Bull & Bear

Lounge / Restaurant / Sports Bar
Bull & Bear Even on the most crowded and rowdy evenings, Bull & Bear maintains a level of decorum worlds apart from the often raucous venues that dominate Chicago's sports bar scene. Chicago United States 41.890122 -87.633737
3.05 11
Bull & Bear - Lounge | Restaurant | Sports Bar in Chicago.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Even on the most crowded and rowdy evenings, Bull & Bear maintains a level of decorum worlds apart from the often raucous venues that dominate Chicago’s sports bar scene. In true Wall Street style, a forty-foot-long stock... ... read full review

  • Train:

    Brown, Purple Express Lines: Merchandise Mart; Red Line: Grand

  • Phone:

    312-527-5973

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–F 11:30am¬–2am, Sa 11am–3am, Su 11am–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Bull & Bear Review

The Scene

Even on the most crowded and rowdy evenings, Bull & Bear maintains a level of decorum worlds apart from the often raucous venues that dominate Chicago's sports bar scene.

Even on the most crowded and rowdy evenings, Bull & Bear maintains a level of decorum worlds apart from the often raucous venues that dominate Chicago’s sports bar scene.

In true Wall Street style, a forty-foot-long stock market ticker above the main bar reports recent sports updates and scores, while an almost obscene number of flat-screen TVs are all tuned to some extension of ESPN.

Well-dressed sports aficionados gather at the high tables adjacent to the spacious bar to sip upscale cocktails like the Lush, a cucumber-infused vodka beverage with fresh watermelon.

Up a few stairs toward the back, large groups of fraternity types huddle around one of the bar’s five specialty “Personal Table Tap” booths, a self-serve miracle that brings one domestic and one import tap straight to eager boozers, measuring the amount of beer dispensed onto a meter right at the table.

Those who overimbibe can soak up the suds with some wings and sliders or, in warm weather, get some fresh air on the patio, a popular spot for long lunches.

Busy nights can mean a line to get in later in the evening, as stylish young professionals clamor for elbow room while spiffy sports fans watch the games and tipsy girls do their best to dance to DJ-spun Top 40 hits in whatever free space they can find.

Constantly surging with energy, Bull & Bear is a fantastic place to go with large groups of friends – and the self-serve beer taps ensure that even the less sports inclined have a good time.

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Tip from Lucas:

Reserve a booth with ten of your closest friends on a Friday night. Even when the place is jam-packed, bottle service and table taps provide continual comfort without having to flag down a waitress.

  • Crowd

    Affluent sports fanatics, after work professionals, party girls, and frat types, late 20s to late 30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    DJ spins Thursdays through Sundays and on special event nights during the week, such as big games and awards shows. Twenty-five flat-screen TVs. Forty-foot ticker with sports scores. Patio open March through November until 11pm. Free Wi-Fi.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Full menu. Table taps available by reservation.

  • Prices

    Brunch menu $8–$18, appetizers $8–$12, entrées $12–$20 Beer $4–$11, wine $8–$18/glass or $32–$250/bottle, cocktails $9–$12, bottle service $275+.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Upscale casual during the day, dressier in the evening: nice jeans and button-downs, cocktail dresses, slinky tops, heels.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Daytime and early evening for lunch and cocktails, Friday through Sunday for DJ sets and a lively crowd, and on any game nights.

  • Close By

    From the same owners as Bull & Bear, Public House (400 North State Street) offers the same table taps and a wider beer selection without the sports bar environment.

