After a long week of work, often times you just need three things: a beer, a microphone, and Mariah Carey. Luckily, Chicago is chock full of excellent karaoke spots, ranging from gritty dive bars to gay bars to can’t-miss spots down in Chinatown. So get your vocal chords ready—or, at the very least, knock back a couple drinks—and hit up the best Chicago bars for karaoke.
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Best karaoke bars in Chicago
This long wooden bar is helmed by a few middle-aged women who, on Sundays, mix huge batches of kamikazes and sell them for $2 a pop—but the real draw here is karaoke. If you get there and the door’s locked, don’t get discouraged. Just ring the bell over and over again (sometimes the bartenders can’t hear it over yet another version of “Don’t Stop Believin’”). Karaoke: Tue, Thu, Fri 11pm–3:30am; Sat 11pm–4:30am.
Whether you want to belt out Bieber or the Rolling Stones, this private room karaoke bar has tunes that will appeal to all types. Each room is equipped with a flat screen TV and sofas so you can feel right at home. A full bar snacks menu with a few Asian specialties along with a plethora of cocktails are available. Hours: Mon–Fri 7pm–2am, Sat 7pm–3am.
True to form, Brando’s Speakeasy is anything but what it seems. It’s a lounge, but conversation flows more like a neighborhood haunt. While there's a cocktail list, most people seem to down beer anyway. The decor and vintage posters throw it back eras, but the karaoke and late-night dance music add modern flair. While it’s not Don Vito Corleone meets Al Capone as the name might imply, Brando’s is definitely a mash-up. Karaoke: Wed–Sat at 7pm.
After 22 years as Cafe Shino, this Gold Coast stalwart got a makeover and has emerged as a sake lounge, complete with two dozen varieties of rice wine, a private karaoke room and a menu of otsumami, traditional Japanese small plates (we're fans of the crispy-edged hot-dog bites, plummy baby octopus, spicy salmon hand rolls and tofu-topped udon noodles). For a primer on sake, ask manager Kerry Tamura, who's happy to steer you in the right direction.
The lounge’s black walls and color-shifting lights feels like walking onto the set from Tron: Legacy. The other patrons, mostly groups of Chinese Americans, are supportive of all the singers, and while the karaoke control box isn’t intuitive, friendly staff and bartenders will happily walk you through the process. Want to just sing with your friends? Private rooms start at $48 (prices go up based on your reserved time slot) and they’re clean and cozy. The food is good, so snack on fried chicken wings, beef skewers and fries. Bonus: Pop KTV opens at 2pm, so you can kick off your night by pre-gaming here.
Sakura offers a blend of Eastern and Western karaoke, with bright colors, monitors at every booth and an energetic party vibe. Drink prices and late night snacks like spicy chicken legs and lemongrass wines are moderately priced (and delicious), and there’s a stage near the bar. For private parties, rent a large room (it has its own private bathroom!) or opt for a per head cover charge or a private room.
The decor of this spacious karaoke and darts bar is reminiscent of roller rinks circa the 1980s: pink and aqua neon signage, wood paneling, fantastic mullets and all the nachos and pizza you can handle. Drinks are ridiculously cheap, and the karaoke book is chock-full of corny ’70s and ’80s hits with a dedicated stage for performing, making this place a natural choice for getting drunk and stupid with large groups of people. Karaoke: Every night at 8pm.
This unmarked hole-in-the-wall is the kind of neighborhood spot you’d easily pass by until someone in the know introduces you to its discreet charms: old-school matrons working the bar, cheap drink specials and weekend karaoke jamborees. FYI, it’s also an unofficial hangout for same queer girls. Karaoke: Thu (summer only), Fri, Sat at 9:30pm.
Pop into any bar boasting seven days of karaoke and you're likely to hear more than your fair share of Bon Jovi. Thankfully, this Lakeview parrot-head hangout offers ample patio space (heated in the winter) to escape juiced-up choruses of "Sweet Caroline." This place is good for satiating drunk American Idol desires, but bad for house cocktails. Stick to your beer of choice over Todd's odd concoctions. Karaoke: Every night at 7:30pm.