7 Best Gay & Lesbian Bars to Visit in Chicago

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Good people, smooth drinks, and a great atmosphere. What could be better during the summer in Chicago? Not much, by our standards. If you are looking for things to do this weekend, we recommend supporting the locally owned gay bars throughout the entire city of Chicago. From local dives to sports bars, casual spots to clubs, we’re taking a closer look at the best gay bars throughout the city and any and all of the fun activities they have! 


The Closet

3325 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657

Opened in 1978 by Judi and Rose, this lesbian-owned and operated establishment has established itself as one of the most popular bars on Broadway over the last four decades. What started as a place for women to gather, drink, and be themselves has changed to where all are welcome to cozy in and drink up. With excellent customer service, a full bar, and an inviting atmosphere, the Closet is the perfect spot for a few (well-priced) drinks with new friends simply looking to have fun. These days, you can find karaoke at the Closet on Thursdays, along with darts, video bowling, and bingo! 


Marty’s Martini Bar

1511 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Looking for a great bar for a stiff martini? Head to Marty’s Martini Bar! As you’ll notice through the eclectic decor, Marty’s takes inspiration from French artist Toulouse Lautrec. Here, you’ll find the classic dry martini and a Tickled Pink, Dirty Bird, and Lemon Drop martini. With a colorful, cozy patio and friendly and attentive staff, each trip to Marty’s Martini Bar will have you looking forward to the next! The martinis here come in two sizes, 6 oz, and 10 oz, and patrons often say that just one martini from Marty’s is enough to give you a good buzz! 


The SoFo Tap

4923 N Clark St 1st floor, Chicago, IL 60640

The first thing to know about the SoFo tap is its dog friendly. The second? It has quite literally everything you could be looking for in a fun neighborhood bar. On the southeast corner of Clark and Argyle in Andersonville, the SoFo tap not only has the classic drinks and cocktails you’re looking for during a night out, they also serve up CBD infused drinks for the extra ounce of chill you need after a long week. During the week, check out the SoFo tap for “Bearaoke”, darts, trivia nights, and speciality bear parties. The SoFo Tap also offers new events to check out, so be sure to stay up to date! 


Nobody’s Darling

1744 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Since 2021 Nobody’s Darling has created a space for patrons to gather, celebrate, and enjoy delicious, unique high-end spirits. By combining their visions of laid-back lounges and sexy clubs, owners Angela and Renauda created a space where LGBTQ women can come together and live their best lives! As the self-proclaimed “queer version of Cheers”, Nobody’s Darling creates the perfect space for the community to relax and let go of the week’s stress over a few refreshing cocktails. With plans to expand, Nobody’s Darling will continue to grow to its full potential as even more of the community can get together and enjoy the vision Angela and Renauda created.

best gay bars in chicago
Image Credit: Second Story Bar Facebook

Second Story Bar 

157 E Ohio St #2, Chicago, IL 60611

First up on our Tour-de-Chicago-Gay-Bars is Second Story Bar. This tucked-away bar sits near the corner of Ohio and St. Clair St, and is a classic, cash-only dive bar. Instead of blaringly loud music and flashing lights, you’ll find stiff drinks, a quaint space, and a small crowd that’s perfect for making friendly conversation. As we inch our way back to normalcy this summer, the best way to start celebrating Pride is by meeting some new friends over a classic cocktail, and your new go-to place for that will be Second Story. 

Big Chicks

5024 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640

Not only is Big Chicks an iconic Chicago gay bar, but it’s absolutley loaded with history. The original bar that was in place of Big Chicks dated back to 1944, and was historically filled with straight men with hard exteriors. After a few coats of paint, some art, and TLC to the original patrons, owner Michelle Fire (electric name, BTW) turned Big Chicks into what it is today: a place for “men and men, women and women, and men and women” (source). That being said, you don’t to be gay, or conform to one sexual identity for that matter, to go out and have the time of your life at Big Chicks. 

Roscoe’s Tavern 

3356 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

To most of Chicago, Roscoe’s Tavern is the OG gay bar. Dating back to the late 80’s Roscoe’s has evolved from a small spot, only occupying one half of a store front, to what it is now: an eclectic corner bar with huge open windows, a gorgeous patio for perfect summer days, and a regular host of some of the city’s best drag shows. Not only is the atmosphere lively, but the classic cocktails will have you buzzing too (literally). On this drink menu, you’ll find blueberry mojitos, prickly pear margaritas, and their signature River Deep, Mountain Highball made with Roscoe’s very own hyper-chilled, “ultra carbonated” club soda. You’ll be sipping and celebrating all night. 


3349 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

How does partying with 1,000 of your closest friends sound? Sign me up. Sidetrack, located in Northalsted, has a story that encompasses the meaning of truly creating a safe place for everyone to simply have a good time. If you are searching for the best gay and lesbian bars in Chicago, Sidetrack features eight different store fronts. This destination features multiple bars and even a rooftop deck to enjoy good vibes and good times with friends. In addition, they’re also celebrating their 40th Anniversary.

The North End 

3733 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60613

Craft beers, pool tables, and sports on all the TVs? Yep, we’re talking about the North End. This sports bar is the perfect place to stop in for a drink, a game, and another disappointing Bears season. One of the best things about the North End is that while there is a full drink  menu, you can BYOF (bring your own food)! At the North End, you’ll find daily drink specials and an LGTBQ+ friendly and safe atmosphere to bring the city together on the one thing everyone can agree on: how disappointing Chicago sports are. 

The SoFo tap 

4923 N Clark St 1st floor, Chicago, IL 60640

If you’re around Andersonville this Pride month, be sure to check out the SoFo Tap. This certified bear bar has everything you need for a sunny summer afternoon-turned-night- TouchTunes, a roomy patio to soak up the sun, and an expansive drink menu with daily specials like tangy signature margaritas and Big Ass long islands for $5!!). If you’re looking for some activities other than drinking, SoFo Tap hosts weekly trivia, doggy days so you can include your furry friend the next time you head out for the afternoon, and Bearaoke, which just sounds like a better version of karaoke, in my opinion. 


5355 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 

I’m fully convinced that Atmosphere is one of the best party spots in the city. Stripper bingo, Trivia Tuesdays, and theme nights (count me in for 80’s night) make the ambience consistently full of energy. The best nights of the week, though, to head out to Atmosphere are Fridays and Saturdays, when the enticing male dancers entertain and elevate the crowds from 10 PM to 1 AM. Sip on a delicious cocktail, grab a few shots, and wear some durable shoes because one trip to Atmosphere will have you dancing the night away and asking yourself, “why the hell haven’t I been here before?”. 

Featured Image Credit: Second Story Bar

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