It is the most wonderful time of year — baseball season! As the days warm — although here in Chicago it takes a little longer than other places — fans will start making their way towards the “Friendly Confines” in order to take in America’s national pastime.
In fact, according to Baseball Reference, almost 3 million fans took in a game at Wrigley last year. Considering how successful the Cubs were last year, we wouldn’t be surprised if we crack the 3 million mark in 2016!
But for all of you traveling to Wrigley Field, you may be wondering about the best place to get a bite to eat near the stadium.
Luckily for you, Wrigleyville, the neighborhood that surrounds Wrigley Field, is home to some of the best food that Chicago has to offer. With such a wide array of options, from Indian to vegetarian, there is certainly an option for any taste.
And, as one of Chicago’s most storied restaurants, we have some pretty strong opinions about food. So with that in mind, here are our favorite restaurants near Wrigley Field.
History of Wrigley Field
But first: Since Wrigley Field is such a point of pride for all of us here in Chicago, we think it makes sense to take a little time and go over the history of stadium.
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, just two years newer than Boston’s Fenway Park.
However, many people don’t know that the first tenants of this famed stadium were not the Cubs. In fact, the Chicago Whales originally played in the park as part of the now-defunct Federal League. Wrigley wasn’t even the park’s first name. The stadium was originally called Weeghman Park. Eventually, the Cubs moved into the park in 1916. But even then, it was called Cubs Park. However, eventually the owner of Wrigley Gum bought the stadium and renamed it Wrigley Field.
With such a long past, the field has hosted some very memorable baseball moments, including Babe Ruth’s famed “called shot.” It’s known for its ivy-covered outfield wall — the only such wall in the major leagues — its unpredictable wind patterns that have been known to frustrate hitters and pitchers alike, and the old-fashioned touches of a hand-turned scoreboard and the famous “win flag.”
However, despite being over one hundred years old, the Cubs are still waiting for their first chance to win the World Series in the stadium. As the owners of the dubious distinction of the longest championship drought in North American sports, Cubs fans have been waiting a long time.
But we also know that when that day comes, (and as optimists we have to believe that it will) we are going to be there to celebrate with all of the Cubs faithful!
Wrigley Field is directly tied to the neighborhood in which it resides. Because of Chicago’s love of the Cubs, the area grew to support the stadium, earning the name Wrigleyville. Renowned for its culture, eateries and lived-in vibe, Wrigleyville is a rarity in the sports world. Unlike most stadiums, located either in commercialized downtowns or outside the city limits, Wrigleyville is a neighborhood with personality.
Wrigleyville even sports one of the singular oddities in baseball. While most stadiums are designed to make sure that only ticketholders can view the game, the many rooftops surrounding Wrigley offer great views of the field. Homeowners have even built bleachers in order to give guests a better view.
But more than anything, Wrigleyville is a neighborhood with all of the wonderful opportunities that a neighborhood provides. It’s here that you will find the best places to eat around Wrigley Field. So, without any further delay, here are our favorite eateries in Wrigleyville, broken down by category.
Best Korean Food — Crisp
Crisp has a lot to offer to the fan of Korean cuisine. They have the classics, like kimchi, but they are perhaps most famous for their Korean takes on American favorites.
Talk to anyone in Wrigleyville and they’re tell you that their wings are to die for. Featuring their “Sassy Seoul” sauce, they give you the best of both worlds. They have a taste that is distinctly Korean while also fulfilling the decadent role played by a classic wing joint. And, unlike most wings, these are full-sized, so they’ll satisfy even the strongest Chicago appetite.
If you’d rather go after something more handheld, they also offer mouthwatering Korean Burritos. In addition to white rice, carrots, corn and lettuce, they feature a distinctly Korean protein — either bulgogi or chicken. You can also opt for a vegetarian version.
Either way, Crisp has found a perfect way to put Korean cuisine in the hands of the Wrigley faithful.
Best Seafood — Fish Bar
Well, they definitely aren’t hiding anything with the name. But that simple approach to nomenclature reflects their approach to their fare. It’s casual and straightforward. In fact, the only thing confusing about the place is where they pull their inspiration from.
On one hand, they have an incredible lobster roll — a Maine classic. Lower quality lobster rolls hide their subpar meat in a mess of mayo. But these sandwiches feature some hefty chunks with only enough mayo to give the lobster the tang it deserves. The spicy slaw served on the side is also a nice touch.
On the other hand, you can try their Satchmo po’boy, which is definitely a take on a New Orleans favorite. A mix of crawdads and fried shrimp, it’s one of the best ways to experience the Big Easy this far north of the delta. But purists beware — it’s served in a New England-style bun, just like their lobster roll.
Either way, seafood lovers will leave happy. This is a great option after a sunny day game.
Best Burger — DMK Burger Bar
You really can’t go wrong with a burger, but there are a lot of ways that a burger can go wrong. Overcooked doorstops will leave you chewing for days. Cheap meat can taste bland, or worse. Thankfully, at DMK, you’ll never be steered wrong.
