In the not-too-distant past, Wrigley Field wasn’t what one would call a culinary oasis. Sure, you could find a solid Chicago-style dog, a bag of peanuts and some lemon ice, but there wasn’t much else to write home about. But things change. Not only are the Chicago Cubs the reigning World Champions — the food at Wrigley Field is now world class. Options have expanded dramatically, and you can eat well whether you’re a vegetarian, an epicurean or an encased meats enthusiast. There’s something to please every Cubs fan at a multitude of price points, from the cheap seats in the bleachers to the season ticket holders behind home plate. It’s a whole new ballgame.
No trip to the ballpark is complete without at least one hot dog, and friends, the Main Concourse is littered with ‘em. Along with the Chicago classic (Vienna Beef dog topped with yellow mustard, chopped onions, neon green sweet pickle relish, tomato slices, sport peppers, a dill pickle and celery salt, all on a steamed poppy seed bun), you’ll find Polish and Italian sausages and brats, Gilbert’s Craft Sausages (try the Caprese, a chicken sausage topped with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze), Kosher dogs, and even bison sausages at the High Plains Bison stand. The Sheffield Counter (at the far right end of the Main Concourse) offers dogs with global flavors, like the Pilsen (topped with lime-cilantro aioli and roasted corn) or the Bao Wao (sriracha aioli, fresh cilantro and mint, pickled carrot and daikon).
Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Tacos and Even Vegan Chicken
Looking for something a little different? Hang out at above-mentioned Sheffield Counter to find dishes like Al Pastor Chicken Tacos, served on soft corn tortillas and topped with pickled red onions, queso fresco, sliced radishes and chopped cilantro. Also worth a second look: the Aloha Chicken Sandwich features a juicy grilled chicken breast topped with sweet chili sauce, grilled pineapple and Asian slaw, all on a toasted Hawaiian roll. And vegans, rejoice, for you’ve not been forsaken. Vegan Chik’n Shawarma is here to pull you up from the depths of your dairy-free despair, loaded into a warm toasted pita with hummus, lettuce, tomato and red onion.
Best Bleacher Eats: Dogs, Sausage, Meatballs, BLTs and More
Some of the most exciting food collabs at Wrigley Field are happening up in the bleachers, and you can only take advantage of them if you’re a bleacher bum — sorry, lower deck ticket holders, but you’re out of luck! The Cubs have joined forces with Chicago’s favorite sausage savant Doug Sohn, of the late lamented Hot Doug’s, to offer a rotating selection of dogs inspired by Cubs greats. Get your own triple play started with the Joe Tinker (veal saltimbocca sausage with Swiss cheese, crispy onions and sage mustard), then move on to nearby Pork & Mindy’s sandwich emporium, developed by Food Network star Jeff Mauro. There, you’ll order the Pig Candy BLT, an umami bomb of a sandwich that combines brown sugar-coated bacon, lettuce, tomato, balsamic onions and mayo on a buttery brioche bun. The third (!) stop is the Buona Beef stand, where your Buona Meatball Sandwich — topped with marinara sauce and grated Parmesan, naturally — is waiting for you. Thirsty? Grab a premium craft beer to wash it down.
The Fancy Seats: Carving Station, Fresh Fruit and Salads, and Desserts to Die For
For those fortunate enough to have Cubs season tickets, there is the members-and-guests-only Audi Club, located in the southeast corner of Wrigley Field. Within, an eye-popping buffet awaits, a groaning board of delights including a carving station, bountiful salad selection, cheese and fruit bar, and a dessert display to die for (still dreaming of the multi-tiered carrot cake). The a la carte menu includes freshly baked soft Bavarian Pretzels with Beer-Cheese Fondue and a fine Italian Chopped Salad. All food is prepared by Levy Restaurants and is available pre- and post-game.
Market Fresh: Fresh Produce, Baked Goods, Meats and Cheeses
This year, Chicago’s Green City Market has opened a satellite location at the new Park at Wrigley, presented by Crate & Barrel. The outdoor market will operate from 4-8 p.m. most Thursday evenings this season, offering fresh produce, baked goods, meats, cheeses and more. Expect chef demos, Club Sprouts kids’ activities and more.
The Cubs and hospitality partner Levy have introduced a Rotating Chef Series presented by Maker’s Mark. Topshelf Chicago celebrity chefs are bringing their unique interpretations of ballpark food to a pop-up at the Sheffield Counter on the Main Concourse. Jeff Mauro (Pork & Mindy’s) gets creative with BBQ and sandwiches July 21-25, while Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, XOCO, Leña Brava) brings the (Mexican) heat Aug. 1-6. Chef and TV personality Graham Elliot will close out the program Aug. 14-20 and Aug. 28 to Sept. 3. For the full schedule, go to cubs.com/chefseries.
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Julie Chernoff, Make It Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and sits on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and Northlight Theatre. She and husband Josh are empty nesters since adult kids Adam and Leah have flown the coop. Rosie the Cockapoo relishes the extra attention.