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Chicago nightlife

Chicago's reputation for unadorned, hard-drinking bars has softened in recent years. A taste for lush, nighttime revelry has brought in swish cocktail lounges and baroque hybrid venues, such as the Violet Hour and Sepia, a Fulton River District lounge-and-restaurant combo in a 19th-century printing shop (123 N. Jefferson St.; 312-441-1920; www.sepiachicago.com). And while the city's premier blues clubs still draw the country's best blues and jazz musicians, a growing alternative music scene, centered in Bucktown and Wicker Park, has begun jockeying for Chicagoans' attention.

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The Aviary, Chicago

If you can't snag a table at Grant Achatz's Next restaurant (and you can't if you don't buy a ticket online, far ahead of time), the second best thing sits...more

Editors' Pick
Big Chicks, Chicago

Don't be fooled by the name: This unpretentious uptown bar caters equally to lesbians, gays, and straights of all sizes (many are students from nearby Loyola...more

Editors' Pick
Billy Goat Tavern, Chicago

The classic Saturday Night Live skit where native Chicagoan John Belushi played a harried Greek line cook—shouting, "Cheezborger, cheezborger,...more

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Chicago Blues, Chicago

Chicago blues music is justifiably famous; some of the best-known living blues performers—including Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor, and Junior...more

Editors' Pick
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Chicago

If we had to pick one place in all of Chicago that epitomizes the city's rich and gritty history, it'd have to be the Green Mill. Al Capone used to hang out...more

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Hideout, Chicago

Finding this aptly named bar can be a major challenge. Don't even attempt to take public transportation here; just get in a cab (your taxi driver will know...more

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I.O. Theater, Chicago

Formerly called the Improv Olympics, the I.O. is the city's "other" famous comedy club (it plays second fiddle to the better-known Second City). Upstairs you'll...more

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Map Room, Chicago

Owners Mark and Laura Blasingame have two passions in life—traveling and beer— and their cozy pub is a showcase for both. The giant map of the world...more

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Rockit Bar and Grill, Chicago

As advertised, the latest offering from local nightlife maven Billy Dec and his savvy band of successful associates (together they have given Chicago several of...more

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Roscoe's, Chicago

Of the dozens of predominantly gay bars that line North Halstead Street in Boys Town, Roscoe's is neither the glitziest nor the coziest. It is, however, one of...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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