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by Mark Andel

Alexis Bar & Grill

To make your way back to the bar, you have to walk in to a stand-up grill serving gyros, Italian sausage, and anemic, over boiled hot dogs, and once you’re ensconced beside some worn-out booths, it helps to order up your bottled cerveza frias in Spanish. You might enjoy the floorshow of the “chef” filling up his mayonnaise squirter from an enormous tub of the stuff that’s resting on the floor, or moseying to the cooler for a lemon wedge that he decides to eat himself. What would Gordon Ramsay think? Really old, really dirty beer steins adorn the walls that have posters of Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka, and other faded local heroes. The bar menu says, without a trace of irony, “A Taste of the Best.” 1225 N. Milwaukee between Ashland and Division (773-235-4151) Bus: 56 (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 7am-10pm; Sat 10am-11pm; Average beer: $2.75.


 Microbrews, musicians, and a kick-ass sound system combine to create a clubby vibe in this capacious bar that has the feel of a hippie artist’s lair, minus the annoying smell of patchouli. Rock and roll hero portraits line the walls, and there’s a pic of DeNiro from his “Johnny Boy” days – back when he was cool and cutting edge. This place gets the “mood” more right than Hard Rock Café. And about those icrobrews – there are 16 beers on tap, including the irreplaceable Rogue Dead Guy ale, and every one runs frosty good through clean, well-maintained lines. There’s some comfy sofas for lounging, and a cool collection of live bootleg concerts on CDR. 2683 N. Halsted between Clark and Lincoln (773-348-9800) Bus 20, 8   60614.  (24 hrs).Sat 5pm-3am; Sun-Fri 5pm-2am; Average beer $3.50 

 Aquarius Lounge

 Not much to look at on the outside, but inside, you’ll find this a great, capacious room, with a black lacquered horseshoe bar, comfy stools, and no fewer than 6 Mexican beers (no drafts) served ice cold with a bowl of lime slices and a shaker of salt. Come on Salsa Mondays for a free salsa lesson and $1 tacos and $2 MGD’s and Lites, with no cover charge. Be sure to try a ceviche (Mexican sushi) – with delish shrimp, avocado, and cilantro on a tostada for only $2 each. 2459 N. Pulaski between Fullerton and Altgeld (773-392-3581). Bus: 56, 53 60639. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–4am; Average beer: $4.00.


 Regulars call this place Roger’s, because Roger Patrick’s family has run it for the past 56 years. It’s clean and comfortable with that “lived-in” feel that South Side joints seem to have. Don’t look for flat screens or any of that yuppie nonsense. Instead, there are a couple of thick, blocky 19”screens, one placed on a piano that no longer gets played much. There’s an actual brick from Old Comiskey Park on display, and pics of happy-looking regulars grinning around the World Series trophy – something it’s doubtful you’ll ever see on the North Side. Look for Chris Isaak, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, Artie Shaw, and Keith Whitley on the old-time jukebox. There’s no artifice here – even the clock is set to the actual time, not “bar” time. 6296 W. Archer Ave between Mobile Ave and Merrimac Ave  (773-581-4036) Bus 29, 62  60638.  (24 hrs). Sun-Sat 11am-2am; Average beer $1.50 


 A gallery light shines down upon the beneficent countenance of bar-owner Babe done in oil or acrylic behind the bar, alongside photos of Babe with friends, lending a certain gravitas to the electronic slogan that scrolls the message, “Welcome to Babe’s Bar, where friends and fun come first.” A list of monthly birthdays of regulars also scrolls along the digital board, showing an appreciation for regulars that seems authentic. There’s a spacious 20-seat bar, 6 tables, 3 TVs, and an Elvis impersonator who shows up occasionally to cheer everybody up. 4416 N. Milwaukee Ave between Montrose Ave and Agatite Ave  (773-477-5238) Bus 147, 92, 56 60630.  (24 hrs). Sun—Fri 9am—2am, Sat 9am—3am; Average beer $1.50 

 Belford Tavern

 The selling point here is the big $2 fishbowl schooners of MGD – and at lunchtime, the bar is jammed with blue-collar types. But if you come for lunch, take heed: no food is served. As one regular puts it (and use your best Sheldon Leonard accent here): “No jukebox, no pool, no video games, no food – no nuthin’ but drinks.” This is clearly not the place to order flaming rum punch. But if you want to take some “packaged goods” with you, a liquor store is attached, Small beers are a buck apiece – and bring cash. There’s a quaint wood carving of a man being lynched, with a caption that says, “This man asked for credit.” Charming. 3200 N. Pulaski Rd between Belmont and Milwaukee Aves (773-725-7112). Bus: 53, 56. 60641. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.

 Bernie’s Tap & Grill

 For those experiencing Cubby withdrawal, here’s a place to liquor up while looking longingly at Wrigley Field across the street. During baseball season, you could book one of two private rooms, each with a small bar, with 15 seats and 5 TVs, and order up some burgers, corn dogs, or pulled pork sandwiches while watching the game – consider it a poor man’s skybox. Or do it now and watch a video of the glory days. There are no fewer than 8 beers on tap, 20 bottles, and to put you in even more of a “Play Ball” mood, Cubs jerseys adorn the walls. But why is Mark Prior’s jersey up there and not Andy Pafko’s? Open beer. Discuss. 3664 N. Clark between Waveland and Addison (773-525-1898) Bus: 56, 8, 22 (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 10am-2pm; Sat 10am-3pm; Average beer: $3.50.

