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Nov 7, 2010 11:17 PM

any good tap houses

Hi. I'm going to be in town for the weekend and was wondering if there are any good tap houses that are worth visiting.

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  1. I hope you don't mind if I ask - what is a "tap house"? And how does it differ from a "gastropub" (more a restaurant than a bar in atmosphere, one that offers creative food along with a huge number of beers; examples in Chicago include the Gage, the Publican, and Hopleaf), or a "pub" (more a bar than a restaurant in atmosphere, one that offers straightforward American or British or Irish food and drink; e.g. Miller's Pub and the Exchequer).

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      More bar than food, although if the food is good, that's just gravy. i'm looking for a good selection of beers, bottles and drafts. not necessarily the main stream, bud, coors, etc...

        1. re: nsxtasy

          thanks! Tried the gage last time I was there. Pretty good. Plan on trying out the publican as well.

    2. "In town" can mean a lot of things. Will you be in the downtown area? Chicago the city or a suburban location? Car or not?

      11 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        sorry . chicago city, specifically the palomar. no car, just subway.

        1. re: da_seuss

          Since you're staying at the Palomar, you should definitely check out Sable Kitchen and Bar. It's a restaurant located in the hotel. They specialize in artisanal cocktails, and the food from Chef Heather Terhune is outstanding. The food is also an excellent value, and an added bonus is that half portions are available for many dishes so you can try a lot of them. I posted a detailed report of a recent dinner there at and you can find their food and drink menu on their website at

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I would suggest PrimeBar in the loop (on N Wacker @ W Randolph) on the main level of a new high rise. Terrific large selection of local/regional artisnal brews (3 Floyds, Bells, Great Lakes) as well as some global selections (delierium, etc.).

            Big happy hour place and the food is pretty good too.

          2. re: da_seuss

            Clark St Ale House has one of the best beer selections near the downtown area.

            The Gage is decent for beer, but does have really good food. In my opinion, steer clear of Exchequer or Miller's pub, since their beer lists are not really that impressive.

            If you're feeling adventurous, you can try the Map Room, which is well known for its
            craft beer. No food though. I'm a big craft beer drinker, and I haven't had at least half of the beers that they list.

            Otherwise, the best in the city for both craft beer and great food (mussels) is Hopleaf.

            The Map Room
            1949 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

            Hopleaf Bar
            5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

            1. re: Shaggy

              Just be aware that Hopleaf is not downtown or even nearby; it's in Andersonville, about seven miles north of the Loop. It's a ten-minute walk from the Berwyn stop on the CTA Red Line (fastest way) or you can ride the #22 Clark St bus from downtown to the door. Oh, and it gets very busy, so don't be surprised if you have to wait.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                I live near Andersonville, I would dispute the el being fastest, the 22 is a very quick bus, and it's getting cold to be walking. If you're staying at the Palomar, you can catch it just 2 block west on LaSalle.

              2. re: Shaggy

                Don't know if you've been to Miller's lately but the revamped tap selections and added many micros.

                1. re: mike_d

                  I have, and it's a nice improvement for sure. I think that it has good pub food and definitely nice pub atomosphere, but the beer list isn't what I would go for if I was craving a tap house. Just my opinion, but again the new beers are a welcome improvement, I work essentially next door to it so it's nice to be able to get something more than Guinness.

                2. re: Shaggy

                  For a true hophead, the Maproom is the place to go. Not only does it have the most unique collection of draft beers, it also has the most knowledgable bartenders (many of them are amateur brewers themselves). The clientele often includes many of the area's professional and amateur zymurgists.

                  The Binny's Liquor store in the south loop has a great selection of beer and actually has a taproom in the store.

                3. re: da_seuss

                  You'll be about a block away from the Grand Ave. red line station. If you take the L up to the North/Clybourn station you'll be within walking distance of several places that have good beer selections.

                  Burger Bar is just across Clybourn from the station. They usually have 12-16 interesting beers on tap and another 25-30 in bottles. Their menu is mostly gourmet burgers with a wide variety of toppings available.

                  A few blocks east down North Ave. is Old Town Social. I've never counted but would estimate 18-24 beers on tap and 40 -50 or so in bottles. The menu features a lot of house made charcuterie, artisanal cheeses and locally sourced ingredients.

                  Northwest up Clybourn Ave. is the Goose Island Brewpub. They normally have 20 beers or so on tap including beers from their commercial brewery, a few guest beers but mostly beers that are brewed on site and are only available at the pub. The food is good, but they've made some menu changes recently that I'm not particularly fond of.

                  If you go west a few blocks on North Ave. and turn south at Sheffield you'll see a Whole Foods market. They have a small bar area up front that has 8-12 beers on tap at any one time and which change frequently. The selections are usually interesting and often unusual.

                  1. re: Coogles

                    I also like Goose Island, and would add that they are pretty experimental here, and you can usually find some oddities or single batch brews that will never hit the shelves (I had a herb infused beer, ie. basil, oregano and sage).

                    While on Sheffield, you can also stop in at Sheffield's, which has numerous (5?) beer menu's, good food and a has a warm, "neighborhoody" feeling.

              3. you guys gave me some great recs for a long veterans day weekend. thanks!

                1. Two blocks from the Montrose stop of the Brown line is Fountainhead which has a great selection of beers, both draft and bottles.