The key at DMK is the variety suited for any burger taste. They have classics, but they also have daring experimentations. So if you know what you like, you’ll be happy. But if you are a little more adventurous, you have a lot of options to choose from.
Take, for example, the Chorizo Burger. Complete with guac, cilantro and chipotle aioli, this burger definitely puts its inspiration from our southern neighbor front and center.
But they also have a Salmon Burger. It bears Asian influences, with crunchy slaw and Thai red curry.
Finally, they have a triple-decker burger, called the Big DMK. It looks a lot like another famous and far lower-quality burger from a national chain.
Regardless, burgers are the kind of meal that fortifies you for a full nine innings.
Best Asian — bopNgrill
Careful readers might accuse us of cheating here. We’ve already named our favorite Korean restaurant and now we’re listing our favorite Asian restaurant, which just so happens to be prominently Korean-inspired.
Well, once you’ve tried both, you’ll understand why we had to include them both!
And, to be fair, the menus are pretty different. bopNgrill is more of an Asian cafeteria, in the best way possible. They have countless options to choose from and they’re all awesome. To give you a sense of the crazy variety, here are a few examples:
The umami burger, named after that classic Asian flavor combo, is one of those decadent foods that you have to have once, but probably shouldn’t have regularly. Smoked gouda, truffle mushrooms, togarashi mayo and bacon. Enough said.
But on the off chance that you want a little more control over your burger, they also have a “build your own” option.
If you want something a little closer to traditional, try the Bulkogi Bop Plate. You get all of the Korean classics, including a side of to-die-for kimchi. They also have a Korean BBQ chicken plate if you’re trying to avoid the red meat.
Speaking of kimchi, you have to have the kimchi fries! Just think thick-cut fries topped with an American-Korean fusion kitchen sink.
If the game goes poorly, meaning you need to get some food in your stomach to offset the beers you used to drown you sorrow, this is the place for you.
Best Deli — The Bagel
This is a classic New York-style deli smack in the middle of Chicago. It has everything you’d expect from a restaurant named after one of the Big Apple’s signature foods. They’ve even thrown some Broadway memorabilia up on the wall to make sure you know for sure which city they’re channeling.
Of course, if you just need a quick bagel, this is the place to start. But we also like the matzo ball soup. This is just a solid representation of a classic.
And if you were worried that they couldn’t cut it in the deli department, they also feature a mile-high corned beef sandwich.
Again, they aren’t breaking new ground so much as making sure they honor the classics with the respect they deserve. This is an especially appropriate destination if either the Mets or the Yankees are in town.
Best Thai — Andy’s Thai Kitchen
Are you noticing a pattern? We wouldn’t say we’re obsessed with Asian food — Italian is our business, after all! But we do think that our list is an expression of the strengths of this neighborhood, and this neighborhood has a lot of really good Asian eateries.
This place is definitely Thai, with all of the classics on the menu. Whether you’re looking for a spicy Thai curry or the classic Pad Thai, you can’t be steered wrong.
If you want something a little more exotic, we especially love their duck curry. Full of tropical flavors, it’s a great take on a Thai classic.
Just remember: They’re cash-only, so don’t forget to stop by the ATM on your way there.
Best Wood-Fired Pizza — Coalfire
In Chicago, deep dish reigns supreme. But every so often — and we mean very occasionally — you might find yourself in the mood for thin crust. If so, then Coalfire is the place to go.
They have a number of remarkably pretty pizzas that will make your eyes drool before you even get a chance to take a whiff.
As far as their menu goes, it’s pretty classic Italian fare, with a lot of options to round out your meal. Excellent salads help to relieve the guilt from eating too much pizza. But don’t be fooled — the pizza here is front-and-center.
Their pepperoni and whipped ricotta pizza is a particular favorite of ours. It has enough of that classic pepperoni style with a gourmet twist to really make its mark. But they also have an excellent honey and salami pizza for those who want to be a little more adventurous.
Plus, they have a number of calzones that are an excellent pizza alternative.
While we obviously stand by deep dish as the quintessential Chicago pizza option, if you want something a little more foldable, this is the place to go.
Best Mexican — Mixteco Grill
This is definitely Mexican fine dining, not street food. Their superb menu is designed to elevate Mexican cuisine, so this isn’t a restaurant you’ll want to try if you’re in a rush to get to the game in time for the first pitch.
But if you can spend some time and really sit down and enjoy your meal, you will not be disappointed!
Now don’t get us wrong — they have tacos, along with other classics like empanadas. But they also have a great dish, Camarones en Mole Queretano, which is tiger shrimp served with a classic green mole sauce.
If you’re a real meat lover, we suggest the Carne Asada, a succulent rib eye served with black beans, guacamole and salsa.
If you have a hankering for Mexican after the game, make sure to stop in here.
Best Indian — Tiffin
So: There’s spicy food, and then there’s Indian food. While many cuisines make a claim to spice, no one seems to relish it quite like Indian food. But if you are willing to take a little bit of heat, you really cannot go wrong with this excellent Wrigleyville eatery.