 BG’s Lounge

 Dirty old men come in all ages and on a recent afternoon about a dozen of them could be seen lavishing attention on the Polish bartender in a skimpy halter top and low-rise jeans at BG’s who leans down a little more than she needs to while downing shots with the googly-eyed customers. Competing for attention is Jeopardy on TV, which elicits shouted-out answers from the brew crew as they chomp on pretzels served up in big bowls. And for those harboring dreams of a better place to be, there’s a LOTTO machine on-site. 3362 N. Narragansett Ave between Roscoe Ave and Henderson Ave (773-777-9971) Bus 146, 77   60634.  (24 hrs). Sun—Fri 7am—2am, Sat 7am—3am; Average beer $2.50 


 Have a few pilsners and make like a contender on the bar’s arcade-style boxing speed bag in this relatively quiet and clean joint named after owner Alicia’s hometown in Poland. Not a lot of frills and no food (unless you count Slim Jim’s as a staple in your diet), but the beer is good and cold and European (Dab from Germany, and a Czech pilsner that’s very tasty). The kitsch factor consists of the typical beer posters, but there’s a disco ball behind the bar and one of those lighted palm tees that casts an eerie glow over the Formica bar, Logan Parkers also light up the place with Saturday night Karaoke. 3653 W. Diversey between Monticello and Lawndale (773-227-5662). Bus: 56, 76 60647. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

 Bobby G’s

 Sometimes it’s the little things that win us over and make our cocktail-loving hearts soar like a hawk. In the case of Bobby G’s, it’s the nicely chilled vodka that gets poured into nicely chilled martini glasses, the freshly sliced attractive bar fruit wedges, the lit candles and little Snickers bars in a basket in the restroom, and the bartender who takes such time and care in mixing a very tasty Bloody Mary that you’d think she was making it for herself. Other nice touches? A big grandfather clock, carved columns and cornices, a great pool table, and Killian’s Irish Red in bottles. 6143 W. Archer Ave between New England Ave and Newcastle Ave (773-586-1724) 60638 Orange Line to Pulaski St, Bus 62 (24 hrs) Sun-Fri 12pm-2am; Sat 12pm-3am; Average beer: $2.75


 You’d think a place called “Brewery” might have more brews to offer than those from the Miller pantheon, Not that we’re complaining about $1.25 drafts of MGD and Lite in this cozy little bar with captain’s chair barstools and Sinatra and Tony Bennett crooning away as serious pool players screw together their sticks.  There’s a bit of homage to TV Land, with a wall devoted to photos of The Fonz, Mary Tyler Moore, and the mustachioed Gabe Kaplan of “Kotter” notoriety, You must be 25 to enter – and the ID checking is nothing short of fanatical. Stop by on October 28th for a Chili Cook-off that should be rather spirited, as several regulars have the beans to claim that their homemade recipes score highest on the heat and savory chili-o-meter. 3848 N. Harlem (773-625-7818). Bus: 56, 77, 90  60634. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 12pm-2am; Sat 12am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

 Bridgeport Inn

 The smoking ban is evident at this neighborly bar in the form of a beer pitcher filled with sticks of gum bearing a sign that reads,”Trying to quit? Have a stick of gum on Bridgeport Inn.” There’s also a hand-drawn sign offering up Girl Scout cookies for those who like thin mints with their Jaeger bombs or $2.50 Dr. McGillicuddy’s schnapps. Working types in flannel shirts gather to enjoy their MGDs and Lites served up in chilled glasses, and the well-worn entryway opens into an inviting room with a lacquered bar and padded stools that feel like they have been here forever. 2901 S. Archer Ave between Loomis Ave and Haynes Ave (773-523-5468) Bus 145, 62 (24 hrs) Sun-Fri 9am-2am; Sat 9am-3am; Average beer $2.75.


 It’s rather tough to find an eponymous connection to this place, named for the Lerner and Loewe musical about a mythical Scottish town that disappears into the Highland mist and returns for only one day every hundred years, though there are charms to be found. For instance, bartender Dawn will open up your peanut bag for you, and fix you up with an ice-cold Jaeger from the cooler, and the place buzzes when the pool leagues are in the house. Other diversions include 5 TVs and a video bowling game. 5748 W. Lawrence between Major and Menard (773-777-2403) Bus: 56, 81W  (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 11am-2am; pm; Sat 11am-4am; Average beer: $2.50.


 Brudder is Hawaiian for “hang loose” and this is not a bad place to do exactly that – especially if you’re sports-inclined. It’s within spitting distance of Wrigley Field, so you can count on Cubs games being broadcast on 8 televisions. There’s a separate room for the pool table (an indicator of serious contests) and with those special dollar drafts of PBR and Old Style, count us in. Mixed beverages are a bit pricier at $5.50, and we can’t decide if the Christmas garland and ornaments are an attempt at kitsch or just the owner’s brand of “hanging loose.” 3600 N. Pulaski Rd between Addison and Waveland Aves (773-427-6404). Bus: 53, 56, 152. 60641. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $3.


 “The Dude” himself would appreciate the sizable White Russian served up at this new (three-month-old) Polish-American bar and grill on the grounds of the fabled Brick & Beam. The price is right, too (most cocktails are in the $4 - $5 range). Owner Anna Maziarz has created a clean, well-lighted smoke-free space, with exposed brick walls, two large flat-screen t.v.’s,  and plenty of Old World charm  -- which answers the question, “What’s in a name.” Sweet potato fries and pierogies anyone? 4630 W. Lawrence Avenue (unlisted phone). El: Blue, to Jefferson Park. Bus #81 Lawrence to Kilpatrick (24 hrs), (hours) Average beer: $3.

 Contractor’s Pub

 With a name like this, you’d expect this musty old joint to be a hotbed of blue-collar types, but the laconic bartender claims no such agenda or expended energy to appeal to tradesmen. “My husband named it that,” she says, and then clams up. It’s a rather shabby, dreary establishment, with the usual worn-out pool table, a few scattershot tables and about 20 barstools, a couple of TV sets, and nary a draft beer in sight – brown paper bags are draped over the taps like a funeral shroud. 5129 S. Archer Ave between Kolin Ave and Kildare Ave (773-737-6752) Bus 146, 62 (24 hrs) Sun—Fri 11am—2am, Sat 11am—3am; Average beer $2.75 


Not a lot of pretension here – perfectly serviceable margaritas are served in large pint glasses with thick straws, and attention is paid to the small touches, like generous fresh lemon wedges topping off 22-ounce Hacker-Pschorr Weise beers ($6), and the bartender usually remembering to roll the bottle on the bar to make sure all the yeasty residue makes it into the glass. The eats are typical sports bar fare for the West Loop office lunch crowd, heavy on appetizers (try the “Tavern Rings” ($5.95) – Spanish onions dipped in beer batter and served with ranch dressing) and sandwiches like the Turkey Rueben  ($7.25) served on Texas toast with sauerkraut and 1,000 island dressing. Lots of hanging plants, friendly servers, and faux-Irish décor, with some truly frightening black-and-white clown photos blown up to poster size.

