A neighborhood bar is best when it reflects the local culture, which is why it’s no surprise that Harrys’ of Arlington pours brews from a variety of local craft breweries such as Revolution, 5 Rabbit, and Goose Island. A long wooden bar that stretches nearly the length of the room features a dozen tap handles in regimented rows above its polished surface. Those taps spout both macro- and microbrewed beers, which can be obtained on specials that run every day of the week. Cooks complement these libations with an extensive menu of pub grub, including customizable sirloin-patty burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of mac and cheeses spiced up with enticing ingredients.
Occasionally, the staff clears the rows of tables and hooks up their sound and light systems to host concerts. For these convivial events, they invite musicians who run the gamut of musical styles, from rock and blues to funk and tribute bands, who play music in lieu of paying taxes.
Mago, which is Spanish for magician, drafted chef Juan Luis Gonzalez to craft authentic Latin and Mexican dishes that “dazzle” diners, according to the Daily Herald. The menu surveys both traditional and updated dishes, including three kinds of ceviche, empanadas stuffed with seasoned meats, and complex moles. Beyond the main dishes, the chef experiments with sucrose in desserts such as chocolate molten cake with chipotle ice cream, as well as a cantina menu highlighted by margaritas, mezcals, and mojitos served in glass sombreros.
Arlington Park's racetrack hosts a summer season of on-site wagering on live thoroughbred horse races across its sweeping, verdant turf. A blend of vintage and modern, the racetrack's tiered white buildings house myriad dining options—including a café, food court, Mexican restaurant, upscale restaurant, and two casual pubs—which provide a refuge for eager audiences and the horses' proud families. The popular Mr. D's Sports Bar caters to patrons with casual pub fare, including burgers, paninis, and hot dogs. In addition to screening live and off-season races, Mr. D's Sports Bar's TVs air live simulcast racing from around the country and screenings of other sports, such as full-contact chess.
At Bar Louie, a menu furnishes plates with burgers, sandwiches, and seafood as specialty cocktails wet whistles and flat screens beam sports games into eyeballs. A fried egg balances perfectly atop the layers of bacon and cheddar of the fried Louie burger ($10.50), which arrives at its target table with a side of french fries. Burger gobblers tiring of beef can opt for a patty of chicken, turkey, or portabella. Seared ahi tuna ($16) wears a sesame-seed coat to protect it from unseasonable floods of sichuan sauce, flurries of cilantro, and invasions of sautéed vegetables. Beer-battered Drunken fish 'n' chips ($13) come with seasoned fries and tarter sauce, and hoagie rolls bookend the Luigi's shaved rib-eye steak ($11) next to a nest of french fries. Specialty cocktails include Louie's cosmo, whose Absolut Citron welcomes dollops, splashes, and timid pours of orange liqueur, fresh lime and white cranberry juices, and syrup.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.
Everybody has personal drink specifications—a little more whiskey here, a little less beer there. That's why seven booths at House of Music Entertainment are outfitted with table taps, where diners pour their own brews and spirits. Of course, guests can defer pouring duties to bartenders, who supply drafts, bottles, and cans from an extensive beer selection that includes microbrews, such as Founders alongside beloved classics.
The libations complement House of Music Entertainment's version of American bar food, which includes unorthodox options such as chimichangas filled with Philly cheesesteak or chicken cordon bleu fixings. For night owls, a late-night menu serves bar staples, such as fried zucchini and jalapeno poppers, from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.
Those late night snacks keep patrons nourished as they watch the latest football matches, baseball games, and referee hugging competitions on the bar's 80 plasma televisions. Inside House of Music Entertainment's 15,000-square-foot theater, concertgoers take in a show by musicians such as Naughty by Nature and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of which recently graced the 28-by-30-foot stage. They've built up an extensive media gallery inclusive of not only national acts but also the local bands and DJs their theater showcases. During the summer season, patrons can also enjoy the al fresco scene on the bar's patio.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.