Party Earth Review Since 1977, a combination of stiff drinks, killer tunes, and eccentric Wicker Park locals has made Nick’s Beer Garden the customary answer to the question, “Why the hell was I out until 4am last night?” Wading through... ... read full review
1516 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Blue Line: Damen
M–F, Su 4pm–4am, Sa 4pm–5am
Su noon–4am during football season
Wicker Park / Bucktown, Chicago –
Since 1977, a combination of stiff drinks, killer tunes, and eccentric Wicker Park locals has made Nick’s Beer Garden the customary answer to the question, “Why the hell was I out until 4am last night?”
Wading through the darkness toward the pair of tiki-style bars, patrons are as likely to hear Dr. Hook as they are Dr. Feelgood emanating from the eclectic jukebox, as they clamor for specials like Sunday’s $2 beers or the daily $5 PBR-and-shot combos.
The bar’s décor matches the diversity of the neighborhood patrons, with skinny-jeaned hipsters who can appreciate the purposeful kitsch of the pink flamingos lurking above the bar, and grimy rocking regulars who feel at home arguing Sabbath vs. Zeppelin beneath a massive mural of Jimi Hendrix.
A pool table, shuffleboard, and Golden Tee arcade dominate the center of the single large room, while the tiny outdoor patio/beer garden provides a little breath of fresh air beneath the constant rumble of the elevated Blue Line.
“Fresh” might be a stretch.
Mondays bring the blessing of bad karaoke, while Fridays and Saturdays promise a cover-free chance to hear live bands playing blues, rock, R&B, jazz, or soul.
Lubed-up indie cats and scattered packs of bros jam the place good by 2am, when most of the area’s bars close, and everyone who’s not ready to call it quits calls up Nick’s Beer Garden instead.
Neighborhood bar rats, hipsters, and rocker types dominate the early hours, mixed with packs of college kids and anyone else who’s burning the candle at both ends late into the night, 20s to early 40s.
Live bands play blues, rock, R&B, jazz, or soul on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 and 10pm, respectively.
Karaoke on Mondays from 10pm–1am.
Jukebox features a wide range of 70s rock, country, hair bands, and alt tunes through the ages.
Pool table, Golden Tee, shuffleboard, and a pinball machine.
Pair of big screens will show the Bears game if it’s on; otherwise they’re likely tuned to classic movies, cartoons, zombie flicks, et al.
No food, though Wicker Park’s Tamale Man usually rolls through a couple times a night to satisfy the munchies. His chicken tamales with the spicy green salsa are popular.
Daily $5 PBR-and-shot combos and $2–$3 draft/bottle specials on Sundays.
No cover charge. Beer $2.50–$8, wine $6.50, cocktails $5–$8.
Casual: jeans, t-shirts, ripped-up flannel, vintage wear, comfortable blouses, anything goes.
Friday and Saturday nights for live music, any sunny day to grab a beer in the little beer garden, or any night after 2am to join everyone else destined for a frightfully painful following morning.
Pint (1547 North Milwaukee Avenue) is a few doors down and offers a full menu of burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and other comfort foods to coat the stomach. Nick’s owner, Nick Novich, also owns The Flat Iron (1565 North Milwaukee Avenue), a fun-loving hangout for the tattooed and pierced set looking to rock out to the jukebox, play some pool, and throw back a few whiskey shots with strangers.