Let’s face it. This city has a HUGE problem with segregation. Locals know it. Transplants are shocked by it. It is obvious and unavoidable. When you think about the 3rd largest city in the country, a city flowing with “good” old Midwestern values, it’s kind of hard to believe that a place could have such a separation gap. Not only racially, but economically as well.
This list is inspired by those conversations of segregation. Constant deliberations of places to go for diverse young professionals. Repeated exchanges amongst social circles (mostly black) of frustration and anxiety, all in the name of nightlife and going out in Chicago. I am a firm believer in supporting businesses that support me and my cultural interest every day of the week. Not JUST on a weekday that is referred to as “insert your race night.” At the end of the day, no one should be on the struggle bus to find a good time in the city. We should all go where we are celebrated, not tolerated.
Coming up with this list was not that easy to do. I first thought about places that I have personally been to and got the opinions of others as well. I thought about friends in my inner circle who are always looking for the best nightlife. Lastly, I went to social media. I looked at various Instagrams, mostly the location tags and hashtags as a primary source comparing what I found to Facebook and Twitter as well. Pictures( when they are not manipulated at least) tell a thousand words and these images told a lot about the people who support the businesses on this list.
Many of the venues on this list share the same characteristics. They provide an open atmosphere for all types of individuals to get together, mostly in the name of food, music, and good vibes and better booze. I also looked at the calendar of events for these locations. The calendars had to make sense of who they were as a brand. These places are reflective of the neighborhoods and tend to be in the same area as each other, which apparently says a lot about the community that is there. I hope one day lists like these won’t be necessary. That everyone, no matter who they are, can feel welcomed and appreciated in any and every venue in the city.
So, here’s the breakdown. No particular order. All the images are from real people with real Instagram profiles.
Here is The Haute Seekers list of The 21 Most Inclusive Venues for nightlife in Chicago.
The Promontory quickly became the go-to spot for South Side residents since its inception in 2014. It’s the venue that has filled the void of legendary places like the Avalon Regal Theater and many other historical music venues and clubs. The Promontory features a well-crafted food and beverage menu. However, most patrons visit the location for an always well-received party or live entertainment. The venue does an excellent job catering to the needs of the community and keeps full calendar events for every day and everybody who visits them throughout the week.
Promontory, 5311 South Lake Park Ave. W, 312-801-2100
Every weekend the three-level bar, lounge, and restaurant in the Logan Square neighborhood set the tone for good weekend nightlife. Both Friday and Saturday feature back to back nights of Hip-Hop, as well as weekday food and drink specials Monday-Friday.
Black Lion, 2434 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The Holiday Club has been serving comfort food and cool cat vibes for over twenty years. Every day of the week this neighborhood bar and lounge keeps the good vibes going until 2:00 a.m. Every night is a reason to enjoy the Holiday Club with daily specials under $10 bucks and free entertainment; there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy no matter their background at this Uptown lounge.
Holiday Club Chicago, 4000 N. Sheridan Rd., 773-348-9600
Are you looking for a place to booze, brunch, and party? Look no further than the Fremont Chicago. On the weekends, guest can catch good vibes at a great price, with brunch included. Brunch includes a buffet full of savory and sweet treats for everyone to enjoy—plus a donut wall that you will only find at the Fremont. This venue is a great place for large groups looking for unlimited mimosas and a day party all in one place.
Fremont Chicago, 15 W. Illinois St, 312-874-7270
Alhambra Palace makes quite a statement in the city’s West Loop neighborhood. The popular Middle Eastern restaurant is known for delivering a dynamic environment of live music and entertainment that is hard to find elsewhere. A venue that creates a quick escape to an exotic land, for even the most diverse collective group of people.
Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph St.,312-666-9555
Beauty Bar is the epitome of an inclusive environment. On a weekly basis, the venue holds events that cater to the likes of literally everyone. From open mic concepts like the Salonathon to the Tuesday night legacy party known as Timbuck Tuesdays, the Beauty Bar is unabashedly able to draw in open-minded crowds that appreciate good music, great martinis, and bomb ass manicures.
Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., 312-226-8828
The sexy lower level lounge inside of Dusek’s reminds you of your grandparent’s basement from the ’70s but all for the right reasons. Like the mod podge of colorful decor, you will find a crowd that resembles the same array of uniqueness. On a nightly basis, one can time warp to days of vinyl records and homemade inspired cocktails in this vintage-inspired bar, and mellow out to the sounds of soul, new wave, electronic, vintage Latin music and more.
Punch House, 1227 W. 18th St., 312- 526-3851
The Chop Shop is a mega-venue in the city. Located in a 100-year-old former auto body shop, it boasts over 6,000 square foot of space and features a restaurant, bar, deli market, rooftop space, and butcher shop. The 1st Wards Events space is known for accolade a variety of events that focus on philanthropy, fashion, the arts, and much more. It is a venue that is not just for the diverse set of socialites in the city, but for the everyday business professionals too.
Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave.,773-537-4441
When you are looking a different way to wind down after a long work week, Ace Bounce is a pretty good move. The only U.S location of its kinds, the bar, restaurants, and ping pong playground brings out a variety of people every night. The evening table tennis concept is a very refreshing alternative to the club scene in Chicago. No dress code, no bad vibes, no problem.
