Attack of the RiNo Sports Bars - NBC Chicago

Attack of the RiNo Sports Bars

New sports bar options popping up all over downtown



    Attack of the RiNo Sports Bars
    Where you watch the game is almost as important as the game itself.

    You'd be forgiven for thinking River North is ground central for sports bars. Over the past few months, a number of new players have arrived on the scene, each with it own take on the sports-watching experience.

    Bull & Bear (431 N. Wells St.), opened with perhaps the most fanfare. It's well north of the financial district, but you'd think you were in the middle of Wall Street with all of the financial themes, from the stock ticker running above the bar, to the menu entitled the Wells Street Journal.

    The self-serve taps have been receiving a lot of buzz, but probably not as much buzz as when Justin Timberlake stopped by a few weeks ago to check out Mizzou during March Madess.

    As for the food? We suggest the wings, which won the "Best Exotic Wing" category at Wingfest this year.

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    Speaking of food, Theory (9 W. Hubbard) may have the best of the lot. This upscale sports lounge offers an American menu with southern BBQ and Mexican influences. Executive Chef Brian Merel mans the smoker, and will try to tempt you with his Besmoked Babyback Ribs with brown sugar rubbed maple bacon. There's a number of specials throughout the week, offering the perfect opportunity to sample a bit of everything without breaking the bank.

    The comfy booths offer private TVs where you can control what you want to watch, and a room at the back is perfect to reserve for private parties.

    "It holds about 17-20 people comfortably, you can play Nintendo Wii in there, you can watch games in there with friends," owner Joel Sorinsky said.

    If you're going to do a River North sports bar crawl, we suggest heading to the newest kid on the block last -- Social Twenty-Five (25 W. Hubbard).

    Social previously housed Moda nightclub, but the one thing they kept from the previous tenant is the late night liquor license. That means you can party here until 5 a.m. on Saturday nights.

    It's a fairly big space which allows it to accomodate a lot of different types of events. From 9 p.m. to midnight on Thursday through Saturday, you can catch live rock music, and then a DJ takes over for the rest of the night.

    "It's really good, because the city kind of closes early at the other bars at 2 or 3 a.m., and they all just funnel here for a late-night gathering," GM Vince Bucaro said.

    When it's all said done, you have more than enough options to "play ball" with your peeps.