Chicago's 9 Best Sports Bars

Photos: Courtesy of Public House, The Pony, and Old Town Social.
A city full of die-hard sports fans and food lovers means the (sports) bar makes for a great place to watch the game. Yes, our favorite establishments have the staples: ample TVs and good beer. But, they also have creative cocktails, impressive food menus, and other touches that set them apart from your average watering hole.
Want a bar with a personal TV at your booth? Check. Want a bar with a personal beer tap at your booth? Done. Want a spot where you can catch the game on any of 25 plasma screens and eat a flight of miniature Polish sausages while doing it? Yep, that exists, too. Read on to find out where you should be watching March Madness now, and baseball/hockey/football/your sport of choice later. The only thing we can't promise is that you'll win your bracket.
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Photo: Courtesy of Benchmark.
Bro out at this Old Town sports bar, where a retractable roof on the second floor almost makes you feel like you're at a baseball stadium. If you can't snag a booth with a built-in TV, no problem — a massive video wall ensures that everyone can see. An extensive bar menu even includes a lobster roll, but we'll stick with the jalapeño-stuffed hot pretzel and boneless wings.

Benchmark, 1510 North Wells Street (at North Avenue); 312-649-9640.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Fifty/50.
The Fifty/50
This sleek Wicker Park bar sports 19 flat-screens across three levels and plenty of boisterous fans — but if you're not stuffing something into your face in between cheers, you are majorly missing out. Owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner met while working at Joe's Stone Crab and have carried their love of quality cuisine to this menu. That doesn't mean fancy — a signature item is the "triple secret patty" on at least nine burgers topped with everything from onion rings to jalapeños — but it does mean damn good. P.S. It's been voted best sports bar in the country by several media outlets, including Maxim.

The Fifty/50, 2047 West Division Street (at Hoyne Avenue); 773-489-5050.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bull & Bear.
Bull & Bear
Mini Polish hot-dog flight? Yes, please. The food's reason enough to hit this bar off the Merchandise Mart stop during March Madness. The special month-long menu also includes thick-cut salami sliders and DIY chili (load it with everything from sour cream and guac to corn chips and a poached egg). Three-walled booths boast table taps so you can serve your own brews, and with 25 plasmas, you're never straining to see the action.

Bull & Bear, 431 North Wells Street (at Hubbard Street); 312-527-5973.
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Photo: Courtesy of Municipal Bar + Dining Company.
Municipal Bar + Dining Company
Long communal tables make this the perfect sports bar for gathering a group — but if Michigan State's playing, know that everyone here will be cheering for them. And, loudly. On the weekends, fill your belly with a breakfast corn dog or Rumchata French toast as you take in the games.

Municipal Bar + Dining Company, 216 West Ohio Street (at Wells Street); 312-951-2125.
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Photo: Courtesy of Old Town Social.
Old Town Social
At night, this giant bar is almost clubby, with a parlor room and curtain-draped booths for two. But, go during the day and you'll find TVs that come out of hiding to drop down in front of the massive bar and packs of sports fans you'll feel right at home with. Food from Jared Van Camp is far better than what you'd find at a typical sports bar; don't miss the fall-of-the-bone duck wings.

Old Town Social, 455 West North Avenue (at Cleveland Avenue); 312-266-2277.
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Photo: Courtesy of Public House.
Public House
Feel the wheat! That's just one of the playfully named categories of beer you can order from while watching the game on any of 27 plasma TVs at this River North spot. There are 100 brews total on offer (our other favorite category: "the pursuit of hoppiness") that goes perfect with everything from build-your-own nachos to a heaping BBQ platter with chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and Wagyu beef brisket. Word to the sports wise: Get there early to snag a booth with a table tap, meaning you can pour your own refills all game long.

Public House, 400 North State Street (at Kinzie Street); 312-265-1240.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ranalli's.
Remember this mainstay on Lincoln Avenue? It was just taken over by Four Corners Tavern Group (the team behind Benchmark, Schoolyard, and more), and is now all about sports fans. Get there early to snag a 12-seat "King's Table" with two beer taps pouring whatever you request. But, if you can't sit there, there's plenty of space: The restaurant/bar seats 200, with room for almost double that once it's patio weather.

Ranalli's, 1925 North Lincoln Avenue (at Wisconsin Street); 312-642-4700.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Pony.
The Pony
With its all-over wood and gorgeous lighting, The Pony is the supermodel of sports bars — but the crowd can throw down, making it one of our favorite spots to watch a game. The spot's a favorite of Blackhawks players during hockey season, but don't discount it for March Madness. From March 16 to April 7, specials include $5 Pony Punch and a $15 Pony Platter featuring thin-crust pizza, wings, and tots. Watch the game on plasmas above the bar or at tables featuring individual flat-screens.

The Pony, 1638 West Belmont Avenue (at Paulina Street); 773-828-5055.
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Photo: Courtesy of WestEnd Bar & Grill.
WestEnd Bar & Grill
If you need a spot to watch sports in the West Loop, WestEnd is it. There are 32 plasma TVs amidst an array of booths and high-top tables and nearly 50 varieties of beer to toast to your team (or console yourself after a loss). Drunk munchies? A pizza kitchen turns out piping-hot pies.

WestEnd Bar & Grill
, 1326 West Madison Street (at Ada Street); 312-981-7100.