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.
The friendly staff at Rudy's Place fuels mealtime revelry and poolroom rivalry with a menu of Mexican favorites alongside classic American sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and pizza. Armed with homemade tortilla chips, diners dive into meals with an appetizer of guacamole or wake up palates with a sampler platter salvo of chicken wings, mini tacos, flautas, and breaded bites of alarm-clock parts. Kitchen magicians pack a half-pound of pure Angus beef into each burger, dressing the most ornate patties in barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese, and onion rings, or in fried jalapeños and chipotle ranch sauce. Within the bready bookends of a philly cheesesteak, seasoned green peppers and onions fresh from the grill court gooey swiss with charred fragments of the Liberty Bell, and across the table tangy green salsa smothers chicken, beef, steak, or cheese enchiladas as beans, rice, and guacamole offer sideline commentary. Smiling barkeeps pour heaping glasses of beer to refresh over-stimulated palates, whisking away savory sensations with amber bubbles from makers such as Sam Adams, Budweiser, Guinness, Coors, and Miller.
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.
A well-loved wooden bar dominates O'Brien's Pub & Grill's interior, but it isn't the only place to comfortably lounge. An outdoor patio takes advantage of Chicago's temperate summers by providing a breezy venue for diners to enjoy one of the many sandwiches named after an O'Brien family member. The views of downtown Batavia's well-preserved historic district remind patrons of another era, before the invention of cell phones or noisy children. Inside, murals of happy drinkers in green getups frolic across the walls above the wood paneling.
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.
McBrides Plainfield Pub & Grille is a lot like its classic Blarney burger: at first glance, it conjures the history and tradition of the Emerald Isle, but inside, it's full of all-American favorites. The lettuce-, tomato-, and onion-topped Angus patty joins philly steak sandwiches, six styles of wings, and barbecue ribs to lend a taste of home as the neighborhood haven's big-screen TVs and video games forge a bustling atmosphere for drinking and dining. Both draft and bottled beer of the domestic and imported variety—including the essential Guinness stout—balance the hearty flavors, and special events and weekends usher in live bands that croon love songs to reticent bacon cheeseburgers.