Shake Things Up: Five Unique Bars To Visit

September 29, 2011 6:00 AM

The Violet Hour

Weekend nightlife often becomes repetitious. The same two or three bars become regular stomping grounds. I’m picturing my usual turf as I write. There’s comfort in frequenting a bar that you already know you like. You can find me a couple blocks from my apartment, perched at a highboy by the window, pint in hand with my friends. But there comes a time to break the monotony and shake things up. I like these five bars for five very different reasons. Check them out and find a new place to call your own!

cullens bar grill e1311109845169 Shake Things Up: Five Unique Bars To Visit

(credit: Cullen's Bar & Grill)

Cullen’s Bar & Grill

3741 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613

(773) 975-0600
Mon-Fri, Sun 11am-1:30am
Sat 11am-2:30am

There’s more on tap at this Irish bar than Guinness. Stop by for live music Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9 p.m. The pub exudes the charm of a traditional Irish tavern with comfy booths, tin ceilings, dark wood, a large bar facing a mirror, and Irish paraphernalia covering the walls. 

Violet Hour

1520 North Damen Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60622

(773) 252-1500
Mon-Fri, Sun 6pm-2am
Sat 6pm-3am

The Roaring Twenties are alive at Violet Hour. Visit this bar simply for the history. It was once a 1920s speakeasy. Find floor-to-ceiling curtains, chandeliers, candles, blue leather chairs with high backs, and cerulean ceilings. Stylistic cues stem from the early 19th century English Georgian and French Directory—partitioning of space into several smaller rooms, the use of extra high wing back furniture, and the breaking down of the bar into several separate lengths—all to form places conducive to conversation.

tillis patio e1311109971247 Shake Things Up: Five Unique Bars To Visit

Photo Credit: Tilli's


1952 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614-5009

(773) 325-0044
Mon-Thu, Sun 11:30am-12am
Fri-Sat 11:30am-1am

I always want to sit outside when the weather cooperates. For optimal outdoor seating, try Tilli’s patio. The brick patio is nestled next the restaurant’s open-air dining room. Ivy runs down the building’s side where the atmosphere is casual with iron tables and plastic chairs that extend to Halsted Street.

playing darts e1311109999404 Shake Things Up: Five Unique Bars To Visit

(credit: Clive Mason/Allsport)

Galway Bay

500 W. Diversey
Chicago, IL 60614-1610

(773) 348-3750
Mon-Fri, Sun 1pm-2am; Sat 1pm-3am

Galway Bay is ideal for those who need some activity beyond a beer and booth. The old brownstone is a spot for an evening of activity: choose from darts, Golden Tee, a pool table, Nintendo, trivia Tuesdays, open mic Wednesdays, and free pool Sundays. Oh, don’t forget there’s free popcorn.

terrace Shake Things Up: Five Unique Bars To Visit

(credit: Trump International Hotel & Tower)

The Terrace at the Trump

401 North Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL
(312) 588-8034
Daily from 2:30pm to 12:30am

Take a seat outdoors at The Terrace at Trump for the view. The open-air oasis on the 16th floor gives an eyeful of the Wrigley Building, Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. The location is my all-time favorite in the entire city for its vista. Find L-shaped couches, bistro tables, communal tables, and lush green landscape atop (and pricy cocktails).

Jenny Schooley is a Chicago-based writer and editor. She currently works in publishing for an academic organization.

Watch & Listen LIVE