Ah, summer in Chicago. The months-long, freezing cold nightmare that is winter is a distant memory and the good times are in full effect. This weekend is the seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, so we put together this guide of some of the best this fair city has to offer, with an emphasis on the out-of-the-way and easy on the wallet.
LOGAN SQUARE / HUMBOLDT PARK
2338 N Milwaukee Ave
This is a nice, unassuming dive-y type place with a good selection of beer on draft and $3 tall boys of Old Style. There's a good jukebox and pool, and a sort of weird big back room where you can sit around if bands aren't playing. Not exactly a see and be seen kind of place but after being surrounded by tens of thousands of h-words for 10 hours straight that's not necessarily a bad thing.
2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.
If super fancy cocktails served to you by someone who looks like a banker from the 1930s is more your thing, then this is the spot. Despite having really amazing drinks it's got a pretty non-pretentious vibe so you can go in there all sweaty and dirty from the fest and not get any sidelong glances. Nice back patio as well. And, if you're slumming it then they've got $2 Pabst cans too.
3224 W Fullerton Ave
If the other two places are packed and you're not sloppy enough to go to the Two-Way yet, then this place is great. It's got a bunch of mix CDs made by patrons in the jukebox and the alderman hangs out here sometimes. The bartenders are incredibly nice. The only real drawback is they don't have anything on tap.
1002 N. California Ave.
This place feels like it's straight out of Mystery Train or something. Incredibly cool inside, with a full list of 50s cocktails and a few draft beers. Sometimes they have honky tonk bands on the weekends which is either awesome or sort of a drawback depending on what mood you're in. Either way, it's a must see if you're in from out of town.
2600 W Iowa St.
A nice neighborhood spot down in Humboldt Park. Pretty ideal for just unwinding and kicking back a couple of beers.
WICKER PARK / BUCKTOWN
1000 N. Milwaukee Ave.
This isn't an actual bar, but it is pretty amazing. I can't think of anywhere else in town where you can watch a Korean War vet sing “Because I Got High” on karaoke while he is sitting on top of a ladder behind the bar. The whiskey is all the same price for some inexplicable reason, and you can smoke inside. It's also on the second floor of an office building, which makes it all the weirder/more wonderful. It stays open late, and one of the bartender's sings a version of “My Way” that is a truly powerful thing to behold.
1935 W Thomas St
Ever since the cigarette ban, this place has smelled pretty bad but it's still a cool bar. Probably the best assortment of weird paraphernalia hanging from the walls of any bar in town.
1150 N Damen Ave
This is the go-to hipster bar in Wicker Park. That would make it lame in most cases but it somehow is still pretty cool. Good beer, music, and they have pinball. Bands go here a lot, too.
1951 W Dickens Ave
Any bar north of North Ave. in Bucktown is likely to be pretty fratted out nowadays, but this place is kind of cool because it's inside of a house.
2149 S Halsted S
Pilsen is a great neighborhood but there is really only one cool bar, and that is Skylark. Luckily enough for you, if you're staying down there, Skylark is awesome. They have really good food, as well.
Chicago has really good Mexican food. It's all over the place. Some of the taco places suck but most of them are amazing. Find something weird on the menu and order it because it'll probably be authentic and delicious. Tacqueria Moran, El Taco Veloz, and Nuevo Leon are all standouts. Big Star is really damn good too. It's always packed inside but there's a walkup window open until 1:45 or so.
Longman and Eagle
2657 N. Kedzie Ave
This place is a little fancy but also really delicious. Great for brunch but probably too expensive for dinner for 99% of Impose's readership. [Forget you saw that Scion! –Mgmt.]
2803 W Chicago Ave.
A BYOB chicken shack not too far from the festival down Chicago Ave. Great sides and totally delicious.
3619 West North Avenue
Mexican sandwich type things (not tortas, exactly) that have to be seen to be believed. Very amazing.
1123 N California Ave
Vegetarian and vegan friendly brunch spot, but it's got something for everyone. Run by a friendly Australian guy. The trucker bowl will fill you up for hours and hours.
2311 West North Avenue
Same as above, basically, except even more veggie friendly.
Tour De Fat
New Belgium's annual traveling bike festival is in town on Saturday in Palmer Square, an awesome park in the Logan Square neighborhood. You can have some beers and look at some wacky bikes and so on.
A sort of shadow festival to Pitchfork, this year's lineup is full of weird, amazing bands that very few people have ever heard of. It's held at a DIY space on the South Side.
Chicago's lakefront is one of the city's real treasures. Most of the downtown beaches are packed with bros and marauding bands of hooligans but Montrose Beach is a fucking gem. It's out of the way but if you want to have a swim or just hang out for awhile before heading down to the fest then it's well worth it. You can get elotes or a fruit cup with hot pepper on it from the vendors there for really cheap.
A huge, beautiful park on the northwest side. On a weekend day it's full of baseball games, barbeques, impromtu Bossa Nova jam sessions, and classic cars. The food trucks in the park have some of the cheapest food in town, as well.
If you've never been to Chicago and you want to see the Loop and all that, then Millenium Park is pretty nice. It is completely swarming with tourists in the summer but if you're a tourist yourself then you can't complain unless you want to be a total hypocrite.
You can't buy CTA cards at bus stops so make sure that you put on enough to get around at a train station. Union Park is at the first Ashland stop on the Green Line, not Ashland/63rd, which is in the middle of one of the worst ghettos in Chicago. It's an easy mistake to make, so if you feel like you've been on the train for way longer than you should've, you probably have. They do cursory bag checks at the fest so hide your weed/flask in your belt or something, and don't open your water bottle before you get in because they make you throw it out. Leaving the fest can be a pain, so either leave early or hoof it a few blocks north or east to get on a different bus line.