Six of the Best Illinois Bars Outside of Chicago

While Chicago might have the most famous bars of any other town in Illinois, other cities around the state have their fair share of watering holes, neighborhood joints and dive spots. Here are six great Illinois bars outside of Chicago, as compiled by Thrillist and accompanied by reviews from Yelp.

Fast Eddie's Bon Air


From Thrillist: First built by Anheuser-Busch in 1921, this local institution is all about cheap food -- 99-cent bratwurst and 29-cent shrimp, anyone? -- and watching live bands on an outdoor patio that resembles something you might find in Wrigleyville... only way less douchey. The Big Elwood on a Stick (marinated tenderloin) is a must. As is the people watching.

From Yelp: Fast Eddie's Bon Air is a true dive bar with a grill. The drinks and food, are both inexpensive. If you need a cheap date, this is the place. The decor is tacky, but the ambiance is still fun.

Rock Island Public House

Blue Island

From Thrillist: Though it's yet to reach it's second birthday, RIPH feels like it's been around a while (maybe something to do with the fact that its historic digs predate the Lincoln Administration). The 16-strong tap list rotates at a feverish pace (including one-offs and rarities you'd be hard-pressed to find in Chicago, or just about anywhere), the old-school juke box is impossible not to spend a few bucks on (ditto for the arcade games), and the picnic-tabled patio just feels like home. The occasional food trucks that hang out in front? Totally a bonus, as is the fact that it's super easy to get here on the Metra.

From Yelp: This is hand down one of my favorite bars. I love the Beer selection they have, also love that they have craft beer! Not a lot of places have good craft beer (especially, on tap) which is the best way to drink it. I think it is awesome that they have pinball machines (you don't see them around anymore), an old school juke box, and the staff is nice and friendly. Definitely, one of my favorite hang outs.

Hangar 9


From Thrillist: The old Hangar burned down, so they built this one resembling -- you know -- an airplane hangar, but with more modern touches and garage doors that open up to let the breeze in. This bi-level bar is known for top-flight local rock and bluegrass bands, but if you're not up for that, there's nothing wrong with sipping craft brews in the beer garden. Oh right, they have a beer garden!

From Yelp: This is a truly awesome spot and probably my favorite bar in town. They easily have the best tap selection in town every week. They also have the best music and sound quality of any place in town. The building itself is just awesome too, very modern. I'm a fan of the big door open in the summer to the patio. I'll give it 4 stars for the wait to get a drink when it's crowded and they have no kitchen.

Liquid Blues


From Thrillist: The town made famous by Groundhog Day should be as famous for this psychedelic dive, but it isn't. Sure, offbeat touches like lava lamps and beaded curtains are nice and kitschy, but what makes this place stand out is just how much fun it is. Throw in energetic live bands and a must-have Friday fish fry, and we dare you (double-dog, son) not to have a good time here.

From Yelp: Liquid Blues is a classic basement bar. They have a great selection of craft beers and the best fish fry in the county. Whatever your age, you will feel welcome here. Unpretentious, good tunes, and solid service. And one more thing... I've travelled the country and have yet to find anything that challenges their Mac and Cheese made with white whine, buttermilk, and white cheddar. It's the perfect winter time meal.

The Foundry


From Thrillist: If your local sports bar had a torrid affair with a Vegas sports book, the results might come out looking something like The Foundry and its 22 movie-sized projection screens oriented along the main wall in a way that'll feel familiar to anyone who's squandered money on the Bears in Vegas. While you can't bet on the human-based sports here, thereis an OTB. Oh, and a tobacco shop. So yeah, cigars, drinking, gambling... it's pretty close to Vegas. There's also pool, shuffleboard, and volleyball... so basically, if you're ADD, you'll fit in just fine here.

From Yelp: Love this place. Been here a dozen or so times over the last couple years. What I like is its a place multi suited for all types of people or groups. I've come here after dinner with my wife for drinks and to play Shuffleboard. I've come with a group of guys to watch football game and throw darts. Just the other day I came here with my 13 year old son to watch the afternoon Blackhawks game and we played Shuffleboard for a couple hours. Kids are allowed until 8pm. After that it's 21 and up.

The Blind Pig Co.


From Thrillist: You may've spent some fine nights in Champaign drinking whiskey Cokes for free because your friend was in Sigma Chi with one of the bartenders, but you no longer know any (present day) Sigma Chi's, and your tastes have progressed beyond well liquor. Enter The Blind Pig Co., which does some fine brewing in its own right, and also has a draft list stocked with the kind of stuff you never would've appreciated in college: Founders Rubaeus, Deschutes Hop In The Dark, and Stone Cali-Belgique. Just bear in mind that your recovery ability has also changed since college.

From Yelp: Lovely little pub-style establishment, plenty of space, extensive beer list. Definitely one of the finest places to get together with friends in town. Looking forward to my next visit!

Check out six more non-Chicago Illinois bar picks at Reboot Illinois.

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