Overlooking the rolling fairways of Tam O'Shanter Golf Course, The Howard Street Inn serves up tasty plates of pub fare and helpings of crisply televised sports. Tongues waltz with morsels of deli and grilled sandwiches, a dozen different Angus burgers, pizza, and seafood during Friday's fish fry. Domestic and imported drafts, as well as specialty cocktails and bottled wines, wash down bitter memories of second-place finishes in the soapbox derby. A covered patio grants sweeping views of the links, while 15 flat-screen TVs afford unparalleled views of live games from NFL, MLB, and NCAA packages.
Glowing wall sconces glint off burnished-wood furnishings at Skores Sports Bar and Grill, where textured yellow walls hoist up 19 plasma TVs. Cheering sections perched atop bar stools can hurl hoots and hollers at the NFL and UFC athletes who grace these screens as bartenders pour craft suds from the likes of Goose Island, and as chefs conjure upscale bar fare from secret recipes and homemade ingredients. With grumbling stomachs silenced, diners can swivel hips to the toe-tapping tuneage of a DJ, live band, or internet jukebox, or hone their hustling skills on any number of dart boards or touchscreen games. Those glued to the TV or their child's science project can take advantage of Skores’ delivery services, which ferry food to patrons as late as 2 a.m.
Like a Picasso portrait of a bowling alley, Kings presents many facets stitched together seamlessly. Within the vibrant 27,000-square-foot interior, ‘70s supernova-style chandeliers and overstuffed lounge seating hark back to the retro roots of Americana while more than 50 big-screen HDTVs and projectors inject a spike of modern, technology-driven society. Above 20 bowling lanes, whose oil glistens under colored lights, sports stream so that not a play is missed. Three billiards tables, on the other hand, rest in a lounge area that is relatively private, cut off from the rest of the world and the crash of pins by muted red walls. Kings has hosted thousands of parties at locations across the country since its opening, and has private party rooms, where six bowling lanes lit with black lights complement the dotted light spread by a spinning disco ball.
Though kids are welcome to bowl and eat, the decor begins a message that ends with the 21+ policy in the evenings: this is not the average bowling alley. On granite topped tables amid the dining area's curtain-draped walls, patrons can dine on a menu of pizza, burgers, and ribs. Outside, chrome-topped tables dapple the patio, beckoning young lovers or negotiating world leaders to enjoy a specialty cocktail—such as the Big Balls for Two—or share an ice-cream float.
A towering, 35-pound pile of Angus beef, American cheese, and bacon awaits those who accept the Da Big Hurt Challenge at Shoeless Joes Ale House & Grille, the 22-year-old sports bar that has won over Chicago diners and Channel 2 News alike. Diners who tackle the challenge are rewarded with a T-shirt and are automatically entered to win the next presidential election. Guests with smaller appetites can enjoy more reasonably sized selections from the sports bar's menu of 14 gourmet burgers, steak, ribs, and pizza. Meals pair with pours from an impressive wine list or the roster of more than 20 craft beers on tap. The restaurant's 36 flat-screen televisions beam sports into the pub throughout the week while guests shoot pool, and singers belt out karaoke tunes on Saturdays.
Wings Firehouse fuses athletics and pub grub into a sports-themed haven replete with stacked sandwiches, crispy salads, and chicken wings smothered in 15 types of sauces. Traditional and boneless wings sport saucy overcoats such as sweet and spicy mango pecosita, tangy barbecue, or super-hot 911 sauce. Layers of grilled chicken, ham, bacon, and mozzarella and cheddar cheese test the girders of the quadruple-decker club, and the veggie sandwich keeps things simple with sumptuous vegetables and guacamole. Crisp curly fries accompany sandwiches, and the caesar salad derives its crunch from croutons layered with parmesan cheese. Thick frothy sips of beer send bubbly rapids through mouths, clearing space like an avaricious lumberjack in a rainforest.
Paisans supplies fresh pies with sauces concocted fresh daily, hearty pastas, and steaming sandwiches in a casual, familiar atmosphere. Start off with a six-piece ensemble of hot wings ($5.25) before infusing a disk with your own thin-crust symphony ($10.99 for 14") from a euphonious selection of more than 20 fresh embellishments such as ricotta, canadian bacon, and cream of bassoon ($1.95 a piece), or arrange ingredients on a stuffed or deep-dish dough canvas ($12.50 for 12", plus $1.90 per topping).