Big star's patio
Photograph: Courtesy of One Off Hospitality

The best bars for day drinking in Chicago

From rooftops to breweries to dive bars, these watering holes are perfect for an afternoon of drinking.

Samantha Nelson
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Most of the best bars in Chicago don’t open until the evening, but if you’ve got the day off, there are still plenty of options to get a drink during daylight hours. Rooftop bars and spots with sprawling patios cater to customers who want to spend a beautiful day leisurely drinking refreshing sippers and sharing some snacks, and Chicago's best breweries often open early to provide more opportunity to taste your way through some local beers. Whether you’re looking for a place to watch sports or a spot where you can seamlessly transition from coffee to cocktails, these 13 bars are the best places for day drinking in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Discover the best beer gardens in Chicago

Best bars for day drinking

  • Café bars
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Decorated with disco balls and blasting a soundtrack to match, Estereo is one of our favorite go-tos for day drinking (and it's dog-friendly!). The bar from the owners of Queen Mary and Pizza Lobo focuses on agave spirits—served neat, blended into frozen cocktails or used in riffs on classics. Both locations are open at noon Tuesday through Sunday, but the newer Estereo FM also welcomes early customers with single origin espresso and empanadas from Cafe Tola.

  • Mezcalerias
  • Wicker Park
  • price 1 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

With locations in Wicker Park, West Town and Wrigleyville, Big Star consistently packs its patios with daytime revelers sharing pitchers of margaritas and family-style platters of tacos. The original Wicker Park restaurant recently added a new patio where rain won’t ruin the fun, plus ping pong and foosball tables so you can get in a game between rounds of drinks while tapping your toes to the honky-tonk music.

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  • Beer bars
  • Uptown
  • price 2 of 4

It’s worth heading to Hopleaf early since it only takes limited reservations and the place is perpetually packed, especially when the weather is nice enough for hanging out on the hidden patio. A pioneer in the craft beer movement, Hopleaf has been open since 1992 and pours from 68 draft lines, with a constantly changing selection that also includes mead and cider. Beyond a penchant for saisons and tripels, the bar also applies its love of all things Belgian to the decor and food menu, where the star is heaping portions of mussels cooked in wit beer and lambic and served with fries and aioli.

  • Dive bars
  • River North
  • price 1 of 4

Tucked among the trendy spots in River North, Rossi’s is a throwback dive bar that opens at 9am Monday through Saturday and 11am on Sunday. The dog friendly space is dimly lit and the wood paneled walls are covered with beer signs and stickers. Choose something on the jukebox and peruse the cooler for a wide selection of local beers and ciders and take your pick up to the counter to pay—but be sure to bring cash.

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  • Contemporary American
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Thumb through Longman & Eagle’s book of whiskeys, including plenty of rare varieties and single barrels the bar has been collecting since 2010. If that’s too intimidating, try a few in a flight or one of the $3 pours for thrifty drinkers who still want to sip something novel. You’ll also find whiskey cocktails, rotating boozy slushies and a nose-to-tail seasonal menu from executive chef Brian Motyka, with dishes that can stand up to a stiff drink like roasted bone marrow and dry-aged strip steak.

  • Breweries
  • North Center
  • price 1 of 4

Dovetail Brewery uses imported malts and hops to make traditional European styles like Kölsch, hefeweizen and Vienna lager, which are perfect for enjoying on a warm day. Make your day drinking a bit educational by taking a Saturday brewery tour, where you’ll try three brews and the water they’re made with. You’re welcome to bring your own food, though the brewery regularly hosts restaurant pop-ups.

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  • Avondale

New York import Mother’s Ruin opens for brunch at 11am daily, so you can dig into a place of chicken and waffles or smashed avocado toast along with an espresso martini or Bloody Mary. Beyond the morning classics, the laid-back bar serves rotating slushies, simple but well made cocktails and an all-day menu until 1:30am (or 2:30am on Saturdays) that includes crispy fish tacos and beer cheese nachos. Come the first Sunday of the month to listen to pop punk tunes during Brunch-182.

  • American creative
  • River West/West Town
  • price 1 of 4

All Together Now opens at 11am on weekdays and 10am on the weekends, serving a rotating selection of natural wines, amaro and CBD drinks along with sandwiches, salads and tinned fish boards, plus bagels on Saturdays and Sundays. The West Town spot also has a wine shop and cheese counter, so you can stop in to get all the supplies for a picnic. Devoted fans can join wine and cheese clubs for discounts and special monthly releases.

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  • Contemporary American
  • Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Begin the day by taking in the views of Millennium Park from the 13th floor of the Chicago Athletic Association. The space is covered by a glass atrium so there’s no need to worry about the weather, though there’s also a terrace if you want to soak up some sun while sipping a cocktail or CBD-infused drink. Groups can share a DIY mimosa kit served with berries and an assortment of juices.

  • Beer bars
  • Bucktown
  • price 1 of 4

Stop into Map Room at 7:30am on weekdays and 8:30am on Saturdays to settle in with Dollop Coffee, a sandwich from New York Bagel & Bialy or a pastry from Bennison’s Bakery before the bar starts pouring booze at 11am. Open since 1992, Map Room celebrates the joys of travel with a collection of maps and flags and global drink selection to match, with local beers served alongside varieties from Germany, Japan and France.

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  • Gastropubs
  • Lake View
  • price 2 of 4

Order a flight at DryHop Brewers to taste your way through its core collection of beers—sporting wild names and wilder labels—and pick up a crowler of your new favorite. You’ll also have the chance to try limited edition drafts you won’t find anywhere else. Even those who don’t love beer can have a good time thanks to an extensive whiskey selection, smash burgers and Neapolitan-style pizza from sibling spot Roebuck.

  • Sports Bars
  • River North
  • price 1 of 4

Sports bar Jake Melnick’s serves some of the best wings in town, with a rotating monthly flavor and standbys ranging from sweet barbecue to a dangerously spicy sauce made with ghost and scorpion peppers. Test your heat tolerance while cooling your mouth with something from their 30 taps. Gameday groups can share a platter of snacks, including fried pickles and onion rings, plus a beer tower.

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  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

A bottle shop and taproom, The Beer Temple offers a massive and constantly changing selection of craft brews, along with 20 taps pouring everything from lambics to lagers and stouts to shandies. The attentive bartenders will guide you to something fun you can enjoy with affordable sandwiches and bar snacks like pimento cheese and Bavarian pretzels. Linger and play a board game or grab a six-pack to take home.

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