“Where the cupboard is never bare”
Mother Hubbard’s is one those old-school Chicago sports bars whose heyday was in a time when Chicago’s nightlife was centered around River North and the Gold Coast. Today, Mother Hubbard’s still draws good crowds as it is one of the few actual neighborhood bars like O’Callaghan’s, the Brehon Pub, and Doc’s in the River North area. Patrons come to watch the game, throw down some pub grub and beers, and to hit on the waitresses.
Named after the street it’s on, Mother Hubbard’s anchors the block on Hubbard, just west of State Street and Andy’s. While sports Mecca, the ESPN Zone, is located just down the street, Mother Hubbard’s attracts patrons with the promise of ESPN (“Watch it here!”), the NFL’s Sunday Ticket, all baseball, hockey and basketball games, and, modestly, “good food.” “Mother Hubbard’s” glows in the night from its neon sign in the front window, next to several other plate glass panes choked with neon beer signs. Step under the black awning, through the doorway with its pay phones and hit the ATM machine next to the merchandise counter if you need cash. A worn wooden bar, under a cardboard Blackhawks scoreboard, juts out from the west wall and serves a good selection of other brews. An old steel cash register in the middle of the bar area rings up ale purchases along with orders from a modest menu of pub grub that includes buffalo wings, ribs, rotisserie chicken, an array of Mexican dishes, pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. Prices range between $8 and $15. Have a seat at the bar or at one of the cocktail tables up front by the windows or along the east side of the room, between two Golden Tee machines standing back-to-back (exorbitantly priced at $9 per person per 18 holes), a foosball table and three pool tables in the back pool room.
The front room features a slatted wooden ceiling, a worn clay tile floor and exposed brick walls that were there before this was in fashion. From these walls hang a giant neon Budweiser sign, cardboard beer signs, framed collages of patrons, street signs, old pennants, and blow up beer promotions. In addition, eighteen televisions are located throughout the room as well as an impressive six 10′ big screens. All screens are fed by four satellite hook-ups. Swinging Western-like saloon doors lead to the kitchen, and a fish tank with four piranhas and brown wooden trellis above it separates the front room from the back where one can be seated at a series of low-slung tables. On your way to the back, which can be rented for private parties from 10-250 people, make sure you have a gander at two giant wood and Plexiglas cases that hold hundreds of old beer cans and check your e-mail at the Webcatcher internet portal on your way out. The mostly male crowd consists primarily of lawyers and construction workers by day, along with tourists, the after-work Loop crowd, and the occasional athlete or celebrity by night. Mother Hubbard’s is best for big sporting events, including boxing matches, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, any football game, and any Chicago sports post-season play, but be prepared for large crowds as the bar is never as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. The bar also hosts the “Mother Hubbard’s Invitational” golf outing every June, as well as buses to all Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks home games.
“Trusty sports tavern threatening to become one big beer ad.”– The Official Chicago Bar Guide (2001)
Mother Hubbard’s is a pretty good sports bar, much like a Sluggers if it were located in River North, with conventioneers instead of young professionals. The place is great to catch a game while enjoying beers, burgers and entertaining sports discussions. Co-owner Kathleen Fitzpatrick has done rather well since 1993 when Mother Hubbard’s opened. For more information, check out the Mother Hubbard’s website. Go Cubs!
“Neighborhood Sports Pub”