 Egan’s Tavern

 Morning bars are great for an eye-opener, and Egan’s is where a lot of Chicago’s finest (the ones in blue and the ones in red suspenders) would come to do just that, but not so much anymore. We’re told the cops and firemen are afraid of getting caught now. Egan’s is a compact joint – just a 12-seat bar and a couple of tables. Bartender Mary Ann says it has been in the family since 1931, starting out as an ice company (during that buzz-kill Prohibition thing). A photo of one of the ice wagons lends a nice nostalgic touch, and the green Formica bar and green linoleum floor make this place look like a movie set for a director trying to capture a real Chicago Irish bar. Plus the jukebox offers three tunes for a buck. 6001 N. Paulina St between Ridge Ave and Peterson Ave (773-743-2400) Bus 36, 84  (24 hrs) Mon—Sat 7am—2am, Sun 11am—7pm; Average beer $2.25 

 Everybody’s Place To Drink (EPD)

 This place pushes the northern edge of the city limits (a Shoeless Joe tobacco-juice spit across the street and it’s Evanston) but a White Sox World Series pennant waves proudly here. There’s also a pic of American Leaguer Babe Ruth behind the bar, and with that big, moony, benevolent face beaming down, how can anyone be in a bad mood? The $2.25 pints in frosty glasses in 8 draft varieties also help with that mood thing – and a cold day is the perfect time to try the Michelob Amber Bock.  Amid the snapshots of customers, the 7 TVs (one with a pull-down screen) there’s a sign that says, “Beware of Attack Bartender.” Somebody buy that man a draft! 2335 W. Howard Street between Western Ave and Claremont St (773-743-1090) Red Line Northbound to Howard St, Bus 215  (24 hrs) Sun-Fri 11am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer: $2.25


 The barkeep chefs up some pretty tasty grub behind a cool, pounded copper bar for the working class heroes who assemble here. We can see why. For $4, you can get a great Chicago-style hot dog “swept” (Chicago-ese for “Sweep it through the kitchen”) loaded with fresh tomatoes and onions on a steamed bun, with fries, and a daily special Corona Light. A total bar meal for under five bucks? We’re in. Pizzas, burgers, and pierogis are also available, and 4 brews are always on tap. Outside it looks like a doctor’s office, but inside, it’s a clean, rustic room with exposed brick and wood beams, and a genuine steel dartboard that gets plenty of play from the Windy City Steel Darters. 6213 N. Milwaukee between Raven and Huntington (773-775-5010) Bus 151, 56, 270   60646.  (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 11zm-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer $2.50 

 Flo’s Algiers Lounge

 Flo herself, the octogenarian-something namesake of this eclectic polka haven, dishes up stories and servings of homemade South American soup and Chili and pierogis like the natural raconteur she is. She’s a genuine Chicago character in a place that could legitimately lay claim to “classic” status. The place looks like it could serve as a stage set for “The Petrified Forest,” with its big stage for live bands and karaoke, mixed-up furniture that looks like it came from someone’s attic, and your congenial hostess, Flo, who says unabashedly, “No place in Chicago looks more beautiful than my place at Christmas.”  We believe! 5436 W. Montrose Ave between Long Ave and Linder Ave (773-736-1111) Bus 146, 78   60641. (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 12am-2am; Sat 12am-3am; Average beer $1.75 

 Fuller’s Pub II

 Small touches of Irish bric-a-brac are the only concessions to the Old Sod – a leprechaun napkin holder, and an Erin Go Bragh flag. Otherwise, this shot-and-beer tap room is heavy on local sports teams past and present, with its framed pics of faded Bears heroes. Beer selections are Big American brews, like Sam Adams ($3.75) and longnecks of Bud ($3.00). Still, it’s an accommodating 18-seat bar, and a good dark room to duck into when it’s blazing hot outside. 

3203 W. Irving Park (773-478-8060). Milwaukee Bus #56 to Irving Park, Milwaukee Bus #56 to Diversey and Kimball; Kimball Bus #82 to Irving Park (24 hrs), Mon-Sat 11am–2am; Average beer: $3.

 G-Cue Billiards and Restaurant

Although there are 30 martinis available, don’t be surprised when youthful bartender Brian thumbs through his Mr. Boston’s to figure out how to assemble them – and don’t be surprised if he puts every other cocktail you order into a martini glass, too. The “Mag Mile Manhattan” ($12)  features some terrific, smoky 18-year-old Elijah Craig single-barrel bourbon, absolutely wrecked by a heavy-handed pour of sweet vermouth, and no cherry juice – just a cherry jammed hastily into the glass. The “River’s Edge” ($10) combines Stoli Razberi vodka, Midori, pineapple juice, and a splash of blue Curacao. The garnish is supposed to include pineapple, orange slice, and a cherry, but the fruit were all mysteriously missing in action. 40 beers are available – beer, beer everywhere, but not a drop to drink – of draft, anyway. It’s all bottled. On the plus side, salads are delightfully fresh, there are 27 professional pool tables on two levels, and the jukebox features the old crooners – Sinatra, Dino, and Darin – lending a hip vibe, but that hardly makes up for the uneven and inattentive bar service. The menu boasts 30 martinis, but don’t be surprised when the bartender thumbs through his Mr. Boston’s crib sheets to figure out how to assemble them. The “Mag Mile Manhattan” ($12)  includes some terrific, smoky 18-year-old Elijah Craig single-barrel bourbon, but beware the heavy-handed buzzkill of sweet vermouth. 40 beers on the premises, all bottled. On the up-side, salads are delightfully fresh (try the pecan spinach), there are 27 professional pool tables on two levels, and the jukebox features the old crooners – Sinatra, Dino, and Darin – lending an urban hip vibe, but that hardly makes up for the inattentive bar service.

 Grealy’s Pub

This neighborhood tap room used to be called the Jefferson Pump, but its new name suits it like a fine Irish tweed cap. Ready at the front of the bar station is a bottle of Powers whiskey, and you don’t have to remind amiable bartender Valerie to bring the water-back. Apple martinis are pucker-producing and chilly, but the welcome here is warm and inviting. Bar-mates aren’t shy about opening up to strangers. There’s a fireplace with a mantle, and a real dartboard for the Irish steel darters who assemble here. Finbar Fagan’s band plays live on the weekends. 5001 W. Lawrence Avenue (773-736-5400). El: Blue, to Jefferson Park. Bus #81 Lawrence to Lavergne (24 hrs), (hours) Average beer: $3.

