My next “Saturday Suds” is another of the “pubs near the park” variety. I’m looking at a specific bar near various Major League parks. Most of these are in Wrigleyville, since I guess I’d need to have been there to write about them!
I’d been to Sluggers after Cubs games when in town visiting, but not since I moved to Chicago until a game in July.
Ballpark: Wrigley Field in Chicago
Location: 3540 N. Clark St. – almost caddy corner to Wrigley on the Southwest side.
Beers served: Sluggers has a large assortment of beers, but they don’t have anything particularly noteworthy. You can get all your standards – Bud, Miller and Coors and of course in Wrigleyville they are obligated to serve Old Style! But if you’re a beer snob (which I protest to being at times) – this is not the place for you. They do have a couple of the most common craft beers – from Lagunitas and New Belgium breweries. But if you’re coming here, I’d advise to go with the tall boy cans of Miller Lite or Bud Light and enjoy the batting cages.
Menu (if applicable): Classic bar food, that I’d rate as average based on the limited experience I’ve had eating there. The wings are breaded, which is a big no-no to me – but if you get the barbecue version they aren’t bad. Other stuff like potato skins and mozzarella sticks are pretty decent.
Is it baseball-themed? Or is it just close to the ballpark? The name is Sluggers – a resounding yes. I’ll get right to the biggest thing this bar is known for – the batting cages upstairs! There’s nothing like going to Wrigley Field and watching Cubbie hitters struggle against Major League pitching, then going across the street to imagine if you could do better.
Description: Sluggers bills itself as a world-class sports bar, and when it was founded 25 years ago, it probably was. It seems a bit dated these days, but part of that is the draw of the place. And at least they’ve got a ton of plasma TV’s! It’s nicer than Cubby Bear next door, but you’ve got to take it for what it’s worth. It’s kind of like the college bar you’d go to on a Fall Saturday instead of tailgating. Like Varsity Club in Columbus, something like that. It’s a great time if you’re looking to hit some baseballs, get a few more beers and enjoy the company of other Cub fans.
This place has a few options – in addition to all the games upstairs, you can sit downstairs to watch games on their multiple flat screens, or you could sit outside on the patio. That’s a great option on a sunny summer day.
Of course the batting cages are the best reason to go. You can hit softball slow-pitch, medium speed baseball (~65-70 mph) or fast baseball speed (~80 mph). I went a month ago and had my first try at the cages. I went for the medium baseball speed, and did all right in my own opinion. No swing and misses, and a decent number of well hit balls. But what is really impressive is to watch the other people in the cages. A little before me was a big guy who just couldn’t get bat on the ball, and a few spots after me was a 5′ 5″ girl who I’m convinced played high school baseball – she pretty much hit a rope on every swing.
Next time you go to a Cubs game – I’d recommend this for a stop if you leave the game a little early. The batting cages are worth it, but keep in mind it will get crowded right after the last pitch!