by Kimberly Bellware
Chicago is a sports town through and through. The Windy City has not only some of the most popular and recognizable teams in all of sports–The Bulls, The Bears, The Blackhawks–but some of the most rabid and dedicated fans, too. The diverse population of Chicago’s metro area also means there are fan bases for niche sports, ranging from rugby to racing. Whether you’re cheering for your favorite scrum-half or welterweight, here are a few Chicago bars that are devoted to some of the less noted sports.
Hours: Mon – Thurs 11:30am-2am; Fri 11:30am-3am; Sat Early for sports events- 3am; Sun Early for sports events- 2am
Rugby fans–often European or Australian expats in particular–flock to this Irish pub all season long for the latest rugby match ups. The pub runs live games and re-broadcasts for matches that happened too early or late for Central time zone audiences, and it’s easy to find a rugby fan sporting their team’s jersey on match day. Fado is always a top choice for fans gathering for the big tournaments, like the quadrennial Rugby World Cup
For Roller Derby
Chicago’s top-tier derby team might not have a pro designation, but their matches are among the best and most exciting sporting events in the city. The Windy City Rollers currently play at the UIC Pavillion, but it’s the Bottom Lounge that hosts all their post-bout parties. The Bottom Lounge makes for a great choice too, the giant bar has a great beer selection, tasty food, and an awesome stage in back that often features great punk and metal bands. Add in a couple roller derby teams and you’ve got a great, though slightly dangerous (in the fun kind of way), night on your hands.
Hours: Open 24 hours
This location of the popular city chain is one of the oldest locations, so it has retained a more edgy bar attitude rather than adopting the family-friendly atmosphere of its younger diner siblings. Split off from the dining room, Clarke’s dimly lit bar is a go-to for mixed martial arts fights on pay-per-view, particularly the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise. Clarke’s gets in on the action advertising big fights, so come fight night, this otherwise unassuming Lincoln Park bar turns into a lively crowd cheering on the most inventive choke holds and figure four takedowns.
Hours: Tue 5pm-3am; Wed-Thu 5pm-12am; Fri 5pm-4am; Sat 11am-5am; Sun 11am-8pm
Though it has a sterling reputation as one of the city’s most diverse sports bars with respect to the games and matches it shows, Joe’s gets pretty serious for pro and amateur boxing. Chicago’s love affair with boxing goes back to the pre-Prohibition era and the fervor over a good fight brings out the fans in droves. The space can get so packed that reservations are required a few days in advance of more hyped fights, and cover charge usually accompanies the hottest tickets.
We’d never support drinking and driving, but in the case of Kincade’s, the drinkers and the drivers are miles apart. Anytime a NACAR race is televised, the odds of finding it on one or more of the bar’s mutli-dozen of flat-screen TVs are excellent. Since no bar in Chicago aggressively brands itself as a 24/7/365 NASCAR hangout, Kincade’s wins the honor for its tremendous enthusiasm for sports, the endless drink specials and the likelihood that it will be packed come Daytona 500 time.