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.
Jesse Oaks might seem like a typical American restaurant, best known for its daily specials and pub-food staples: nachos, burgers, and sweets. Look a little closer, though, and you'll see the chefs putting their own creative spin on tried-and-true classics. Sure, they serve regular nachos, but also Irish nachos, swapping out chips for a base of waffle fries. The burgers are innovative too. The 60/40 burger, for instance, boasts a hybrid patty that's comprised of 60% ground beef and 40% bacon, just like the contents of the best gift baskets. One final dose of the unexpected? The eatery has six sand volleyball courts?including two inside?and hosts tournaments year-round, frequently for charity.
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.
Beneath the glow of 12 high-definition plasma televisions, riotous sports fans toast to their teams by clinking glasses and smushing burgers together at First Place Sports Bar & Grill. Between sips of cold beer and bites of handheld eats including sandwiches, nachos, and ribs, bar-goers throw wild shots at three dart boards and play 52-ball pickup around the pool table. Numerous video games, such as 2010 Golden Tee Live, Silver Strike, and Big Buck Hunter, jingle in anticipation of a feeding of quarters, while a jukebox offers a custom soundtrack to sporting revelry.
Conceived by Las Vegas restaurateur Mark DiMartino, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery evokes Ireland by way of Vegas, with waitresses dressed in plaid mini kilts shouldering trays of chilled beer and pub fare. Like an enchilada stuffed with four-leaf clovers, the eatery’s Irish nachos interpret a south-of-the-border classic in a Celtic way, slathering potato chips in cheese sauce and seasoned ground beef; alternatively, pot roast and vegetables simmer traditionally in the Olde Dublin Irish stew’s Guinness-infused beef stock. Barkeeps pour a full bar’s worth of wine, cocktails, and beer, which surfaces in bottles, bombers, and multi-brew mixes such as the Blue Moon and Guinness combination. High-definition TVs glow with a ceaseless parade of professional and college baseball, basketball, and hockey, and live bands add to the entertainment smorgasbord on Friday and Saturday nights.
Suffused with the glow of 19 televisions and a high-definition projector, Chicago Loop Sports Bar and Grill caters to local fans with a menu of bar favorites and ample pours of brews and drinks. A heavily sauced selection of ribs, wings, burgers, and tacos satisfies game-day cravings and lubricates tongues for arguments about whether hockey is staged. Foamy beers and mixed cocktails slide down the bar to waiting hands while events such as trivia, karaoke, live bands, and standup comedy are officiated from the stage.