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A Tour of Chicago Dive Bars.

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Last night Julie and I went on a History Pub Crawl hosted by the Chicago History Museum.  The tour was of titled: Chicago’s Greatest Dive Bars.

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Our first stop on the tour was Rose’s Lounge which I’d been to once before. It’s the closest thing to Johnnies which holds a special place in my heart.  Rose opened up shop in 1962 after buying the building that owned The Pour House which dated back to 1918.  According to our guide, Rose immigrated from Macedonia and after several years as a factory worker she decided it was not for her.

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Of all the bars on the tour Margie’s is the closet to our house, had the friendliest bartender and as far as I can tell it’s the only place in Chicago with $1 steins on Monday nights.  Like many bars in the Lincoln Square neighborhood Margie’s started out as a German bar.  Margie, the original owner, was a rare female bartender in the neighborhood when her husband bought The Horseshoe bar for her.  The Horseshoe dated back to 1910.

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Richard’s Bar was by far the most lively and packed place of the night.  Oddly enough Julie was here last weekend for a bachelorette party so she had a good idea what we were getting into.  The building was also the oldest of all the places we visited, dating from the 1860’s.  It was originally a grocery store up until the 1920’s when it was transfered into a bar with a brothel upstairs.  In the 1990’s the owner named the place after her husband’s brother.

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Old Town Ale House was the only bar we stopped at that I had been to more than once.  The Old Town Ale House originally opened across the street from it’s current location in 1958.  There was a fire in 1971 and the bar moved to it’s current location.  For those that have never been, you can tell by my photographs below that the current owner is one hell of a painter.

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Side Notes:
* The rest of photographs can be found here.
** Our tour was hosted by Liz Garibay from the Chicago History Museum who has her own site:  talestavernsandtowns.com.
*** Thanks to Julie who took notes throughout.
**** These tours are held throughout the year by the Chicago History Museum and you can book them on their site.   Julie and I will be doing their Irish Pub tour in March as well.

4 thoughts on “A Tour of Chicago Dive Bars.

  1. Jennifer

    That sounds like a great tour! I’ve been to Richard’s and Old Town Ale House but never knew their histories. Very cool! Great post and great photos 🙂

  2. Thanks, we’re looking forward to the Irish Pub Tour in March.

  3. Great tour and article. Is Fado in River North on your list for the Irish Pub tour in March?

  4. Nik Bronder

    I’m not sure which bars we’ll hit on the Irish Pub Tour, we didn’t know which bars on this last tour until we got on the trolley.

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