Blue 82 covers all the sports-bar bases by keeping its patrons well-fed and up to speed on their favorite teams' scores. As diners dig into heaping piles of nachos dotted with chicken or pork, servers move between tables, clearing empty plates that once bore burgers stuffed with cheeses and peppers. In the evenings, on-screen sports entertainment competes with music from live bands and DJs as bartenders pour out drink specials and crack open beers.
Northwoods' delectable array of time-tested comfort fare permeates the rustic 15,000-square-foot log cabin with soothing warmth and mouthwatering odors. A golden-battered menagerie of appetizers including crispy deep-fried broccoli, mushrooms, and cauliflower ($4.95 each) ease diners into bucolic bliss, and a colorful selection of fresh salads and soups stimulate chlorophyll cravings. Bunyan-esque appetites meet their match with Northwoods’ tummy-stretching burgers, such as the Lumber Mill, a tender jewel of juicy beef accented with four slabs of cross cut home-style bacon and topped with Wisconsin cheddar spread ($8.95). Delight in a joyful pairing with the Northwoods beef-and-pepper sandwich, a formidable sourdough fortress constructed around tender pot roast, sweet peppers, and pepper-jack cheese ($8.95). Battered walleye with beans, coleslaw, and potato pancakes ($15.95) deliver a buttery, flaky dose of flavor luscious enough to lure ursine Chicagoans out of hibernation and into a cozy Northwoods booth.
The best part of the burger is the crisp bark the grill creates, so in 1948 Allen Schoop figured out how to make a burger that was mostly bark. He opened Schoop's Hamburgers shortly thereafter, and today all 19 locations form their burgers in the exact same way, using beef that's never been frozen or pressed between the pages of a heavy book. These burgers are so good that in May 2013, CNN's Eatocracy named them one of the country's top 10 burgers. Freshly toasted buns cushion each patty, which can be topped with crisp bacon, american cheese, or even two other patties. The full menu also includes sweet milk shakes, hot dogs, and french fries.