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Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

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Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby strangeone on Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:07 pm

Since the word 'shithole' has come up recently, got me to thinkin' of my favorite dingy, nasty, drinking dumps in and around Chicago.

I'll offer up one of my go-to's : Wrong's in Beverly. This place has it all: dingy, fucked up atmosphere, old fucked up TV's, usually bottle beer only, too lazy to keep the tappers clean & going, good pool table with some of the best shooters on the SW side, psycho dames you best steer clear of, cast of characters.......fuck I could go on..........

And one of the best and now defunct: Mr. C's in Cicero. Open 24 hours - at 7 am, no money on the bar until 8 am while they cleaned up. Garage ambience, 3 pool tables, best shooters again on the SW side, could go to $100 a game easy. Mind your pool etiquette or get yer teeth knocked out. Rough fuckin' crowd, whores and all. Finally closed it down after some poor fucker got stabbed to death just outside the front door. Cicero in the old days was quite a town.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Janeway on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:55 am

carol's pub. rip. haha but you can look up stories about the wild times that used to be had there.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby scrotescape on Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:49 am

Would Ronny's count, technically?
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby strangeone on Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:03 am

Another thing about Mr. C's, they had a Pac-Man and later a Ms. Pac-man machine. If you got the high score, you got free drinks on the house the rest of the evening, I did it twice on the Ms. Pac-Man. Tanq & Tonics galore ! So cool.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:47 am

Are we basically talking any dive bar, or is there a subset category of shithole?

My favorite dive of all-time was called Zack's or Zak's and was located between North Ave and Milwaukee Ave on Honore (I think). It had your typical setup of front room and back room. In the front you had the creepy owner there most nights, some of which he'd sing karaoke behind the bar. In the back bands often set-up and played on the floor - mostly punk rock and rockabilly. I frequented this place a lot in the mid-late 90s alongside many other mostly shithole bars in the area (Gold Star, Rainbo, Sweet Alice, Inner Town, Lava Lounge). We'd usually hit most of all of these on a Friday or Saturday night in roughly that order.

Simon's in Andersonville is always a classic. Divey but maybe not a straight-up shithole. A couple of doors down there is a pool table at Farragut's, which is also okay.

I miss the old Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center. That was probably the best full-on shithole I can think of. Best jukebox and I wanna say $2.50 Guinness. The men's bathroom was Ronny's-level gross. Always a shit-clogged toilet and smelled worse. Piss all over the floor. Empty kegs as seats.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby total_douche on Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:21 am

Just hit up the Donald's Twitter; he'll give you the best list of anything humanity ever made.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:26 am

Does anyone remember a bar up north (Uptown/Edgewater/Andersonville) that was a 4am bar that had a southern/classic rock cover band that always played (I think they were behind the bar even) on Friday or Saturday nights, LATE?

We'd go to this one right as other bars were shutting down or if Green Mill was too full or we just wanted a change.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby yard barf on Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:55 am

Tommy wrote:Does anyone remember a bar up north (Uptown/Edgewater/Andersonville) that was a 4am bar that had a southern/classic rock cover band that always played (I think they were behind the bar even) on Friday or Saturday nights, LATE?

We'd go to this one right as other bars were shutting down or if Green Mill was too full or we just wanted a change.


Lakeside Lounge on Broadway? That place was great. The band was fantastic too. I miss that bar. I used to pop in there all the time.

The Reader did a feature on the band, ages ago:

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/p ... oid=899049

Tommy wrote:I miss the old Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center. That was probably the best full-on shithole I can think of. Best jukebox and I wanna say $2.50 Guinness. The men's bathroom was Ronny's-level gross. Always a shit-clogged toilet and smelled worse. Piss all over the floor. Empty kegs as seats.


That place was great, and a total shithole, back in the day. I remember sitting at the bar and ordering a pint of beer. I took a sip and put it down on the bar and watched the beer slowly go down in the glass. I turned the glass around saw that a huge chunk of glass was broken out of it. The beer was just pouring out onto the bar. I broke up with a girl there once, and she went berserk.

The "Get Me High," in Wicker Park used to be an incredible shithole: Pitch black inside, and the door had to be buzzed to let you in.
Last edited by yard barf on Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby eliya on Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:07 pm

Goldie's on Lincoln and Berenice (or Byron) was my favorite place. I haven't been there in a while and I heard it changed.

Is Ten Cat a dive bar? That place is great.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby yard barf on Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:12 pm

eliya wrote:Is Ten Cat a dive bar? That place is great.

Such a wonderful bar. Maybe the best in the city. I brought a friend in there once, and after a couple drinks, he looked around and said, "I could die here."

"The Levee" in Hermosa is cleaned up a bit now, but still charmingly bleak.

