Eat + Drink

Ready to Mingle? Chi-Town Bars Where Locals Linger

Meet Chicago locals at Three Dots and a Dash. (Photo: Courtesy Three Dots and a Dash)

The best way to get a vibe for the city is to get out and meet the locals. Sure, checking off a list of its biggest attractions and “best of” restaurants doesn’t hurt either, but sometimes the hidden gems are discovered through chatting it up with the people who call Chicago home. No need to be timid — Chicago may be a big city, but people are truly Midwestern nice. Check out these three spots that lend towards easy conversation and interactive fun.

Joe’s Bar

Often referred to as Joe’s on Weed (for the street it’s located on — obviously) this 20,000 square foot bar is the place for all things sports and country music. An unlikely pair, yes, but the expansive space has room to accommodate it all. Join diehard fans watching 120 plasma TVs showcasing primo sporting events, or rock out in a concert space that has hosted Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and a whole slew of other national and local artists. With so much happening, there’s always something to strike up conversation with locals over smoked wings and plenty of brews. If something more interactive is up your alley, they also host events like 90’s Hip Hop Trivia and Live Band Karaoke.

Emporium Arcade Bar

Old school arcade games make a great conversation starter, because, who doesn’t love Pac-Man or a good ol’ game of Pinball? This pair of arcade bars — one in Wicker Park and one in Logan Square — go beyond the game (not to minimize their diverse collection) with a solid craft beer selection and an impressive whiskey list. Tap your local gamer on where to eat as the Wicker Park location is BYO food and Logan Square relies on a rotating schedule of food trucks.

Three Dots and a Dash

After one cocktail at this tucked away tiki-inspired spot, you’ll gain the (liquid) courage to talk to anyone. But in all seriousness, the laid back vibe and ornate mugs filled with fun and fruity Polynesian-style drinks make this the ideal place to strike up conversation with friendly Midwesterners. Once you make a group of friends sip one of the four large group drinks (Zombie Punch, perhaps) and indulge in The Captain’s Pu Pu Platter filled with snacks like coconut shrimp and pork buns to counteract the super potent potions, of course.