Chicago

The Best Things to Eat and Drink at Chicago’s Wrigley Field This Season

Drown your DH-induced woes in Nashville Hot Chicken, BBQ brisket, and Maxwell Street's finest.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs

According to the New York Times, an estimated 68.5 million fans attended Major League Baseball games throughout the 2019 season. That’s a whole lot of foot traffic. And while America’s pastime is undoubtedly deeply embedded in the hearts of millions-this writer included-it’s safe to venture that a good portion of that 68.5 million didn’t show up for the balls and strikes alone. That’s right, we’re talking about the Big Show’s best supporting actor: stadium snacks.

Here in Chicago, the only thing we take more seriously than our food is our sports-a fact clearly evidenced by the mouthwatering innovations dreamed up annually by our many concession stands’ culinary masterminds. Wrigley Field, for one, runs on these creations, whether it’s fistfulls of Garrett Popcorn, tiny batting helmets brimming with fast-melting soft serve ice cream, shatterproof pints of thirst-quenching craft beer, or gut-busting sandwiches teeming with tender beef and giardiniera. So slip on your best oversized jersey, load up on napkins, and get ready to feast-here are the absolute best things to eat and drink in the Friendly Confines this season. Go, Cubs, Go.

Alexey_Arz/Shutterstock
Alexey_Arz/Shutterstock
Alexey_Arz/Shutterstock

The Twisted Tater

Sheffield Corner
What’s better than fried potatoes? Fried potatoes on a stick, that’s what. Let the folks at Sheffield Corner introduce you to this brand-new Wrigley addition, a crispy spud spiraled around a sturdy skewer and accompanied by a side of tangy dill pickle dip.

Levy
Levy
Levy

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

Sheffield Corner
Another newcomer, this fried chicken wonder kicks it up a notch with a hefty dousing of Nashville-style hot sauce. Throw in a scoop of creamy coleslaw and a couple of tart and sweet bread and butter pickle chips before stuffing the whole mess into a toasted brioche bun and you’ve got yourself one solid sandwich.

Lillie's Q
Lillie’s Q
Lillie’s Q

Lillie’s Q Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Sheffield Corner
Hovering somewhere between a classed-up Italian beef and a barbecue sandwich fit for the pitmaster gods, this Chicago original pairs slow-smoked Lillie’s Q brisket dipped in barbecue au jus with fiery giardiniera and a plump hoagie roll. Perfection? Quite possibly.

Original Maxwell Street
Original Maxwell Street
Original Maxwell Street

Maxwell Street Style Pork Chop Sandwich

Sheffield Corner
Harkening back to the Maxwell Street Market snacks of yore, this hearty handheld revolves around a seasoned pork cutlet layered with caramelized onions, dressed with mustard, and served on a warm and toasty bun.

Home Run Inn Pizza
Home Run Inn Pizza
Home Run Inn Pizza

Home Run Inn Pizza

Upper Deck Classics & Pizza Stand
The square-cut slices that dominated every midwesterner’s elementary school sleepovers are back at it at Wrigley this year, dishing up piping hot slices of plain, pepperoni, and more with a side of nostalgia. Pizza might not be a quintessential baseball food, but it’s sure hard to resist.

Garrett Popcorn Shops
Garrett Popcorn Shops
Garrett Popcorn Shops

Garrett Popcorn

Multiple locations
Cracker Jacks? Don’t know him. In Chicago, it’s all about buckets upon buckets of Garrett’s very best. And this year, you can once again get your fill of freshly popped deliciousness from a host of stands around the park.

Intelligentsia Coffee
Intelligentsia Coffee
Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee

Multiple locations
Coffee? At a ball game? All we can say is, don’t knock until it’s 45 degrees in late April, the wind’s kicking up from the lake something fierce, and you’re staring down extra innings on a school night. Grab a cup of locally roasted greatness courtesy of Chicago legend Intelligentsia and thank us later.

Terlato Wines

Multiple locations
Wine in a plastic carafe is a game-changer when it comes to day drinking your way through a midsummer heater. Thankfully, Terlato Wines is on hand to supply the good stuff this year with selections from their impressive and wide-reaching portfolio up for grabs at several different concession stands.

Revolution Brewing
Revolution Brewing
Revolution Brewing

Local craft beer

Multiple locations
It’s only fitting that a ballpark as iconically Chicago as Wrigley would pour the best damn beer the midwest has to offer. Scope out the good stuff by way of Goose Island, Half Acre, 3 Floyds, and Bell’s on tap and in cans all over the park, or stop by the craft beer and cocktail bar in section 132 to sample rotating seasonal suds from Goose Island, Maplewood, Spiteful, Moody Tongue, BuckleDown, Revolution, and Haymarket.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs

Hot Doug’s Specialty Sausage

Bleacher Platform 14
Chicago suffered an almost unimaginable loss when Hot Doug’s closed up shop back in 2014, but a year later the beloved hot dog institution established this well-trodden outpost at Wrigley, where the Cubs-inspired takes on encased meat wonders rotate on the regular. You’re welcome.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Meredith Heil is a Senior Cities Editor at Thrillist. She’s originally from St. Louis, now lives in Chicago, and in between has been to all 50 states (that’s boots on the ground, no airport BS). She enjoys all things cocktails, crosswords, and women’s soccer. Challenge her to a game of Hoop Shot at¬†@mereditto.

Chicago

Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or‚Ķ

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions‚ĶI think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary¬†is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book,¬†Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book,¬†Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the¬†Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

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