Billy Goat Tavern

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Billy Goat Tavern Tucked away on the southern end of Michigan Avenue, Billy Goat Tavern – known for being not only the subject of several Saturday Night Live sketches but also the epicenter of the infamous Cubs curse – has been drawing in a... Chicago United States 41.8904097650536 -87.6242923736572
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Famous cheezborger sign outside Billy Goat Tavern.
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Party Earth Review Tucked away on the southern end of Michigan Avenue, Billy Goat Tavern – known for being not only the subject of several Saturday Night Live sketches but also the epicenter of the infamous Cubs curse – has been drawing... ... read full review

  • Train:

    Red Line: Grand; Brown, Green, Pink, Purple Express, Orange Lines: State/Lake

  • Phone:


  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–F 6am–2am, Sa 10am–3am, Su 10am–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Billy Goat Tavern Review

The Scene

Tucked away on the southern end of Michigan Avenue, Billy Goat Tavern – known for being not only the subject of several Saturday Night Live sketches but also the epicenter of the infamous Cubs curse – has been drawing in a...

Tucked away on the southern end of Michigan Avenue, Billy Goat Tavern – known for being not only the subject of several Saturday Night Live sketches but also the epicenter of the infamous Cubs curse – has been drawing in a diverse crowd for burgers and beer since 1934.

Neon lights point patrons down to the subterranean space, whose simple greasy counter and bright orange tables are usually filled with everyone from gruff but loyal locals to fanny-packed tourist groups, each plowing through plates of artery-clogging fare as the grizzled wait staff calls out orders for “Cheezborgers! Cheezborgers!” – much like former regular John Belushi did in his Billy Goat parodies on SNL.

TV fame aside, the venue has also become a tourist attraction thanks to its starring role in Cubs mythology; namely, back in 1945 the original owner cursed the team when ushers barred his pet goat from Wrigley Field.

Flanked by the Chicago Tribune and the old home of the Chicago Sun-Times – and featuring yellowed articles from former regulars like Mike Royko and Roger Ebert – the bar has long been a regular haunt for reporters drawn to the joint’s fast-paced, no nonsense vibe, and a slew of journalists young and old still show up to pour over copy or yell into their phones over seven-dollar burger and beer specials.

Offering both a glimpse at comedic history and an excuse for the latest Cubs loss, Billy Goat Tavern is an inviting watering hole where, true to its slogan, anyone can feel free to “butt in anytime.”

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Tip from Emma:

Chicagoans John Belushi and Bill Murray satirized the Billy Goat’s counter staff on Saturday Night Live with the catchphrases, “Cheezborger, cheezborger! No fries! Chips!” It’s still true – you will be reprimanded if you try to order fries.

  • Crowd

    Tourists ranging from foreign backpackers to suburban families, journalists and media types, young professionals from nearby offices and the convention center, and local politicians, mid-20s to late 40s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Four TVs tuned to sports.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Diner fare including egg breakfasts, burgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

  • Prices

    Egg dishes $3–$6, burgers $3–$7, sandwiches $3–$6. Beer $4–$5, mixed drinks $5–$7.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: Hawaiian shirts to business suits.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for the biggest crowd and lots of convention-goers and business travelers, or Sundays for a busy but more relaxed atmosphere.

  • Close By

    Wendella Sightseeing (400 North Michigan Avenue) runs boat tours and a water taxi on the Chicago River, and offers architecture and wine tasting tours popular with tourists and residents alike.

