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Photograph: Erica GannettWill's Northwoods Inn

12 bro bars in Chicago that are actually okay

Written by
Time Out Chicago editors

Sometimes you just want to drink a cheap, shitty beer, wear basketball shorts and say, “Chyeah, man.” We won’t judge you—in fact, we’ll help you out. We found the best of the worst (or best of the best, depending on your life choices) of all the bro bars in the city for the next time you absolutely need a Jägerbomb.

Public House: The Bull & Bear folks know how to put a sports bar together and were wildly successful with Public House. The food is good, the beer list is solid and there’s always a game playing.

Rocks Lakeview: Rocks’s Lakeview location is undoubtedly a bro-oriented sports bar, but it manages to be quite charming. It feels more like a community Boystown bar than a local chain, and there's a solid and affordable beer list that can soften the eye-roll of even the biggest snob.

Will’s Northwoods Inn: Will’s is a popular watering hole for Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers fans, but when it’s not a game day, the Lakeview spot is actually pretty great. The beer list runs deep, and on Sunday nights, it's time for Three Dead Moose, one of the best comedy open mics in town.

aliveOne: Transport back to your senior year of college at Alive One—which is close enough to DePaul’s campus to attract a younger crowd. The back room hosts local bands with beers mostly less than $8.

Sheffield’s: Sure, on the weekends this place can look like a weekend from college, just with people in their late 20s. During the week, though, it’s all really fantastic beer and solid barbecue.

Kaiser Tiger: Kaiser Tiger opened in the West Loop in 2015 and quickly established itself as one of the more douche-y spots in Restaurant Row. That said, the food is solid and the beer and cocktail menus are up to snuff. During the winter, they even turn their patio into a curling ice rink—how can you not love that?

Emporium Arcade Bar (Logan Square): It didn’t take long for Emporium’s second location in Logan Square to become a weekend haven for aggressive, young males, but the arcade bar has managed to stay pretty groovy regardless. The spot regularly hosts launches for great new beers, and on weeknights the place isn’t too crowded. On top of that, they’ve set up a food truck inside that rotates vendors from across the city—a godsend for drunks late at night.

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria: This restaurant/brewery dominated by high tops and gigantic pizza is guaranteed to have the Cubs game on whenever the team walks on the field. There’s also a karaoke night and award winning pizza and beer, so it’s just like college all over again.

Dark Horse Tap & Grille: There’s a decent patio in the back with a pub grub menu and plenty of screens to catch the game (it’s close to Wrigley Field, so one guess as to what will be showing), with regular beer bucket specials and whiskey shots.

Duke of Perth: Can you really be a bro bar if you don’t have TVs? That’s one draw of this Lakeview Scottish pub that’s occupied its rustic spot on Clark Street since 1989. The others: friendly service, a cozy back patio, an extensive Scotch and whiskey list and the best fish and chips in town.

Benchmark: This sprawling two-story sports bar with a retractable roof to create a beer garden is great for large groups looking to grab a beer, hang out and watch a game on one of the many, many TVs you’ll find scattered throughout the bar.

Houndstooth Saloon: This (Roll Damn Tide) Alabama bar is tolerable with the disclaimer of being able to stand country music blasting through the speakers all night. If watching girls do their best impression of Reba McIntyre's "Fancy" isn't your thing, it's okay, there's plenty of beer to numb the pain. 

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