 Galvin’s Public House

A capacious, rambunctious and cheerful open room that oozes goodwill and Irish charm, in the way of the true “Pub.” Bartender Claire will serve your Magner’s hard cider with ice, “if you like,” and the black and tan is poured so beautifully you’d swear you were at the Temple Bar in Dublin. A stone fireplace adds an authentic Irish cottage-like ambience, even though the menu includes some British fare. Live bands enliven the joint even more on the weekends. 5901 W. Lawrence Avenue (773-205-0570). El: Blue, to Jefferson Park. Bus #91 Lawrence to Marmora (24 hrs), Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 1am–3am; Average beer: $4.

 Goofy’s Hockshop

 No, it’s not some pawnshop in a David Mamet play as you may have suspected, but the clutter might remind you of the set of “American Buffalo.” There are stuffed animals, snow villages, football helmets, bric-a-brac, and other remnants of the sad, human pageant that is embodied here by a dozen or so stalwarts sucking down MGD drafts at the green Formica bar. We’re told the place is named for the owner, whose nickname was Goofy “because he was goofy . . . but since the doctor told him to stop drinking his nickname is now Crabby.” And with that, the jukebox began playing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” as if in response. 4369 N. Elston Ave between Montrose Ave and Pulaski St (773-282-8458) Bus 74, 53 (24 hrs) 60641 Sun-Fri 9am-2am; Sat 9am-3am; Average beer: $2.75

 Grace’s (Formerly Strokrokav)

 Kind of a cross between Cheers and the bar in “The Iceman Cometh,” where the “foolosopher” in residence is 75-year-old regular Mikey Voss (“The one thing I know is I know nothing…”), this shot-and-beer joint, with its aluminum ductwork partially covered by a huge plastic log, seems much-beloved by the regulars. Perhaps it’s the diplomacy on display. The northernmost TV has Cubs game on, while the southernmost TV airs Sox games. Is everybody happy? A few more cheap beers, and any tune you want on the online jukebox, and you will be. 5219 W. Diversey Ave. (773-622-2420). Blue Line to Logan Square; Diversey Bus #76 to Laramie (24 hrs), Sat–Sun 11am–2am; Average beer: $2.50

 Half Shell Pub

 This would be a cool place for a preamble to a romantic evening, what with the legendary aphrodisiac powers of bluepoint oysters ($7.95) and cherrystone clams ($7.75) not to mention 11 wines by the glass ($6.50). Order your oysters fried if you like, or order up some crab legs, and then tell the bartender to pour you a nice glass of that 15-year-old Pinch Scotch behind the sparkly black bar. Like the poster of the clam wearing a hat and carrying a tray of drinks, you too will be “happy as a clam.” Finish up with a good strong cup of Turkish coffee, and make sure to bring cash – no credit cards are accepted.676 W. Diversey Pkwy between Schubert and Oakdale (773-549-1773) Bus: 20, 8   60614. (24 hrs) Mon-Sat 11:30am – 10:30pm; Sun 12pm-10:30pm. Average beer: $3.75.

 Happy Cracovia

 This modest shot-and-beer Northwest Side joint takes its name from the first capital of Poland – which is an indicator of the clientele and serving staff. Vodka’s big here – and you can get a generous ice-cold pour for $3.25 and pretend it’s a very dry martini (vermouth is overrated anyway). There’s a full-color photo of Polish hero and icon Pope John Paul II on the back bar (and Pope Benedict XVI, too) which makes you wonder how often people raise a glass to them. Several Elvis (Elvii?) CDs are on the jukebox, (actually loud enough to hear) and a working old-fashioned cigarette machine dispenses smokes at retro prices.2025 N. Cicero (773-637-6787). Milwaukee Bus #56 to Irving Park, Cicero Bus #54 to Armitage (24 hrs). (24 hrs), Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 1am–3am; Average beer: $3.


 We’re told that the passed-out gentleman stretched over a swivel chair near the bar is “Chuckie,” and something tells us this is not an unusual event at this Portage Park dive. A testament to the strength of the drinks? Perhaps. A Bloody Mary here is simply a glass full of vodka with a splash of pre-made mix. With its posters of scantily clad women and . . . are those bra advertisements? The place gives off the vibe of a pre-adolescent boy’s clubhouse, where ‘tween boys gather to contemplate the mysteries of the female form and their nascent priapism. 5703 W. Irving Park Road between Marmora Ave and Major Ave (773-685-9006) Bus 151, 80  60634.  (24 hrs). Sun—Fri 11am—2am, Sat 11am—3am; Average beer $2.00 

 Hidden Shamrock

 When there’s an autumnal nip in the air, ‘tis time to cozy up beside the fireplace with a nipper of Guinness or perhaps something a little more warming. There are two fireplaces here and two bars, and the Irish brands of brew are all in evidence” Guinness, Harp, Bass, and Smithwick’s (pronounce the “H” and they’ll know you’re a piker). Billed as “Lincoln Park’s Oldest Irish Pub,” this is a room that is long on charm and good will – standard pub fare includes wings, burgers, loaded fries, shaggy corned beef, and an outstanding spinach jalapeno artichoke cheese dip with tortilla chips.  There’s a lively Trivia Contest on Tuesday nights ($2.50 MGDs and Lites) and Open Mic Wednesdays where you might hear a “Danny Boy” that could bring a tear to a glass eye. 2723 N. Halsted between Diversey and Fullerton (773-883-0304) Bus 20, 8   60614. (24 hrs).Mon-Wed 4pm-2am; Fri 11am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-2am; Average beer $4. 


 Odds are you won’t be mistaking this joint for Elaine’s in New York, even though it has caricatures of famous people on the barback – no, wait a minute – those are cartoon drawings of the bartenders. This is basically, a grungy shot-and-beer joint that won’t commit to the Cubs or Sox (both are represented equally) and the fake Tiffany lights could use a good Windexing, but for all its mismatched barstools and lack of available draft beer, the big neon martini glass back there says (with great Chicago-style confidence) “Yeah, the place is a dive  … so?” 3348 W. Montrose between Christina and Kimball (773-539-3754). Bus: 56, 50, 78  60618. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

 J&L Lounge

 Sometimes it’s fun to order up some old-fashioned cocktails – a Tequila Sunrise or a Harvey Wallbanger or a Sea Breeze in a dark and cool musty bar -- and bartender Victoria is here to help. Throw in some free pool Mon-Thurs, and there’s your workout, complete with 4-ounce arm curls. This place used to be the G&L Lounge (in fact, it’s still on the sign outside) although George (the “G”) is no longer in the picture. Still and all, this place has a comfortable, aging lounge feel that makes for a good neighborhood bar experience – the complete non-yuppie ball of yarn. 3402 N. Cicero (773-286-0447).Milwaukee Bus #56 to Irving Park, Cicero Bus #54 to Roscoe (24 hrs). Mon-Sat 7am–2am; Sun 11am–2am.  Average beer: $3.

