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The Chicago dive bar…do reviews really matter?

Fun is just moments away.
Fun is just moments away.
Runtime DNA

Chicago is a city that loves its alcohol, evident by the variety of bars, taverns, and lounges available throughout its streets. And, of course, this drinking landscape is dotted with worn-down, no-frills, and most importantly, cheap, dive bars.

Pick any dive bar that you may have passed a thousand times without entering. Does the unexpected lie behind the vintage facade? Is a fun time just waiting for the intrepid drinker? As a veteran of alcohol consumption, long past 21 years old, is there anything that can entice you to venture under the plastic Old Style sign hanging over its entrance, through the weathered wood door, and across the cracked, discolored tiled floor to the waiting bartender? After years of being a bar patron I can say “no.”

Visual that dive bar once again. Without entering the local haunt, I can describe it; dimly lit, a pool table in the back, cheap domestic beer, shot specials, bags of chips and/or pretzels for sale, crotchety locals nursing a drink while basically keeping to themselves, at least one boisterous local, intermittently cheering and complaining about the Cubs/Sox/Bears/Bulls/Hawks as the team fails/succeeds on the mounted television, while peppering his exclamations with comments about the mayor or president, photos behind the bar of loyal customers decked out in ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirts or Santa hats, beer advertisements intermingled with sports banner/posters/pennants on paneled walls, etc. Go in and see how many of these attributes ring true.

Most likely reviews really do not motivate potential patrons to visit these unpretentious establishments. Chicago is loaded with dive bars. Odds are if the desire arises for a budget drink, or the need to catch the end of the Bears-Vikings game, or to shoot a game of billiards…any dive bar will do. But if you really are uncertain, print this article and give it a quick scan as you stand under the warm glow of that Old Style sign. Dive bars are part of the American culture, that hopefully will still be a drinking option generations from now, but when it really comes down to it, they’re kind of like the Golden Arches…pretty much all the same no matter where you go.