Owned by the Irish-pub experts behind The Kerry Piper and Tommy Nevin's, Muldoon's flaunts a deep-rooted pub pedigree. It doesn't need its restaurant brethren to prove that, though—the menu speaks for itself. Above the pub's weathered-wood floorboards that reflect the glow of stained-glass light fixtures, a parade of steaming plates brings forth such classics as shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, and Harp-beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips. There are more unusual flavors to taste, as well. Take Muldoon's signature burgers, for instance, which are made from half-pound Angus beef patties that chefs pile with blue cheese and fried onions, smother in guacamole and grilled mushrooms, or stuff with oozing morsels of cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Meanwhile, sirloin, new york strip, and prime rib steaks—each aged 21 days and char-grilled to order—show the pub's upscale side, while the full bar's bounty of imported and domestic beers settles bets between physicists on how many black holes a pint of Guinness contains.
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.
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.
Ballydoyle specializes in comforting Irish fare and even more comforting Irish ales. Folks will wonder why more meat isn't corned after trying the star of Ballydoyle's sandwiches, the corned beef on marble rye (8.95). Heartier Irish specialties include shepherds pie ($11.95), Bangers and Mashed ($11.95), and Dinny's Irish Fry—an aorta-challenging amalgamation of Irish bacon, Irish sausage, black-and-white pudding, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, two eggs any style, toast, and the keys to Dublin for those that clean their plates ($12.95). Another Irish specialty, boxty ($11.95–$13.95), wraps a homemade potato griddle cake around a variety of fillings, such as vegetables, chicken, and Larry Bird's NBA championship rings. An Irish pub would just be Denny's without an extensive list of draft and bottled beer. Ballydoyle's is one of the only pubs that serves McCaffrey's Irish Cream Ale, making it as delicious as it is exclusive.
From the beckoning peals of jazz-playing buskers in Jackson Square to the amiable rush of revelers traipsing down Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ French Quarter earns its reputation as one of America’s liveliest locales. The chefs at French Quarter New Orleans Kitchen bring this same bonhomie to the plate, recreating Cajun staples including blackened fish, gumbo, and Cajun-spiced steak. Like holding a jazz funeral for a dead goldfish, the dining room’s bead-strewn chandeliers and gold and crimson walls add a touch of Fat Tuesday flair to everyday life. As guests sup on spicy jambalaya and sip southern cocktails, a lineup of live acts entertains crowds with DJs and blues bands.
Roundhead's Pizza Pub keeps head holes stuffed with an assortment of menu items as patrons affix their sight-spheres on one of the sports bar's more than 28 TVs. Roundhead's special pizza, packed with sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms (12", $16.25+), silences the grumbling bellies of Blackhawks and Bulls supporters as they argue about whether hockey players or basketball players make more capable museum docents. Kick off a Thursday night trivia session in Lombard with a generous portion of meat-filled homemade lasagna ($11.59) or an order of ultimate nachos, an assortment of cheese, chili, sour cream, and jalapeños perched atop a tortilla chip-mountain like a gooey, amorphous Sherpa ($9.49). Roundhead's also offers a formidable lunch buffet ($7.99), served weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., which turns growling midday munchies into whimpering afternoon siestas.