By Dan Patton | Managing Editor
The best way to experience a Chicago Bears game without actually buying a ticket is to watch it in a bar next to Soldier Field. That means hunkering down in the South Loop, the neighborhood that the team has called home since inaugurating the official gridiron with a 17-15 victory over the Pittsburgh Stealers in 1971. Here’s a Journal selection of establishments within walking distance of the stadium that tune into the action every Sunday afternoon.
Aurelio’s Pizza on Michigan Avenue — the latest addition to a 55 year-old, 41-store chain that spans six states — is the only bar and restaurant within punting distance of Soldier Field that dedicates every square inch of its space to fans of all ages. (read more)
Kroll’s, the Papa Bar of Bear-watching venues, is as close as you can get to bellying up with the team — literally. “We’re right across from the Soldier Field 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge,” says General Manager Caesar Douglas. “We open up at 9 o’clock in the morning on game days.” (read more)
The Weather Mark Tavern plays hard when the Bears are on TV: every screen in the nautically themed American bistro is tuned to the game and the music is dialed down to make way for the broadcast. Unless the team scores a touchdown. (read more)
The Vice District Brewing Company definitely understands the needs of Bears fans. On game days, two large paintings are removed from the walls to make way for the high-definition flat screens behind them. (read more)
Flo & Santos Chef Mark Rimkus has successfully combined the flavors of his Italian grandfather and Polish grandmother to make the world’s first, uniquely Chicagoan Italish restaurant; but Manager Phil Shanks insists that the bar, restaurant and outdoor patio do not mix loyalties when it comes to football. (read more)