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.
Pete & Johnny's Tavern & Grille dishes out a relaxed dining experience bolstered by a vast supply of brews and a menu stockpiled with hearty American grill fare. Prelude your potlatch with appetizers such as the steak-cut onion rings, served in a basket or latched around ring fingers for impromptu marriage proposals ($4.69). A 10-inch taco pizza revs esophageal engines with a state-of-the-art three-cheese hybrid of ground beef, picante sauce, tomatoes, and sour cream ($8.99). Follow up taste-bud teasers with a focaccia-bread bruschetta burger ($6.79), the chopped steak with grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, and bordelaise sauce ($9.99), or a full slab of barbecue baby-back ribs ($20.99). Pete & Johnny's libation supply is never in short order, with premium drafts and bottles abutting a range of wines and liquors to keep food company—or to fuel album-length karaoke opuses on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Evviva fosters a warm, inviting atmosphere with friendly service and a dining room festooned with natural stone, wood, stained concrete, and tables of varying heights. Dig into the menu—a mix of Italian and American favorites—to find grilled calamari ($9), pizza bread ($5), burgers ($7.50–$8), a grilled chicken pomodoro panini ($7), and popular specialty pizzas such as the hawaiian, which does the hula on hunger ($11–$21.50). A lengthy list of signature martinis for sipping at Evviva's U-shaped granite bar enhances entertainments such as a jukebox and occasional weekend DJ sets or live music ($7+).
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.
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.
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.