Restaurants and Bars Keep it Casual With Sports and Activities
Remember when you used to go out to dinner or go out to get drinks and that was it? Just food, just drinks. Those days are dead. Now restaurants and bars have upped the ante on the concept of hospitality and entertainment thanks to a new onslaught of on-site activities. From iceskating rinks to bocce, here's a handful of Chicago restaurants and bars that know how to have fun while serving solid food and drinks.
Parson's Chicken & Fish: There's so much to love about uber-cool Logan Square spot Parson's Chicken & Fish. In the warmer weather, their enormous patio contains a ping-pong table amidst its picnic tables. The slushy cocktails are killer. The fried chicken is impeccable. Now there's even more to love with the recent introduction of an on-site ice rink. Making the best of Chicago winter, the patio-tastic eatery and bar is now home to an adorable ice rink for skaters and cold weather fans. It's the perfect example of making lemonade out of lemons, with winter in this case being the bitter lemons. Along with ice skating, guests can partake in a new batch of hot drinks for winter, including a particularly stellar take on hot mulled wine.
Kaiser Tiger: While Parson's keeps busy with ice skating, Kaiser Tiger is taking its winter activities a step further with their very own curling court. Located in the West Loop restaurant's beer garden, the curling court is sort of a mix of hockey, shuffleboard, and ice skating, involving pushing blunt objects around with broom-like gear. It costs $15 for 30 minutes of curling action, and in between games you can fuel up on bacon, sausages, beer, and whiskey. There's also a fire pit for DIY s'mores.
WhirlyBall: Take note of the new warehouse-sized WhirlyBall facility in Bucktown, because it's your new home base for all things dining, drinking, bowling, laser tagging, and of course whirlyballing. After the original facility on Fullerton solidified itself as a Chicago staple, the company moved to larger, new digs nearby, introducing lots more space and more activity options. The same whirlyball courts are present and accounted for, allowing teams to get behind the bumper car wheel and hurl balls at targets to garner points. There's also bowling alleys divvied over two floors, a shuffleboard table, and a large laser tag arena. To round it all out, WhirlyBall also boasts an impressive food and drink program, complete with a lounge-y bar area, expansive beer list, and a comforting food menu of American classics that run the gamut from pretzels and pot roast sliders to Caesar salads and queso fundido the size of Texas.
Pinstripes: With three locations in Chicago suburbs, Pinstrips has already made a name for itself as a quintessential entertainment destination. Between bowling lanes, American-Italian food, wine, and other entertainment, it's an established go-to throughout Chicagoland. Now the time has come for its city debut, with a slick new 33,000 location in Streeterville. This new Pinstripes is heaven for activities-lovers who also enjoy upscale dining and drinking. This place basically has everything, including 11 bowling lanes, indoor and outdoor bocce courts, an outdoor patio, a fireplace, live weekend saxophone music, clubs and leagues, and more. For food, expect items like prosciutto fig flatbreads, gnocchi, braised boneless short ribs, and "jambalaya" risotto.
- Matt Kirouac