In case you’ve been living under a sports-less rock the past couple of weeks — or you’ve been bleary-eyed and dumbstruck mourning the Bears’ meltdown in the second half of the season — the NHL lockout is over, and Chicago will see its beloved Blackhawks back in action soon.
And this great news leads the Chicago Food Planet crew to wonder where fans can rub elbows, make up for lost cheering time and, of course, eat and drink together.
The NHL’s website has a pretty exhaustive list of “official” Blackhawks bars in the city, but there are some nearby spots that stand out for us — and they aren’t even on the list!
If it’s beer you’re looking for, grab a seat at the Beer Bistro on Madison.
Owner Bob McDermott is an authority on craft beer in Chicago and has an impressive list to back that up: 20 on tap, 122 bottles and 35 cans, last time we checked.
They’ve elevated bar food to an art form, but they leave the fussy fare to the Randolph Street players. Finger food, pizzas, burgers — oh, and a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout float, if you aren’t too full — and more will fill you up before the game.
Beer Bistro even offers a complimentary shuttle from their door to the United Center if you need a lift to the game. Otherwise, stick around and watch the games on their big-screen TVs, sound up, natch. And they’re open until at least 2 a.m. every day, so you can even snag a nightcap (or three) after the game.Beer Bistro 1061 W. Madison Ave. | (312) 433-0013
If you’re feeling a little lower maintenance and need a nostalgic pre-game bite, head to the Palace Grill, a diner that’s been open since 1938.
The proprietors, members of the Lemperis family, have been operating the diner since 1955, and they’re undisputable Blackhawks fans — the diner is plastered with memorabilia! The diner has had visits from Oprah Winfrey, Mayor Daley, Al and Tipper Gore, and even Blackhawks team members, but their most frequent diners are neighborhood folks who flock there for breakfast served all day, plus diner favorites like meat loaf.
They’ll be open the night of every home game, even afterward. But leave your credit card in your wallet for this spot — they’re cash only.Palace Grill 1408 W. Madison St. | (312) 226-9529
The Blackhawks’ long-awaited return deserves more celebration than a plastic container of yellow corn chips and brighter-yellow cheese sauce, so whether you’re going to the United Center or admiring your team from afar, eat and drink well. It’s what the team would want.