 Jesse’s Short Stop Inn

 It may be named after a crucial infield position, but the night we were there, “Wife Swap” was on instead of the Cubs game – on all 7 TV’s! And this – on Belmont? That may be due to the feisty female bartender (“No martinis, no margaritas, no nothing but what I know how to make!”). You’re welcome to take your chance on gratis pretzels that look like they may have been fresh the last time the Cubs had a chance at October baseball. A sweet touch is a collage of “regulars” pics, and a bulletin board for hanging any notes you want. Basically, Jesse’s is a quiet neighborhood joint. 5425 W. Belmont Ave. (773-545-4427). Brown Line to Belmont; Belmont Bus #77 to Long (24 hrs), Sat–Sun 11am–2am; Average beer: $2.

Joe E’s Unforgettable Lounge

 You’ll want to stick around for a while here, because the vibe is exactly right: classic “old school” but retro hip at the same time. To increase your hang time, order up a bucket of domestics from bartender Nancy for $10, sidle up to the big, padded bar, or snag a house stick and shoot some free pool, while awaiting some raucous, spirited karaoke into the wee hours. No fewer than 5 flatscreens are zoned in on Chicago sports – and nobody seems to play favorites. 4206 W. Irving Park Rd between Keeler and Trip  (773-283-3422). Bus: 56, 80. 60641. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–4am; Average beer: $2.

 Keeper’s Pub

 English is definitely a second language at this lively Polish bar that is not much to look at on the outside, but one you’re inside: Europa! There’s chilled Okocim drafts that creep up on you due to an impressive 5.7% alcohol content, and Zywiec, one of the all-time great session beers if you can find it. Polish music abounds, and even the TV’s are tuned to Polish cable. A polished black lacquer bar and red, green, and yellow lights are throwbacks to the disco era, and the mood is right for several fruit-tini concoctions. A house favorite: the raspberrytini. 6292 W. Addison between Mobile and Melvina (773-205-5574). Bus: 56, 152  60641. (24 hrs). Sat-Fri 12pm-2am; Average beer: $3.50.

 La Nueva Posada Lounge

 A gi-normous Diego Rivera-style mural covers an entire wall, with the name of the bar in florid script, which translates, loosely, as “new inn.” This place ain’t exactly new, but it’s spirited, with loud, brassy Mexican music on the jukebox, pictures of American legends like Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, and Roberto Clemente on the walls, and (intriguingly) tambourines and morrocas behind the bar for impromptu jam sessions. Buds are cheap ($2) and you can upgrade to Modelo or Corona for an extra dollar. 4059 W. Armitage Ave. (773-227-1816) Jackson Bus #126 to Pulaski. Pulaski Bus #53 to Armitage (24 hrs), Sat–Sun 11am–2am; Average beer: $2.

 Lost and Found

 With its gigantic metal chandeliers, leaded glass cabinetry, and old-time lever-operated cash register, this bar has a turn-of-the-century feel (the one before last) that may just make you feel a little unstuck in time (“Lost,” if you like). What you’ll “find” on the other hand are generously poured $5 mixed drinks, $3 bottled domestic beer (no drafts available) and friendly people (sometimes overly friendly, if you are a woman). 3058 W. Irving Park (773-463-7599). El: Brown to Irving Park CTA; Irving Park Express Bus #CX80 to Sacramento (24 hrs), Mon-Sun 7pm–2am; Average beer: $3.

 Mickey’s Grill & Pub

 You could sink a root easily in this unpretentious, friendly pub where the regulars actually seem to enjoy one another’s company, the tap offerings are adequate, and the Black and Sam’s (Guinness and Sam Adams Boston Lager) are very refreshing, sort of like Arnold Palmers with alcohol. Eight televisions (tuned to Cubs and Sox games – that’s refreshing, too) are placed all around, and muted, but you couldn’t hear them above the spirited din of people having a good time, anyway. Tuesdays, you can bring your own steak, and they’ll cook it for you and throw in a salad and fries for three bucks. 2831 N. Broadway (773-929-2830). Madison Bus #20 to Dearborn, Clark Bus #22 to Diversey and Clark/Broadway (24 hrs), Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 1am–3am; Average beer: $3.

 Mike & John’s Sports Lounge

 A giant boar’s head mounted on a wall behind the bar at this typical dime-a-dozen juke joint surveys the scene with a dispassionate, almost kindly gaze, and a boozy regular claims that the ass end of the animal is sticking out onto Linder Avenue. We can’t claim there’s any truth to that, but we did enjoy settling into a bucket of light but rather astringent Sol beer (5 for $15) and decried the lack of seasonal drafts. Make sure to ask for a frosty mug from a hulking old fridge that looks like the one your grandma used to have. 5456 W. Fullerton between Altgeld and Belden (773-745-0695). Bus: 56, 74, 85  60639. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 10am–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

 Mike’s Ale House

 What’s in a name? If “ale” is part of your name, you’d better stock up on a few decent ones. That’s our advice for Mike’s, although we enjoyed our draft of Three Floyds Alpha King ($6), and the Goose Island is pretty okay, too. Hopheads beware – this is not a mecca for tap brews, but if you’re looking for a sizable burger, there are 10 varieties to choose from. If wings are your thing, there are 8 varieties, including some tasty barbecue bacon cheddar wings topped with tortilla chips. Now, if they could just add that same kind of variety to the ale selection, we’d happily enjoy our tater tots in this bright, airy bar and grill. After all, who doesn’t love tater tots? The bottled beer selection is growing, however, which is good to see – they’re up to about 20 now. 5134 W. Irving Park Rd between LeClaire and Laramie (773-685-2260). Bus: 126, 91, 80. 60641. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $5.

