Discover the vibrant pulse of Chicago’s nightlife with our guide to the best college bars, where the city’s academic spirit meets a lively social scene. From iconic institutions near campuses to hidden gems tucked away in diverse neighborhoods, this compilation celebrates the unique charm and character of Chicago’s college bar scene. Whether you’re a student seeking a post-exam haven or a visitor eager to soak in the local culture, these establishments offer a dynamic mix of craft brews, signature cocktails, and an electric atmosphere. Join us on a journey through the spirited heart of Chicago’s college culture, where friendships are forged, memories are made, and the city’s diverse energy converges in unforgettable ways. Cheers to the best college bars in the Windy City.
Located between the Loyola University main campus and Loyola University Law School, Streeter’s Tavern is a friendly neighborhood pub. They have pool tables, and the bar is lined with flat-screen TVs broadcasting your favorite sports games. The bar has a rotating tap list of domestic brews and a great Happy Hour from 4-6 with cheap domestic beer and bottles of wine.
Kelly’s Pub is a Lincoln Park institution, founded by the Kelly family in 1933. It has a cozy, old-school interior with a wide selection of beer and spirits along with a full menu of tasty pub fare. They also have a lovely outdoor patio beer garden where college kids and young adults congregate during the summers. I think they make one of the best Reuben sandwiches in town. I order it with a pint of local artisanal beer.
Located a few blocks from DePaul University in Lakeview East, LP’s T.A.P. House is a colorful, casual, and quaint bar and gastropub. LP’s is every college student’s dream establishment as they offer both Chicago-style pizza and a full menu of authentic tacos to accompany a large selection of beer and cocktails. The kitchen is open as late as the bar is, so you can soak up a night of drinking with a delicious plate of tacos, sandwiches, burgers, or pizza.
Another Lincoln Park haunt located a few blocks from DePaul University, McGee’s Tavern & Grille has been a favorite for decadent pub fare and heavily poured drinks for 35 years. The quirky atmosphere and friendly service only add to their popularity. The food at McGee’s Tavern is their forte, with all your favorite American gastro food, from wings to over-the-top sandwiches.
Even if you’re an undergrad, they’ll still let you drink at this University Village bar. Ph.D Pub has a laid-back atmosphere, with darts boards, ping pong tables, and an outdoor patio. They appeal to academics of all ages due to their creative and sophisticated cocktail menu. Their tap list also features some of the best artisanal micro-brewery beers. Despite their high-brow menu, they have some of the cheapest prices in town.
Glascott’s Saloon is a cozy Irish pub with wooden walls, a carved ceiling, and skeet ball games in the back. It’s another DePaul favorite, located in Lincoln Park, down the road from McGee’s Tavern. Glascott’s is one of the oldest pubs in Lincoln Park, opening in 1937. They have 16 beers on tap, including all the Irish favorites along with a full Greek food menu. I loved their gyros dinner.
Located in Wrigleyville a quick drive from Wrigley Field, Roscoe’s is an LGBTQ bar and restaurant with a drag queen show and weekend dance parties. They pride themselves on their inclusivity. Roscoe’s has a full cocktail menu as well as lunch, brunch, and dinner. I went for their bubbles and brunch package and ordered a bloody Mary and breakfast burrito.
Woodlawn Tap is a dive bar in Hyde Park and a favorite for University of Chicago students. Opened inside the University of Chicago’s old Theology building, students call the bar Jimmy’s after founder Joseph Sittler’s nickname. Woodlawn Tap has a small menu of beer and Polish bar fare. You can count on encountering students debating philosophy over beer and Polish sausages late into the night.
Delilah’s is a hip bar in the Wrightwood Neighbors neighborhood, specializing in artisanal beer and whiskeys. They have Dj sets nightly, making them a great spot for dancing and drinking. Every nightly Dj set at Delilah’s comes with a drink special. I went for a fun Juke Box spins set, fueling my dance moves with 3$ Maker’s Mark Bourbon and Labatt Blue.
Named for the neighborhood in which it has served since 1958, Old Town Ale House is one of Chicago’s most iconic dive bars. Its old-school interior is lined with painted portraits of famous patrons. Old Town Ale House has been a favorite haunt for all walks of life, from students to traveling musicians. Its rich history, cheap drinks, and lively atmosphere have garnered centerpiece articles in notable national newspapers.
Located in Lincoln Park inside a nondescript old building front, Liar’s Club is a dingy dive bar with plenty of personality. Its neon-lit interior is decked out in music posters, with a stage offering a full lineup of live music and karaoke events. If you’re into punk rock, Liar’s Club is the best music venue in town, with a friendly staff and cheap beer, well drinks, and cocktails.
The Bamboo Room is an upscale Tiki Bar in a beautifully designed tropical space in River North. Three Dots and a Dash is a bar and restaurant of its own, with The Bamboo Room as its best-kept secret with an almost undetectable entrance. They offer a wonderful atmosphere with stunning Tiki drinks, embellished with orchids, umbrellas, and even dry ice. The exquisite food and drink menu has earned The Bamboo Room Esquire Magazine’s vote for the best bar in America.
Another River North favorite, Rossi’s is a funky dive bar cluttered with pieces of kitsch and covered with old-school posters. They have some of the cheapest beer specials in town, with a vast tap list and bottle menu. Rossi’s is a great place to share a pint or a pitcher with friends.
Why should you trust us?
We use our own local experience and contacts in the city to know which places to include in our lists. We also researched the web and read 6 reputable blogs and websites, including chibarproject.com, cbsnews.com, theculturetrip.com, sportbarsinchicago.com, tripadvisor.com and studentleisureblog.wordpress.com. So that you can be sure you’re receiving the best of the best. We compiled all the results in one spot and ranked them according to how frequently they were referenced.