Chicago Dive Bars

Chicago Dive Bars

So how am I going to replace my beloved Lakeview Lounge? Fortunately, a few weeks ago I got my fresh copy of Jonathan Stockton’s Chicago’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the Windy City. It has reviews of 92 different dive bars, all based on personal visits. There are also sidebars with listings like “Pinball Dives” and “Eats”.

Each of the bars is rated with a 1-10 “Dive Rating” which is not a rating of how much Stockton enjoyed the bar, but rather of how scary the place is. I’m more into wood paneling and cheap beer from my dives, not so much the possibility of a knife in the gut.

Dive bars are not for everyone. Hell, dive bars are often not for me. A synonym for “dive bar” is often “crappy bar” — why would anyone want to hang out in a dirty, broke-down place with surly bartenders? (Cathy, the owner of the Lakeview, could be down-right mean.)

But a dive bar and it’s inhabitants are often the embodiment of the history of a neighborhood, and that’s fascinating to me. And if it really is your local bar, a dive bar can be a very comfortable place — the Lakeview Lounge was for me.

Other resources:
Gapers Block: Searching for the True Chicago Dive
Citysearch: Best Dive Bar 2004
Centerstage Chicago: Chicago Dive – Bars

Update: Gapers Block reports that despite having their “last night” the Lakeview Lounge is limping along still open. Also, Newcity ran a short piece on the bar, and the Lounge has a website?!

2 Comments so far

  1. fritzy (unregistered) on October 7th, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

    I wonder where the term “dive” came from. I am lifelong Chicago resident (grew up in the Devon/Western area) and I never once heard a Chicago native refer to neighborhood bars as “dives”–the word we use is “tavern.” My theory is the word “dive” orginated with suburbanites who found ordinary neighborhood taverns wonderfully exotic and “gritty” places–at least compared to what they grew up with.

  2. Fuzzy (unregistered) on October 7th, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

    Well, calling a “disreputable bar” a dive dates back to the 1870s. But, sure, that word “disreputable” says it all — the whole notion of dive bars is tied up with class perceptions and so on. The place that *I* hang out with Johnny No-nose and Tommy Blue-face, that’s just my neighborhood tavern. The place *you* hang out with Mickey the Axe — that’s a dive.

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