Chicago has one of the largest gay populations in the country with a large selection of gay bars, boutiques, clubs, restaurants, publications and events. If you’re looking for the best of the best gay bars, well, we did our “best” to choose five places that will appeal to a variety of different tastes and styles. Be sure to check out the “bonus” section for a few spots that are definitely worth the $10 cab ride.
954 West Belmont
One of the oldest gay clubs in the city, Berlin first opened its doors in 1983 and has developed one of the most loyal followings a club has ever seen in Chicago. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do, this north side nightclub goes above and beyond to welcome all.
Open seven days a week until 4 a.m. (Saturday until 5 a.m.), Berlin features the best Deejays and Veejays the city has to offer from Greg Haus and “DJ Benz” to veteran and resident DJ, “DJ Larissa” and Heather Doble. Come early enough (around 10 p.m.) and you can score a spot at the main bar or the booth in front (great for people watching) or stake your claim near one of the small stages in the middle of the room or along the mirrored walls. The dance floor gets packed around midnight, but don’t worry, although small, Berlin has a total of three bars to choose from. They offer a wide variety of top shelf liquors, a large variety of beers and wines and the bartenders can whip up everything from the obscure to the trendy to the average.
Specials range from $5.00 Long Island Pints & $2.75 Bud Light Bottles on Tuesdays to $2.00 Rolling Rock Thursdays
and $3.25 Heineken Monday. One of the many attractive things about this club is the low to no cover charge. While
many clubs in the city charge in excess of $20 to enter, especially on weekends, Berlin keeps it real:
Sunday-Tuesday, no cover
Wednesday-Thursday – no cover before 11 p.m., $3 after
Friday-Saturday, no cover before 11 p.m., $5 after
If you must drive, prepare to spend a good chunk of time looking for a parking space. This area is extremely popular and very active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cabs are plentiful and the club is located a few steps away from the Belmont EL stop.
800 W. Belmont
You can dance the night away or chill out with a VJ, you can play pool or lounge on a sofa-this Lakeview nightclub has an option for every taste.
There are three “rooms,” to choose from and all have full service bars. The main bar (large rectangle shape) seats around 20 comfortably. The small room in the northeast corner off the main bar room seats 4-5 at the bar and offers 2 comfy chairs for lounging. The retro lounge has a dance floor and seats 6-8 at the bar, 4-8 at two hi-top tables and you’ll find several plastic couches and chairs near the window-great for people watching.
People call this a gay bar, but it’s not your typical gay hangout. You’ll find a fair amount of straights playing pool, watching videos or chatting it up over $2.50 MGD’s. The main bar plays videos from the 80s as well as the 90s and today. You’ll see and hear the DJ/Mix version of every song under the sun and then some. On the dance floor – deep house, electronic,techno and dance. The bartenders are extremely friendly (genuinely) and the crowd is always energetic, fun-loving and polite. FYI – Vasili, one of the greatest bartenders ever, will hook you up with just about anything. Want an oatmeal cookie shot? Ask Vasili. Searching for the perfect martini? Ask Vasili. He usually works in the retro lounge.
Spin offers some of the best drink specials in the city like: $3 Stoli cranberry & lemonade Mondays, $1 well and domestic Wednesdays and $6 MGD/Lite pitchers every Thursday. Cover charges are minimal and they only charge on Wednesdays ($5) and Saturdays ($5). Other drink specials include: $10 Long Island and import beer pitchers along with free pool (Sundays) and $3.50 Malibu Rum Fridays.
Be sure to check out the “Shower Contest” every Friday where anyone and I mean ANYONE can enter the contest and strut their stuff (no nudity, of course) for $200 in cash prizes.
Hours: 4 p.m-2 a.m., Monday-Friday; 2 p.m.-3 a.m., Saturday; 2 p.m.-2 a..m. Sunday
5355 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Tel: (773) 784-1100
While this bar draws a mostly gay/lesbian crowd, the friendly bar staff and patrons are warm and welcoming to all. The drinks are reasonably priced, the atmosphere is laid-back and there’s no pressure to pose here.
The interior boasts exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, a huge bar that’s just as long as the dance floor and additional cushy (quiet) seating in the rear lounge. With candles flickering on tables displayed in the front window and a DJ booth overlooking a sizeable dance floor, you can come here to sit and chat with friends or your significant other, or to dance the night away to house music and popular dance hits. It’s up to you. On off nights, videos from the 80s to the present are shown, and complimentary bar snacks are a-plenty. They have a pretty good selection of beers on tap including Blue Moon and Guinness. And the bartender makes some of the most sinful shots I’ve ever tasted. Think, Frangelico, Bailey’s, Godiva…mmm..mmmm..good!
Sunday night features tunes from the 70s to the 90s, and Atmospheres hosts many special events and benefits, so call first to see what’s up. Don’t worry though — all benefits and special events are open to the public, and there’s never a cover charge, ever!
Hours: Closed Monday. Tuesday-Friday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Sat. 3 p.m.-3 a.m., Sunday 3 p.m.-2 a.m.
3349 N. Halsted
This massive video bar caters to the gay/lesbian community, but straights won’t feel out of place here. Choose from several “bars” on two levels (inside and outside) including: the Cherry Bar, Glass Lounge, Deck Bar, Rooftop Bar and the Main Bar. The indoor bars all have loft-like ceilings (for an open airy feel) and shiny hardwood floors throughout. The cocktail list is endless (martinis and frozen drinks are popular) and they also offer a large variety of domestic beers and imports.
The atmosphere is extremely friendly, warm and festive. If you want to forget your problems, this is the place to do it. Video themes range from show tunes and comedy to retro, classic and dance. Feel free to dress up or down here, no one cares. All are welcome here, so don’t be shy!
Hours: Open everyday from 3 p.m.-2 a.m., Saturday until 3 a.m.
4804 N. Broadway
Crew is brand new, but it’s already on most peoples top ten list, and rightly so. Located between Andersonville
(one of Chicago’s popular gay areas) and Boystown (the number one gay area in the city), Crew happens to
be the only gay sports bar in the city.
During the hot summer months, patrons can enjoy the comfy sidewalk café until midnight and inside, sports buffs can settle into one of wood high top tables and watch the game on Crew’s 92 inch screen or one of the many smaller TVs while sipping on one of 50 beer selections from the bar. The menu features everything from appetizers like fondue and quesadillas to salads, burgers and wraps. Breakfast is served Saturday-Sunday from 9:30-noon and features everything from New Orleans French Toast and biscuits and gravy to grits and pancakes.
Any night is a good night to visit this MOD sports bar-specials are offered every night of the week ranging from beergarita and sangria pitchers for $12 bucks a pop to Bud or Rolling Rock buckets (5 for $10).
Between all the baseball, football, soccer and basketball the folks at crew still manage to throw in a few DJs and VJs, here and there.
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:30-midnight; Friday 11:30-2:00 a.m.; Saturday 9:30- 2:00 a.m.; Sunday 9:30-midnight
Gentry 3320 N. Halsted, (773) 348-1053, Caberet, Open Mike. Other location: 440 N. State, (312) 836-0933
Big Chicks 5024 N. Sheridan, (773) 728-5511, Lesbian/Gay, Dancing, DJs, Videos, Food: Monday-Thursday
Roscoe’s 3354 N. Halsted, (773) 281-3355, dancing, beer garden, pool tables, food
Circuit 3641 N. Halsted, (773) 325-2233, where all the boys go, dancing, great music, plush front lounge (called Rehab)
The Closet 3325 N. Broadway, (773) 477-8533, cozy video bar, mostly lesbian, great prices, warm & welcoming to all.