Best Bars

February 2018 View more

February, in particular, is a time of contrasts. On the one hand, the weather outside—still frightful, for the most part—offers ample reason to remain huddled and secure in a cave of one’s own making. Yet several months into this magical season we call winter, any brief escape from the sameness and claustrophobia of that self-imposed hibernation is a welcome—nay, necessary—respite, provided that “getting out” doesn’t entail actually, you know, getting out (because brrrr).

The answer? Perhaps a trip to the local watering hole, where the warmth of the evening often has as much to do with the conviviality of the surroundings—the crowd, the music, the decor—as it does the amber liquid beckoning from one’s cup. And whether you’re looking for a finely crafted cocktail over which to linger or just a cold beer and tonight’s game on the telly, there’s certainly a pub, tavern or bar to cure your cabin fever in these western suburbs.

So what do you say? Shall we get a drink?


No. 1
SixtyFour – A Wine Bar
The beer selection is impressive as well, but the emphasis on vino is apparent at this spot’s tasting islands—hi-tech, smart card–enabled dispensers that encourage wine lovers to circulate throughout the room sampling as many options as their credit limits and step counts will allow. Check out its new Reserve Room space for wine events and private dining.
123 Water, Naperville | 630.780.6464 |

No. 2
Cooper’s Hawk
The retail store up front is perfect for stocking one’s home cellar; the restaurant is a wonderful place to break bread and all throughout this bottle- and barrel-studded space, a passion for great wine runs deep. Tastings offer seven to eight different wines, no reservation needed.
1740 Freedom, Naperville | 630.245.8000 |

No. 3
Tannins Wine Bar & Boutique
You can spend your visit trying to impress everyone with your in-depth knowledge of fine wine if that’s really your thing, or you can just do what everyone else is probably doing: sampling a few new varieties, enjoying the live music and relaxing amid a refreshingly laid-back atmosphere.
112 N. York, Elmhurst | 630.834.4800 |

No. 4
Vintage 53
The 53 global wines on offer can be paired with shareable bites—including gourmet cheeses, charcuterie selections, appetizers and sweets—that are as well considered and thoughtfully presented as the wine, in a pleasing industrial-chic setting that includes a private event space.
162 S. First, St. Charles | 630.549.0423 |

No. 5
D.O.C. Wine Bar
Come for the well-curated selection of wines by the glass, bottle or flight, and stay for a lunch or dinner that will more than satisfy even the teetotalers in your party.
326 Yorktown, Lombard | 630.627.6666 |


No. 1
The whiskey wall (featuring 400 selections) will wow you, the commitment to sustainability will impress you and the simple fact that this place even exists on the barren plain of Orchard Road will perplex you—but chances are you’ll walk away talking about the food.
2000 Orchard, North Aurora | 630.299.3977 |

No. 2
A compact room and recent buzz can lead to frustrating waits on busy weekend nights, but the farm-to-table menu and well-attuned drink selections are their own reward for those willing to stick it out.
24205 W. Lockport, Plainfield | 815.556.8577 |

No. 3
Jackson Avenue Pub
Aren’t foodie bars supposed to be defined by complicated presentations and hard-to-pronounce ingredients? Not necessarily—ask any Naperville resident where he or she wants to grab a gourmet burger and a beer, and the answer will be almost unanimous.
7 Jackson, Naperville | 630.904.9400 |

No. 4
Barrel + Rye
One of many places in this feature that would be right at home in multiple categories, B+R lands here largely on the strength of its menu of creatively reimagined staples—not to mention the impressive list of whiskeys that complement them.
477 S. Third, Geneva | 630.402.0647 |

No. 5
The Finery and Blacksmith Bar
The name is something of a mouthful, yes, but the combination of creatively conceived gourmet fare and a fantastic wine list is what will be on everyone’s lips as they walk out of this new American hot spot.
305 W. Main, St. Charles | 630.940.2380 |


No. 1
Empire Burgers and Brews
There are plenty of wines, whiskeys and other libations to keep one’s thirst well slaked, but the team behind the Ballydoyle chain put “brews” right there in the moniker for a reason when they brought this concept to the Riverwalk. A retractable glass roof offers patrons a year-round vantage point of the bustling downtown.
48 W. Chicago, Naperville | 630.355.9000 |

