At some bars, darts is more than just a game; it's a way of life. The players at these spots don't need to leave an ID at the bar for collateral, because they've brought their own equipment. All they need are opponents - are you up to the challenge?
Sidekicks offers more than your average dart room.
Sidekicks is popular for two reasons: karaoke and darts. The amateur singing begins the moment you walk through the door, but the dartboards, thankfully, reside in their own private sanctuary. The dart room features six boards to choose from and makes for an ideal practice space. Once you've worked up an appetite, order up some standard pub grub like a foot of onion rings (served with three different dipping sauces), breaded mushrooms or mozzarella cheese sticks. On tap you'll find favorites like Honker's Ale, Guinness and Stella Artois, while bottles make room for your typical domestic lineup.
Mulligan's Public House
In the Windy City Cup of "Best Dart Bars," this one would surely take first place. Not only does the place have lockers for its league players, but it's got all the accoutrements: a glass case with replacement flights and shafts for sale, a throwback whetstone for sharpening darts (instead of those minuscule cylindrical sharpening contraptions). In fact, Mulligan's is so serious about darts, that you'll notice the focus remains on the sport, rather than the actual bar area. Consider it Chicago's mecca for darts. Leagues play here on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and even the patrons put serious stock into the game. Play it safe and practice at one of the other joints and then put your best foot, er, dart, forward at Mulligan's.
Six Penny Bit
If there's one thing we love with a game of darts, it's Irish folk songs, thick accents and pints of Guinness. And that's exactly what you get at this North Side neighborhood pub. Rather than the expected lot of frat boys found in most Irish bars, this one is home to a select group of regulars, most of them natives of the old country. You may feel a bit out of context at first, but after a round or two, you'll fit right in. The lads here mean business when it comes to darts and billiards (both located in a separate party room), so you'd better have some serious skills.
Aside from its large bar crowd (standard for Wrigleyville), the Blarney Stone has all of our favorite things including cheap booze, a kitchen that stays open late, friendly staff and plenty of dartboards. The cramped playing area is less than ideal, but that doesn’t seem to bother professional leagues like the Windy City Darters, who play here regularly. And when you need a break from the board, you can throw one down at the billiards or foosball table.
If there's one thing we've learned from our excursion, it's that Irish pubs are a surefire bet when it comes to a serious game of darts, and Claddagh Ring is no exception. It's no coincidence, either, that the majority of these places are plotted on the North Side, as that's where the largest population of Chicago's league players resides. Claddagh Ring keeps the guys comin' back with its spacious playing area, cheap bar food and its regular lineup of imported brews on tap.
Just in it for fun? Play for free at these dart-friendly bars:
Burke's Web Pub
Will's Northwoods Inn