Best sports bars in Chicago: cheap beer, good food & plenty of TVs
Whether you want to watch a Cubs game with a PBR or a Bulls game with charcuterie, here are the best sports bars in Chicago.
With five professional sports teams and many college allegiances, it's a good thing that Chicago has many great sports bars for watching games. Whether you want to take a break from the tailgate and eat housemade hot dogs while watching the Blackhawks at Old Town Social, indulge in Jucy Lucys while watching the Bears at the Anthem, drink Three Floyds on tap while watching the Bulls at High Dive, or just need a spot to watch the Cubs or Sox, here are Chicago's best sports bars for fans of any sport.
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The Anthem The first thing you see is the game, projected onto the wall to a scale so large it’s visible down the block. Then the hightop communal tables, the ceiling draped with an American flag. You take a seat and there’s a bartender who’s as happy to make you a cocktail (try the tiki-ish Episode 73) as to crack open a PBR tallboy. He serves you a Jucy Lucy, a stroke of Minnesotan genius that injects a greasy, juicy burger with Velveeta cheese. And that’s the last thing you can, and need to, remember. 1725 W Division St (773-697-4804, theanthemchicago.com). Mon–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Avenue Tavern It’s got the requisite menu of fried food and burgers, televisions in every corner and a shot-and-beer–loving clientele. But the surroundings—stone walls, glass facade—lend this Lakeview sports bar a sensibility so laid-back and inviting that even the least sports-enthusiastic people can get into it. 2916 N Broadway (773-975-7000, avenuetavern.com). Mon–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Crew Bar and Grill Whether you’re hungry for baseball, football, rugby or just beer, this straight-friendly gay sports bar will work. Forty beers on tap (75 total), tasty (and even healthy) pub grub, lots of TVs and a rah-rah decor make this a fun place to cheer for your team, whatever team you’re on. 4804 N Broadway (773-784-2739, worldsgreatestbar.com). Mon–Wed 11:30am–midnight; Thu, Fri 11:30am–2am; Sat 11am–2am; Sun 11am–midnight. Average beer: $4.
Gamekeepers This loud, sports-crazed triangular pub fills up fast, mainly because it plays host to boisterous beer-swilling alums, with alliances leaning toward University of Arkansas, UNC, Penn State, Syracuse and University of Kentucky. On Thursdays, its asses-to-elbows when 10-cent wings and $7 pitchers of Bud Light draw even nonsports fans out of the woodwork. 345 W Armitage Ave (773-549-0400, gamekeeperschicago.com). Mon–Fri 5pm–4am; Sat 10am–5am; Sun 10am–4am. Average beer: $4.
The Globe Pub Whether 11am or 11pm, it’s hard to find a seat at this North Center Brit pub. Call it European-style drinking, buffered by U.K. pub grub. During soccer and rugby matches, the crowd of regulars vacillates between raucous and downright scary, but fair-weather fans are welcome to join the zoo. 1934 W Irving Park Rd (773-871-3757, theglobepub.net). Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $4.
High Dive With Three Floyds Gumballhead and Goose Island 312 on tap and wings hot off the grill, this well-lit bar will never truly be a dive. But we don’t care, because we feel at home among the concert posters on the walls and the red-velvet booths. And if we’re going to drink out of bottles, it might as well be from this 50 beer–strong selection. 1938 W Chicago Ave (773-235-3483). Mon–Thu 4pm–2am; Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 11:30am–3am; Sun 11:30am–2pm. Average beer: $4.
O'Donovan's The corner where this North Center tap sits has been a neighborhood hot spot since Prohibition: the former Schulien's featured a basement speakeasy and a house magician. The ’hood has changed—today's O'Donovan's operates as a laid-back hangout for younger couples and small groups—but the tableside magic shows (and the occasional balloon sculptor) remain on weekends. Escape the crowds in the tucked-away beer garden, heated and enclosed in the winter. 2100 W Irving Park Rd (773-478-2100). Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Old Town Social The yuppie crowd at this glamorous bar might have other things on its mind, but to come here and not order chef Jared Van Camp's charcuterie is to miss the point: More than a dozen varieties are cured in house, including standouts like the fennel-scented finocchiona. And the kitchen doesn't stop there: Everything from the hot sauce to the hot dogs is made from scratch. 455 W North Ave (312-266-2277, oldtownsocial.com). Mon–Thu 5pm–2am; Fri 5pm–3am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $7.
Public House The glitzy sports bar from the Bull & Bear folks is a hit, and why not? The food—pretzels with cheese fondue, burgers with crispy fries, desserts by HotChocolate’s Mindy Segal—is as good as you could eat while Sugar Ray is blasting. The awesome beer list makes the extensive offerings accessible via icons that even denote what kind of glass each brew is served in. As for the much buzzed-about table-taps and wall-taps (yes, that’s beer taps built into the walls), our server was so on top of her game, we’ll gladly leave those to the high rollers. 400 N State St (312-265-1240, publichousechicago.com). Mon–Fri 11:30am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11:30am–2am. Average beer: $7.50.
The Rail Bar & Grill How did one of the best sports bars end up in Ravenswood? More than a dozen beers on tap, almost that many plasma screens (42 inches, and size does matter) and 25-cent jumbo wings on Mondays—beats the sticky floors and drunken screaming at your current spot. 4709 N Damen Ave (773-878-9400, therailbar.com). Mon–Thu 4pm–2am; Fri, Sun 10:30am–2am; Sat 10:30am–3am. Average cocktail: $6.
Schaller’s Pump There’s no better place to cheer on your team than this down-home, blue-collar institution that’s been serving up cold ones since 1881. Arrive at least a half hour before game time if you plan to eat—and you should definitely plan to eat. Just-like-Mom-made classics include crispy pork tenderloin smothered in perfect pan gravy and greaseless fried chicken. Add doting servers, cheap beer and a living room–like atmosphere, and you’ve got the best sports experience short of front-row tickets. 3714 S Halsted St (773-376-6332). Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 4pm–3am; Sun 3pm–2am. Average Beer: $3.50.
The Scout There are other sports bars in Chicago. There are even other sports bars in the South Loop. There is, however, no use in telling either of those things to the crowd of Bears fans waiting up to an hour to secure a table (and with it, a 14-inch grilled-cheese sandwich and a prime view of a TV or 30) at the Scout: They'll just think you're trying to cut in line. 1301 S Wabash Ave (312-705-0595, thescoutchicago.com). Mon–Thu 5pm–2am; Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Wild Goose Bar & Grill The paint's chipping off the walls here and there, the bathroom is a claustrophobe's nightmare, and if it's busy, you might be forced to belly up to a folding table. Then again, this surprisingly spacious bar is filled with so many flat-screen and projection TVs and fills our stomachs with enough yummy bar food that we almost didn't notice. 4365 N Lincoln Ave (773-281-7112, wildgoosebar.com). Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–midnight. Average beer: $3.