By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink
September 25, 2013
Due to interstate moves, familial allegiances or just plain preference, not every Chicagoan is a Bears fan. Full disclosure: While I like to see the Bears do well, I'm a bleed-blue N.Y. Giants fan. (And yes, I appreciate your condolences on our 0-3 start.) I know firsthand that fall Sundays can make some fans feel a bit homesick; games aren't broadcast, none of your friends care about your team and you just wish there was someone to high-five after a TD. Fortunately, a few Chicago bars, mostly clustered around sports bar-heavy Lakeview and Lincoln Park, happily pledge allegiance to out-of-town teams from the Midwest and beyond. Here's where to watch your game in the company of fellow believers. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyeeatdrink
Green Bay Packers
You may have it worst of all, Cheeseheads. Most bars don't take kindly to your green and gold, but you can find a safe haven at Will's Northwoods Inn (3030 N. Racine Ave. 773-528-4400), a nationally known Packers bar that aims to replicate the real Lambeau Field experience down to the music, chants and friendly smack talk. Specials include 32-ounce Miller Lite or Leinenkugel's souvenir cups ($8, $6 refills) plus $3 burgers, brats and jumbo hot dogs, which you can snack on while scanning the bar for some of the former players who have been known to drop by on game day. Packers fans also congregate at O'Leary's Public House (541 N. Wells St. 312-661-1306), where drink specials include $3 Miller Lite drafts, $10 Miller Lite pitchers and $3 Dr. McGillicuddy's shots.
Rivalry rating: 5/5 helmets. Yeah, you'll probably want to wear a jacket over that green jersey when you exit the bar.
Browns fans can cheer—or commiserate—with approximately 300 of their orange-clad brethren each weekend at Red Ivy (3525 N. Clark St. 773-472-0900), which became an official Browns bars this season. Halftime Browns trivia, memorabilia giveaways and a touchdown confetti cannon all add to the fun, while $4 Great Lakes pints—brewed in Cleveland, of course—provide a taste of home. Just a few doors down, The Cubby Bear (1059 W. Addison St. 773-327-1662) caters to its own dozens-deep group of Browns loyals.
Rivalry rating: 0/5 helmets. Pity or compassion, yes. Rivalry, not so much.
The Steelers have had a rough start to the season, but Lincoln Park's Prost (2566 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-880-9900) still welcomes between 35 and 150 fans each weekend. The Chicago Steelers Club now calls Prost home thanks to some courting from the general manager, a Pittsburgh native. Relive Steelers highlights on the TVs during commercials and while ordering from the special game day food menu, which includes a Primanti Brothers-style Roethlisberger roast beef sandwich ($12) and Pittsburgh potato pierogi ($6). And while a recent shortage has prevented Iron City Beer from reaching Chicago, Prost hopes to have the hometown brew back in stock shortly for Sunday specials.
Rivalry rating: 1/5 helmets. A Bears win over the Steelers in Week 3 meant some Pittsburgh fans had a long "L" ride home.
Detroit native and true-blue Lions fan Bo Duong opened Grand River (3032 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-281-9900) just as the Lions slogged through their historic 0-16 season. Morale was low then, but has improved considerably among regulars at this Lakeview bar, where 80-100 Detroit fans pack the bar for games. Duong tells people to arrive an hour before game time to ensure good seats, and expects the bar to be at capacity—with Bears and Lions fans alike—in anticipation of the Chicago-Detroit match-up this weekend. Beer specials and blue-colored Lions shots help fuel the (generally friendly) competition.
Rivalry rating: 4/5 helmets. When Bears-Lions games are close, any sort of Midwest gentility goes out the window.
Don your horns and head to Redmond's Ale House (3358 N. Sheffield Ave. 773-404-2151), where a full crowd packs the bar each game day—some groups even drive in from out-of-town to be in the company of fellow Minnesota fans. If you want to be sure you'll have a spot, call the bar for a table reservation early in the week and get ready for $15 Bud or Bud Light buckets, touchdown confetti cannons and Vikings gear giveaways.
Rivalry rating: 3/5 helmets. A one-point game against the Bears in Week 2 did nothing to quell the smack talk here.
A few years ago when the Colts went 2-14, Mullen's in Wrigleyville (3527 N. Clark St. 773-325-2319) only attracted four or so regular fans for its Indianapolis broadcasts. This season, a rabid fan base fills both the upstairs and downstairs bar while a party host plays music during commercials and raffles off memorabilia including jerseys, helmets and even Colts slippers. Another big draw is Colts Twitter trivia, where fans can follow along with Mullen's Twitter feed to answer questions and win prizes while drinking $15 Bud Light buckets or $4 Colts Jolts shots.
Rivalry rating: 0/5 helmets. There's not much bad blood between Chicago and its eastern neighbor. Hey, look, giant wind farms!
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