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.
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.
Since firing up the ovens in 1978, the cooks at Village Pizza & Pub have perfected their recipes for savory pizzas and classic Italian beef sandwiches. Today, across two locations, thin-crust and double-decker pies don toppings such as barbecued chicken and jalapeño peppers. The Elgin location surrounds diners with a hunting lodge-inspired theme, which includes chandeliers made of deer antlers, exposed log beams, and taxidermied animals.
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.
Visitors to the Elgin Public House step into a cozy interior reinforced by exposed-brick walls. A culinary crew revives weary locals with a menu of hearty pub eats and a beer selection of 87 varieties imported from across Europe and the United States. Chefs use certified-Angus beef for burgers, stuff pork chops full of bleu cheese cornbread and mango chutney, and hand-cut steaks in-house after aging them a minimum of two weeks to ensure optimal flavor and prevent them from prank-calling patrons. A calendar of weekly events keeps things lively with regular offerings such as Wednesday-night trivia, Friday-night fish fries, and daily specials. One Tuesday each month, limited-seating dinner-pairing events offer six-course meals, with each course accompanied by an alcoholic beverage, such as red wine or tequila.
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.