 Mrs. Park’s Tavern

No, Virginia, there is no Mrs. Park at this Hilton bar. No tasty Chicago lore, no riveting story, just a made-up marketing moniker, not unlike the sister Hilton Towers property further south that can boast of no authentic Kitty O’Shea. What Mrs. Park’s Tavern does offer is star-themed décor (sumptuously padded barstools, lampshades, menus) and a warm, earth-toned comfort zone with recessed televisions, elegant sculpture, and absolutely terrific appetizers to go along with ritzy and expertly prepared glam cocktails and an $11 martini that’ll make you want to book a room. Best bets: the spinach/artichoke dip or the yogurt/wasabi dip with veggies and a Manhattan. 198 E. Delaware St between Michigan Ave and Mies van der Rohe pkwy (312-664-1100) Bus 146  60611 M-Th 6:30am-11pm; F-S 6:30 am-12am; Sun 12pm-11pm; Average beer $4.25


 This rustic, knotty pine joint has such a high degree of redneck patriotism on display that it not only has two large American flags up, but a “Boycott France” sign, too. You’d half expect them to serve “freedom fries,” but don’t look for any eats here. It’s pretty much a shot and beer venue, with domestic bottles for $2.50, imports for $3. Specialty drinks are not a specialty, but the bartender aims to please, so don’t be shy about asking. An unusual touch? An old-fashioned phone booth with a light that goes on when you open the door. Better bring your cell phone, though, as the phone itself is out of service. 7718 W. Addison between Overhill and Ozark (773-625-8466). Bus: 20, CX49, 152 60639. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

 My Place

 A joint with a neon martini glass in the window bespeaks of a dark, borderline seedy dive, but this escape hatch has a few things to recommend it. For one thing, the regulars are pretty colorful, including the self-proclaimed Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Mike, Sam, and Bob) who offer up some boozy foolosophy and comedy, the drafts are a reasonable $2 each, and on occasion you can catch the floor show of the 50-something bartender making out with her boyfriend – at least we think that’s her boyfriend. If you get tired of watching that, there’s a four-foot wingspan airplane suspended from the ceiling on fishing line. 2212 W. Touhy Ave between Bell Ave and Oakley Ave (773-262-3838) Bus 22, 290 (24 hrs) 60645 Sun-Fri 11am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer: $2.00

 Nick’s Pub

 You can’t judge a bar by its chipped glass brick veneer. Inside what seems like a total dive you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Hemingway’s veritable clean well-lighted place. There’s even a regular from Derry, Ireland who could pass for Papa chatting amiably up until a barkeep in a cowgirl getup graciously called his wife to pick him up. Rows of old men in flannel shirts huddle around Old Styles, while younger dudes play video games and foosball. Choose from 8 drafts (the usual stuff) or sample a tall and damn fine Bloody Mary ($6). 6689 N. Oliphant between Oshkosh and Oxford (773-631-0020) Metra Union Pacific NW line to Edison Park, walk one block 60631. Mon-Sat 11am – 2am; Sat 11am-3am. Average beer: $3.


 The current Bears season is best expressed by a poster of a 3-year-old wearing a Bears sweater and flipping the bird in this conversation-friendly “oasis” in Rogers Park. Swinging saloon doors open into a vast room where a miniature Dale Earnhardt, Jr. #8 car revolves interminably in a slow orbit over the Formica bar and pretzel rods in big bowls on the bar beckon the adventurous. You can even tuck a pint to go and a pack of cigs into your coat like contraband and walk a block or so to Giordano’s to pick up your pizza. 6809 N. Sheridan Road between Pratt Ave and Farwell Ave (773-973-7788) Bus 147, 155   60626. (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 3pm-2am; Sat 3pm-3am; Average beer $3.00 

 O’Malley’s Pub

 An Old Style sign in front? That’s a good sign. And ½-pints to go? That’s a boozer’s paradise! Mix that in with a bartender who not only seems to know the regulars, but who also knows what they want to drink, and you’ve got a level of comfort and goodwill that makes for an excellent outing, as long as you’re not getting too fancy with the expectations. A nod to the Irish name comes in the form of green walls and a neon shamrock – and that’s it. In other words, Irish so authentic it doesn’t have to advertise it so much. If you ask, they’ll even set you up with a chilled mug. 3215 N. Harlem between Belmont and School (773-282-5300). Bus: 56, 77 60639. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.

Our Place

 “Smokers Welcome.” Now there’s a sign you don’t see too often these days, and come the first of the year, who knows? It may go the way of the longhairs that used to congregate at this neighborhood establishment when its doors first opened during the Summer of Love. 40 years later, Our Place is under the management of the previous owner’s daughter, Cindy. Regulars jam the 30-stool bar or shoot stick in the cool quiet of the afternoon. There are no draft beers, but a nice selection of 21 bottles, and any song you can conjure in your wildest drunken dreams can probably be found on the online juke. 3534 W. Belmont between Drake and Central Park (773-588-4390). Bus: 56, 77  60618. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.75.


 Regulars call this place Roger’s, because Roger Patrick’s family has run it for the past 56 years. It’s clean and comfortable with that “lived-in” feel that South Side joints seem to have. Don’t look for flat screens or any of that yuppie nonsense. Instead, there are a couple of thick, blocky 19”screens, one placed on a piano that no longer gets played much. There’s an actual brick from Old Comiskey Park on display, and pics of happy-looking regulars grinning around the World Series trophy – something it’s doubtful you’ll ever see on the North Side. Look for Chris Isaak, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, Artie Shaw, and Keith Whitley on the old-time jukebox. There’s no artifice here – even the clock is set to the actual time, not “bar” time. 6296 W. Archer Ave between Mobile Ave and Merrimac Ave  (773-581-4036) Bus 29, 62  60638.  (24 hrs). Sun-Sat 11am-2am; Average beer $1.50 


 Great tankards of German brew and schnitzel at a long table of ruddy-faced celebrants may be just the ticket for those who rue the end of Oktoberfest. At Prost! (A German toast to your health) you can soak up three kinds of Spaten on tap (the official Oktoberfest beer of Munich), or try a Hofbrau (Oktoberfest or Original flavor), or for the less adventurous, a nice bottle of Beck’s. The truly courageous can opt for a 2-liter glass boot of beer for around $25, which your friends can take hits from like it’s a giant bong. Excellent, authentic German cuisine accompanies the brew. There’s even some rousing German numbers on the jukebox.  2566 N. Lincoln Ave between Halsted and Fullerton (773-880-9900) Bus 56, 9, 11  60614. (24 hrs).Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-2am; Mon-Thurs 5pm-2am; Fri 5pm-3am; Average beer: $6 