If you are new to Indian food, try the Murg Shahi Korma. It will give you a great introduction to the many flavors that combine in Indian cooking.
But if you’re willing to really try to tame the heat, give the Bhuna chicken a shot. This bone-in chicken is served with a generous and thick masala sauce that definitely packs a punch.
If you like gamier meats, give the Goan Lamb Vindaloo a try. It has a definite hot and sour combination that is a wonderful complement to lamb.
And of course, no Indian feast would be complete without naan, the classic Indian flatbread. They offer a number of preparations, including a wonderful garlic variety.
Finally, if you tackled a little more heat than you can actually handle, try a flavored lassi. This yogurt-based drink is designed to help cool your palate.
Best Vegetarian Food — Chicago Diner
Calling your restaurant the Chicago Diner, and then making it vegan/vegetarian almost seems like a cruel trick. Chicago is famed for its meat, and diners are known for large servings of bacon and eggs. But you won’t find either here.
But don’t let that scare you away. This restaurant is on a mission to convert even the most carnivorous eater to the cause of meat-free living. And boy are they successful!
It all starts with one of the best black bean burgers in the world. Cajun-inspired, it comes with sautéed onions and jalapeños.
But it’s a diner after all, so they put a lot of effort into their breakfast foods. Their vegan chocolate chip pancakes are out of this world, and a great option if you’re a little skeptical of vegan food.
Perhaps their greatest vegan achievement is their vegan milkshake. We swear that even the most discerning milkshake aficionado will find a lot to appreciate about this take on a classic.
So if you have to choose a restaurant that satisfies your one vegan friend, this is a great option.
Best Ice Cream — Bobtail Ice Cream Company
In the midsummer, even Chicago day games can get hot. So if you need ice cream to help you cool off, you can’t do much better than Bobtail Ice Cream Company.
They aren’t holding anything back with their incredibly decadent yet gourmet flavors. Take their Signature Sunset flavor. It’s a merlot ice cream with chocolate chips.
Or maybe you’d prefer their White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. It’s white chocolate and features peanut butter cups. (Surprise, surprise!)
They even have a flavor with Cubs fans in mind. Cubby Crunch comes with sprinkles, Oreos, chocolate chips and toffee.
But even if none of these signature flavors intrigue you, you can also design your own sundae using some of their classic flavors and tasty toppings.
If you want to take some home with you rather than eating it there, you can also get pints to go.
In other words, this is one of those classic ice cream parlors that knows exactly what makes an ice cream parlor so great: Really good flavors, high-quality ingredients and a great cone piled high.
Best Rotisserie—Crosby’s Kitchen on Southport
Slow roasted meat pairs perfectly with baseball. Thankfully, Wrigleyville is also home to some of the best rotisserie style meat. Crosby’s Kitchen takes rotisserie seriously by expertly roasting chicken, pork and beef over apple, cherry and oak wood fires.
However, their rotisserie pièce de résistance is their prime rib. The 100% Angus prime rib is simply and perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper, then served with mashed potatoes and au jus.
They also serve their rotisserie meats in superb sandwiches, such as their chicken dip sandwich. The sandwich is served on crusty bread, adorned with pepper jack cheese, mayo, tomato, onion and arugula, with a side of chicken au jus.
In addition, Crosby’s also serves excellent burgers, crab cakes and traditional Chicago style sausages.
This is a restaurant that elevates the traditional American menu, taking the expected and serving it in its most perfectly prepared form.
Best Deep Dish — Giordano’s
Okay, this probably shouldn’t surprise anyone. But we became Chicago’s leading deep dish pizza joint for a reason.
It all starts with a classic, Chicago take on tomato pie. Based off of the Giordano family’s famous Italian recipe, the restaurant began serving deep dish in 1974. Since then, we have defined what Chicago pizza tastes like.
We offer a number of great takes on the classic. Our BBQ Chicken Pizza includes bacon, chicken and balsamic onions, all covered in BBQ sauce rather than classic red sauce.
We also do a Super Veggie Pizza. We pile on the veggies on this one. Broccoli, olives, artichokes, spinach, onions, green peppers and mushrooms make sure you’re satisfied even if the pie is meatless.
But, of course, nothing can beat the Chicago Classic. Pepperoni, sausage, onions and green peppers may be the world’s most perfect pizza topping combination.
If you are visiting Wrigley for the first time — perhaps you’re a fan of the road team — you can also buy our pizzas to go. If you don’t have far to go, take a hot pie to your hotel! We also offer frozen pizza packs that are ready to be heated in your oven. Plus, if you want to skip the wait, you can order online!
The truth is, there is nothing better than taking in a game at Wrigley Field. Even if it’s been a couple years since the Cubbies have won a World Series, the ambiance in Wrigleyville is unrivaled. The food is excellent, the people exude that Midwestern charm, and a game at the “Friendly Confines” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And if you live in Chicago, you get to have that experience as often as you’d like.
So join us, sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and enjoy some of the best food the Wrigleyville has to offer!