Billy Goat Tavern User Reviews

Average rating:
Historically hidden staple of Chicago
Steven T. Sep 18, 2013
Being an SNL and Cubs fan, the first place I needed to visit was The Billy Goat Tavern. Located on lower Michigan Ave., you may miss this historical staple of Chicago by walking right passed it! Walking down the stairs you'll find the entertainment that brought the skit on SNL fame. Known more for the atmosphere than their food & class, you can nestle up to the bar for the greasiest burger of your life while washing it down with a PBR - all for a few bucks. If anything, come to check this off your bucket list BEFORE visiting your cardiologist. Don't forget to buy a t-shirt! cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger...
one of Chicago's best
Ethan N. May 7, 2013
The billy goat tavern is more than just a staple of Chicago, it breathes life into the famous Saturday Night live sketch that uses it's infamous catchphrase, "cheezborgor cheezborgor". Not only is the restaurant famous but the food is just as good as it always has been for over 70 years. The burgers are delicious morsels of greasy goodness that makes the trip worth it every time. The food alone is what makes this place historic and the chicanery seems to be an afterthought after you bit into the juicy burger, it's more than fast food, it's an institution of flavor.
Andrew D. Apr 25, 2013
Cheesborger, Cheeseborger, my ass. Seriously, how can anyone consider this grease pile a good burger?! Especially in Chicago! Great, this place is a "classic," a "staple," and a "Chicago tradition." However, the food just does not stack up with other burger masterpieces in the city. Not to mention the fact that they've essentially turned themselves into a chain. Plus, they serve Pepsi (ew) instead of Coca-Cola, Miller (pee) instead of Bud, and chips (cheapskates) instead of fries. This place is overrated. It was overrated ten years ago, and is overrated today. With so many more delicious options, why bother?
I'm supposed to go down these stairs???
Nick C. Feb 21, 2013
I had been on Michigan Avenue countless times before I went to the Billy Goat. The first time I went it was completely by mistake. Upon entering I noticed a wide array of personalities, young and old, black and white, rich and poor all enjoying a beer and sandwich. Personally, I had a glass bottle of PBR, very classy. It is one of those places that you know is a dive and that is exactly what is charming about it. To have such a place tucked in near such upscale shopping boggles the mind, but I think that is the point. So the next time you are with your significant other and tired of walking through the millionth store of the day, stop by the Billy Goat and have a PBR in a bottle.
Blackhawks Classic
JD K. Jan 29, 2013
This is a Chicago Classic. I have gone to the Billy goat before or after every hockey game I have ever gone to. I'm convinced if I don't go the Hawks won't win. It is a picturesque Chicago bar/restuarant. Its got the dive bar feel and has a shrine to Chicago sports great. Not to mention the burgers are awesome. The food is cheap, the beer is plentiful, and its going to be a loud and rowdy time. You can run into everyone there. From college kids, to tourists, to people who will still be taking shots to Ditka. You can't go wrong with starting or ending your Chicago adventure with the Billy Goat Tavern.
Awesome and entertaining
Christina W. Dec 13, 2012
What a hilarious, ridiculous, amazing place. This is a Chicago institution for sure! I first came here my freshman year of college as part of our dorm orientation (i.e. “cultural orientation”) and I didn’t really know what to make of it all. It is divey, seedy, and not a place freshman me would ever have chosen to go on my own. But now, after experiencing the amazing Chicago dive bar culture, this place suddenly makes so much more sense. I’m still afraid to eat of the food they serve, but I can’t get enough of the ridiculous signs on the walls, and it’s a great place to enjoy a pint before any sort of downtown adventure. (Or before/after a movie at River 21 East!)
Ignore the naysayers and get loaded
Craig B. Dec 10, 2012
The Billy Goat Tavern is the real deal. Get off the 'L,' go down the stairs, and drop the facade. The food's cheap, the people are loud, and somebody is going to spill something on someone. Get over it. It's a good place to hit before at the beginning or end of a night, or as a destination all its own. One of the nights that I was there, they were showing a retrospective on Dennis Rodman on a few screens, complete with him in the wedding dress. The Billy Goat Tavern is a place to stop taking everything so darn seriously and just enjoy your burger and beer.
A Chicago institution, not just for tourists
Brinda G. Dec 7, 2012
Though I've lived in or near Chicago my whole life, I'd never been to a Billy Goat Tavern, and I figured it was just a tourist thing. Turns out that the original location still feels like the real deal, with decades of yellowing newspaper columns lining the walls, low prices for good greasy food, and journalists still hanging out among the tourists. The underground location is pretty cool, as you can pretend you’re in a Batman movie. When I stepped in for a beer, there were old-school Woodward/Bernstein type newspaper guys trading stories, and I had a great convo with the bartender. I’m glad that, even though newspapers are apparently dying, the old journalist hangout is still going strong.
Molly T. Nov 19, 2012
Billy Goat's is a must see in Chicago! The burgers are so good and of course the experience of it all adds to the fun of going! I always like to go and order with my best SNL accent "Yeehh can I get a Cheezborger ?" it's so great to see everyone who works there yelling out the orders too! You get your food really quick and every time I've gone the burgers have been phenomenal. It has a very old school, sportsy, underground dive kind of feel but I like that about it. It's definitely enough to fill up a girl like me (and believe me I can put away a large plate of food if I put my mind to it) and you'll be full for your day in Chicago either shopping or site-seeing or ice-skating in the winter! If anything, go for the experience and I think you'll be pleased with the food as well.
Go late on a weekday and you'll have the place to yourself
Amster M. Nov 19, 2012
This was a great surprise. I’ve always been a big SNL fan, and the skits based on Chicago characters have always been a favorite (from Da Bears to Cheesebourger). It’s funny how identical the whole place is, from the location to the look of the food and traditional squeeze bottles. Plus you can grab a beer there. I can’t recommend the cheeseburgers if you’re looking for good food, but I ate one anyway in the name of Belushi and classic comedy skits that still make me laugh. If you like photography, you can get some colorful shots with neon lighting in the background… especially of the burger flipping.
Touristy Dive
Daniel B. Oct 23, 2012
The Billy Goat has got to be the most tourist-infested dive bar in the states. But don't let that stop you from hopping under the bridge and pulling up a sticky seat at this Chicago icon. It's a great place to catch a game or have a cheap beer before heading out for the night. But with culinary legends like Hot Doug's and tons of deep-dish options scattered through the city, there's really no reason to eat here (prices reflect the high tourist volume).
Go once for the tourist draw....
Jessica S. Oct 4, 2012
Oh, Billy, you are no doubt on every Chicago tourist's list because of its SNL fame. And while I have seen the skits from the 1980s a million times, there’s really no other reason to go here than for a bit of nostalgia. Last time I stopped at the Billy Goat was on the way back from a Blackhawks game, ready to celebrate since the visiting team (my hometown!) won! It is more like a diner than a tavern... low key, brightly lit and basically empty. True to the SNL skit, the main menu item is the "Cheezborger" and there are no fries or Pepsi, only chip and Coke. And if your boyfriend happens to ask for fries he will get the SNL skit response of "No fries! Cheeeps!" .... I very much enjoyed my Cheezborger, but it wasn't anything legendary. It's one of those places you have to try once and take some pictures of to say that you did, but that's pretty much it.
Simply a destination
Nick T. Aug 24, 2012
The Billy Goat has built up a reputation as a must-see Chicago landmark over the years. However, it really is overrated as anything other than a place to check off your list of must visit destinations. The food is standard bar quality with a limited selection and the atmosphere is almost run-down starting with the easy to miss entrance tucked under and overpass. The novelty of ordering your food and have the people behind the counter haggle with you about what you want to eat is fun, but other than that it is really not very special. If you want solely and experience then the Billy Goat is a place you should check out, but in my opinion there are much better options for a place to grab a bit all over Chicago and especially in the immediate River North area.
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