No. 2
The Bavarian Lodge
It’s a west suburban legend for several good reasons: namely, the nearly 200 varieties of tap and bottled beer, a menu heavy on traditional German favorites and a beer-hall atmosphere that pulses with the spirit of Oktoberfest all year long.
1800 Ogden, Lisle | 630.241.4701 |

No. 3
World of Beer
True to its name, this model U.N. of barley and hops features a staggering 500+ beers from all around the globe, no passport required. Longtime regulars may bemoan the shift from a BYO food policy, but the new menu doesn’t disappoint.
1727 Freedom, Naperville | 630.955.0399 |

No. 4
Red Arrow Tap Room
This sampler’s paradise offers 48 self-serve taps from which to pull, and a menu of delicious house-smoked barbecue options with which to enjoy your hand-selected beer flight.
111 E. First, Elmhurst | 630-501-1322 |

No. 5
Old Town Pour House
With a seemingly endless row of tap handles and a blackboard listing of available brews (that looks like the most exhaustive detention assignment ever), there’s enough here to keep even the biggest beer nerd enraptured.
1703 Freedom, Naperville | 630.448.6020 |


No. 1
Whether swinging away at one of the climate-controlled hi-tech golf bays or just hunkering down with a burger and a brew in front of one of the dozens of flat screens scattered about this multi-floor playground, there are few places in the area to experience sports quite like this.
3211 Odyssey, Naperville | 630.596.1000 |

No. 2
McQ’s Bar & Grill
From the two-tiered driving range in the golf dome to the horse racing action from all over the country in the OTB parlor, this is the sports bar equivalent of ABC’s old “Wide World of Sports.” Practice your swing in its 60,000 square foot heated dome, or work on your put on two contoured greens.
730 N. Bolingbrook, Bolingbrook | 630.739.1592 |

No. 3
DJ’s Sports Bar & Grill
Cold beer. Good burgers. Televised sports. It’s nothing fancy and it’s not rocket science, which is just the way that God intended. Nine times out of ten, if someone from Westmont says that he or she is going to catch the game at “the bar,” they’re talking about DJ’s.
222 E. Chicago, Westmont | 630.986.1029 |

No. 4
White Tavern
What makes for a good sports bar? Some may say the number or size of the flat screens, but more often it’s simply the atmosphere—it’s the place you want to go to watch the game. So even if the White isn’t known exclusively as a “sports bar,” it’s been known as “the place to go” for decades. And no need to leave your drinking buddy at home—dogs are welcome.
423 E. Ogden, Naperville | 630.357.1890 |

No. 5
Tap In Pub & Carvery
Even in the dead of a Chicago-area winter, golf is never far from the minds of those who truly love the game, and this cozy north side pub is a great place to get that fix—from the memorabilia on the walls to the HD golf simulators offering the chance to get in a few off-season cuts on some of the world’s greatest (virtual) courses.
2155 City Gate Lane, Naperville | 331.457.5798 |


No. 1
Northcott Liquorette
Long removed from the days of Prohibition, the speakeasy is making a modern-day comeback, and this happening hideaway from the Empire folks hones the focus of its big brother on a slate of meticulously crafted concoctions sure to transport imbibers to another era.
40 W. Chicago, Naperville | 630.355.9000 |

No. 2
Let them snicker when you mention a great little cocktail lounge in the heart of sleepy old Plainfield—the killer drinks and laid-back atmosphere at this downtown destination will supply the last laugh.
24027 W. Lockport, Plainfield | 815.782.5022

No. 3
Sullivan’s Steakhouse
Even if you pass on the big steaks in the dining room, the classic martinis and live piano music in the bar are more than enough for a big night out. Inventive martinis and cocktails include the Fig Rosemary Smash, French Fashioned and Hibiscus Cosmopolitan.
244 S. Main, Naperville | 630-305-0230 | sullivanssteakhouse/Naperville

No. 4
The Next Whiskey Bar
Brown liquors are having a moment. For proof, look no further than NWB’s encyclopedic whiskey slate and the enthusiasm and knowledge with which the bartenders dispense it. Try a whiskey flight or simply order two fingers of your fave.
4732 Main, Lisle | 630.541.3811 |

No. 5
Catch 35
As many a fisherman knows, nothing complements a great day on the water like a celebratory drink (or two), and the wide array of creative martinis (just $6 on Wednesdays), mules and more at this seafood stalwart makes a persuasive case for lingering after dinner.
35 S. Washington, Naperville | 630.717.3500 |