Best of Chicago: Top Bars in Logan Square
As promised we are going to do a monthly review of our top favorite bars in Chicago's most popular neighborhoods. Tamsin did the first honors by picking the top bars for Old Town
. Today I will write what I think are the top bars for Logan Square.
First, let me tell you why I think I am well positioned to write this. One, I have lived in Chicago for almost all my life. Two, I used to own buildings in Logan Square and did a lot of stops there. And three, I currently live in Avondale, which is just a 10 minute walk to Logan Square. Needless to say I go to Logan Square a LOT.
And for fans of Logan Square, it's easy to know why we love the central city neighborhood so much. Though things are changing fast, Logan Square is home to many hipster bars, restaurants and coffee shops. There are still plenty of dive bars left and the more sophisticated bars are not terribly too expensive and still full of character. The people are a great mix of youth and long-term neighbors. The buildings are older and usually brick in classic architectures. The only thing I don't like is the encroachment of giant, tall, steel condos. But that's another blog for my venting.
With that said, there are SO many bars to choose from. Because as anyone who has lived in Chicago for even a short time knows, Logan Square has changed dramatically in just a few years. But that's a good thing in terms options when deciding to go out. So, without further ado, here are my favorite Logan Square bars.
1. Heavy Feather
I LOVE Heavy Feather. It's a fern bar. What is a fern bar? In the most simplest definition, it's a contemporary bar with fern plants around. No, not a tiki bar but it has a little of that feel especially if the bartenders and servers wear Hawaiian or tropical shirts, which Heavy Feather does. But Heavy Feather in terms of style and aesthetic is more of what I called "a retro cocktail bar". It's dark polished walnut, gold mirrors, the fern and servers' wear make it look like you have just stepped into a 1970's time warp. So you walk in and already the decor just surprises your senses. But wait till you try their cocktail drinks. Cocktail drinks like Corn Oil, Lavern & Sherry, and The Bunnyman starting at $10 are delights. Sure you can buy beer there but why would you when they make amazing cocktails with cool names at affordable prices?
Heavy Feather is right above Slippery Slope, which is also on this list. Though the same building and entrance, the concept between the two is completely different. Go to Heavy Feather if you're into cocktails, appreciate a bars' character and decor and talking with friends or mixing it with strangers.
Scofflaw has a special heart for many Logan Square fans. When it first came out, there weren't many bars at Kedzie and Armitage area. Most of Logan Square development was at the corner of California and Milwaukee. But when Scofflaw came, they brought with them their gin-focused cocktails and craft beers. Add ambiance that includes two rooms, one loungey with old furniture and large mirrors, and the other more tables with dining and a fireplace. Romantic comes to mind. Definitely a great date night place but still casual enough that you and your buddy can grab craft cocktails at the bar.
Of all the bars here, Scofflaw is the most classiest bar on this list. So not surprisingly, the prices are a tad higher compared to others, but well worth it. The drinks are good, strong and during each season, they come out with different ones to tease our changing taste buds.
And bonus: Scofflaw is one of the few bars in Chicago that has Malort on tap. Now that's Logan Square, Chicago, baby!
3. Best Intentions
With Scofflaw, as the anchor of Kedzie and Armitage, the have spawned other great bars, including Best Intentions. Just a block west of Scofflaw on Armitage avenue, Best Intentions is what I called a "divey cocktail bar". I'm sure they are fine with my description because they have a self-deprecating sign inside the bar that says "Fancy Cocktail Bar".
Prices are cheap, people are happy, and whether you're in purple lipstick, skinny jeans or corduroy blazers, you feel welcome there. Why is that? It's one of those things that is hard to explain but that you just feel. People who like dive bars generally like the fact that you're not being judged. But I have been to many dive bars enough to know that some dive bars fail because they weren't "cool" or "hip" enough. This is where Best Intentions pulled it off. It retains the dive bar feel and welcomeness but has a vibe where no one judges you except to have fun and be yourself. This is the kind of place where with just a right amount of drink, and courage, you might just walk off with a new friend.
4. The Owl
For a late night bar (The Owl closes at 5 AM Saturday), The Owl can get pretty busy early. There will be times when I see a line for The Owl at 10 PM. For me, the best time to go is when I already completed 2-3 bars for the night, usually at Logan Square (most likely all in this list!). The Owl is very elongated in a sort of winding road way, where the front to the middle are bars and tables to chill and the back, especially late night, where people get very happy feet.
The Owl has plenty of beers on tap, cans and even ciders. So options are plenty available. Like most bars in this list, The Owl is purposefully dark (Dark seems to be the trend, especially in Logan Square. Perhaps the darkness lightens the mood?). The music does get loud but when it's 3 AM and you already should be in bed, everything feels right. It's a true Logan Square experience and if you have the energy for a long evening, definitely stop by The Owl.
5. Slippery Slope
Dark, divey, loud, sloppy, Slippery Slope is the best place to just get crazy. It's always super packed, so don't be surprised if a line forms as early as 9:30 PM. Though Slippery Slope is not for everyone (I call it a "dive club"), it's a quintessential Logan Square bar. Drinks are cheap, people go there for a good times and if you are there early enough, you can even play skeeball.
DJ's pound their music all night as revelers dance to any sliver of room. The best time to get there would be 9-10 PM before a line forms but the bonus is you get to go to Heavy Feather for free if you want to juxtapose yourself to two amazing but completely different experiences.
And if you are hungry from all the dancing afterwards, two awesome food options await you outside. A lady with a food cart of sausages that she cooks in just a minute is there all night or you can head to Q-Tine a barbecue poutine place next door that is a must stop before ending the night in the comforts of your bed.
6. Spilt Milk
Still dark but not as loud, comes a new bar to Logan Square; Spilt Milk. The bar came into the crowded Logan Square bar scene last fall but since then has made a niche for itself. No name just a simple graffiti of milk bottles on their side black wall, Spilt Milk is one of those gems that only the cool kids on the block know about. I know this because it took me several months to figure out that it was a bar!
But once I did, oh am I glad. The drinks are smooth, so are the bartenders and everything about this place, the dark wood to their cool, stylish wallpaper. Their drink list is small but that's the purpose. Similar to Heavy Feather. Besides their top notch cocktails, they have six beers on tap and have excellent wines that go very well with the interior decor. I like this quality over quantity concept because on a given night, I could drink 3 drinks and already have a third of their menu. Mission accomplished.
So, next time you walk or drive by California and Fullerton, be on the lookout. No, that's not a weird grocery store on the corner. It's a stylish, craft cocktail bar that is fast becoming popular and less incognito about it.
As you can tell, I absolutely love Logan Square, and hope that the parts that make it feel welcoming, never change. Plan your next weekend here, you might even run into me at one of these great bars!