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.
Mayan Adventure Waterpark sends guests sliding through 24,000 square feet of rivers and pools. The expansive indoor park houses a plethora of thrilling slides, from the nail-biting Grand Mayan Falls tube slide to the shriek-inducing Howling Monkey body slide, launching bodies down slopes slipperier than an argument about a camel's nose. Ancient faces carved in stone spout torrents of water on guests drifting gently down the Oogaboo Lazy River, while whitecaps fill the Twisted Lizard activity pool and enliven aquatic games of basketball. Kids can frolic in the soaking meadows of the Parrot Island interactive play station, where a giant dumping bucket in the shape of a Mayan head casts 300-gallon curses upon the heads of those below. A nearby arcade provides respite from the watery jungle with a host of video games and prizes.
• 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.
Christopher and Mary Spagnola, owners of Back Alley Burger, boast an extensive, ingredient-driven menu of fresh-to-order, grass-fed-beef burgers and nitrate-free, all-beef hot dogs. Bite into the Knead a Big burger ($8.99), which finds a juicy beef patty, tender pastrami, and a fried egg lounging like spoiled princes atop a downy bun pillow, craft a burger from scratch ($5.99+), or step outside the cattle box for a Crabtastic crab-cake burger ($8.99) or veggie burger ($7.99). Along with its burger creations and puppet shows on the history of beef, Back Alley Burger also blankets scrumptious, all-beef Nancy's dogs with Merkts cheese and sauerkraut ($4.25), whips up a variety of sandwiches and salads, and prepares an array of tasty sides, such as sweet-potato fries ($2.50) and chili con carne ($3.99).