United Center raises the game for concession foods

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The United Center is busy again this time of year with both the Bulls and Hawks in action, and not to mention the occasional concert. With the new season brings some new options for food in all of the concourses.

A lot of the new stuff has opened up on the 100 level, since that's where all fans must enter.

Big Star is gone, but the Little Goat has taken its place. New options, such as Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Lillie's Q and even Pastry Chef Mindy Segal, mean there's almost as much culinary star power in the building as there is athletic talent on the court and ice.

For fans who like to get there early to grab a beer or a bite, the latest delicious concessions offer more than just a hot dog or a pretzel.

The Chicago Sausage Shop on the 200 level is run by Links Tap. This spot has a handful of creative options, like steak and ale with shoestring potatoes or spicy chorizo drizzled with cheese sauce. Down on the 100 level, Chef Stephanie Izard's "This Little Goat Went to the Taqueria" offers four tacos and an empanada stuffed with shredded goat, white cheddar, Oaxacan cheese, golden raisins and olives. All of the tacos utilize her line of sauces.

"So This Little Goat beef short ribs are one of the tacos. We have Korea sauce on a chicken taco, [and] we have our Cuban spice on veggie tacos," said Izard. "So it makes sort of everything one step easier, so you can make a lot of great meats, a lot of great flavor, without too many steps down in that kitchen, so it makes it nice and smooth."

The taco are served in flour tortillas, unless you request corn. They hold their fillings better and don't get dried-out.

Down the way a bit, Honey Butter Fried Chicken is making a decadent sandwich. This take on a fried chicken sandwich starts with a spicy honey mayo and is then paired with their green tomato camchi kimchi. Their nachos at this stand also get lots of chicken, cheese and corn salsa. Its part of the overall plan here to partner with well-known, local brands.

"We have new partners all of the time. Like Mindy's Hot Chocolate came on board, we have also Charlie McKenna's Fatback in stand 119, so always fun," said Reto Furrer, the Executive Chef for Levy Restaurants.

McKenna's Lillie's Q is doing lots of pulled pork. Something new to try this year is their giant, sesame seed-coated muffaletta sandwiches; or the outstanding Texas-style, open-faced smoked jalapeno-cheddar hot link that comes topped with onions and pickles.

For something sweeter, Mindy Segal's Hot Chocolate is pouring out the namesake with their homemade marshmallows up on the 200 level. There is also a bakery offering a nice selection of sweet treats that's just the right size after gobbling down a massive sandwich and a beer. Working with this level of talent also raises the game for the concession stand workers who get exposed to new recipes and flavors.

"We do a lot of scratch cooking. It's a lot of fun working with those partners and get some more experiences as well for us obviously," said Furrer.

In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a closer look at some of the doughnuts coming out of the Mindy's Hot Chocolate kiosk up on the 200 level.
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In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a closer look at some of the doughnuts coming out of the Mindy's Hot Chocolate kiosk up on the 200 level.

United Center
1901 W. Madison St.
  • This Little Goat: Section 114

  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken: Section 115

  • Lillie's Q: Section 119

  • Links Taproom: section 104

  • Mindy's Hot Chocolate: Section 212
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