Chicago

The Best Singles Bars in Chicago for Actually Meeting Someone

These singles bars in Chicago will give you your best shot at actually meeting someone.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

The secret is that here in Chicago, cuffing season is year-round. You never know when the city will just punish us with a 17-degree weekend in the middle of June just because. So for all you lovelorn singles out there, we’ve got your back. We’ve narrowed down 15 of the best bars in the Chicagoland area for you to meet someone new using metrics like price, volume level, activities offered, and general vibe. Read on: The list is scientifically formulated to give you the highest chance of actually meeting someone.

Beermiscuous
Beermiscuous
Beermiscuous

Beermiscuous

Lincoln Park
Featuring a frankly stunning array of canned, bottled, and draft brews, Beermiscuous is a great place to make a connection over a pint. Everything on draft also comes in four-ounce tasting pours, allowing you to sample a bunch of different brews. The coffee shop vibe also encourages conversation, backed by a selection of borrowable board and card games. Let your curiosity get the better of you, order a pour for someone interesting at the end of the bar, and compare tasting notes.

Ignite Gaming
Ignite Gaming
Ignite Gaming

Ignite Gaming Lounge

Skokie
If you’re looking for your player 2, you could do a whole lot worse than going to Ignite up in Skokie, ordering a World of Warcraft-themed cocktail, and saying to anyone within earshot “Hey, I’ve reserved the Switch area for the next few hours, anyone wanna play Super Smash Bros.?” Ignite also hosts regular events like trivia and fighting game tournaments, so head to their events page and find a time to swing by and get your game on.

Redline VR
Redline VR
Redline VR

Redline VR

Ravenswood
If you’ve written Redline VR off as just another bar looking to capitalize on a trend, you need to give it another look, because they are one of the city’s most fun bars, and they have so much more to offer than fancy headsets. Redline VR plays host to open mic nights, Magic: The Gathering events, drop-in Dungeons & Dragons nights, karaoke, and competitive skee-ball, in addition to a selection of board games available for use. Make a connection over a Delta-8 cocktail during your MtG draft, and then retire to the VR area to complete a virtual escape room together. What could be more romantic?

Green Door Tavern
Green Door Tavern
Green Door Tavern

Green Door Tavern

River North
In a whirling miasma of River North bars that charge $17 for an “elevated” 7 & 7 and cater exclusively to recent business school graduates, The Green Door Tavern is a breath of fresh air. A full menu, reasonable drink prices, and an open floor plan make the bar a safe, spacious haven for folks to meet and mingle. After you meet someone at the bar, head downstairs to The Drifter, a speakeasy that, between its live burlesque performances, rotating tarot card-inspired drink menu, and intimate decor, is probably the best date spot in the city.

Rachel Zyzda
Rachel Zyzda
Rachel Zyzda

The Hideout

Bucktown
Meeting people at a live music venue can be tricky, especially when the actual bar/socialization area is relatively small. Though The Hideout does fall into this category, it’s also one of the least intimidating spots in the city to just go and dance before or after a show. The vibe is kind of like going to a house concert one of your cooler friends told you about, from the tables out front, to the porch that overlooks the street. Come for the music (or the comedy, or the podcast taping), stay because you’ve met somebody.

Friar Tuck

Lakeview East
Though it’s only one of a billion dive bars along its section of Broadway, Friar Tuck is far and away the best spot along that strip to meet someone new. Uniquely positioned within walking distance from Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, and Boystown, the clientele is varied enough that no matter what you’re looking for in a partner, you’re likely to find it there. Plus, there are plenty of events tailor-made for meet-cute opportunities-from karaoke to bingo.

