THE BLOG
02/22/2013 03:38 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2013

22 Artists Name Their Favorite Dirty Dives and Late Night Joints

In a previous post on favorite restaurants in Chicago, artists listed their preferred go-to spots with the most creative chefs. The list included places like Moto, Big Star, Trotters (even closed people still salivate), and Alinea. But let's face it: Most artists can't afford to dine at a place like Next unless they agree to do the dishes... for a long, long time. So, in true starving artist fashion, I polled 20 artists on their late night dives, juicy joints, hidden gems, cheap eats and all-around favorite hole-in-the-walls in the city. Take note. There are some great finds here!

1. "If you want a place to eat after a night of drinking that won't be full of douche bags and won't make you feel like eating there was a mistake when you finally wake up the next day, stay up 'til 4:30 a.m. and go to Eppel's on Roosevelt Road. You won't be sorry."

-- Dmitry Samarov, painter and writer

2. "Ahhh, Chilaquiles at Kitsch'n in Roscoe Village. Great after a long night!"

- -Glen Hansard, musician

3. "Weegee's Lounge because the bartenders pour marvelous cocktails -- mine is a dirty gin martini -- and then you can play shuffleboard! It's got a great design inside and is so unassuming outside you'd almost miss it."

-- Lauren Levato, artist and writer

4. "Fischman Liquors & Tavern. It's next to The Gift Theatre and their microbrew selection (bar and store) rivals if not trumps anywhere in Chicago, while the bar retains its old-school/wood-paneled charm. Folks are cool and celebratory about beer as opposed to didactically dogmatic. It's a true neighborhood joint that is daring and risky and bold and kind and loving and the right intensity of crazy -- just like The Gift. Go fischin'."

-- Michael Patrick Thornton, Co-founder, Artistic director, The Gift Theatre

5."I've been playing at Kingston Mines for over thirty years: a quintessential, authentic Chicago Blues joint where we can hang with our fans and fellow musicians until 4am! Check out their wings and tasty sweet potato fries!"

-- Billy Branch, blues musician

6. "My favorite late night dive is currently Archie's Iowa and Rockwell Tavern. They have cheap beer, free pool, free board games, free popcorn, free cheeseballs, you can bring your dog, and they don't play their music so loud that you can't hear the people you're with!"

-- Jeff Perlman, freelance videographer

7. "The Long Room is a cool spot minus pretension and attitude.  Beer list is great and there are specials everyday.  There's good music (at perfect conversation level) and an open patio when the weather is right.  Perfect for a low-key, but fun night."

-- Stephanie Paul, Co-founder, Artistic director, Be the Groove

8. "The Weiner Circle on Clark/Wrightwood because they have the best burgers. Even though the ladies there are very scary, it's kind of fun."

-- Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Artistic director, Luna Negra Dance Theater

9. "La Pasadita. After a gig, there is no better place on earth for late-night eating. La Pasadita says they have the best tacos in town and they ain't lying. The steak tacos are the stuff of dreams. There are three locations on the same block. I prefer the yellow one; it's bigger, has tables and an expanded menu."

-- Steve Dawson, lead singer, Dolly Varden

10. "Great food in a rock and roll setting... it's gotta be Three Aces."

-- Joe Prino, General manager, Mayne Stage

11. This isn't a dive, but there is a very cool bar on Milwaukee called 694. On Wednesdays they serve the most amazing food, cheese plates, etc. -- but only on Wednesdays. The chef treats everyone like they are in his home. It is a very intimate place with a very hip buildout. I love it!

-- Arica Hilton, artist and co-owner Hilton-Asmus Gallery

12. "Every Sunday night I go to the Town Hall Pub (the only straight friendly bar in Boys Town). I check out the "Entertaining Julia Comedy Show" and get a order of Pot Roast from Nookies restaurant next door. Joke + pot roast + whiskey = winning!"

-- Comedian/Radio Host, Brian Babylon

13. "I feel like it's almost cliche, but when me and my special lady friend have no desire to cook for ourselves and we've been out at a show, we almost always go to the Golden Apple Diner. They put a ton of butter on their toast and the booths are big enough for snugglin'!"

-- Robby co-founder and curator for The Encyclopedia Show.

