If you’ve spent any length of time in Chicago, you’ve probably noticed dive bars taking over Chi-Town’s street scene. Milwaukee Ave. and Division acts as a haven for the Chicago locals, be it skateboarders, businessmen, or college creatives looking for a stiff drink and a moody bartender.
There’s one dive bar in particular that stands out during my time in Chi — Richard’s Bar. Located in River North, Richard’s is the only bar throwing up a big ol’ middle finger to the Chicago Smoking Ban, taken into effect many years ago.
That, and it’s alleged ties to the Chicago Westside mob, makes Richard’s Bar a definite must-see for anyone spending a day or two in Ill-ville. It’s the only dive bar for rule breakers to unite.
One foot into Richard’s and you’re instantly overcome with a waft of cigarette smoke that seems like it’s been trapped inside for decades. Beyond that, with cheap drinks and classic neon lights, Richard’s has all the staples of a good dive bar. It’s rare to find a bar with such an inclusive feel as Richard’s does — good times are a guarantee.
One detail that often goes unnoticed is the small paper sign that reads “Please Do Not Smoke in Here” (clearly a joke), placed ever-so ironically under the packs of Camels being sold, and just above their vintage cash-only register.
My nights at Richard’s spans from birthday ragers and chill gallery opening after-parties, to stealing business men’s trench coats on our way out the door.
So take it from me, you never know how the night will go at Richard’s… Don’t let that intimidate you though, it’s this ‘prohibition-style’ disregard of the law that keeps the night interesting and unforgettable.
Visit Richard’s Bar at 491 N.Milwaukee, Chicago.