Sports bars pose a tricky conundrum when it comes time to eating. For people who want something with a little more integrity than a bowl of bar nuts or a blase burger, it can be difficult selecting places with worthwhile food menus. And with the onset of NFL season, people are going to be filling bar stools on the regular, in need of proper sustenance. Thankfully, Chicago has several sports bars that raise the bar on game day grub. No matter what team you're rooting for (and if you're rooting for the away team, you might want to keep quiet), everyone's a winner when eating at these sports bars.
Not to sound cliche, but Revolution Brewing serves up some seriously revolutionary bar food. This sprawling Logan Square bar brews its own beer on-site, garnering a reputation primarily as a craft beer destination. But the food should not be overlooked. While lingering at the bar, Revolution's food steals the spotlight from the TV with novel ideas such as sage and Parmesan-speckled bacon popcorn, curry-scented sweet potato cakes, smoked trout salad, an elote-inspired shrimp pizza, and pork chop confit. Vegetarians can eat well too, with plenty of tofu and seitan offerings on deck.
Awash in a sea of sports bars along a bro-centric strip of Division Street, SmallBar stands out in a big way. The bar sports a food menu far more ambitious than most spots in the area, featuring locally sourced contemporary dishes imbued with international inspirations. Cheddar drop biscuits come with a bit of caramelized onion beurre fondue, crispy chicken legs are spiced up with honey-harissa butter glaze, housemade garlic sausage is accented with tomato ragout, and mussels are steamed in a medley derived from Mexican micheladas.
The name sounds like a reference to a duo of Chicago sports teams, but Bull & Bear's moniker actually has more to do with Wall Street terminology. Regardless, this boisterous bar is duly equipped to satiate all your sports-watching and eating needs. The order of the day is American comfort food, albeit prepared with grade-A ingredients and a contemporary slant. Think nachos with cilantro crema, wild boar mini sloppy Joes, bison meatloaf, and seasonal variations of guacamole. Bonus: booths are stocked with tableside beer taps, which is bound to make the experience even better.
When celebrating the great American pastime of football, no better place to do so than the mammoth River North barstaurant American Junkie. Everything about this spot, from the tabletops etched with American flags and the flag-shaped chairs to the sports-laden televisions, screams patriotism. The food menu is impressively modern, veering away from the bar food template with profound plates such as phyllo-wrapped shrimp, truffle-scented deviled eggs, wild boar sausage flatbread, walleye pike with cashew vinaigrette, veal osso bucco ravioli, and duck breast pasta carbonara. Indulge like the discerning patriot that you are.
This Little Italy bar fancies itself part Italian countryside, part American farmhouse, and part Keith Richards' basement bar. In other words, you're in for a good time. This is undoubtedly a raucous bar, bedecked with televisions throughout, even some positioned inside booths. But the food is some of the craftiest football fare you'll ever taste. The menu changes often throughout the seasons, but frequent players include housemade gnocchi, crispy pizzettas served on tree stumps, duck fat chips, and a miscellany of charcuterie. Don't miss the bolognese fries. Think pasta bolognese, but with fries instead of pasta.