Ray’s Hideout Inn

 Picture a large rectangular bar with stools placed haphazardly all around it. Patrons are guzzling down Hamm’s beer and taking shots of Old Grand Dad. It’s the middle of the day, and a fellow with flushed cheeks and an air of delight about him shouts out, repeatedly, “A cowboy’s life is the fucking life for me!” He is roundly ignored. Nearby, a boozy couple slow dances to oldies on the jukebox. The Twilight Zone? Boilermaker Heaven? Whatever it is, it’s a uniquely Chicago neighborhood bar scene, bathed in neon beer signs. Maybe the strangest part is, it looks like an ordinary Chicago house on the outside. 2733 N. Marmora between Schubert and Diversey (773-622-0541) Bus 20, 91 (24hrs)  60639. Mon-Sat 11am–2am; Sat 11am-3am. Average beer: $2.


 Jock hangout or eclectic short-order haven with booze? It’s a tough call, but there’s nothing else tough about this freewheeling establishment run by a former jock nicknamed “Rabbit” (we hear he was pretty fast). Walls are virtually covered with candids of the likes of Sinata, Gable, and The Duke, as well as Papa Bear Halas, Ditka, Payton, and other old-timers we don’t even recognize (maybe the “Galloping Ghost” is up there, too). For those wishing to munch on Italian beef sandwiches, BLTs, and an outstanding and highly recommended special of a 1-2 lb. belt-buster burger with crispy fries and an Old Style for $6.25, there’s a separate room with tables, a fake slot machine, and plenty of rabbit cartoons to give the place some “atmosphere.” 4945 W. Foster Ave between Elston Ave and LaPorte Ave (773-736-5766) Bus 146, 78  60630.  (24 hrs). Mon-Fri 10am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-2am; Average beer $3.00 

 Ricky G’s

 The beer garden may be closed due to the cold, but you’ll find plenty of warmth in the friendly clientele at this brick corner bar – and there’s a decent bottled beer selection: 13 domestics and 9 imports (no drafts). One patron claims that if you park at the Baker’s Square private lot across the street and you get towed, all you have to do is slip into the restaurant, order a slice of pie, and then feign incredulity: “Dude, where’s my car?” Baker’s Square will pick up the price of the tow. Serious steel darters from the Windy City Dart League like to hang here, where playing pool is free, and the jukebox offers up a serviceable selection of tunes.7121 N. Western between Fitch and Estes (773-764-0322) Bus: 81, 49B  (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 11:30am-2am; pm; Sat 11:30am-3am; Average beer: $3.

 Rio Bravo

 There may be a story behind all those breast mugs behind the bar, but frankly, we’re here for the Cazadores tequila ($5). Bartender Mike recommends it, and since he has been the bartender/owner for 27 years, we figure he must know a good drink, even if his taste in décor is questionable. There’s also a worn rug hanging on a wall painted with dogs playing pool. If you’re looking for semi-dumpy kitsch and good value for your drinking dollar, this place (named after the Texas/Mexico river not the John Wayne movie) is all right. Order a margarita, though, and you’ll probably be stared down. 4311 W. North Ave. (773-342-9687). North Ave. Bus #72 Westbound to Kostner (24hrs). Sat-Sun 11am-2am; Average beer $2.


 A plethora of drafts – and some pretty decent pours to be found, too, including the big and malty Fat Tire, Blue Moon, Harp, Guinness, Smithwick’s, Stella, Hacker-Pschorr, and right in season –the autumnal and surprisingly potent Woodchuck hard cider. With 8 TVs inevitably tuned to Bears, Cubs, and the Fighting Illini, you’re waist-deep in jock country here. Test your sports knowledge in the Tuesday night trivia contest, when pints are priced at $3.75, or throw a sports-themed party in the 10 TV (count-‘em) back room. The feel-good food is perfect hangover fare -- crispy reuben rolls, deep-fried mac-and-cheese bites. or try an eye-opener with a panini or quesadilla on Saturday and Sunday from 11-2. 3258 N. Southport between School and Melrose (773-528-8226). Bus: 56, 8, 77, 60657. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 5pm-2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am-2am Average beer: $4.50.


 Maybe when it went by the more prosaic name of “The Captain’s Deck” this place featured nautical décor and lively pirate types cavorted, but since it’s now called Siblings, the only decorative touches are mirrored beer signs and the conversation drifts to the pedestrian (four grown men arguing about how to spell “Pontiac” for example) and off-color jokes abound. We were told by one boozy old wit that before it was called The Captain’s Deck 25 years ago, it was “Richard Cranium’s” (Dick Head, get it?) So it may not be the classiest place around – but the domestic beer is cold and cheap, seating is always available, and if you know some good filthy jokes, they’d go over like gangbusters here. 2827 W. Howard St between Francisco Ave and California Ave (773-581-4036) CTA Red Line to Howard St, Bus 97  60645 (24 hrs) Sun-Fri 11am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer $1.75 


 With its Z-brick walls and cast iron radiators providing some good Chicago-style heat and a decent-enough pool table over there, Syrena’s has the feel of your best Ukrainian bud’s  basement lounge. Kick back and enjoy a draft “zimne piwo” for under two bucks while sitting at the highly lacquered bar, play some tunes on the digital jukebox, enjoy the boat pictures on the back wall, or just soak up the floor show of an extremely diligent bartender who’s busily cleaning everything in sight – it’s an ideal night out for clean-freaks of every stripe. 4276 S. Archer Ave between 42nd Place and 43rd St (773-927-0606) Bus 62, 52   60632  (24 hrs). Sun-Sat 7am-2am; Average beer $1.75 

 Ted’s Northwest Liquors

 “High art” redefined -- if your idea of great art is a Venus De Milo decanter filled with booze or porcelain mandolins and fiddles brimming with bourbon, you might fit in pretty well at this North Side dive. Said objets d’arts are out of reach of customers behind the bar, as is the old-time cigarette machine that requires 8 bucks per pack. There are plenty of seats along a pitted and burn-marked bar, and you can imagine the hard-luck tales spun here over the years from grizzled patrons hunching over their $2 drafts amid the neon signs and impossibly come-hither chicks on the beer posters. 5223 W. Addison between Laramie and Lockwood (773-777-5175). Bus: 60 to Clinton; Clinton Blue Line to Addison, Bus 152 to Laramie 60641. (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 9am-2am; Sat 9am-3am; Average beer: $2.

