Visitors to Bauer's Brauhaus, located in Palatine, Illinois, may feel as though they've stepped in from the streets of Munich. Eight taps bear names such as Spaten, Radeberger, and Weihenstephaner. Waitresses clad in custom-designed lederhosen ferry dishes between tables. And a hand-carved bar stretches 30 feet along one wall.
Owners Jason, Judy, Bob, and Gene Bauer drew from their German-American heritage to inspire their brew house's ambiance, decor, and menu. Chef Jason relies on time-tested family recipes to prepare German-American dishes—deep-fried pickles, hamburgers, and Wisconsin cheese curds—as well as German food such as beef rouladen, sauerbraten, and bratwurst crafted in-house. These dishes pair with wines hailing from both countries and a range of Old- and New-World beers that may arrive in standard pints, traditional boot-shaped steins, or a hollow bust of Ludwig van Beethoven.
A neighborhood bar is best when it reflects the local culture, which is why it’s no surprise that Harrys’ of Arlington pours brews from a variety of local craft breweries such as Revolution, 5 Rabbit, and Goose Island. A long wooden bar that stretches nearly the length of the room features a dozen tap handles in regimented rows above its polished surface. Those taps spout both macro- and microbrewed beers, which can be obtained on specials that run every day of the week. Cooks complement these libations with an extensive menu of pub grub, including customizable sirloin-patty burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of mac and cheeses spiced up with enticing ingredients.
Occasionally, the staff clears the rows of tables and hooks up their sound and light systems to host concerts. For these convivial events, they invite musicians who run the gamut of musical styles, from rock and blues to funk and tribute bands, who play music in lieu of paying taxes.
Every single night of the week, patrons can find an upbeat sing-along at Big Shot Piano Lounge, whose pianists know more than 1,000 songs in a wide variety of genres. The musicians have played at piano bars throughout Chicagoland for years and are ready to belt out a show tune or a classic or Top 40 song as soon as someone requests it.
Upscale American food fuels the revelry, items such as oven-baked shrimp platters drizzled in dijon butter and breadcrumbs and pan-seared chicken topped with swiss. There are also more casual hand foods, including flat-bread pizzas and burgers. And then of course there are the martinis and cocktails, which are as synonymous with a piano lounge as juice boxes full of Tang are with space camp.
Everybody has personal drink specifications—a little more whiskey here, a little less beer there. That's why seven booths at House of Music Entertainment are outfitted with table taps, where diners pour their own brews and spirits. Of course, guests can defer pouring duties to bartenders, who supply drafts, bottles, and cans from an extensive beer selection that includes microbrews, such as Founders alongside beloved classics.
The libations complement House of Music Entertainment's version of American bar food, which includes unorthodox options such as chimichangas filled with Philly cheesesteak or chicken cordon bleu fixings. For night owls, a late-night menu serves bar staples, such as fried zucchini and jalapeno poppers, from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.
Those late night snacks keep patrons nourished as they watch the latest football matches, baseball games, and referee hugging competitions on the bar's 80 plasma televisions. Inside House of Music Entertainment's 15,000-square-foot theater, concertgoers take in a show by musicians such as Naughty by Nature and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of which recently graced the 28-by-30-foot stage. They've built up an extensive media gallery inclusive of not only national acts but also the local bands and DJs their theater showcases. During the summer season, patrons can also enjoy the al fresco scene on the bar's patio.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.