GOULDEN TICKET Robbie Gould poses with fans at Timothy O’Toole’s.
Yesterday, I used a very important communication tool (Facebook) to poll a medium-sized group of people (my Facebook friends) on an extremely pertinent question: Where will you be watching Sunday’s Biggest-Deal Sporting Event of All Time?
I did not receive, as I had hoped, a list of Chicago’s best football-watching bars and secret hole-in-the-wall hangouts. Instead, these comedy-oriented chuckleheads regaled me with the following responses:
“The 50-yard line! Can you believe I got those tickets? Can’t wait!”
“I was gonna check the weather for the game, but oops . . . don’t have to ’cause I will be in the GM’s skybox! Wooooohooooo!”
“At my stepmom’s B-day party! ‘Happy Birth—go, go, no, don’t do that, oh, no!’ LOL.”
After 17 such comments, I realized I needed to change tactics—fast—for today’s Chaser post. Herewith, I bring you my own Bar-for-Every-Bears-Fan Guide:
Bar Where You Have the Best Chance of Encountering Actual Bears Postgame: Timothy O’Toole’s Pub, in Streeterville, is where players Jay Cutler (with his MTV arm candy, Kristin Cavallari), Robbie Gould, Patrick Mannelly, Greg Olsen, Chris Williams, Ruben Brown, Brian Iwuh, and Desmond Clark have made it a habit to wind down after regular-season games. Watch the action on 60 flat-screen TVs, then stick around to (possibly) hobnob with the guys.
Bar with the Best Free Jeer Gear: The Fifty/50, on the border of Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village, will not only be passing out free “Green Bay Sucks” T-shirts to Bears fans this weekend, they’ll also be tempting your sweet tooth with a giant fire-breathing Bears cake—as in, rigged up with a propane tank and a blowtorch—from Bleeding Heart Bakery. Wash it down with buckets of five domestic beers for $15.
Bar for “The Bears Are Not Enough” Types: Trump Chicago’s Australian Marketplace event is too extensive to fit into any one of the hotel’s bars, but with 30 wines from Down Under, brews from Cooper’s Beer, and unlimited Australian street food, it’s a whole different ballgame from wings and $5 pitchers. High-def flat-screens will be located throughout the hotel’s 16th floor so guests won’t miss a single pass, making this $45-a-head party (proceeds benefit Mercy Home for Boys & Girls) one of the poshest ways to bear down.
Bar Where You Won’t Get Punched for Wearing a Packers Jersey: Kasey’s Tavern (701 S. Dearborn St.; 312-427-7992), in Printer’s Row, is “by no means a Packers bar,” said a manager who answered the phone this morning, but at least two Packers fans who will go unnamed do work there, so you have a decent chance of spending the afternoon physically intact if you show up to root for Green Bay at this come-one, come-all pub.
Bar with a Spot for Your Car: This game plan involves driver designation, but Cactus Bar & Grill is offering free parking at a nearby garage on Sunday when you spend $25 or more at the pub (a round of five $5 Bloody Marys should do the trick). The bar will show the game on ten 42-inch screens and three 10-foot projection TVs, and game-day ticket-holders can hop on the Cactus Shuttle, with round-trip service to and from Soldier Field.
Bar Near the Showdown: If you don’t have tickets but need some spiritual proximity to get you through the game, try the South Loop watering hole Weather Mark Tavern, close enough to Soldier Field that you might actually feel the crowd roar. Twenty-ounce “stadium drafts” of Bud Light and Miller Light for $4 should help set the mood.
Bars Where You Couldn’t Escape the Game if You Wanted to: Total TV square inchage: 840,000. That’s 300 square feet, or roughly one-third the size of The Chaser’s apartment! Gorge yourself on plasma at River North’s just-opened Public House, home of these head-spinning stats and pour-it-yourself table taps. Or head to the likewise new Haymarket Pub & Brewery in the West Loop, which, with 30 flat-screens, is positioning itself as the Bears’ lucky-charm bar. “The Bears haven’t lost a playoff game in Haymarket history,” says co-owner Pete Crowley—though we feel compelled to point out that the bar opened on Christmas Eve.
Photograph: Milkovich Photography & Marketing