The busy streets around “The Friendly Confines,” local jargon for Wrigley Field, just got even friendlier. Whether or not you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you’ll find plenty of new ways to appreciate this neighborhood on the city’s North Side. Check out our recommendations for where to eat, drink, stay and play through baseball season and beyond.
When the Cubs are home, Gallagher Way—a wedge of grass on the western side of Wrigley Field—becomes a casual hangout for ticket holders (the park closes to the general public three hours before game time), but it’s otherwise open to everyone. Grab a seat at one of the wooden tables or relax on the grass. During the summer, Gallagher Way hosts concerts, movie nights and workouts, while winter brings a Christmas market and ice skating. gallagherway.com
The Trophy Room at Gallagher Way Presented by Motorola
Share in the Cubs' moment of glory with an up-close view of the 2016 World Series trophy. The trophy is usually available for viewing and no-cost photo ops, but check ahead of time to confirm it’s on display and read the guidelines for photos. After your trophy time, take a look at the 2016 World Series Championship Ring, topped with 33 rubies, 46 sapphires and a whopping 180 diamonds. gallagherway.com
2016 World Series trophy at The Trophy Room Presented by Motorola.
The two-story Cubs Store at Gallagher Way is a one-stop shop for everything Cubbies: dozens of baseball caps (in the team’s signature red, white and blue as well as other colors), apparel for newborns to adults, and oodles of souvenirs. Both floors feature a kiosk where you can customize a jersey with your name and favorite number. gallagherway.com
Starbucks Reserve offers all the same drinks as a regular Starbucks—and then some. Like all Starbucks Reserve locations, this store specializes in small-batch coffees sourced from around the world. You might even see staff members evaluating different beans. Instead of the usual white-and-green cup, a Starbucks Reserve concoction, such as a rose honey latte, comes in a black-and-gold cup. This location also subtly references its famous neighbor in leather chairs with red baseball-inspired stitching. starbucks.com
When a ballpark hot dog just won’t cut it, Big Star comes to the rescue. This second outpost of one of Chicago’s most beloved taco joints serves up satisfying fare alongside potent tequila and whiskey cocktails. On warm days, the large retractable windows create the illusion of dining al fresco, and a side patio offers this option for real. Standout menu items include crispy tortilla chips and fresh guacamole, the beer-battered fish tacos and the robust Ensalada de Big Star, topped with a mound of queso fresco. Wash it all down with the shot of the day. bigstarchicago.com
Big Star. Photo courtesy of Melissa Blackmon
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Brambleberry crisp. Dark chocolate truffle. Gooey Butter Cake. Is your mouth watering yet? Employees encourage patrons to take advantage of the generous free-sample policy at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, but you really can’t go wrong with any flavor. Don’t miss the signs advertising “This Just In” or “Shop Exclusive,” like the limited-edition, baseball-appropriate Popcorn! Peanuts! It’s made with heirloom popcorn ice cream and studded with salty caramel peanuts reminiscent of Cracker Jack. jenis.com
Portraits of Zachary Taylor Davis, the architect behind Wrigley Field’s design, adorn Hotel Zachary’s interior. Request a room on the east side for views of Wrigley Field or opt for the west side to enjoy the city skyline. Thoughtful touches, such as glass terrariums and soft throw blankets, add personality to each room. Make time for the stylish bar and lobby as well. Cozy up next to the fireplace, relax on the balcony to watch the game on the gigantic screen above Gallagher Way, or listen to the game audio at top volume in the bar area. hotelzachary.com
Hotel Zachary. Photo courtesy of David Burk
West Town Bakery & Tap
Sweet treats and beer may seem like a strange combination, but West Town Bakery & Tap makes it work. People stop by on their morning commute for pastries and Chicago’s own Dark Matter Coffee; in the evening, the small shop caters to the after-work crowd with beer, wine and cocktails. For something different, try the French toast cake shake, a milkshake made with rum, vanilla soft serve, white cake and baking spices. If that’s a bit too much, splurge instead on one of the shop’s decadent cake balls coated in sprinkles. westtownbakery.com