Bars, Microbreweries and Music Clubs on Route 66

First, many restaurants on Route 66 serve beer or other alcohol. So this Route 66 list of bars isn’t all-inclusive but is trying to direct you to clubs that offer live music or taverns that boast a lot of history or character (the latter includes the Luna Cafe in Mitchell, Illinois.; Elbow Inn in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri; DeCamp Station in Staunton, Illinois; and The Museum Club in Flagstaff, Arizona). I also wanted to include microbreweries because they, in general, are clean, safe, and serve terrific beer and/or food.

Second, not all these places on Route 66, but within a mile or so. I stretched that proximity so tourists could check out such notable historic places as Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.

A listing with an asterisk (*) is a bar known for live music. Of course, a few of these places without the asterisk may have live music, depending on the night of the week.

Third, I can’t vouch for all these places, so caveat emptor. If you have any suggestions, drop me a line at route66newssite(at)gmail(dot)com.









4 thoughts on “Bars

  1. It seems like you’re going pretty far afield here, at least based on what you’ve listed for Chicago. And I say this as a native Chicagoan. One would think you’d like to stay closer to the actual path of the route.

    Only the Snuggery and the Skylark are on old Route 66, and the Snuggery isn’t even a real tavern: it’s an economy-sized commuter bar on one of the lower levels of Union Station where you go to get a quick snort before you catch the train home. And it certainly wasn’t there when the station opened; in fact, I doubt it’s been there more than a decade, if that. The station itself is of greater significance, having been designed by Daniel Burnham (he died before it was finished; his successor firm, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, supervised its completion).

    The Skylark Lounge is a neighborhood dive in a rough part of town (Lawndale is one of the absolute poorest areas of Chicago), but at least it’s on Route 66 proper. However, the building itself looks to be at least 90 to 100 years old — so it was probably there at the dawn of Route 66. It has some nice leaded-glass windows with colored inserts on the upper floors facing Ogden.

    The Haymarket Pub is at least half a mile north of Adams Street, which is where Route 66 going west now runs; it’s a yuppie bar and brewery and a fairly new entity in a gentrified area. The building it’s in is at least a century old, so it was around when Route 66 opened.

    Buddy Guy’s is a great blues lounge and always packed — but it’s 5 blocks south of Jackson Blvd, which is the original (1926) path of Route 66. Like the Haymarket, it’s a stretch for inclusion; I wouldn’t have put it on the list, but I can highly recommend it for music. Still, if you’re going that far afield, I can’t see why you excluded the Jazz Showcase at 806 S. Plymouth Ct., which is the best jazz club in town and just as far south off the route as is Buddy Guy’s.

    Andy’s Jazz Club is another wonderful music venue — love the place. But for heaven’s sake, it’s all the way across the Chicago River and and mile and a half north of the route!!! Goose Island Brewery is more than two miles north of it, and Fitzgerald’s, another great music club that happens to be in Berwyn, is more than THREE miles off the route! Seriously: how are these places related to Route 66?? Answer: they’re not. They’re just great places to visit if you happen to be in metropolitan Chicago. That’s all.

    Now, if you want to stick closer to the actual path of the route in Chicago, that entire stretch of Jackson and Adams from the South Branch of the Chicago River (about 350 west, at that point) through West Loop to Ashland Avenue (1600 west) is either already redeveloped or gentrifying, and the section between the river and Racine Avenue (1200 west) has a lot of new restaurants and bars. No good music venues, but you can’t have everything … but if you want reliable reviews of local eateries, I suggest that after you glance at Yelp or Zagat, you go to the website for Check, Please! — it’s a restaurant review show on our local public TV station, WTTW:

    Check, Please!,49,1

    For bars and music venues, you can always look to the weekly Chicago Reader ( or the weekly magazine Time Out Chicago (

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