Your Sports Your Way
Hi, I’m Allan, your typical sports fanatic who is always looking for a place to watch the game. I have lived in Chicago for the past 3 years and have witnessed some of the city’s greatest sports moments. Who can forget when the Blackhawks lifted the Stanley Cup in 2015? Or when Kris Bryant scooped the ball and threw it to Anthony Rizzo for the final out in Game 7 to finally win the World Series for the Cubs?
Not all of us can be at the United Center or at Wrigley Field when moments like that happen. That’s where I come in. I have visited some of the best places in the city to experience “that moment” the next time it comes around.
I go to a school that unfortunately does not have a football team, so here I was able to get the full college football experience. I sat in the terrace, where the retractable roof and windows open to give everyone the outdoorsy feeling of tailgating. Saturday is the best day to come here, especially if you are a Michigan State fan. If you are not, that’s okay, you will be by the end of the night.
It’s hard not to get in the Spartan spirit when you are surrounded by everything green and white, balloons, streamers, people’s clothing, you name it. The crowd, which are mostly Michigan State alumni who never get tired of cheering on the Spartans. When you hear “Go Green!”, the rest of the bar responds with “Go White!” After a few times, I found myself joining into this and cheering on touchdown after touchdown for Michigan State. Although we are hundreds of miles away from East Lansing, MI, I felt as though I was a Spartan.
Also, the night I visited there the Cubs’ big playoff game was on TV. With TVs everywhere, it was hard to know where to look. You just have to listen to fan’s cheering and you’ll know something big happened.
You can also come in to enjoy their drinks and food options. Hopsmith is known for its Fatpours, your choice of beer in a frozen 23oz mug. They provide 30 different types of beer on a very unique bar setting shaped as a camper van. As for the delicious food, I would recommend trying their burgers or their award-winning chicken sandwich.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
Equipped with a total of 27 TVs, this place shows all types of sports. NFL Sundays, MLB playoffs, college football Saturdays, international soccer, March Madness? Jake Melnick’s has it. Whenever a Chicago team plays, be it the Bears, the Cubs, the Blackhawks, or the Sox, the atmosphere is electric. If there is a big soccer tournament like the World Cup or the Copa America, expect people from all over the world to show up.
However, I went at a time when none of these teams were playing. Midweek, mid-afternoon, rarely are there games going on. Luckily, Chelsea FC, one of my favorite soccer teams, was on and I got to watch and enjoy them playing a thrilling game.
What made the experience there more enjoyable was the food I ate. At Jake Melnick’s, you need to get the wings. With so many options to choose from, I was recommended to eat the Poncho’s, as my waitress Johanna told me “these are the wings we are known for.” I tried a plate of those and their monthly special, which were pumpkin chipotle flavored. Needless to say, the wings were phenomenal. The flavor of these wings is so unique and amazing that even if you don’t like sports you should still come for the food. For dessert, I was treated to some carnival fries, which were equally incredible.
Now that I got a taste of what Jake Melnick’s is like in a calmer setting, I need to experience it when the home teams play. Thankfully with the Cubs and Blackhawks, Chicago has experienced a run of successful teams recently. As an official Blackhawks bar, there are always deals on drinks when they play.
Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch
Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch is a sports fan’s dream. Any Chicago team that you want to watch, Harry Caray’s has it. If you are not from the area, they still have you covered. Talk to the staff about sports: at Harry’s everyone has a sports story to share. Every member of the team is very welcoming, just how Harry would’ve wanted it.
You don’t like any team that is playing? Feel free to walk around the restaurant and check out lots and lots of memorabilia from all the Chicago teams. After you’re done eating, head to Chicago Sports Museum just across from the restaurant.
The first thing I did when I arrived is do a walkthrough the museum. Since I’m not from Chicago, I learned a lot about the local teams. My favorite area of the museum was the “Curses and Superstitions” exhibition. Some wacky items on display there included some remains of the 2003 Infamous Foul Ball, and the Almanac and Hoverboard from “Back to the Future II” which predicted the Cubs winning the World Series.
