A classic 80s aesthetic immediately envelops folks as they walk through the door of Elite Cafe & Billiards. Or rather, the 80's version of the 50s. A primary-colored art-deco bar, complete with rows of red bar-stools, chrome, and neon pink stands as the centerpiece of the cafe. The main attraction lies just past the bar: rows of pool tables lit by hanging red lamps. The 17 pool tables?all nine feet long?come surrounded by plenty of room to maneuver, giving players enough space to pull off trick shots and Charleston celebration dances. Back at the bar, pool players can sit and enjoy beer, soda, chips, and beer nuts.
Whatever their current drink of choice may be, guests can find it at Flight 112 Wine House?but they shouldn't be surprised if they leave with a new favorite. The bar, restaurant, and boutique revels in the unexpected. When Time Out Chicago's 2010 list of Top 50 Bars reported that patrons "get crunk, cultured and coiffed all at the same place," it was in reference to the Thursday-night haircuts Flight offered at the time. The Daily Herald describes Flight 112 as an "outstanding wine bar equally attractive to beer lovers." It's this dual-focused identity that keeps regulars returning. Daily specials, such as Whiskey Wednesdays and ladies' nights, make average evenings special. A full menu of tapas, gourmet entrees, and artisan cheese makes the location an appetite-annihilating hangout and a great place for your pet fork to meet other, likeminded forks.
But Flight 112 is far more than a bar and restaurant. It's also a wine shop manned by sommeliers who love to share their passion with others. Its specialty here is organic wines, and the sustainable commitment that steers that specialty is also what guides the store's recycled bottles, corks, and packaging. (Flight 112's community awareness doesn't end there?it also helps many local organizations' fundraising efforts.) Monthly wine socials pair palates with five to six tastings, a couple full glasses, and a slew of new friends, and each wine-club member receives two bottles of wine each month. Flight 112's social, approachable atmosphere and full food and drink menu make it the chosen venue for many a birthday and bachelor party, too.
For more than 20 years, the staff at Riley's Gathering Place have slaked thirst and staunched hunger with a full bar and a menu of tavern-style eats, including salads, burgers, melts, and wraps. Fourteen flat screen televisions flank the wood-paneled walls, as bar-high tabletops play Duck, Duck, Goose with stools. A patio hosts al fresco dining in good weather. Free wireless Internet at Riley's Gathering Place means that debates can only last for so long until someone verifies that the chicken and the egg were invented at the exact same time.
• For $15, you get $30 to use at the wine bar or toward bottles to take home. • For $32, you get an evening of wine and cheese for four, including four flights of wine (up to a $14.50 value each) and two sample platters of gourmet cheeses to share (an $8 value each; up to a $74 total value).
Fitz's Spare Keys combines a vintage bowling alley, pool hall, and live music venue inside a 24,000 square feet space, which also boasts a bar and restaurant. Thirty TVs scattered throughout the building broadcast games as bar hoppers imbibe and diners mull over the menu of burgers, steaks, and pizza. On Friday nights, musicians rule the stage and on Saturdays, dueling pianists make melodies their weapon of choice. While music lovers mingle to the soundtrack of live performers, bowlers socialize to the roar of crashing pins atop 14 old-timey lanes and pool players clack balls across seven tables. Two private party rooms can hold up to 150 guests or 150 cardboard cutouts; one is outfitted with a bar and four private bowling lanes, and the other houses four lanes and a pool table.
On YouMeeting.me, singles don't have to go through the stress and awkwardness of asking people out the old fashioned way. Instead, they can publicly suggest a date activity, such as visiting a new art gallery, taking a cooking class, or trying eating for the first time. As other users request to be their activity partners, singles can sort through those they're interested in—and because the activity is already set, the requests tend to be from those with common interests, making the decision even easier. An online concierge can help singles brainstorm fresh date ideas; the free site also hosts group mixers and speed-dating events, which allow singles to mingle casually offline, typically with a tasty cocktail in hand.