Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Chicago might not be the brewery capital of the world, but it is the best place on earth. As a result, it has a little bit of everything. Microbrewery that can accommodate Chicago sports fans, writers and storySLAMers alike? Check. This place will make you feel in the know no matter what your know is.

The Place: Haymarket Pub & Brewery; 737 W Randolph Chicago, IL

I just can’t seem to shake Fulton Market. That area has such a high concentration of great restaurants including Girl and the Goat and Vivo. The best part is that they are all different. Haymarket is not as upscale as Vivo or as foodie-dining-experience as Girl & the Goat, but it has to be my favorite of the three. It has a casual atmosphere, where you can actually see the microbrewery in the main dining area while you eat. It gives the place a cool, but kinda rugged, pub feel. The bar in the main dining area is complete with tvs for the night’s games. This is a great stop on your way to the United Center to watch the Bulls or Blackhawks (if the NHL can get it together this year) play, or stop in and watch the game from here.

They also have a back dining area that has a more typical bar feel where they have a number of events including a monthly Moth storySLAM, where individuals are given 5 minutes to tell a story based on the night’s theme. You can grab some friends and listen to some stories or find the courage to submit your name and tell one yourself! They also have drinking and writing events and tours of the brewery.Brined Burger

I want to say the food is pub grub, but that doesn’t really do it justice. It is much more creative, but just as satisfying. You can spice up your mac ‘n cheese with house made italian sausage, sweeten the deal with pulled pork or just satisfy your soul by adding bacon. The Brined Burger has olive mayo, pickles, spicy mustard, arugula, goat cheese all on a pretzel bun. Like I said, not your typical pub grub, but oh so good! They also have vegan chili, to which you can add pulled pork, bacon or sausage. Despite the irony, they are ready to please everyone!

The beer and brewers here have won many local and national awards so take the opportunity to try something new. Your taste buds will be in good hands. They have about 10 house brewed beers on tap. All in all, they have around 30 brews on tap. The Effigy Black I.P.A. is a dark pale ale and perfect for those cold nights (which I’m sure are coming despite our current extended Indian Summer). But there really is something for everyone and you can’t buy more locally than beer brewed inside the restaurant!bfed5da4e668e375c60eefa8cf381ee2_L

Some things to consider: They have a shuttle, more of a party bus, to and from the United Center during Bulls and Blackhawks games making it even better pre and post sporting event. This is not your average sports bar (or even a sports bar at all), it could definitely be a special occasion place and takes the upscale sports bar thing a step further than Roots. Although I am pretty sure Haymarket is not explicitly aiming to be an upscale sports bar. The tvs don’t extend past the bar so if you are worried that your date will be looking past you the whole time and cheering in the middle of your stories, you will be fine in the main dining area. Haymarket is much more multidimensional than that, which makes it even more awesome. It is perfect for slightly adventurous meatheads, wounded writer hipsters and everyone in between!

For More Information: http://haymarketbrewing.com/

Happy Brewing!

Roots Pizza Chicago

In Chicago, pizza means deep dish. I spent a large amount of time in college getting my non-Chicagoan friends to try (and like) deep dish. Fortunately, Chicago food aims to please and we have another pizza gem tucked away in the West Town area.

The place: Roots Pizza, 1924 W Chicago Ave Chicago, IL

The brown leather booths make it cozy in the winter, but their retractable doors and windows can open up the whole space. In warm weather months, you can dine sudo-al fresco and protected from the elements. It’s the best of both worlds. The space is designed around the owners’ upscale sports bar concept, which is executed well. The bar is made entirely from recycled floorboards -very green, which is always cool. It is a classy place to watch a game where you won’t have to worry about the drunk guy next to you chest bumping you every time his team scores. However, I could see a family with kids having Friday pizza night here or a group of friends hanging out and completely ignoring the game.

