By Steve

I’ve been living in Chicago for about 7 years now. I went to college at DePaul, where country music definitely wasn’t “cool.” You heard a lot of my least favorite saying, “I like everything, but country.”

I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to date a girl if she doesn’t like country. Frankly, if I can’t convert her, see ya later. In all seriousness, seeing the popularity of country grow in the city has been awesome. You now have tons of options when it comes to country bars and “country nights.” I’m going to highlight some of the best spots in Chicago where country is cool, and will always be cool.

Coming Soon – Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

The first location has been a great success in Scottsdale, AZ. Dierks picked Chicago for the second location, but an opening date has yet to be announced. Expect live music and a bit of a higher-end country bar which will call Chicago’s River North neighborhood home.

Carol’s Pub

Carol’s is the epitome of a dive bar. If you’re a Gen-Y’er, most of the live band and staff could be your grandparents. But, that’s what I love about it. Nobody is trying to be cute. The tables wobble, the banquet chairs are torn, and the beer is cold. It gets crowded on weekend late nights as it is open until 4am. It’s quite the place; pure charm.

Houndstooth Saloon

Located in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, this Alabama bar was one of my first loves. The specials are amazing, and there’s no better place to be on a Thursday night. It can get a little (a lot) crowded, but everyone, and I mean everyone, goes there to get wild. (They even sell 40s)

Old Crow Smokehouse

Also located in Wrigleyville, this enormous bar has two sides, great BBQ from Masterchef’s Tony Scruggs, and live music. The staff and drinks are awesome, but there can be a line to get in, so go a bit earlier than you’re used to.

Country Club

Another Wrigleyville country bar, however, this is the new kid on the block. Unbeatable deals and and an awesome atmosphere make Country Club one of the best places to jam out to your favorite country tunes with all your rowdy friends.

Bub City

This bar is a slice of Nashville in the River North neighborhood. From the decor, to the stage for live music, you can’t help but feel as though you are in Music City, USA. This place gets REALLY busy in a part of the city loaded with clubs. Food and drinks are top-notch and the ambiance is great. Many up-and-coming artists will perform on the Bub City Stage.

Joe’s Bar

There is so much to say about this amazing establishment, but words simply don’t do it justice. If you check out our ‘About Us’ page you’ll see photos of us with some of our favorite country artists; yup, that’s at Joe’s. Joe’s isn’t just legendary in Chicago, it’s known nationwide as being one of the best country bars in America. They simply do it right. Artists want to play there, and artists love to play there. Impromptu performances, you’ll get that at Joe’s (we saw Brad Paisley play a surprise show until 3am and Jake Owen do the same on a Tuesday night). When it comes to energy, it can’t be touched (I think I’m still shaking from Eric Church’s performance back in February). They don’t jack up prices on concert nights, which is very admirable, and you can see rising superstars for $10-20 on a regular basis (we’ll be seeing Craig Campbell and Frankie Ballard this weekend for about $10 a show). The staff is always great, and if you stick around after a performance, you just might run into that night’s artist mingling with the fans. It’s such a unique place to see a show. For my money, it’s the best venue to see a country concert, period.

Chicago Has Quickly Become ‘Nashville North’