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.
WineStyles’ inspiration for its wine-tasting parties began, of all places, at a backyard barbecue. Some friends at the barbecue found themselves with too many bottles of wine. As an experiment, they decided to taste the wines blindly, so as not to be influenced by price or packaging. This impromptu tasting became the template for WineStyles, a boutique designed to help you choose a wine simply by taste. That is, wines here aren’t categorized by varietal or region, but instead by one of eight taste profiles: crisp, silky, rich, and bubbly for whites; fruity, mellow, bold, and nectar for reds. However, patrons interested in knowing more about their selected bottle can still do so—each bottle comes with a description of its characteristics and suggested food pairings.
Those looking to learn even more about wines can attend one of WineStyles’ weekly tastings or discovery classes. During these events, certified specialists explore everything from the history of different varietals to current trends in wine drinking, such as which wine goes best with texting. Different levels of wine-club membership give participants two to three bottles a month (each selected by a Masters Wine Panel), invitations to private tastings, and discounts toward additional purchases.
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.
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.