Bull & Bear User Reviews

Average rating:
Decent Establishment
Lyndsay M. Feb 25, 2013
Bull & Bear is exactly what you would expect from the River North bar scene. It's as close as you can get to a Buffalo Wild Wings without sacrificing your sports coat, Louboutins, and River North ambiance. The venue itself is fairly small, 2 floors, with touches of light fixtures and hardwood. Pretty much what you'd expect out of a sports bar in this part of town. Not for those with eclectic palates, the menu stays pretty true to upscale sports bar food standards, but that doesn't mean it doesn't satisfy. The food is good. The atmosphere changes depending on the day. There are no shortage of buddies catching up after a hard work day to college kids (think advertising and fashion majors) gearing up for a pregame as well. Warning: May experience douchiness. Music is top hits, they usually have cute bubble letters and drawings on the chalkboard behind the bar, and if you've ever felt like popping bottles at a sports bar, then have no fear, Ketel One and co. is here. I would recommend Bull&Bear for lunch or a pre evening drink.
Big Yups.
Zara H. Feb 21, 2013
In most neighborhoods, sports bars are best described as "casual." They're home to basic domestic beers, no frills menus and a jeans and t-shirt-clad crowd. But this is River North. And while Bull and Bear may the one of the area's most accurate takes on a classic sports bar, it's unlike most other watering holes within that genre. The best thing about B&B may very well be the fact that it doesn't suffer from an identity crisis. Its moniker works as a double entendre - it hints at the bar's enthusiasm for Chicago sports (or at least the Bulls and the Bears.) It also pays homage to "bull and bear" markets, a choice that unveils a few truths about this bar's clientele. The name is not only clever, but also appropriate. This is a bar that knows what it wants to be. It's a yuppie crowd by all accounts: There's no shortage of young traders in suits, at least during the week. Watching a game at B&B is definitely possible, but to be honest there are better places for true sports fans to go. Socializing takes priority here. If you roll out of bed and into this bar, you may feel out of place. It's not unusual for girls to teeter around in their tallest stilletoes and shortest skirts. There's also the matter of bottle service - it's available here, an option you don't have at a "typical" sports bar. If that's not your style, opt for a craft beer. Bull and Bears does a few things right, but the bar is far from flawless. Servers are consistently inattentive; bartenders often seem more consumed with gossiping and/or flirting with regular customers than serving others. But there's a reason to go back: the delicious truffle fries appetizer. Like the bar itself, they're an upscale take on something all-American.
(Kind of) an upscale sports bar
Nicole H. Dec 14, 2012
I used to work across the street from Bull and Bear. The place is always packed and happening. It's definitely not my scene, but everyone there seems to be having a blast. It's a typical sports bar so don't expect any special drinks. They're either too strong, too weak, watered down, etc. Someone is bound to bump into you/push you over, so you'll spill half of it anyway. The crowd is mostly yuppies working in River North, but no sophisticates. Music is recognizable, top hits. In sum, everyone's drunk, dancing, and shouting. Like I said, not my scene, but others will love it.
Great place, a shame about the clientele
Craig B. Dec 11, 2012
I like the effort that the designers took in making the Bull & Bear what it is, particularly the stock-like ticker above the bar, but this is just not my kind of place. It gets crowded quickly with button-down frat dudes and girls in tight skirts teetering on their high heels. If that sounds like your crowd, more power to you, but all the chanting got to be too much for me. I can only hear “chug, chug, chug” so many times before I start to hate everything. Which is a shame because the tableside taps are a thing of beauty. Luckily, the same concept is executed even better over at Public House.
Loud, crowded, and expensive
Christina W. Nov 20, 2012
I'm not going to lie, this place is not my favorite. It's swanky, it's cool-looking, and the decor is actually kind of awesome (there are tickers along the walls reporting sports scores and pop culture stories...you know, like the Stock Market). But it's the kind of place that well-to-do young professionals go to get drunk and make bad decisions. At least, that's how it seemed to me. I think I made a mistake by going on a March Madness "big game" night, because there was a line out the door and it was totally ridiculous inside. (Yeah, it's kind of a sports bar. Upscale sports bar?) But the drinks are good, and they have table taps, so I guess if you go with a group it's probably a pretty good time because you can just drink at your table without having to keep ordering. Keep in mind, it's not cheap, so definitely be prepared to shell out some cash.
Surprisingly decent brunch, upscale sports bar
Jessica S. Oct 4, 2012
So Bull & Bear has the bottomless mimosas and sexy servers you would expect at any RN location for brunch, but the food is actually surprisingly good. I’ve been for brunch a few times for the $20 bottomless mimosa's and bloodies. Simple formula, can’t go wrong there. But the homemade pop-tarts are, frankly, AMAZING. Get the peanut butter and blueberry, I could eat 4000 of them. Breakfast tacos were solid, but the eggs Benedict (with smoked turkey and asparagus) totally blew me away with how good it was. Finally, Belgian waffles…god, we ate a lot last time! Anyway, these weren't some namby-pamby instant mix waffles, these were dense, caramelized sugar bits and white chocolate masterpieces. And now I am fat. Oh yeah, it’s a sports bar…there are TVs and stuff. Mmm…waffles.
Decent Sports Bar
Paul F. Sep 5, 2012
I have a slightly tainted experience at Bull & Bear because the friend I was with was friends with the owner. As you walk in, it's a narrow spot with two levels - though the second level is only a few stairs up. On the left of the entrance is the bar with requisite TVs hanging over head. As you make your way to the upper level, you'll notice the booths that have their own built in table taps. Now I know this is more common today, but when I first went here, it was the first time seeing it and I have to say, very cool. Having access to your own tap, however, does allow you to drink quite a bit more, but I'm told the waitresses on hand are there to monitor. I'm sure they're taking breathalyzers later too. Overall the food was decent - nothing mind-blowing. More up-scale bar food. But the people were incredibly nice and we got really hammered for not that much money (again - perks of knowing the owner). The crowd was mostly young professionals - mid 20s to mid 30s and it makes sense because it's not that cheap.
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