It’s a scene you’d expect to find in a quiet alpine town: inside a charming, half-timbered lodge, lamps of stained glass cast a warm glow on diners as they fill up on German dishes such as Bavarian pretzels and mini pierogis. But this is The Bavarian Lodge, where chefs craft wiener schnitzels from farm-raised, antibiotic-free pork cutlets and bake Bavarian roulade—a beefsteak stuffed with veggies, egg, and sausage—in rich peppercorn gravy. As with any German restaurant, however, the beer menu takes precedence. Here it deserves to, with 35 taps and more than 160 bottled brews lined up in tidy rows. This fine collection of suds won The Bavarian Lodge the title of world-class site from BeerAdvocate, which also gave the Hoover Dam that honor before learning that it was not, in fact, built to stockpile beer.
Q Sports Bar & Grill couldn't fit all its pub attractions under one roof. There were too many beanbags, not enough room for the pool tables, and nowhere for the darts to hide. So, guests can get their Q fix at locations in both Darien and Downers Grove. An Internet jukebox plays convivial tunes as waiters take food orders, describing, if asked, the kitchen's bounty of housemade chicken wings, turkey clubs, Angus-beef burgers (Darien), and burrito and taco entrees (Downers Grove).
Both restaurants invite patrons to wend through a sea of green-felt pool tables and keep in touch with sports via high-definition TVs. Additionally, Q's Darien location boasts a large projection screen and in-booth models in addition to the regular wall-mounted TVs. The Darien spot is also the place to catch performances by local and nationally touring musicians or soak up vitamin D on an outdoor patio.
Grotto Oak Brook offers a meat-centric approach to fine dining. The dinner menu features prime steaks and chops, seafood, and pastas trimmed from the willow-like foliage of Tuscan semolina trees. Commence consumption with an appetizer of baked clams ($8 for a half-dozen, $15 for a dozen) or bruschetta, heaped with juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil ($9). Oxymoron-lovers can sink teeth into a nine-ounce petite filet mignon ($33), while Manhattanite meatheads can slice into their hometown with the generous 14-ounce New York strip-steak ($37). Specialties such as the half-chicken Vesuvio ($21 for boneless, $20 for bone-in), as well as seafood dishes, including the jumbo-shrimp scampi ($26), cater to animal-haters, while vegetarians can find plant-based sustenance in eggplant parmigiana ($17) and customizable pasta dishes ($16+). Pair your meal with a selection from the list of more than 60 wines imported from Italy, France, California, and the recently discovered lunar grape arbor.
For centuries, there weren’t many lively, TV-enhanced pubs with gourmet food coming out of the kitchen. Luckily for those in Naperville, Tap In Pub & Carvery balances good times with a few good eats. As patrons cheer on the home team or diss a rival town’s Jeopardy contestant, chefs carve sandwiches to order, such as Thanksgiving sliders with sage stuffing and cranberry jam, or a torta cubano with hand-carved pork, ham, Swiss, and sliced pickles. Succulent meats pair nicely with throwback beers and local craft brew drafts from Solemn Oath, Two Brothers, and Revolution. Guests wanting something a bit sweeter can get a seasonal Arnold Palmer or a signature cocktail such as the Ben Hogan with Buffalo Trace bourbon, cherry Madagascar vanilla molasses, ginger beer, and fresh sprigs of mint. For sports fans, the venue plans to add golf simulators in the near future.
Tommy Nevin's Pub was founded by Steven Prescott and christened for his grandfather Thomas Nevin, a WWI veteran. The flagship location in Evanston touts a bright red façade that pays homage to the renowned Temple Bar in Dublin, and the menus at all three locations likewise salute the culture of the Emerald Isle. Though it inhabits a decidedly Celtic corner of the pub world, Chicago Bar Project deemed the Evanston outpost “the best bar in the suburbs” for its “intriguing combination of country Irish pub, modern Chicago bar and cutting-edge alternative music venue.” Chefs whip up corned beef and shepherd's pie as bartenders handle taps and spirits. Friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
Totals Sports Bar's electrified atmosphere unites fans of teams, tunes, and eats seven days a week. Alongside a mammoth projection screen, 24 large televisions join forces to upend boredom and beam big games straight into thirsty eyes. As guests browse the variegated menu of succulent burgers and satisfying entrees, chefs step out from behind an onsite smoker to test the structural integrity of dinnerware with heaps of barbecue pulled meats and char-grilled baby back ribs. An extensive beer menu offers to offset savory bites with sudsy sips from brewers such as Two Brothers. On weekend nights, the bar transforms into a high-energy music venue, complete with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and auto-tuned bouncers.