For the folks at Bisla's, any occasion is liable to ignite a party. The sports bar trots out drink specials for the usual stuff—the NBA draft, UFC championships, and the MLB All-Star game; but even the with nonstop, wall-to-wall sports coverage on their flat screens, the staff can't help themselves from dreaming up new causes for celebration. On a given night, patrons are likely to walk into live music, or partake in the ever-popular College Night, in which revelers relive their undergrad days by reading silently at the bar. Wednesdays give patrons the opportunity to soak in country music.
On the off chance Bisla's isn't crackling with the kinetic energy of revelry, the staff makes up for it with a salvo of happy-hour specials. Mondays bring dollar tacos, Tuesdays bring 50-cent wings, and Thursdays bring sliders for a dollar. Every other day of the week, the cooks keep busy plating classic bar food, such as half-pound Angus burgers. Lunch is served beginning at 11 a.m.
Even before it was a restaurant, the building that houses Brookside Restaurant and Bar was dedicated to the enjoyment of food and drink. It was originally built in 1911 as a guesthouse for a local winery, where visitors could sample the local vino, have a hearty, home-cooked meal, and gossip about President Taft’s sultry moustache. Today, the restaurant continues to uplift visitors with home-cooked meals; the menu includes certified Hereford burgers, grilled rib eye, and other American classics. It even has Monday-, Wednesday-, and Friday-night barbecue specials served straight from the smoker.
If Blue Cue doesn't look like a typical pool hall, that's because it isn't. The billiards spot doubles as a restaurant, and nearly everything about it?from the bright blue pool tables to the sleek couches propped against exposed-brick walls?contributes to an atmosphere that's classy and upscale without being pretentious. That atmosphere carries over to a menu of comfort foods headlined by charbroiled burgers, hot dogs, and New York-style pizzas. Pair any of the above with a drink from the bar, such as a draft of seasonal Sierra Nevada or signature blue island punch.
From its origins in the 1860s as a house of ill repute to its time as a legally dubious watering hole during prohibition, The River City Saloon has deep roots in the seedy history of American nightlife. Today however, the saloon blends an old-timey aesthetic with more family-friendly fare. Kids can saunter up to the bar—a vintage 1905 triple-arch Brunswick—and order a glass of old west sarsaparilla, brewed locally at River City Brewing Company. Peanuts are also available, and visitors are welcome to throw the shells on the floor, in homage to the days when saloons had dirt floors and rampant elephant infestations.
The saloon's pub food is cooked with a hot-air fryer, a grease-free alternative to a deep fryer, and its hoagie sandwiches are served alongside chips and pickle spears. On the weekends, karaoke and music videos make old-west cowboys thankful that Bieber fever has a much lower casualty rate than yellow fever once did.
The best pool halls keep it simple: fresh green felt on the tables; cues that haven't been warped by age or splintered by bar room jousters; pitchers of beer on tap with neon signs to match. And, of course, a jukebox, preferably one with Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" or George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone." These are the basics of a good pool experience, and Hot Shots Billiards has got them down pat. The 22-year-old establishment is a paradise for players tired of hunting down pool tables in the back of noisy bars and staking claim over them with guttural growls. The pool hall treats players to Monday night 8-ball tournaments, Wednesday and Friday night 9-ball tourneys, and Thursday night specials for ladies. Besides the bevy of maintained tables, Hot Shots also sports ping-pong tables, comfort foods such as tacos and nachos, and lessons for novice players.
When Primo's Swiss Club in Oak Park closed, its empty building was left to the elements, growing more dilapidated with every year. That is, until the owners of Arthur Henry's Supper Club & Ruby Room stepped in. They painstakingly restored the historic building's interior, exterior, and secret trans-dimensional wormholes, creating an elegant supper club and late-night lounge. The renovation's piece de resistance is a large, communal grill placed in the center of the dining room?here, diners grill their own rib-eyes, filet mignons, and skewers of marinated tenderloin or scallops exactly the way they desire, complete with seasonings. Once the meat is grilled to perfection, diners return to their tables where side salads and slices of house-made garlic bread await.
To help wash down every bite, the bar serves a well curated selection of craft beer and mixes cocktails ranging from classic mint juleps to house creations such as the Dancing Grizzly: a blend of scotch, simple syrup, and fresh orange juice. On many nights, live musicians provide a lively soundtrack to dining and drinking.