Earlier this week, Thrillist published a CTA bar map, which replaced stop names with a bar located less than a 10-minute walk away. It's a great idea—brilliant actually—but they half-assed it and left off lots of stops, primarily on the South and West Sides of the city.
Because Thrillist omitted popular stops and, obviously, there are great bars off those stops, we turned to John Greenfield, a Time Out Chicago contributor who helped us uncover 50 unknown bars back in 2010 and who currently writes about transportation for Streetsblog Chicago and Newcity. If anyone knows about great bars off of CTA stops, it's him. Greenfield suggested nine places to check out off the Green, Orange, Red and Pink lines.
Pulaski stop: Wash’s Lounge, 4223 W Madison St
Greenfield calls it an “old man bar” and notes that it “occasionally hosts blues performances.”
Kedzie stop: 007 Lounge, 600 N Kedzie Ave
The bar has a James Bond–inspired 007 logo, and it has red vinyl bar stools and a jukebox filled with '70s and ‘80s blues and soul music.
King Drive stop: Kozy Korner, 461 E 63rd St
From Greenfield's write-up in 50 unknown bars: True to its name, this tavern is a relaxing oasis in rough-and-tumble Woodlawn. In business since 1956, the bar features mirrors ringed with plastic roses, multiple portraits of Obama and a large lamppost in the middle of the room. Middle-aged and older men in Sox hats and Kangol caps drink bottles of MGD ($2.50), while sharply dressed ladies sip goblets of vodka and cranberry. The jukebox is well stocked with R&B dusties, and when “Honky Tonk” by James Brown comes on, women at one end of the bar start clapping along. Extra shot: Ex-Chicago Defender gossip columnist Cliff Pierce is a regular.
Halsted stop: The Skylark, 2149 S Halsted St
This speakeasy-esque space—a vacuous room, lined with booths and sprinkled with tables and chairs—is a nightly respite for local artists. The Tater Tots and mac and cheese are greasy must-haves—wash ’em down with a $2 PBR. There’s free jazz on Mondays, and don’t miss the photo booth tucked in the back corner.
Pulaski stop: Polish Highlander’s Alliance of America, 4808 S Archer Ave
The headquarters for the cultural organization also doubles as a tavern, where you’ll hear people bursting into Polish drinking songs over beer.
Midway stop: Mr. C’s Midway Lounge, 4654 W 63rd St
The dive bar, located a block from the airport, appropriately has an airplane theme, including a model plane made of Miller Lite cans.
Damen Stop: Martin’s Corner, 2056 W 22nd Pl
From Greenfield's writeup in 50 unknown bars: This family-owned sports pub has operated since 1951 on a back street of Pilsen, kitty-corner from the twin spires of St. Paul Catholic Church. A mix of the neighborhood’s Latinos and Anglos come out for cheap burgers, chicken sandwiches and chops, plus daily drink specials like $4 pints of Spaten Oktoberfest. The microbrew selection is impressive, including selections by Dogfish Head and Magic Hat on tap. Jerseys autographed by Paul Konerko and Joe Montana, numerous Blackhawks photos and free pool make this a comfortable hang for superfans. Extra shot: Don’t miss the video beer-pong machine.
Western stop: The Waterhole, 1400 S Western Ave
From Greenfield's writeup in 50 unknown bars: Ex-cop Tony Anthony’s down-home soul-food restaurant and blues lounge features country breakfasts and dinners of rib tips, chicken wings and catfish, drawing workers from the nearby juvenile detention center and board of education, plus police officers and politicians. Miller Lite, MGD ($3 drafts) and Tres Mujeres tequila are the most popular tipples, and blues men Little Milton and Bobby “Blue” Bland dominate the free jukebox. Extra shot: The back room hosts no-cover blues concerts, with regular appearances by Slim James, Mary Lane and Charlie Brown.
79th Stop: 50 Yard Line Sports Bar & Grill, 69 E 75th St
The bar has TVs, bar snacks, a jukebox and weekly stepping classes.