Do your plans tonight involve meeting a former coworker you haven’t had a real conversation with in a few months? Maybe a college friend who recently quit her job and suddenly wants to catch up? Or maybe someone you swiped right on last night?
Your best move for navigating any of these slightly tricky situations is to go to a bar that serves food. It’s the ideal noncommittal setup that allows you to meet for a drink, and if that’s all the time you need, be on your merry way without any awkwardness. If you end up having a better time than you expected, this solution also ensures you won’t ruin the good vibes. Here's where to grab a drink that also has you covered on the food.
English pub culture is the best kind of drinking culture, and since that’s half the concept of Pub Royale, you’re already off to a good start. The other half here is Indian-inspired food, which means there are also plenty of great eats. You can get your own personal sandwich like the chicken tikka roll, or, if you're really hitting it off with your drinks partner, share some palak paneer.
Consistently one of our go-to spots in Wicker when we’re looking to hang over cocktails, possibly some food, and aren’t worried about anything on TV, because there aren't any. Bangers and Lace is cool but not so cool that you feel out of place, and we’re all about striking that happy medium between party bar and getting judged on your basic drink order.
Irish bars are a great place to pop in and grab a drink. They're casual, easy-going, and don't require much commitment. But not all Irish bars serve Athenian Room food. In fact, only one bar in the world serves Athenian Room food, and it's the bar connected to Athenian Room. That alone makes Glascott's a great place to grab a drink and dabble in a chicken kalamata if you want.
Moneygun is definitely a cocktail bar first, but there's also a solid food menu because that’s what happens when you drink - you get hungry. This place is hiding next to the highway and under the green line tracks on Lake St., so don’t make the mistake of overlooking it. There’s nothing wrong with a prime rib sandwich and giardiniera if you’re not in a hurry to leave.
Have a friend or co-worker who's really into beer? Forbidden Root is the move. This brewpub makes their own beers, ranging from quality IPA's to more interesting concoctions like an alcoholic root beer or chili pepper infused stout. The beauty of the menu here is there are actually small bar snacks in the $5-$8 range if you're looking to graze and don't want to commit to a half *ss fried calamari appetizer. Going all out with a burger is also a good idea.
Cold Storage shouldn't only come to mind for food. It's really just a bar that happens to serve oysters and other seafood small plates. The high-top tables and oyster bar itself are ideal for grabbing a drinks, and of course you want oysters if you're staying for a bit.
The ground level of Soho House that’s open to the public is quite the versatile space. It's ideal for hanging out over coffee or business meetings during the day, and cocktails and catch-ups at night. Hell, more people drink cocktails here on a weekday than any other place we can think of. The space is beautiful, and it's easy to get comfortable or get out fast if you need.
Analogue looks and feels like a bar, so it's a great place to grab a drink. In fact, the first time we came here we assumed no way could they serve good food. But the joke was on us, because Analogue isn't f*cking around with their Cajun cuisine. Any fried chicken sandwich that needs a knife to hold it together is the kind of chicken sandwich you need.
Meet in the front part of Hopleaf and get lost in their endless beer menu for a drink or two. Things going well? You bonding over beers? Order something to eat that goes above and beyond typical bar food. The cashew butter and fig jam takes a childhood favorite PB&J to the next level, and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
It's easy for 25 Degrees to get lost in the shuffle. They have a couple TV's, but it's not the go-to spot for watching a game. There is an open garage door and a few tables outside, but it's not the kind of place you think about for an outdoor situation. And while it's kind of just there, it's also the perfect Gold Coast spot for a casual drink. Add in the craft-your-own-burger menu with great toppings and it should be obvious why 25 Degrees is here.
Want to sit at the bar? Do it. Looking to lounge a bit on some comfortable chairs and couches? Presidio can offer you that too. In fact, you might as well be comfortable when you finally go through with meeting your old co-worker you don't like for drinks. You might not want to be friends anymore, but at least you'll like the cocktails and food.
Remember when you travelled to Europe in college or spent a semester abroad? Yeah, that was fake life. The fact you could drink eight days a week and stay in hostels with other young people looking to do the same meant there was always something to do. Well, the Freehand Hotel is trying to make hostels cool in the U.S., and the bar inside, Broken Shaker, is doing a great job all around with the food and drinks.
If whoever you’re supposed to meet doesn’t want to do drinks at Billy Sunday, then you don’t want to be meeting that person for drinks. Simple as that. The bartenders here are like angels doing god's work - aka helping the rest of us get buzzed. Don't call them mixologists, that's a dumb term.
Meeting a friend or old co-worker for a catch-up? Grab drinks on the main floor at Barrelhouse Flat. Looking for a more intimate space to talk with a date? Head upstairs to the more quiet, lounge-like space. Either way, transition your way into food if that's the way things are headed. No need to leave and head to a bad Lincoln Park restaurant nearby.
Lone Wolf is a great bar on its own, there’s no doubt about that. It’s our go-to spot for a drink in the West Loop whether that’s all you’re looking for or your waiting for a table at Au Cheval next door. They also started selling their own food, which mainly revolves around a couple different hot dog and french fry options. And not much sounds better than a Chicago dog and cheese fries over drinks.