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Time Out Love Chicago Awards 2014: the top local bars

The top neighborhood bars in Chicago—as voted by you—in the South Side, North Side, downtown, Near North Side and more

As thorough as our critics are, nobody knows the city’s restaurants, coffee shops, bars, stores, storefront theaters and music venues like Time Out readers.

With this in mind, back in October we launched the Love Chicago Awards to find out more about the local businesses that make your area of the city incredible. Now, after an intense voting period in which nearly 7,000 of you had your all-important say, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the restaurants you love above all others. There were a few close calls (and a few freakin’ landslides), but through it all one thing was clear: Chicagoans are truly passionate about their neighborhoods.

All of which just leaves us to say congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and a hearty thanks to everyone who voted. Now get out there and show your winners some love.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners

Top local bars

DOWNTOWN: The Aviary

Recommended

Chicago’s favorite downtown bar is missing only one thing—the bar. You can peer behind a metal cage to see drinks being concocted by Grant Achatz’s team, led by Micah Melton. No vessel is off-limits for serving, with an expertly crafted old-fashioned appearing inside a perfect sphere of ice, a sazerac in a flask and a cognac-filled teapot billowing with dry ice. With all the whimsy, theatrics and booze, it’s hard not to find yourself smitten.

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West Loop

FAR NORTH SIDE: Hopleaf

This classic Belgian-themed bar has been a cornerstone of the Andersonville neighborhood for more than two decades. It recently expanded into the building next door to accommodate demand, and now it includes three bar areas and a dining room that house the city’s most extensive selection of Belgian beers. Grab a booth during the day and cozy up with a favorite book, or stay for dinner and dine on traditional mussels and frites served with garlic aioli.

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Uptown

NORTH SIDE: Fountainhead

On the first 50-degree Chicago spring day, you’ll find the large patio at this North Side bar packed with Lincoln Square residents. A great list of craft beers and a serious selection of whiskey and Scotch comprise the base of the extensive drink menu. The food is nothing to scoff at, either. Under the helm of chef Cleetus Friedman, the kitchen serves up delicious snacks like smoked hummus and sriracha deviled eggs, plus plenty of gluten-free and vegan options to please everyone in your group.

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Lincoln Square
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NEAR NORTH SIDE: Berkshire Room

The Berkshire Room is a comforting oasis in the bustle of River North. Its cocktails and bar snacks will help you easily pass the time between work and dinner or help you relax after a long afternoon of shopping. Just tell the bartender your desired spirit, flavor profile and glassware, and he’ll take care of everything.

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River North

SOUTH SIDE: Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Recommended

Walk into this classic Bridgeport spot and you might have trouble making it all the way to the bar. First you’ll have to get past the display of specialty beer in the boutique bottle shop that takes up the front room. Venture further back and you’ll be rewarded. The bar serves a selection of pitch-perfect cocktails, a great draft selection and, as the bar’s name promises, tons of locals.

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Bridgeport

NORTHWEST SIDE: Revolution Brewing

Since it opened in 2010, Revolution Brewing has been a favorite spot for Logan Square residents. Revolution’s beer can be found virtually everywhere in the city, with tons of bars and restaurants with a tap line dedicated to the brewery. Its Milwaukee Avenue brewpub has a noticeable community vibe, with plenty of bike parking out front and rows of familiar faces at the bar.

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Logan Square
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WEST TOWN: The Violet Hour

Recommended

Chicago’s original revival of the speakeasy has become a neighborhood classic in the constantly evolving Wicker Park bar scene. Hidden behind an ever-changing mural and marked only by a bright yellow light, the drinks here are still some of the best in the city. Even if you’ve been here a dozen times, stepping past the heavy velvet curtains into the inviting space will still give you butterflies.

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Wicker Park

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