The food is all done well. I could go and just get appetizers. The mozzarella sticks are a MUST try. They are the best I have ever had, hands downs, with not even a close second. They are huge, gooey, fresh and so satisfying. The half sausages on a stick are amazing too. They will corn dog them or put them in a blanket for you too and you get your choice of beef or italian sausage. Roots has amazing salads. You can make your own with stuff like pepperoni and yellow baby beets, or choose one of theirs like caprese with bacon. The pizza is unique quad cities pizza with a malt crust. It makes the pizza kind of tangy, really chewy and so, so good! The sauce is smooth, slightly spicy and a total secret. Their pizzas are topped with fresh local ingredients and cheese to match.

The beer list consists of an extensive and exclusively local selection. They will help you find something on the menu that you will enjoy and probably wish your regular sports bar had. They also have their own exclusive house brew from Two Brothers Brewing Company.

Some things to consider: Roots is a little out of the way if you are taking public transportation, so driving here is probably your best bet unless you live in the area. Parking isn’t too hard to come by and totally worth the drive. It is also next to the Bleeding Heart Bakery which has the most amazing cake balls and is supposedly closing soon. Get in while you can have both! The neighborhood is transitioning and has a few cool thrift stores. There is also a different rooftop restaurant with the same owners on top of Roots. I haven’t tried it, because I don’t have the strength to pass up the mozzarella sticks, but would be willing to bet it is also great!

For more information: http://www.rootspizza.com/

Drink locally and stay classy!

Wrigley Field Chicago

Summer means baseball and even though it is not quite as exciting as football or hockey, you don’t have to care who wins to have a great time at a game. Since it is a little (lot) slower than other sports there are lots more opportunities to hang out with the ones you are with. In Chicago, baseball means either the Cubs or the White Sox, but only one team gives you the full Chicago experience.

The Place: Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison Street Chicago, IL

Wrigley, home of the Chicago Cubs, is a great place for a summer afternoon. What the Cubs lack in MLB success, is made up for by Wrigley’s perfect Chicago experience and corked bat scandals. It may be the one sporting arena left on earth that does not feel like a Times Square of advertisements. On a sunny afternoon or a clear night, it radiates classic Chicago summer in all of its perfection. Even the rainy days are fun and the cooler nights a just an excuse to snuggle up with beer and pizza.

You cannot go to Wrigley and not get a Chicago Style Hot Dog. They are the real deal. They have their own stands separate from the concession stands. So that you are prepared to look like a real Chicagoan, here is a crash course in the Chicago dog: It starts with a poppyseed bun, then the hot dog and grilled onions. Next you add yellow mustard, tomato wedges, bright green sweet pickle relish, celery salt and pickled sport peppers. Even though there is ketchup available, it is NOT part of a real Chicago dog. When you make it back to your seat, wait for the Old Style beer man to come around! The two together are worth the wait. It is the laid back version of the perfect wine pairing on a tasting menu.

A game at Wrigley is one of those things you can do with a big group, but it also makes a really great date. It is less work and more fun than a picnic in the park. Any awkward moments can be disguised by watching the game, or pretending to watch at least. And if you don’t know the first thing about baseball no worries. Just cheer when the other people in blue cheer and ask the person you are with some questions so (s)he (probably he) feels like an expert. Either way, it probably won’t matter what is going on. I have not been to a Cubs game where they have won since the glory days of Sammy Sosa. And as it turned out, he was cheating anyway. If you are trying to sit a little closer to your date, but haven’t found the right moment, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th is your chance to put your arms around the people around you and then maybe forget to take your arm away when the song is over.

Some things to consider: Don’t drive to the game. You will pay a lot for parking and it invites the potential for drunk driving. Take a cab or the El. The Addison red line stop is less than a block from Wrigley. And if you don’t have to think about a car, Wrigley is a really fun place to go out in after a Cubs game. Cubby Bear across the street is also a classic and fun place to grab a drink before the game. The words in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” are root, root, root for the CUBBIES. And there is NO KETCHUP on a Chicago dog.

For tickets: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=chc&sv=1

Go Cubbies!