Where to eat before a game
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.