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Restaurants and bars for before a United Center game

Going to see the Blawkhawks or Bulls play? Pregame with great food and drink before hitting the United Center.

Photograph: Martha Williams
Nduja pizza at Coalfire

Before a Blackhawks or Bulls game, you'll need to fuel up—cheering on the home team requires energy and a pregame drink will be much cheaper outside the United Center. Whether you're looking for a sports bar, a place for a quick craft beer or cocktail or a fast dinner, you'll find it at these restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the Chicago Blackhawks

Where to eat before a game

Athena

The massive outdoor patio with a close-up view of the city skyline is the main draw of this Greektown spot in the warmer months, but there are reasons to dine inside, too, such as creamy taramasalata (fish roe spread), charbroiled octopus and well-seasoned gyros. Opt for the dreamy galaktobouriko, lemon custard in honey-coated phyllo dough, for dessert.

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Greektown

Coalfire

One of the best pizza places in Chicago isn't far from the United Center, so get there early and dig into the pies, which have a charred, bubbly crust and crisp edges. We're fans of the 'nduja, with béchamel, fresh mozzarella and chili flakes.

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River West/West Town

de cero

You may not have time to wait for a table, so beeline to the bar and drink refreshing cucumber margaritas while snacking on guacamole and duck confit tacos.

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West Loop

Goose Island Brewery

If you're looking to grab a pint or two or three before the game, the sleek taproom at Goose Island's Fulton & Wood Brewery will do the trick. They have a variety of Goose Island mainstays like their IPA, but also tap a selection of taproom exclusive and cask-conditioned beers.

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United Center

Grange Hall Burger Bar

For juicy, flavorful burgers and terrific fries, Grange Hall is a spot for a casual meal before the game. Leave room for ice cream, as the shakes and sundaes are perhaps the best things on the menu.

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West Loop

Kaiser Tiger

If Ron Swanson opened a restaurant, it would be the Kaiser Tiger. The specialty is the Bacon Bomb, a five-pound, bacon-covered meatloaf made with beef, pork and more bacon. Kaiser Tiger also features beer and sausage on its menu, plus a wide variety of craft beers, perfect for filling up before heading to the game.

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West Loop

The Ogden

By selling beer and being in the direct path of the throngs of people coming to and from the United Center, this slick sports bar has the hard part of its job covered. Completing the task are super bright TVs on every surface, including in the booths; a surprisingly good beer selection; and a hell of a burger.

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United Center

Palace Grill

Even on non-game days, the Palace Grill feels like an offshoot of the United Center. The space is bedecked with Blackhawks paraphernalia, and the patrons wear it as well (the diner is open late on Blackhawks game nights). It's a classic diner, which means it serves all-day breakfast and a menu of sandwiches, salads and burgers, including a superlative patty melt, layered with grilled onions.

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West Loop

Publican Quality Meats

Paul Kahan's butcher/sandwich shop is one of the best spots for a fast meal in town. There's the deeply flavorful ribollita soup, ideal for freezing days, and a constantly rotating list of sandwiches packed with hits.

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West Loop

Urbanbelly

Bill Kim's casual counter spot is fast, so place your order then grab a seat. Start with dumplings, then move onto rice bowls or ramen to fill you up before the game starts.

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West Loop
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Comments

3 comments
Maddy M
Maddy M

How is Packing House not on this list!? They have a free shuttle to and from all United Center games and plenty of great food and drink deals during games. They even gave away tickets to the home opener this week! https://www.facebook.com/packinghousechi


Turan Y
Turan Y

The Aberdeen Tap appreciates the mention on TOC but we would like to make a correction. The photo you are using is not The Aberdeen Tap, it is a photo of a now nonexistent bar that used to just be called Aberdeen on North Ave. Also, The Aberdeen Tap is not an "industrial rocker" bar, it is a neighborhood bar full of a diverse mixture of people with an unpredictable mix of music. Photos of Aberdeen Tap and current menu selections can be found at www.theaberdeentap.com. Thanks everybody!