal craft cocktails like the Hibiscus Sour, a blend of hibiscus whiskey, peach, lime, and piña syrup. The cozy spot also houses Paper Thin Pizza, where you can get ultra thin crust pies with Wisconsin cheese, fennel sausage and other toppings and satisfy your sweet tooth with an order of chocolate chip cookies. Swing by during the weekend to hear DJs spin records while you explore the menu.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • West Loop

Travel back in time at this wine and whiskey bar, with a 2,500-square-foot lounge decked out with vintage chandeliers and couches plus a baby grand piano where you’ll find musicians playing from 8–11pm. Thursday through Saturday. As the name implies, the menu is focused on wine and whiskey, offering an extensive selection of bubbly plus bottles of rare bourbon. Pair your drink with a plate of cheese and charcuterie or indulge in a six-ounce ribeye with truffle jam and figs.

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  • Things to do
  • West Loop

There’s no denying the cool factor of walking through a barbershop to reach a secret backroom bar. Blind Barber, with outposts in L.A. and NYC, landed in Chicago in 2017, offering trims and cuts by day and a raucous good time by night. Though uncomfortably packed on Saturday evenings, the place is ideal for big groups, which are seated at reserved tables along the perimeter of the room (just be sure to make a reservation). The house cocktails are phenomenally balanced, and a massive selection of grilled cheese sandwiches makes for excellent drunk food. Yeah, we’ll be back.

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • United Center

Goose Island may have gotten its start in Lincoln Park, but the brewery's Fulton Market facility has become its de facto hub. Beer nerds flock to the sleek taproom, where you'll find Goose flagship creations as well as exclusive releases and hard-to-find vintage selections (including the sought-after Bourbon County Brand Stout). Pair your pint with a cheese flight, charcuterie from Paulina Market or tacos from Arigato Market. Tours are still on hold, but you can get more out of your visit by taking home a six-pack or a crowler. Plus, you can also enjoy the weather on the brewery’s spacious new patio.

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  • Restaurants
  • Gastropubs
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Specializing in sausage, bacon and beer (seriously, what's not to love?), Kaiser Tiger attracts crowds all year, thanks in part to its spacious patio out back. Come summertime, the space is filled with picnic tables and string lights; when winter rolls around, the outdoor area is equipped with an ice-curling rink and heaters. No matter the weather, grab a Chicago-made beer and head outside.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

With a variety of live performances, British manor-style decór and a reservation-only policy, The Darling brings a new level of swankiness to the bustling West Loop. Sit downstairs in the Library and you'll be treated to pop-up performances from musicians, dancers and puppeteers while you sip beautifully balanced cocktails, like the signature Darling Buds of May, with rum, passion fruit juice, apple cider, agave syrup and basil.

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