Edible March Madness
For those who don't follow college basketball with the ferocious vigor that sports junkies do, the words "March Madness" are nary more than seasonal jibberish. Unless of course the "madness" applies to food and booze, in which case bring on the hysterics! That's some madness we can all get in with. With the annual hoops hoopla underway this week, here's a handy guide to the best restaurants and bars in Chicago to watch March Madness. Or just to pig out while ignoring the television screens.
Pinstripes: You'd have to kinda literally be mad not to want to experience March Madness at Pinstripes, an Italian-inspired restaurant and bar-meets-entertainment Mecca packed with bowling and bocce and televisions. Wear your team jersey on game day to Pinstripes and receive $4 Krankshaft draft beer. That oughta sweeten the pot. The offer is available through the championship game.
State and Lake Chicago Tavern: Basketball games and beer go hand-in-hand. Thus, Beer Madness at State and Lake Chicago Tavern is especially apropos. Beer flights and buckets are on deck for the Madness at the Loop restaurant, available through the end of March Madness. Flights include the DePaul Crawl with Goose Island Greenline, Half Acre Pony Pils, and Revolution Bottom Up Wit; and the Fork 'Em Devils flight with5 Vulture, 5 Rabbit, and Moody Tongue Chocolate Churro Porter. Buckets include the Crimson Tide bucket with Two Brothers Cane + Ebel, Lakefront Fixed Gear, and Great Lakes Eliot Ness; the W.M. IBU bucket with Bell's Two Hearted, Founder's Centennial, Arcadia Hopmouth; the Fightin' Irish bucket with Guinness, Three Floyd's Robert the Bruce, and Temperance Gate Crasher; and the 3 A.M. Badger bucket with a can of Old Style, can of Stroh's, and a can of PBR. All flights and buckets are $20.
Tallboy Taco: River North's casual taco counter, Tallboy Taco is an apt place to linger and watch the NCAA games on a myriad of screens, especially considering the restaurant has rolled out a new "three point" daily lunch special for the occasion. Featuring chips and salsa, guacamole, and a choice of any four tacos for $18 per person, the trifecta is available Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. during March Madness. Tacos include the beer-batters crispy fish taco, shredded adobo chicken, carnitas, carne asada, and crispy avocado.
Tuscany: In honor of March Madness, all three Tuscany Restaurant locations will participate with a week-long March Lasagna Madness, which is so much more delicious than a basketball. The spree features a different lasagna recipe each day, through March 20. Lasagnas include four-cheese on March 17, primavera on March 18, bolognese on March 19, and seafood lasagna on March 20.
The Boundary Tavern and Grille: Division Street's quintessential sports-watching destination opens early on March 19 and 20 to capture the NCAA action at 10:00 a.m. The television-packed spot is also offering half-priced appetizers before 5:00 p.m. on March 19, featuring basketball-friendly fare like blue cheese fondue, fried mozzarella cheese, and buffalo chicken quesadillas.
Glazed & Infused: Here's a unique way to partake in March Madness: customize your own doughnut per your team loyalty. Glazed & Infused's head baker Chris White is allowing customers the opportunity to customize their doughnuts to reflect their favorite basketball teams. Catering options include the Jumbo Doughnut consisting of a glazed yeast doughnut ring that measures 16 inches in diameter, or the party-friendly doughnut fondue platter outfitted with 54 doughnut holes, glaze, and toppings. Customers can order via the Glazed & Infused website throughout March Madness.
Bull & Bear and Public House: Two of River North's utmost in sports-watching deliciousness are sister spots Bull & Bear and Public House. Both offer comfortable rooms in which to watch the NCAA melee, along with bar food that truly raises the bar. Not to mention the fact that they feature customizable beer taps at each table and drink specials throughout the tourney.
- Matt Kirouac