Ace Bounce, 230 N. Clark St.,773-219-0900
East Room has a reputation. It is one the involves hipsters and the diverse set of “cool kids” in Chicago. The Logan Square venue is a late bar. It has a 4 a.m. curfew, which makes a great after spot for many night owls in the city. The venue is also one of the few places that rarely have a cover charge and always has cheap drinks. One of those default places that you’ll never question when it comes to having a good time.
East Room Chicago,2354 N Milwaukee Ave., 773-698-8774
Rated by The Chicago Reader as 2017’s Best New Gallery. AMFM is a small venue space that has an incredible following and indescribable energy. This place brings together music, fashion, art, and a dynamic group of creatives. Especially those who are black and brown. The AMFM life is not stationary to its gallery space in Pilsen but continues to expand its reach within the city through its monthly event Jazz Series pop-ups and other inclusive events.
AMFM, 2151 W. 21st St., 312-971-7502
Fox Bar at Soho House Chicago
Behind the saloon doors of the 2nd-floor bar of the Soho House lies the Fox Bar. A very quaint space in the members only West Loop club. On a nightly basis, this venue is serving up specialty cocktails and spinning vinyl records; it’s an overall great space for chilling out with people from all walks of life. Want to be a part of the scene without the membership fee? The Fox Bar is the place to do it.
Fox Bar Chicago,113-125 North Green St., 312-521-8000
The Original Mothers
The Original Mother’s has been holding it down on Clark and Division for over 45 years. The late night bar serves up cheap drinks and free entertainment like nightly karaoke, and weekend burlesque shows to draw incredibly diverse sets of people to its doors on a nightly basis. Everyone from the bar regulars to the local purveyors and even the out of towners looking for a good ol’ time in the city.
The Original Mothers, 26 W. Division St., 312-642-7251
Cerise at the Virgin Hotel
Cerise sits atop the very first Virgin Hotel in the world. This upscale rooftop bar has some great views of the city and fabulous nightclub to match. The venue is deeply rooted in its heritage of music. Cerise regularly features resident DJs and often hosts some of the summer’s major festivals after parties. This is one of those venues where you can also catch a celeb sighting or two.
Cerise, 203 N. Wabash Ave., 312-940-4400
The Whistler is another Logan Square favorite venue. A no cover, all inclusive bar/gallery/record label/ venue space that is open seven nights a week. Their calendar is jam-packed with live events that cater to all types of music lovers, but those who have a keen admiration of jazz will find themselves at home at this venue. In addition, to live performances, the venue is home to the monthly, multi-award winning dance party celebrating the LGBTQ community Slo ‘Mo.
The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-227-3530
The Annex is a weekend only nightclub located in Wicker Park. The venue invites you to “come as you are,” and vibe out to EDM, House music, and Top 40. The Annex is an excellent alternative to the River North nightclub scene. Reasonable table service, relaxed dress code, and they are open till 5 a.m.
Annex Night Club, 1958 W North Ave., 773-278-4646
Baderbräu Tap & Kitchen
This brewery beams with South Side pride. Baderbräu is located in the South Loop and is full of South Side pride from its brew to its menu. The home-grown tap room and kitchen feature weekly events like Chicago Friday Night Flights. Badebräu’s 40,000 square food venue space has also been used for other entertaining events from a diverse set of event planning companies as well.
Baderbräu, 2515 S. Wabash Ave., 312-809-2728
Underground Wonder Bar( not to be confused with the Underground Nightclub) is home to jazz, funk, soul, reggae, and more 365 days of the week. An eclectic mix of people makes their way to the famous venue for musical performances that bring together every race, age, and gender. One of the few women-owned spaces in the city, Loni Walker who established the venue in 1989, has continued to draw everyone from celebrities and locals alike to her electric and unique Wonder(ful) Bar.
Underground Wonder Bar, 710 N. Clark St., 312-266-7761
If you are in the mood to rage any day of the week, make your way to Evil Olive. The venue is known for hosting events that bring out brash crowd. Well known for hosting the major Monday night dance party Porn and Chicken (now featured at The Mid), the late-night venue in Wicker Park allows you to be your most uninhibited self. Sweating, grinding and turning up with people from all walks of life.
Evil Olive, 1551 W. Division St., 773-904-7273
Reggie’s is one of the most down to earth venues you will find in the city. No frills, laid-back space that feature up and coming acts, cheap drinks, and damn good bar food( their wings are a must). They, like many other arts, focused venues, always have a full calendar list of events to check out. In addition to that, their record store stocks an impressive collection of vinyl from all genres of music. Reggie’s has one quality that sticks out from the rest of the inclusive venues on the list, and that is their collection of Reggie’s Rockin’ Buses. The Reggie Bus transports music lovers and sports fans with round-trip transportation to various areas, stadiums, and concert halls around the city and even across state lines, most often for free! A great perk of this well-loved venue.
Reggies Chicago 2105 S. State St., 312-949-0120
Maria’s Packaged Goods
The hybrid bar and liquor store is a well-known commodity with a fascinating history. Another female owned venue, Maria’s Packaged Goods is a South Side tavern that provides a unique set of rotating craft beers to enjoy on-site or at home. The vibe is so chill and welcoming that any patron will want to stay and enjoy a round and even grab a 6-pack to go. Attached to Maria’s is the recently opened Kimiski is a Polish-Korean food that pairs perfectly with the on-site brews at this Bridgeport dwelling.
Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar, 960 W. 31 St., 773-890-0588