The Run Down

Everyone knows humans don’t deserve dogs. But you can show some appreciation to your four-legged friend by bringing them with you on this dog-friendly bar crawl in Irving Park. You’ll hit a Chicago sports bar with an affinity for dogs, a cider house with a sprawling patio for some bites, and finally a quintessential dive bar with a cabin-like interior, all while tasting beers and collecting dog pets along the way.

1. Beer & Dog Treats @ The Booze Hound

2. Cider & Human Treats @ Eris Brewery and Cider House

3. More Beer @ The Cabin at Old Irving

1. The Booze Hound

Unless you’re hopping off the Grayland Metra station, there’s a good chance you’d never come across The Booze Hound. Tucked away on a quiet residential block of Milwaukee Avenue and directly beneath the Metra line, the narrow stand-alone bar sits proudly behind a large blue sign that reads “The Booze Hound at Grayland Station.” The sign features a cartoon drawing of a drunk dog — a hint that furry friends are welcome.

There is a thread of humor throughout the bar that must be appreciated, starting with the wine bottle holder in the front window that is a yellow lab drinking from the mouth of the bottle.

Enter the bar and grab a seat for you and your pooch. Here, dogs are welcome to roam off leash or even grab a stool at the bar, as long as they’re well-behaved patrons. The doggy decor is one of the highlights of this establishment. The long wooden bar is adorned with brass dog head hooks to hang your bag or jacket, and the centerpiece of the bar is a 5-foot-long metal dachshund that sits in front of the beer taps.

Owners Harriet and Steve Schorsch purchased the space and opened The Booze Hound after their son convinced them that owning a bar would be fun and a great investment. Eight years later, Harriet concedes that it has, in fact, been a whole lot of fun and that she has met some of the best people inside this bar. She went to school across the street at Carl Schurz High School, and many of the bar’s patrons are also locals and friends of hers for over 40 years. The result is an infectiously friendly, neighborhoody atmosphere.

A lot of folks go to The Booze Hound to hang with dogs, but consider going to catch a Cubs game. The bar is covered in Cubs memorabilia and opens at 10 a.m. on all home game days. Come football season, the bar turns into a potluck every Sunday with regulars bringing in delicious homemade recipes to share with fellow patrons.

The Booze Hound makes a point to stay open on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it’s important to the owners to provide a warm, inviting place for people to go who might not have one.

It’s also worth noting that while the bar maintains a no-frills atmosphere, it’s also exceptionally clean. In a sea of dark, dingey Chicago dive bars, you’ll notice The Booze Hound doesn’t have the characteristic sticky floors or ill-kept restrooms.

Before you head out to continue the crawl, be sure to ask the bartender for a dog treat (or five). Regular patrons tend to bring in their own treats that are then kept behind the bar and shared with visiting pups.

2. Eris Brewery and Cider House

Once leaving The Booze Hound, take a left down North Kenneth Avenue and walk the 14 minutes to your next stop at Eris Brewery and Cider House. The walk takes you through the historic Villa District neighborhood, where stunning early 20th-century residential architecture is on display.

Once at Eris, opt for a table in the sprawling dog-friendly beer garden. The garden adjoins the brewery, which was once a Masonic Temple as evidenced by 20-foot vaulted ceilings. This is the opportunity to order some delicious food to soak up that beer and refuel before your last stop of the crawl.

Eris is co-owned by Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza and gets its name from the Greek goddess of discord and chaos. According to the brewpub’s website, as cider makers in a city of over 100 breweries and as women in a male-dominated industry, they can relate to being disruptors. The badass duo opened Eris in February 2018 as a “brewery, cider house and full-service restaurant all under one roof.” Today, the cidery is located in the basement, the brewery and restaurant are on the first floor, and the second floor can be reserved as an event space.

The brewpub offers a range of cider, beer and cocktails, but if you’re like most people, you go for the cider. You can order either a 14-ounce or 5-ounce pour — the latter is ideal for creating a flight. Every cider on the menu offers a level of complexity you won’t find in many ciders and most are on the drier side. A couple of standouts are the E-Phora (“a blissful blend of Gala apples and vanilla”) and the Pepper Jam (“sweet strawberry with chile de arbol heat”).

The food menu features delicious and inventive takes on pub classics like cauliflower wings, birria grilled cheese and a chili maple crispy chicken sando. They have a big selection of vegan and gluten-free options as well as a large kids menu, so everyone can find something they enjoy. Ask your server which cider or beer goes best with your entree for a fun pairing experience.

On a nice day, you could easily spend a whole afternoon tasting your way through the menu, lounging on the patio and petting the various dogs at neighboring tables, but you have one last stop on today’s bar crawl.

3. The Cabin at Old Irving

After fueling up at Eris, walk the 10 minutes east on Irving Park Road and north on North Pulaski Road to arrive at The Cabin at Old Irving.

You’ll understand the namesake when you arrive at the wood-paneled, lodge-like storefront. The cozy cabin vibes continue when you enter and are greeted by more wood paneling, trophy fish and deer heads mounted on the wall, and a stone fireplace behind the bar.

The distinction should be made that this is not so much a dog-friendly bar as a dive bar that allows dogs. The bartender John, who will likely be the one to get you settled with some draft beers and freshly popped buttered popcorn, explained that as long as your dog is well-behaved, they are welcome at The Cabin. According to a sign behind the bar, tabletop dancing is also welcome, if that’s your thing.

By this point in the day, you’ve probably had more than a few beers deep and are looking for a laid-back atmosphere where you can post up with your dog and ride out the rest of the afternoon. This is your spot, and as a bonus, you will likely make some new friends as patrons are largely locals of the neighborhood and super friendly.

The Cabin is a community bar at heart, regularly hosting social events and fundraisers for local organizations like the Association of Horizon, which serves Chicago-area adults with physical disabilities. Every April, the bar hosts its annual Beach Party (this year they shipped in buckets of sand and had a luau-themed bash with drink specials and live DJs over the course of four days).

If you’re lucky to be there when John is working the bar, ask for a shot of Banana before you call it a day. The ready-to-drink cocktail is made with banana flavoring, dairy cream and rum and tastes like liquid banana Laffy Taffy. Don’t ask questions, just do it.