At Bulldog Ale House, frothy suds and robust spirits flow from an expansive full-service bar to complement a hearty menu of all-American pub grub. Crisp tortilla chips plunge into pots of scratch-made queso, priming palates for hearty feasts alongside other meal starters such as the supergrandeplatter, a shareable plate piled high with boneless wings, mini corn dogs, and fried favorites such as mozzarella sticks and onion rings. Like a toddler's temperament, spicy buffalo wings offer diners mild to atomic eruptions according to their tolerance, and the pub's eight signature sauces, including Cajun and lemon-pepper, also await to dress hand-breaded chicken tenders and dry beards.
Classic American comfort food and a warm atmosphere have awaited visitors to the family-friendly John's Restaurant and Tavern since its inception in 1921. Inside, a mouthwatering array of dishes decorates the menu. Juicy burgers and barbecue, savory salads and sandwiches, and entrees such as steak and duck ensure no appetite leaves unchecked. There's seating at the bar, in the dining room, and on the patio outside, where al fresco diners can dip their sweet potato fries into ketchup ramekins floating by via mini-hot air balloon.
The Bank Restaurant, which was founded in 2007, draws ingredients from local farms including Elliot and Sons Bison, Catalpa Grove Lamb, and Piper City's T&J Free Range Poultry. The new menu is filled with specialties ranging from center-cut pork chops to thick burgers bracketed by soft brioche buns. Steaks arrive unadorned or tenderly rubbed with the restaurant's precise blend of spices, and seafood including Hawaiian style arctic char and "as seen on TV" seared scallops play well with their respective glazes and dipping sauces.
While the kitchen fills with culinary innovation that earned the restaurant the 2012 and 2013 Gamon Award for Restaurant of the Year, the dining room and surroundings exude vibes of timeless history. Built in 1875 to house the Gary Wheaton Bank, the building counts among its roster of notable visitors people such as football great Red Grange, journalism tycoon Colonel Robert R. McCormick, and the pink hippo from Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
Tommy Nevin's Pub was founded by Steven Prescott and christened for his grandfather Thomas Nevin, a WWI veteran. The flagship location in Evanston touts a bright red façade that pays homage to the renowned Temple Bar in Dublin, and the menus at all three locations likewise salute the culture of the Emerald Isle. Though it inhabits a decidedly Celtic corner of the pub world, Chicago Bar Project deemed the Evanston outpost “the best bar in the suburbs” for its “intriguing combination of country Irish pub, modern Chicago bar and cutting-edge alternative music venue.” Chefs whip up corned beef and shepherd's pie as bartenders handle taps and spirits. Friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.