 Ted’s Place

 When asked if he was the eponymous figure for whom the bar was named, the grizzled barkeep with the gray beard and ponytail that Tom Wolfe might describe as “sublimely low rent,” arched a brow and muttered, “Depends on who’s asking,” in a Polish accent as thick as a Gdansk freighter. A handful of patrons bellying up to the formica bar guffawed constantly at the Polish TV show, and “clever” signs abound, including this gem: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’d like to put my penis in you.” 5030 S. Archer Ave between Komensky Ave and Karlov Ave (773-735-1819) Bus 60, 94, 62 60632.  (24 hrs). Sun—Fri 12pm—2am, Sat 12pm—3am; Average beer $2.50

 The Big Downtown

 “Chicago’s Best Bloody Mary”. As Dizzy Dean said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.” And The Big Downtown can. Said drink comes with a theatrical garnish of a leafy stalk of celery, pickled asparagus spear and haricot vert, a jumbo olive, and a sweet gherkin. The rim is powdered with celery salt, and the secret spicy tomato mix blends nicely with top-shelf vodka. Martinis are tasty, too, but could be shaken longer to add more chill, Décor is reminiscent of a classy train dining car, with dark wood, crimson, crisp white linens, and subdued lighting illuminating black-and-white photos of Chicago jazz and blues musicians. 124 S. Wabash Ave. (312-917-7399). Red Line to Monroe/State  (24 hrs), Sun–Fri 6:30am–2am; Sat 1am–3am; Average beer: $6.25.

 The Original Dugan’s

 A sign near the front is emblazoned with shamrocks, and the legend reads: “Drink like a champion today.” How could you not want to do such a thing with such heartfelt encouragement? With 9 drafts available, a comfortable U-shaped bar, and a popcorn machine to keep you thirsty, you’ll find it easy to do just that – and if you happen to be here during a Bears game, you might find free eats available. A rogue trivia contest is rumored to take place on certain Fridays as well. 6051 N. Milwaukee between Peterson and Elston (773-467-5555) Bus 36, 81, 270   60646. (24 hrs). Sun-Fri 11zm-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer $2.50 

 The Union

 If Caesar likes you, feel free to come in – he’s an extremely vigilant dog at the door of this sports-themed establishment that has freaked out a few would-be customers, but we’re brave, and Caesar turned out to be cool. It’s all exposed brick and old, old wood here, and classic fare for sports fans that is quite tasty: sandwiches, wings, and onion rings. Don’t miss the spread on “Soul Food Wednesdays.” You can check out whatever team happens to be playing on the  satellite big screen or a bunch of other smaller TVs while quaffing beer (36 bottles and 10 drafts). It’s still warm enough to hang out in a very spacious and accommodating beer garden, too, as long as Caesar approves. 2858 N. Halsted between Wolfram and George (773-755-9870) Bus 56, 8   60657.  (24 hrs).Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-2am; Mon-Thurs 5pm-2am; Fri 5pm-3am; Average beer: $6 

 Trading Post

 Welcome to the Nut House – order up a buck’s worth of hot nuts from the stylized “nut hut” behind the bar, and watch as some rather assertive squirrels enter the back door to receive your offerings. While you’re getting a kick out of the squirrels, you can tank down $3 domestics and $4 hale and hearty mixed drinks. If you’ve worked up some courage after a few of these, ask the bartender about that glass-enclosed 1873 Winchester behind the bar or those 25 ceramic steins hanging up. Some kind of “shooter match” perhaps? (Make ours a Hot Damn Schnapps.) If you’re here on a good day, maybe the owner will serve up some of her special Texas-style chili or tender and juicy homemade chicken. 4225 W. Fullerton between Tripp and Keeler (773-489-2826). Bus: 56, 82, 74,  60639. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 9am–12am; Sat 9am–12am; Average beer: $3.


 A bar named for the way St. Patrick taught about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by using a shamrock? Not quite – but some things come in threes here in this unapologetically Irish public house. For example, there are three levels and three bars at which to imbibe while munching on standard bar fare – mozzarella sticks, saucy wings, quesadillas and pizza. What’s best is the reasonably priced Guinness ($3 a pull) in a location that could easily gouge you an extra couple bucks. We appreciate that. We’ll have more. Smokers be warned – this place is smokeless throughout. 2721 N. Halsted between Schubert and Diversey (773-880-9293) Bus: 56, 8  60614. (24 hrs). Mon-Fri 5pm-1:30am; Sat 11am-3am; Sun 6am-12am; Average beer: $3.00.

 Twilight Lounge

 Submitted for your approval – a Northwest Side Polish bar and hangout where the Okocim beer runs as cold as the luck of the Polish boozers who take their chances on an infernal Lotto machine that seems to mock their efforts with a crooked display of past scratch-off winners posted nearby – you’ve just entered the Twilight Lounge. Dropped lights, a touch-tunes jukebox, and three flat-screen TVs add a touch of class, but the overall impression is one of nondescript anonymity, another urban island among many. 4644 N. Central Ave between Wilson Ave and Eastwood Ave (773-777-3090) 60630  Bus 56, 81W (24 hrs) Sun-Fri 11am-2am; Sat 11am-3am; Average beer: $2.25

 Village Tavern

 For a place as modest as the Village, there's a decent selection of pilsners on tap, including Urquell, Stella Artois, and Dab – for only a 25-cent up-charge from the $2.50 domestic price. There’s also a velvety smooth Guinness pour to be had, plus (move over, Bud) the King of Danish beers, Carlsberg. If the beers aren’t enough of a draw, there’s usually a lively and friendly crowd bellying up to quaff a few while the Sox or Cubs battle it out on 5 TVs, and the usual beer posters and neon signage everywhere.6912 W. Belmont between New England and Newland (773-736-9050). Bus: 151, 77  60634. (24 hrs). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Average beer: $2.50.