It happens to everybody – at some point there just isn’t more money to spend and we can’t issue bonds like the US government with its unlimited credit. A few summers ago before I enrolled into grad school I recall that they were some of the brokest days of my life. Very little money generally means a limited range of options, not being to hang out with friends when they price you out, and having to eat with austerity.
Things have changed, while I’m longer scrounging around spare change bins and asking friends for a spot, every once in awhile I take a look at what’s cheap and what’s new. To begin, let’s take a look at the I am po’ survivalist kit.
1) Metromix – Did you know you can find hundreds of things going on any given night? With features such as Booze for the Buck, Cheap Swills, and Best Budget Bites of ‘09 – you’ll be equipped with good ideas. Don’t forget Metromix also lists all specials at all bars.
2) Smalltabs – Any neighborhood, any kind of drink special, any night of the week. Not only is this good for when you’re low on coin, it’s also good when one of your friends insists on staying in a neighborhood but refuses to spend anything!
3) Drinktown – Need a more visual presentation of bars and their drink specials? Drinktown is it, they show the map where the goods are and you can sort by food or drink specials. Zip code search is kind of a hassle and you do have to log in, so it’s certainly lost a bit of its luster.
4) Brokehipster – Use Brokehipster to find free and cheap things to do around the city on any given night. Brokehipster has given me the scoop on several open bars, launch parties, and random free stuff.
5) Chicago Specials – While Smalltabs and Drinktown may be encyclopedic in their listings, think of Chicago Specials as a tiny cheat sheet. Chicago Specials is more like Smalltabs Lite.
6) Local Tourist – Here is another cheap deal search sortable by neighborhood and day of the week. It’s a fairly comprehensive list, too bad you can’t look at all of the specials at once.
7) Centerstage – Looking for a specific special? You can look for specials like Stella Artois in Uptown on a Wednesday in West Loop.
From personal experience, you can always search through all of these sites to find something new but I do have a few favorites that have stood the test of time no matter the circumstance. Here are my best bets:
Goldies – Daily $1 PBR / $4 Pitchers. Do you like board games? They’ve got it. How bout some Pac Man? Yep. Steel darts? Definitely. Pool? Amen! Old school Nintendo? Oh you got that right! Goldie’s is the #1 for being po’ hands down.
Christina’s Place – Every day all day until 4 in the morning you can get Guinness for $2. $2 for a Guinness is a deal, although you may have to deal with a few roughnecks in this Avondale bar. Fortunately, the hipsters and popped collar drunkards of Wicker Park/Lincoln Park won’t be found in this northwest side haven. If you’re looking for some serious pool competition get on over! My favorite bartender in the world, Silvana is there on the weekends, so tip her well!
Weekly Budget Hotspots
Monday: Kelly’s Pub - $1 Coors Light Drafts & $1 Tacos. Yes, you WILL have to deal with the Lincoln Park DePaul students, and you will have to be in popped collar and backwards cap heaven, but if you are penny pinching you’ve got to make every last dollar count. With this combination you will get your fill of drink and eats on the cheap.
Tuesday: Joe’s on Weed – 25¢ Beer, $2 Pitchers, Half Price Pizza. Nope, you won’t be getting some high quality beer here, but beer is beer! For a $3 cover before 9pm or $5 cover with student ID / $10 cover with no student after 9pm you can rush to the bar, grab a seat, and stop worrying about the horse by loading the wagon.
Wednesday: Brownstone Tavern – $5 All You Can Eat Wings with purchase of $5 Jumbo Drink. Last time I went here for my birthday the service was tremendously poor and I was outraged. If you are looking to get your fill of wings and beer you will likely get the job done if your server complies. The deal itself is terrific and the food tasty, but exercise caution lest your server ruin your evening.
Thursday: McGee’s Tavern & Grille – $1 Bud, Michelob Ultra, Rolling Rock – Just like Kelly’s on Monday it’s going to be filled with DePaul kids. That’s not always a bad thing is it? For $1 you will get your money’s worth with cheap beer and cheap thrills as DePaul students launch their weekend with drink til you get sick hijinks.
Friday: Duffy’s Tavern & Grille – $20 All You Can Drink Drafts, Well Drinks, and Food Buffet 6:30-11:00pm – Is this list getting a bit Lincoln Park-centric? That’s because Lincoln Park has the highest numbers of bars and places to drink. How high is your tolerance for chads and trixies? If you have a limitless tolerance then head on over for their excellent beer selection featuring Bell’s Oberon, Stella Artois, and Guinness. $20 is not too steep when it’s an all-you-can with the goods. Food includes corn dogs, wings, and some other foods I haven’t been able to eat due to people snatching up the food as soon as it comes.
Saturday: Crossroads Public House – $20 All You Can Drink Domestics, Well Drinks, and Food Buffet. You will find yourself in Lincoln Park yet again. As long as it’s not college football season, Crossroads will not be filled to the brink Duffy’s-style and you will be able to get a booth, walk around unimpeded, and get a drink in a reasonable period of time. The pizza is good and the drinks will work their magic on the cheap.
Sunday: Day of rest. Seriously, if you are trying to get wrecked on a Sunday there is probably a reason you need a Chicago on a Low Budget Survivalist Kit. Just kidding