When it comes to catching the game, the only place better than the living-room La-Z-Boy is an appreciative bar full of like-minded fans. The Windy City obliges wholeheartedly, elevating the sports bar stereotype with creative decor, food that goes beyond wings and skins—though there are plenty of those, too,—local brews on tap and, of course, flat-screens galore. Read on for the best spots to watch the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks—plus plenty of out-of-state teams.
A convertible beer garden famous for its retractable rooftop, Benchmark draws revelers in with specials on most big game days. This spacious Old Town spot from the Four Corners Tavern Group (Schoolyard, WestEnd) also excels at rotating craft beer selections and hard-hitting cocktails.
Fatpour Tap Works
At Fatpour Tap Works in Wicker Park, you can find over 200 different types of beer. This is a Wisconsin Badgers' bar, so fried cheese curds are a must-try. Check the website for daily specials, such as $5 fatpours on Mondays and $20 Champagne bottles on Saturdays and Sundays.
Head to neighborhood sports bar Four Shadows to catch the Iowa Hawkeyes, Indianapolis Colts, Marquette Golden Eagles and all Chicago teams' games. The spot serves upscale pub food—order the spicy chicken sandwich with sweet-potato fries—and whiskey cocktails.
Gamekeepers claims the title of the "first true sports bar in Lincoln Park and the model for all others." The tavern hosts a variety of NCAA and professional sporting leagues; is the official sports bar for LSU, Arkansas and UNC; hosts Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Maryland, U of I, Indiana, DePaul and Missouri alumni groups. Watch games on new plasma TVs or on one of the three big-screen HDTV projectors. Popular NFL Sunday specials include $0.25 jumbo wings and $16.50 Bud buckets.
Harry Caray’s Tavern
Known for its loyalty to the Chicago Cubs—it's named after the late Cubs announcer—Harry Caray's Tavern always has the sport of the day on, be it baseball, basketball, hockey or football. With its memorabilia-covered walls, dozens of HDTVs and a tempting bar menu of salads, margherita pizzas and burgers (choose from beef, turkey or black bean), it's a great place to relax and watch the big game. Open for lunch and dinner daily.
Joe’s on Weed Street
The 20,000-square-foot Joe’s on Weed Street, a warehouse-style venue with 120 plasma TVs and high-definition projector screens, boasts 14 satellites that ensure you can catch all the NFL, NCAA, NBA and NHL action you want. It's especially popular during Steelers games.
The sports-loving Wrigleyville outpost of John Barleycorn boasts plenty of space for Cubs fans to spread out and enjoy the game. On home game days, head over as early as 10 am for breakfast before the Cubs take the field. It's also a Cleveland and Iowa bar. Year-round, flat-screen TVs and two 100-inch projection screens showcase both college and pro teams.
If you want the luck of the Irish on your side as you root for your team, head over to The Kerryman, a bona fide piece of Ireland in River North. The lively Irish bar's owners and chef all hail from the Emerald Isle, making it the perfect place to watch Notre Dame games. On Wednesdays, stop by for $4 Jameson shots and $8 sliders.
Over in Bucktown, corner sports bar Lottie’s Pub serves up 80-plus years of history. You might recognize it as "Molly's" from the NBC show "Chicago Fire." It's a must-visit for Wisconsin Badgers and Kansas Jayhawks fans—it's the official alumni bar for the University of Kansas Alumni Association. Stop by year-round for kickoff and pregame parties, alumni events, trivia nights, giveaways and more.
Old Town Social
A sophisticated take on a sports bar, Old Town Social offers award-winning housemade charcuterie, gourmet bar-style food—think: harissa wings and chicken-chorizo tacos on fresh tortillas,—craft beer and cocktails. Fill up while watching your favorite teams on one of the bar's 23 TVs. Or opt for a private booth which comes equipped with its own TV and audio.
Throw back a few for the "Monsters of the Midway" Chicago Bears at Public House, where you can't miss the action on the 30-foot HD video wall. Don't want to miss a play? Ask for a booth, as they're all equipped with table taps.
Rockit Bar & Grill
Led by the inimitable Billy Dec, Rockit is a River North mainstay. A recent revamp has kept it on the social radar, and bucket specials bring in sports fans on game days. Stick around for the after-party, because the late-night menu includes the spot's famous burgers and desserts.
Perfectly located for United Center action by the Bulls and Blackhawks—there's even a shuttle from the bar to the stadium,—WestEnd is also a University of Michigan alumni hangout, so the Wolverines' games might very well trump others.
Will’s Northwoods Inn
Head to Will’s Northwoods Inn to cheer on the Wisconsin Badgers or Green Bay Packers while snacking on fried cheese curds and burgers topped with Wisconsin cheddar. Don't miss the halftime raffles.
The NewCity development in Lincoln Park includes this outpost of Yard House, which lives up to its reputation as a friendly blend of local art, local brews and local games on endless flat-screens. Don't miss the killer wings—try the vegan garden variety—or the "world's largest selection of draft beer."