Open for 25 years and celebrated by AM670 The Score, the Southland Star, and Patch.com, the items on the Durbin’s menu vary by location, but all of its kitchens prepare hearty sandwiches, pizzas, and barbecue. Wood embers infuse ribs and chicken with smoky flavors as USDA Black Angus steaks are plated alongside sautéed mushrooms and homemade coleslaw. Fresh donut holes are also made in-house and stacked on ice cream sundaes topped with a single red cherry that resembles the setting sun resting on a pillow of vanilla-flavored clouds.
Whether it's the Cubs, the White Sox, or the Bears, patrons at Tailgaters can count on their favorite team being shown on at least one of the bar's 40 televisions. But anyone who can read the name of the tavern could guess that. What they might not guess is that Tailgaters is a favorite destination of both local bands and touring acts. From indie rockers Sponge to Southern rockers the Marshall Tucker band to Metallica-esque rockers Blackened, the bands that play this small stage get up close and personal with fans as they dig into gourmet burgers, deep-fried chicken wings, and rib-sticking bar food.
Island Sports Bar and Grill maintains the balance between good food and good fun, serving up hearty bar food to complement a full schedule of social events. The kitchen crew grills beef, turkey, and veggie burgers to order, and tops Vienna hot dogs with all the Chicago fixings. Meanwhile, customers strut their stuff during Monday-night line dancing and karaoke, learn stepping lessons on Tuesday, listen to a live band on Wednesday, cut loose at ladies night on Thursday, or slap their knees in jubilant joy or subtle spasm during the Friday-night comedy hour. The middle of the week brings a host of events.
Don’t let the shepherd's pie, fish 'n' chips, and draft beers fool you. Though Tilted Kilt snatches up the best cultural fragments of Scotland, England, and the Emerald Isle, the eatery started in Las Vegas. Restaurateur Mark DiMartino sought to combine the communal, rousing feel of pubs in the British Isles with the campy fun of American sports bars, pairing hearty food and traditional trappings with televisions and waitresses clad in mini kilts and alluring plaid halter-tops modeled after William Wallace’s eveningwear. Since its founding, Tilted Kilt locations have popped up in 25 states and two Canadian provinces, serving all manner of hybrid dishes such as the Scottish cheese steak, the Sloppy Jane made with sliced turkey or shaved rib eye, and the Tilted Guilt, an ice-cream sundae perched atop a cookie.
At Mister Mo's, friendly barkeeps and servers pour frothy brews and dish out delicious pub fare to gatherings of friends amid a convivial sports-bar atmosphere. A generous row of beers on tap emits tingly drinkables such as Blue Moon and Leinenkugel, and walls decorated with jerseys and sports memorabilia remind fans of the Bulls' successful championships and short-lived sitcom of the 1990s. While guests mingle over cocktails, patrons hurl miniature spears at the set of dartboards on the wall or bob their heads along to the live music blaring from the bar's stage.
Sam Elias knows that being cooped up during long winter days can make people stir-crazy. So in 1993, after moving from Florida, land of palm trees and beaches, to Chicago, land of frigid winds and gray slush, he founded WhirlyBall as a way for people to release pent-up energy even as snow was falling outside. During each competitive WhirlyBall game, which combines aspects of basketball, hockey, and jai alai, players zoom across an indoor 50'x80' court in motorized cars called WhirlyBugs. They wield plastic scoops to toss a wiffle ball back and forth to their teammates before throwing the ball through an elevated goal. Refs keep watch during the games, eliminating score arguments that would otherwise end in sunrise duels. To fuel up for a bout, players nibble teriyaki chicken satay, gourmet pizzas, and prime rib, and swig draft beers, which vary by location.
All three WhirlyBall spots boast off-court diversions such as video games, pool tables, foosball, and air hockey. The Vernon Hills location hosts an indoor rock-climbing wall, and both the Chicago and Vernon Hills locations invite guests into multilevel Lasertron laser-tag arenas, which fill with fog and flashing lights as combatants duck, aim, and invoke Geneva Convention protocols regarding armed conflict.