Narrowing down the best bars in Chicago’s South Loop is like trying to choose your favorite group fitness class — it can be done, but it sure isn’t easy!
For instance, some days you need that extra blast of cardio, while other days call for sustained yoga poses. The bars in the South Loop offer this same appealing mix of high-energy and laid-back options.
Those of us who live, work and play in this neighborhood know that it’s an eclectic and dynamic community, and the South Loop bars reflect that vibe.
So the next time you’re looking for a fun night out in the area, check out these local hot spots:
The Scout Waterhouse and Kitchen – 1301 S. Wabash Ave.
The Scout is the MVP of sports bars, and in Chicago, that’s really saying something. With TVs everywhere you look and a beer menu that covers the spectrum from PBR Tall Boys to double chocolate stouts, you’ll be happy even if the Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, or Sox (this is the South Loop, after all) are losing.
Square One – 1400 S. Michigan Ave.
Feeling especially cool and classy? Make your way over to Square One, an intimate bar with unusual touches, such as a self-serve wine station, a projector broadcasting old movies and wine barrel chandeliers. Order one of the swanky cocktails, such as the O&M—freshly muddled jalapeños, vodka, sake, and lemonade—to fully appreciate Square One’s flair.
Vice District Brewing – 1454 S. Michigan Ave.
Get your craft beer on at Vice District Brewing, a welcome addition to Chicago’s South Loop. Started by home brewing neighbors-turned-friends (whom you may find behind the bar), this dog-friendly spot serves a small rotating selection of beers. Communal tables and board games add to Vice’s appeal. Pair a beer flight with free popcorn, or stick around to see if a food truck rolls up. You can also bring in your own meal or order from local restaurants.
The Spoke & Bird – 205 E. 18th St.
It seemed appropriate to include this bar and restaurant because The Spoke & Bird’s owners are avid bikers, and they are moving full speed ahead on their dream of a bike beer garden. Imagine a sunny day, a lovely patio, a cool brew and a tune-up. Sounds good to us!
Related: speaking of brew, if you’re looking for cold brew there’s a chance you’ll find it at one of these 6 coffee shops in the loop!
Acadia – 1639 S. Wabash Ave.
If the prices on the food menu frighten you, take a deep breath and visit Acadia for cocktail hour before dinner elsewhere. Acadia is an oenophile’s dream, but for those uninterested in wine, the bartenders are also expert mixologists. Fun options include Shenanigans, which combines bourbon with housemade cherry cola, and Sweater Weather, featuring espresso, imperial stout and sea salt.
First Draft – 649 S. Clark St.
A true neighborhood bar, First Draft is a fun place for happy hour on Friday afternoons (or Mondays… We won’t tell anyone). The drink menu features tried-and-true sports bar staples, rotating draft selections, and an extensive bourbon, whiskey and tequila list. Keep an appropriate drinking-to-eating ratio with a bison burger, beer-battered onion rings or the charcuterie plate. (Oh, and maybe throw in a kale salad to keep the registered dietitians at FFC happy…
What are your favorite bars in Chicago’s South Loop? Let us know!
Written by FFC affiliate, Kelsey Schagemann, a is a Chicago-based writer and editor whose work has appeared on the popular websites Fiterazzi, A Practical Wedding, PR Week, Red Tricycle, Jealous Magazine, and Refinery29.