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Esquire's Best Bar List (And Our Indifference)

By Hanna Aronovich in Food on May 19, 2006 2:07PM

060508_bestbars_a.jpgAny best-of list is subject to extreme reactions – those of total agreement, as well as complete disapproval. But, in Esquire’s June issue, its list of the Best Bars in the Midwest included a handful from Chicago. And, our reaction? A resounding “Yeah, OK, why not” and a shrug of the shoulders. Certainly, some of the picks seemed more worthy of “best” status than others, but nothing was so off-the-charts wrong that we needed to cry, “Outrage!”

From Chicago, Esquire selected The Red Lion Pub (2446 N Lincoln), Bungalow (1622 W Belmont), The Matchbox (770 N Milwaukee), The Hideout (1354 W Wabansia) and Chipp Inn (832 N Greenwood).

Now, we think The Hideout and The Matchbox are most deserving to be on the “best” list. Both have a unique atmosphere and individual scene. Chipp Inn and Bungalow maybe aren’t the “best” bars in our eyes, but they’re certainly a good time. But, Red Lion Pub? When Chicagoist stopped by, we weren’t blown away. And, it’s proximity to Junior Varsity scene that is the Lincoln strip is points off in our book. We also think some incredible bars were left off the list (Green Mill, perhaps?) If you don’t agree with Esquire’s list, you can let ‘em know what the best bar is to you.

But this raises the question, what makes a bar the “best?” The best bar for meeting someone who went to a Big Ten school is worlds away from the best bar to meet someone with an MFA in poetry (of course, we’re generalizing here). In Chicagoist’s opinion, we think the best bars are crowded, but with enough room to move around; serve strong mixed drinks for under $6; and draw a laidback, friendly but easy-on-the-eyes crowd.

Bottom line, Chicago has too many excellent bars to summarize in one concise list (what a problem to have!). And, bars are not for listing, but visiting. So tonight, pick your best one and head to it. You can bet that’s what we’ll be doing.