Later, I sat down and ordered some delicious food and saw the Blackhawks take on the Flyers. Being a weeknight, it was a very relaxed atmosphere: most people were cheering on the Hawks, but nothing too crazy. However, during big games and on the weekends, it can get energetic. There were at least three different other games on next to the Blackhawks game, and it was hard to know which TV to watch. My focus was on the Blackhawks, but every time I heard Seattle fans cheer, I turned to watch the football game.
There really is something for everyone at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch!
Timothy O’ Toole’s
Timothy O’ Toole’s is the place to be for football Sundays, as The “Official Bears Headquarters.” If you need to head to Soldier Field from the bar, they provide a shuttle. If you’re not going to the game, come in, get drinks, get some food, and enjoy the game. There’s a reason why Timothy O’ Toole’s was voted the “Best Bears Bar”.
Not a Bears fan? That’s okay! Timothy O’ Toole’s has every NFL game for football fans from all over. Want to watch another sport? They have all the sports packages you could ever dream of, so you can get your fix.
My dream sport is soccer, and I went in to watch Real Madrid in the Champions League. I sat at the bar where Deron took care of me. If you walk in and Deron looks familiar, that’s because you have seen him on the TV show Chicago Med. Everything I ordered he recommended it, and he got it right. He told me I couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu because it’s all “good bar food.” I got to enjoy a nice plate of wings, followed up by a delicious burger.
Come on Sunday and get some beers in a 22oz Stadium Cup which you get to keep. If you’re not a beer person, that’s fine too: build-your-own Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas over the weekend. If you are feeling very hungry, feel free to take on the Big Timmy Challenge, as seen on Man vs. Food. If you conquer it and finish this massive burger you will win a free t-shirt!
Sweetwater Tavern and Grille
Located right at the heart of Millennium Park, Sweetwater Tavern and Grille is a great place to watch a football game. At the entrance, you’ll be greeted with a “Football Lives Here” board. To make it more exciting, there are video DJ’s on Saturdays and for all Bears games, playing hit music videos and viral comedy clips, you’ll never worry about being bored during commercials. During Bears gamedays, it feels as though Sweetwater is throwing a party.
Sweetwater has an immense selection of beers- over 60 types that you can choose from! You can also take advantage of their Sunday gameday drink specials which include deals on Blue New Belgium, Orange Stone, and Chicago Brew Aquanut. Between the great food, the drink options and the people, Sweetwater makes a very fun place to watch any college or NFL game.
I went in to watch the Monday Night Football game featuring the Packers and the Lions, both heated rivals of the Bears. Luckily, because of its proximity to many hotels in the area, there were many Detroit fans who went in to watch the game. The place was packed when I arrived but, with 24 TV’s throughout the place, it’s hard not to get a good viewing spot. Although it was a big game, it was a good atmosphere: people were there to have a good time. I was having fun even though I wasn’t rooting for any of the teams. Everyone was enjoying each other’s company, having nice conversations over a variety of drinks and food.
Pippin’s Tavern is a cozy little bar just around the corner from the historic Water Tower. It’s hard to miss while walking on Rush St. with its old-style, decorative entrance. Throughout its walls, there are many TV’s, so you bet some game will be on. The bar is located in the middle of the room, so feel free to walk around and socialize with any friends that you see.
I watched an NBA game with my friend Michal. As he described it “this is a place where people hang out after work.” Game or not, guests at Pippin’s went to grab a drink. This set a very relaxed and casual atmosphere to watch the game. People were there to socialize, not necessarily focus on the game, which made it very enjoyable after a long day. Some people were focused on the basketball game, but most were there to hang out with friends. That’s what Michal and I ended up doing, we watched the game for a while but ended up just talking over a beer.
Apart from having monthly specials in liquor and beer, there are drink deals every day. Deals on beer, liquor, and specialty cocktails are available throughout the week. If you want food, they have many appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs that you can choose from. Pippin’s Tavern is the place to be if you are looking for a fun, casual, and relaxing way to watch a game