Stand facing one way in the parking lot of Niko’s Lodge and you’re in suburban Algonquin; turn the other way, and you’re in a mountain resort town. As diners pass under immense dark wood beams, they encounter a handsome pinewood bar, a roaring fireplace flanked by comfy furniture, and, drifting through it all, the fragrance of steak, rotisserie chicken, and pork ribs. Flavors tend toward hearty American favorites: barbecue, meatloaf, and decadent combinations such as a chicken-and-bacon mac and cheese, to name a few. Much of the fish is supplied by nearby rivers and lakes, and all the beef comes from upper-Midwestern Braveheart Black Angus cattle. If guests have saved some belly space, they can step outside to the fire pits to toast complimentary s’mores and destroy napkins on which they wrote embarrassing sonnets to pot roast.
New releases get an old-fashioned treatment at McHenry Outdoor Theater, a 1950s-style drive-in screening two back-to-back movies every night. With a special focus on family films, the starlit screen shines across comforts including a concession stand vending burgers, brats, pizza, and hot dogs, and a dog-friendly policy to ensure everyone has someone cuddly to grab during the scary parts. While the story unfolds on screen, the theater pumps the sound through complimentary radios, and approximately half the viewing spots are equipped with vintage speakers that complete the timeless slice of Americana. Besides new releases, which are regularly updated every two weeks, the theater might show anything from golden oldies to alternative comedies to classic blockbusters.
Much like a meteorologist or a twice-broken femur, the moose head hanging on the wall at Twisted Moose announces the changing of the seasons. The restaurant’s eponymous mascot is typically dressed up to celebrate an upcoming holiday or to support the home team, whose games are broadcast from the bar’s 17 large-screen TVs and three high definition projectors. Wide-eyed sports fans munch on American food such as thin-crust pizzas, half-pound burgers, and vegetables fried in a crunchy beer batter. Between plays, guests bond over rounds of darts while sipping drafts of Guinness and bottled craft brews.
Firewood Restaurant & Sports Lounge's 30 TVs act as eye magnets for sports fans, who can fill up on mainstay bar and grill dishes. As guests enjoy a comfortable atmosphere coupled with bites such as burritos, burgers, and pizza, a list of 39 craft beers thwarts thirst and muffles shouts over bad calls or good sportsmanship. In the summer, a patio veranda opens itself to warm, breezy dining, and dartboards, Golden Tee, and trivia games provide food for thought throughout the duration of Earth's trip around the sun.
On warm nights, live music spills from D.C. Cobb?s stage and flows onto Woodstock Square. As if thumping bass weren?t incentive enough to duck into the brick-walled dining room, passersby may be won over by the aroma of sizzling bacon, which chefs smoke and season in-house daily. The juicy strips grace hand-formed beef patties, joining the ranks of other creative flourishes such as fried egg, mac 'n' cheese, and guacamole. Further cementing their status as a bastion of the Square, D.C. Cobb?s hosts the annual Main Street Music Fest, replete with local bands, food vendors, and longing looks from park statues.
Dylan's Pub welcomes in familiar neighborhood regulars as well as new friends with frosty brews, entertaining bar games, and tantalizing feasts of sandwiches, wraps, and pizzas. Guests tuck in to lunches and dinners of sauce-slathered wings and barbecue pork sandwiches, or greet the day with weekend breakfasts of omelets, french toast, and biscuits. Nightfall finds crowds of revelers sipping skinny cocktails or cold beers as they challenge each other to bouts of NTN trivia, golf, bowling, darts, pool, and chariot racing. Live entertainment in the form of DJs, dueling pianos, and bandaroke entertain the masses, and upstairs, a private-party room provisions up to 100 guests with big-screen TVs, a jukebox, and piped-in DJ music.