The best bars in Lincoln Park
This rock and roll dive has one of the best jukeboxes in town in the main room (so you can play DJ Fridays and Saturdays) and hires DJs for Sunday through Thursday who know their Buzzcocks from their Bullocks. Add an insane whiskey selection, more than 300 beers (Belgian, microbrews, seasonals) and frequent free movie nights, and you have a bar to call home.
It's not hard to see why the J. Parker has become a destination for drinkers looking for an exciting experience. It boasts excellent cocktails, seasonal small-plates and sweeping, mesmerizing, breathtaking views of Lincoln Park from the 13th-floor roof of the Hotel Lincoln. On the other hand, it’s still a rooftop bar, which means you might need to sacrifice your first-born just to get a seat.
Presiding over the cozy dive is Rose, a tiny, friendly Macedonia native, who pours drafts of Old Style into frosted mugs. The clientele includes a smattering of hipsters and a few pool-playing men, and the mismatched furniture, twinkling lights and alarm clocks give the space a basement feel. It's among the diviest spots remaining to get a drink in Lincoln Park, and therefore one of the best.
There's a lot to look at inside the Red Lion Pub. Gaze up and you'll spot the Tudor beams that line the ceiling; and under that, there are bookshelves lined with tomes about British history and literature. There are 14 draft lines that line the bar and three fireplaces for those cold Chicago nights. The menu is populated by pub food (Scotch egg, Irish nachos, poutine) and a fantastic collection of suds and bourbon.
Though it’s nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street, this is anything but your average Lincoln Park bar. The drafts (which rotate weekly) are a beer geek’s dream come true, the stereo is heavy on metal and the bartenders know their shit. You'll find beer nerds sipping on the latest from Pipeworks and Three Floyds, but we recommend sampling some of the house beers, which typically embrace unconventional (but delicious) styles.
Conveniently located in front of Steppenwolf's 1700 theater, Front Bar is a destination for theater-goers and neighborhood residents alike. The space—which is part coffee shop, part bar—boasts menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with easy bites like crab dip, truffled mushroom flatbread and a Cajun tofu wrap. Swing by before or after a show at the Steppenwolf for a glass of wine or an expertly crafted cocktail (the Snappy Comeback with snap pea-infused gin, white wine syrup and lime is phenomenal).
Formerly the original location of Headquarters, this early arcade bar became the third outpost of Replay in 2016 after a split between HQ’s partners. The bar program is more focused on the extensive, high-end beer list than Replay’s other bourbon-centric locations, and the games (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tron, NBA Jam) are all still free to play.
There’s a lot more Gaelic cheer at this bar than just the Guinness on tap. The pub grub is authentic, most of the staff is actually Irish, and it’s rarely too crowded to nab a table (choose between the vintage woodwork inside and the expansive, open-air patio). Just don’t spread the word too much—we’d hate to wind up ass-to-elbow like at most Lincoln Park McPubs.
This polite Lincoln Park blues club has an unusual setup—two different bands in two different rooms on two different stages, with a lively MC keeping things moving at all times. Pay the cover (usually $12–$15) and you'll be treated to multiple sets from local acts and, if you're lucky, a few touring bands.
If you want to watch the game and enjoy some local craft beer, look no further than the Arrogant Frog Bar. The neighborhood pub keeps 24 different beers on tap and will show Blackhawks, Cubs and Bears games on a gigantic projection screen behind the bar. There's also a Wednesday night jazz series and Bloody Mary bar on offer every Sunday from noon to two. It's not the flashiest bar in the ‘hood, but it's a functional spot for drinking and cheering on the home team.
There's beer on tap and coolers lining the walls, but Beermiscuous isn't really a bar, per se. Billing itself as a "beer café"—complete with couches and a fireplace—this is the kind of place where you can drink while typing away on your laptop at 1pm. There are always local beers on tap and hundreds of bottle and can options that you can take home, or (for an additional fee) drink on-site. Beer nerds will love the selection, while more casual drinkers will appreciate the relaxed coffee shop vibes.
A self-described "third space," Kibbitznest is a gathering spot for bookworms and craft cocktail fanatics. There's one thing you should know before you go: The shop is a WiFi-free zone, which means that the owners prefer if you leave your laptop at home and save phone use for taking photos of the beautiful surroundings. Shop a curated selection of new and used books before settling in for a drink, like Agatha's Choice, with gin, tonic, creme de cassis and lime. Keep an eye on the shop's events calendar for book club discussions, live music and comedy nights.
DePaul students, hospital staff and neighborhood professionals alike belly up at this combo spot. Decent bar food, foosball, pool and darts dominate downstairs at the Lion Head, where it's impossible not to find yourself facing one of the two dozen plasma and big-screen TVs. Upstairs, the Apartment sports a corny (yet comfy) club atmosphere with its beds, couches and recliners, which get plenty of use on weekends when the place is packed with singles.
Why the exclamation point? Because Prost! is very excited about German beer. There are 24 of them on tap, all offered in various sizes and served in the appropriate glassware. The beer-hall look and menu of schnitzel and pretzels make things extra Deutsch. Flex your vocal chords before you show up, because all that beer nearly always inspires some spirited late-night sing-alongs.