Chicago is a sports fan’s dream. The city is home to some of the most storied and accomplished teams in history — and many of them play at the city’s world-famous United Center.
The United Center is the home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks — both multiple-time champions in their respective sports. The venue also hosts frequent concerts from some of the biggest names in arts and entertainment.
If you are looking for a nice meal before a big game or a few drinks after a concert, you’re in luck. The area around the United Center is dotted with great restaurants and bars of all descriptions.
Here are a few we recommend checking out — all within an easy distance of the historic arena.
Monteverde is the pasta center of the West Loop. It is the place where you should go if you are craving some hearty Italian fare. They have all of your old-school pasta favorites like capellini, rigatoni, spaghetti, and fettuccine. But Monteverde is not your average Italian restaurant.
The inventive Chef Sarah Grueneberg offers delicious combinations of Italian-based dishes with modern twists like her famous wok-fried arrabbiata or Tortelli Verdi with roasted white miso. There are also many options for vegetarians and vegans too, but the best part about Monteverde is the atmosphere. As you pass through the opening doors, it feels like you are walking right into Italy.
Gabriele Bonci chose Chicago for his first pizzeria outside of Italy — and swarms of Chicagoans flock to his establishment every day.
At Bonci Pizzeria, you can expect only the freshest, natural ingredients. As such, the toppings for his Roman-style pies are constantly changing. Since the menu changes so often and Bonci has more than 1,500 recipes from Italy, you’re unlikely to experience the same pizza twice. The menu features cured meat, cheese, fresh produce, and a variety of cheeses. Make sure to hydrate afterward with canned beer and wine.
If you’re trying to avoid arena food, you should swing by The Loyalist. This restaurant offers an upscale menu and a great burger just across the street from the United Center, and patrons say its burgers are among the best in the city.
The Loyalist is part of a pair of restaurants that opened at the same time. Smyth, a fancy tasting menu restaurant on the ground floor, costs a couple of hundred dollars per person. In the basement is The Loyalist, which provides quality drinks and food in a more affordable bar setting.
This Japanese steakhouse chain has a location in Chicago that offers tabletop grills for an interactive dining experience. Gyu-Kaku offers wagyu beef for a reasonable price, and guests can also grill their meats and try various items for around $25-30 per person.
You should make a reservation because it gets crowded with families and groups of sports fans and concert-goers — especially during the daily Happy Hour when prices drop. Finally, there’s a large two-person set meal option for $55 — perfect for date night!