Sports, Games and a Utopian Tailgate

Parlay at Joy District

 Joy District is one part event space and one part sports bar. Parlay, the sports bar on the street level, has nineteen  100-inch LED TVs and a 200-inch projection screen. Given the number of screens, no seat is a “bad” seat.

If the Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks are playing, virtually every TV in every bar in the Chicago area is tuned to the game. In the baseball season, bars with at least two screens have the Cubs on one and the White Sox on the other. 

College sports are another matter altogether, given the number of teams  and the number of games. But when you run the numbers, this is Big Ten country, and if a Chicago area bar is going to opt for an affiliation, it’s typically going to be a Big Team team. Parlay is a recently minted University of Michigan bar. So if Michigan is playing and the game is televised, you can-for sure- see it at Parlay.

That doesn’t mean everyone in the bar is a Wolverine fan. No way… On the other hand, Michigan fans can count on watching the game with other Michigan fans. The crowd is spirited, the rivalries are friendly, and there's definitely a lot of "meet and greet."

Watching the game isn’t the only reason to join the scene at Parlay.The bar menu is eclectic, and the food menu includes a long list of comfort food favorites, everything from tacos, burgers, and pizza to a chocolate chip cookie bowl filled with vanilla ice cream and cereal and topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries. Win or lose, no one leaves hungry.

Parlay at Joy District, 112 W. Hubbard St. 312.955.0339

Hours: Mondays-Fridays 4pm-2am, Saturdays 11 am-3am, Sundays 11 am-12 am


Punch Bowl Social 

a quartet of punch options

a quartet of punch options

Brunch is fast becoming a “must” for casual restaurants in trendy neighborhoods. Once an “only on Sunday” event,  it's now widely available on Saturdays as well. Sports bars are a popular spot for brunch, and as it turns out, so are the newish game cafes. Punch Bowl Social in the rapidly expanding Fulton Market District is both.

20191116_131114The restaurant bills itself as the first “experiential food and beverage brand to bring a scratch kitchen together with social gaming under a design forward roof.” 

20191116_144104While the roof will have wait for warmer weather, the restaurant is up and running, complete with lots of TV screens, a new brunch menu, family oriented games, and a four lane bowling alley.

20191116_141043The new brunch menu kicks off with a quartet of punch options, cocktails, and cans of both beer and wine. There’s also a long list of non-alcoholic options, juices, and coffee. Entrees hit a lot of boxes, everything from avocado toast, chicken and waffles, and cauliflower grits to slow-roasted brisket hash and the Texas Express made with sage sausage, griddled buttermilk biscuits, a poached egg, and Punch potatoes. 

Punch Bowl Social, 310 N. Green Street 312.809.9551

Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm

Photos by Judith Landesman


Bonus Round Cafe

Bonus Round, a game-focused cafe in Lakeview, recently added daily specials, happy hour and a new brunch menu that's available on Saturdays and Sundays.

To begin at the beginning, the cafe has a curated library of 450-games plus. While some of the games are either familiar or simple enough not to need a lot of instruction, knowledgeable "game guides" are always available.

From 2-5 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the cafe features a budget priced sandwich and an unlimited game pass for $3 instead of the usual $5. On Fridays, the cafe offers $1 off all wine and craft beer selections from 5-8pm.

Brunch is served from 11 am-2 pm on both Fridays and Saturdays. Expect quesadillas, waffles avocado toast and eggs, along with mimosas, cappuccino, and coffee enhanced with a shot of bourbon, sugar and a topknot of whipped cream.

Bonus Round Cafe, 3230 N. Clark Street, 773.857.1037

The cafe is closed on Tuesdays.


For Gilda

Utopian Tailgate, a 10,000 square foot indoor and outdoor rooftop party experience, is hosting the Hanukkah-themed "Chronikkah- Festival of Light 'Em Up," a several day celebration in support of Gilda's Club Chicago. Expect Hanukkah-themed games, seasonal eats, and an opportunity to raise funds for a charity that provides emotional support for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Named for Gilda Radner, the Saturday Night Live star who died in 1989 from ovarian cancer, the charity was created by Gene Wilder, Radner's husband and fellow comedian, and the couple's friends and family.

Chronikkah runs from December 22-28, with the exception of December 24 and 25.

Utopian Tailgate, 1608 N. Wells St. 312.210.7799

Have wonderful holidays. We'll be back on January 9.

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