Is the "Montrose saloon" still kicking?
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Janeway on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:13 pm

yeah tommy, you’re talking bout carol’s
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:20 pm

Janeway wrote:yeah tommy, you’re talking bout carol’s


Nope. Been to Carol's more times than I can count. Barely avoiding fights. Lakeview Lounge was the correct answer.

Janeway - read that article Yard Barf posted. It's pretty good. Totally what I was talking about.
Last edited by Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby jeff_fox on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:23 pm

Fuck Carol's. Fucking shithole full of racist assholes. Glad it's dead.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:25 pm

yard barf wrote:"The Levee" in Hermosa is cleaned up a bit now, but still charmingly bleak.

Bleak is right! That's fairly close to me. Super close to Jim Kamp. Surprisingly big in there with the pool table room. Super interesting physical bar. Crazy mix of people. The last time I was there the owner kept grilling us about the bar. Like he wanted more similar patrons. I believe they are a 4 am joint.

yard barf wrote:Is the "Montrose saloon" still kicking?

They shut down and remodeled somewhat. I think it's gone again. They always had the pool table on that jack with wheels.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby bill bixby on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:55 pm

Someone mentioned earlier in this thread, but I have also been to "Wrongs" on 100th & Western after hitting another shit-hole named Harte's (border of Chicago and Evergreen Park at 99th & Western)..

At Wrong's, I encountered a surly bartender who appeared (at least!) 8 months pregnant... When I made conversation of her impending motherhood, she also mentioned that that very same day was her birthday and perhaps her Boss would let her leave her shift a bit early that night to celebrate... I have never been so depressed in my life...

The shit-hole I came to add is "Richard's", on Grand.... For some reason, Chicagoans are still permitted to smoke (?) there, in 2018.... They serve hard-boiled eggs on little special holders...
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby RSMurphy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:05 pm

Tommy wrote:I miss the old Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center. That was probably the best full-on shithole I can think of. Best jukebox and I wanna say $2.50 Guinness. The men's bathroom was Ronny's-level gross. Always a shit-clogged toilet and smelled worse. Piss all over the floor. Empty kegs as seats.


$2 bloody marys. best dive bar. best jukebox: lake of dracula, the jesus lizard, esquivel, mono men...

jeff_fox wrote:Fuck Carol's. Fucking shithole full of racist assholes. Glad it's dead.


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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby Tommy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:06 pm

bill bixby wrote:The shit-hole I came to add is "Richard's", on Grand.... For some reason, Chicagoans are still permitted to smoke (?) there, in 2018...


I avoid it for this very reason whenever I'm in the area. They are either somehow milking the "private club" angle or just paying the fines. Marsupialized goes there sometimes.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby eliya on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:51 pm

Never been to Carol's but is it actually closed? I drive by there often and I thought it's still active.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby RSMurphy on Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:58 pm

^ haunted by the ghosts of fratbros-and-meatheads-and-trixies past. I really disliked that place. Always felt like I was going to get in a rumble at any second. Never understood its supposed charms. Just like the Lincoln Restaurant. That place wasn't very welcoming either, and their food was shit.
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Re: Best 'shithole' dive bars in Chicagoland

Postby El Protoolio on Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:02 pm

I always hated Carols. The scooter crowd I used to ride with 14 years ago or so through an ex girlfriend went there all the time and I fucking hated it. But they also had some good dives on their list like

Underbar when it was under the Western overpass. Try that place on a Tuesday night at 2 am in 2005. What a shithole. Darts and karoroke too.

Hidden Cove. One of the last truly shitty shitholes. It hasn’t changed in decades.

There used to be a liquor store with a shitty taproom across the street from that second floor bowling alley up on Lincoln and Western that burned down a few years ago. I think it’s just called “Sports Bar” now with new owners. It’s been over ten years since I was there. It’s gotta still be a dive.

Candelite and the Mark II both on Western just south of Howard and right next door to each other. I love those places they’re so shitty. Don’t ever get a Manhattan at Mark II. They’re stupid expensive for some reason.

Come to think of it the far north and northwest sides still have a large number of great old shitty dives. Even as far north as Skokie and Evanston there’s a few old dives stuck in a time warp and even a supper club called Charcoal Oven.

Christina’s Place up on north Kedzie.

There’s also J&M Tap in the Ukrainian Village. I was just there a few months ago. Still a dive.

Nilda’s Place, also in the Ukrainian Village. Used to be a pretty hardcore “local” place if you know what I mean.

Richard’s Bar of course on Grand and Milwaukee. The best.

South Loop Club in the South Loop by Columbia College.

That place on Clark st at Belmont across from where Dunkin Donuts used to be. L & L ?

None of these places will ever fill the void of Club Foot on Augusta. That was hands down the best god damned bar in the city, ever.

Also I have to mention Cal’s in the south loop even though it’s long gone. Also Billy Goat on Lower Michigan. It’s still there and it still looks like 1978 inside.
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