Logan Arcade
Logan Arcade
Logan Arcade

Logan Arcade

Logan Square
If you’re searching for your pinball wizard or your killer queen, look no further. The space is large enough that it’s comfortable and easy to start up a conversation over a round of Street Fighter Alpha, and the bar’s huge collection of obscure and imported arcade cabinets is tailor-made for bonding over. That’s not even mentioning constant events like movie Mondays and magic Tuesdays. Looking for a quick way to make a new connection? Saunter over to the Killer Queen machine and politely ask someone to show you the ropes. Works every time.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Untitled

River North
Untitled isn’t the only bar that’s trading on a gilded-age-revival aesthetic, but it’s one of the few that does it right. Not only does the bar feature the world’s largest American whiskey collection, there are also live events every day of the week, from blues to burlesque, from soul to rhythm & blues. Wear that fancy outfit you save for special occasions.

Old Town Ale House

Old Town
If you’re looking to bag yourself the next Tina Fey or Stephen Colbert, you should be making Old Town Ale House a part of your regular bar-hopping. A traditional after-show hangout both for folks taking classes at Second City and folks who perform there, Old Town Ale House is an extrovert’s dream. Just make sure you’re not too engrossed in your new beau to take note of the, ahem, unique art on the walls.

Beat Kitchen

Roscoe Village
There’s this really interesting stretch of Belmont Avenue between Damen and Leavitt where you can find tons of tattoo parlors, custom guitar shops, open-late Mexican restaurants, and liquor stores. The crowning jewel of this Roscoe Village punk oasis is undoubtedly Beat Kitchen. Of course, it’s a legendary music venue that hosts the country’s best bands (and comedy shows), but it’s also a great bar in its own right. Finish sewing those patches onto your denim vest and get on out there.

Slippery Slope
Slippery Slope
Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope

Logan Square
Slippery Slope might be the most unique, odd bar in the city. It is, at once, a packed dance club, a skee-ball lounge, a dive bar, and an intimate upstairs speakeasy. This might be what makes it such a popular gathering space for folks trying to meet someone new. Feeling extroverted? Swing by on a weekend and leave your heart on the dance floor for someone else to find. Social anxiety taking over? Drop by on a Monday with a buddy and play skee-ball with them until someone else wants to play. Strike up a conversation, and if sparks fly, go upstairs to the cocktail lounge and enjoy a classic Ramos gin fizz.

Murasaki Sake Lounge

Streeterville
Tucked between a couple of towering office buildings on Ontario street sits Murasaki Sake Lounge, one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. Though they offer private karaoke for groups, the front bar is an incredible place to meet someone after work, or really at any other time. The menu of otsumami (Japanese small plates) is extensive, as is the selection of whiskey, sake, and shochu (the largest in the entire midwest). The bar also plays host to some of the area’s best DJs every Saturday night, spinning disco, dance, and city pop classics, so post up at the bar and strike up a conversation.

Corridor

Lakeview
Lakeview East’s DryHop was also a contender, but its cousin to the west gets the nod thanks to the spacious and social atmosphere. That said, since it’s owned by the good folks behind DryHop, you can expect a wide, rotating selection of brewed-in-house beers sold at reasonable prices, with delicious food to back it up. Set against the backdrop of the bustling Southport shopping corridor, it’s a spot that encourages socializing at the bar, so pull up, make a connection, then hop next door to Lush to pick up some romantic bath products together.

Victoria Sanders
Victoria Sanders
Victoria Sanders

Schubas

Lakeview
Go to Schubas, any night of the week. Spend, like, $20 and see a concert put on by an up-and-coming artist that’s going to be headlining a show at The Metro in three months. Hang out afterwards, and order a Chicago Handshake at the bar as people trickle out of the show. Ask someone how they liked the concert.

Kaiser Tiger
Kaiser Tiger
Kaiser Tiger

Kaiser Tiger

Union Park
If you’ve visited Kaiser Tiger before, you already know that its claim to fame is that it’s one of the only spots in the city to offer ice sheet curling to the public, as well as bocce after St. Patrick’s Day. That’s enough to make Kaiser Tiger a popular spot for people looking to try something new for the first time, which in turn makes it a great spot to try and meet folks.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Sam Greszes is a Chicago-based writer.

Chicago

Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or‚Ķ

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions‚ĶI think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary¬†is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book,¬†Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book,¬†Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the¬†Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

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