14. "My fav dive is Estelle's. Nothing beats $2 Tuesdays at Estelle's. This hole-in-the-wall joint might get packed, but the delicious milk stout, great juke box tunes and familiar faces make it the place to go. It's also right around the corner from legendary venue Double Door, so you can always count on an after party at Estelle's."

-- Biliana Grozdanova, Independent filmmaker

15. "After an art opening at my gallery, my wife and I often make our way over to Bite Café on Western next to the Empty Bottle. It's a good place to chill, and, if we can't get a table, we always can sit at the tiny counter. They cook like we do at home... but better: mac and cheese, shaved brussels sprouts, chicken palliard, lots of vegetarian. Killer desserts! What more can you ask for?"

Aron Packer, Packer Schopf Gallery

16. "A meal that really does it for me is the "Trucker Bowl" at the Flying Saucer. I should mention that this vegetarian friendly little corner joint is only two blocks from my studio; but, that doesn't factor in to my love of the "Trucker Bowl." This is a big bowl with two biscuits and sunny side up eggs mixed in with vegetarian gravy, cheese and other wonders. It is a great, low-key breakfast spot where it is hard to find a seat on weekends, but is pretty open during the week. You have to get there before three, though."

-- Jason Brammer, artist

17. "My favorite place for delicious artistic bites and beautiful, warm, private decor is Ruxbin. The team of chefs, plus shared plate dining, make for a great creative collaboration in a cozy Chicago nook."

-- Ted Seymour, Resident choreographer, Ballet Chicago.

18. "The one I go to the most is The Brown Sack.  Everything is homemade and it has such a wide selection that I can never decide what to get.  They have vegan shakes and they roast pork fresh every day for their most popular sandwich.  And, yes, I do have a vegan shake with my favorite sandwich, the Meatball Sub!  There's a different soup every day and... they deliver!!  So when I'm in my studio and on a roll, I don't have to break stride for lunch.  A guy rides up on a bike and hands me my piping hot sandwich."  

-- Lynn Basa, artist

19. "How to pick? There are tacos at Tacos Villa, pho at Tank, Fried Chicken and Green Papaya Salad at Sticky Rice, the cumin lamb with bone in along with pot stickers (what else?) at Ed's Potsticker House, the tabletop BBQ at San Soon Gap San, and the hand-pulled noodles along with the cucumber salad at Jibek Jolu. Then there's my friend Tara Lane who is one of the most inventive and down-to-earth, chef-art-food people I know!"

-- Laura Letinsky, professor, University of Chicago, and Artist

20. "I love the Golden House Restaurant (and Pancake House) in Uptown, right next to the Riviera!  It's only open until 6 p.m., but it's got a huge menu and prices that you'd usually see in the '65 and over' section of the menu.  It's perfectly divey, and the breakfasts there are simple, but wonderful.  It's awesomely 'Chicago' by virtue of it being one of the many "Golden" diners, and it's right at the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence, which makes for great people-watching."

-- Jayson Brooks, frontman of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

21. "For the real dive it is, of course, The Billy Goat Tavern for a double cheeseburger. But, for a change (and a mild fight with the cashier who will likely insist on the double cheeseburger), get a bacon (not ham) and egg sandwich, which is quite tasty, and not so filling."

-- Chuck Osgood, photographer

22. "My favorite late night dive, if you can still call this place a dive, is The Hideout.  Though hidden by a federal trucking yard off of Elston Ave., The Hideout is a popular place these days, with an intimate backroom that provides enough space for patrons to mingle, drink, and dance. If I don't end up at the Hideout sloshing beer around while I try to get my funk on, the night is not yet over."

-- John Fecile, Film Director, Producer, Writer

And one more for fun.

23. "Long before Wicker Park was 'the thing', I had a gallery on the corner of Wabansia and Damen next to what is now Silver Cloud, but used to be a pool hall that doubled as a brothel, complete with bullet holes in the door, plump ladies in hot pink Spandex and whiskey a go-go. As tempting as a noon whiskey was next door, I opted for what was then a tiny grocery store, Sultan's Market, on North Avenue that made mouth watering falafel in the back. The falafel became so popular that they turned the whole grocery store into a two room, cash-only restaurant serving incredible falafel, hummus, babaganoush and more. I still can't get enough. BYO whiskey optional."

-- Elysabeth Alfano, Executive producer of Fear No ART and Fear No ART presents The Dinner Party