Strings of colored lights twinkle from the rafters of Gator Jake's Bar Grill Patio, where walls of retro neon and pressed-metal signs lend the dining room a vivacious vibe. The menu brings creole and southwestern perspectives to the table, providing etouffees, steak-fajita subs, and barbecue chicken monterey to complement a glass of Beringer wine, a specialty cocktail, or a beer called Guinness, Killian's, or Corona. Wall-mounted flat-screen televisions broadcast major sporting events as the sounds of clacking pool balls, whirring darts, and songs from the jukebox and periodic live entertainment fill the air. Open until 2 a.m., Gator Jake's—which took third place in the 2011 Detroit A-List's race for Best Sports Bar—welcomes patrons to stay for a late-night birthday party or celebrate the opening of a foreign stock exchange far, far away.
The self-proclaimed home of the $1 draft, Dooleys Tavern keeps 20 beers cascading from their taps. Those suds complement the chefs' pub food, which includes American tavern classics such as half-pound burgers and up to 50 chicken wings doused in a choice of four sauces. The draft beer house also concocts American dishes with an Irish twist such as corned-beef sliders and a pizza filled with mashed potatoes and topped with bacon and red onions.
Seven nights a week, Dooleys’ three locations keep guests entertained until 2 a.m. on an outdoor patio, in a room full of classic bar games, and with plenty of HDTVs showing the game. The trio of taverns also accommodates up to 100 guests for private parties. Additionally, the Mount Clemens location pairs feasts with sidesplitting routines from standup comics in Carmen's Showroom.
A hearty appetite is encouraged at Clancy’s Irish Pub, where a champion burger challenge bates mouths to down a 5-pound behemoth burger and a full pound of fries in less than 45 minutes. Only three customers have ever succeeded, and their pictures reside on Clancy’s wall of fame as a testament to their steely reserve and superhuman jaw strength. In addition to holding photos of these championship mugs, Clancy’s butter-hued walls come stippled with golden brown, as if prophesying the deep-fried goodliness of the menu’s jalapeño poppers and cheesy mozzarella sticks. Amid the glow of neon beer signs and flat-screen TVs, tables load up with pints from the bar’s selection of more than 50 brews, as well as pub classics such as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and the cheese-and- bacon-slathered chicken Dubliner. After two-handing a signature Jack Daniels chicken sandwich, guests can partake of weekly events such as beer-pong competitions, trivia, and DJ dance nights.
Piper's Alley pairs a varied menu of made-from-scratch pub fare with almost 40 beers from around the world, including a variety from Michigan. The lunch specials—unlike sautéing a credit card—can please both one's palate and wallet; try the veggie melt with provolone cheese ($4.95). Meanwhile, the half-pound Alley burger ($8.99) bathes in a mix of marinara and guacamole before enrobing itself in four different types of cheese, grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, and applewood-smoked bacon. Marinated grilled chicken fajitas step to a stage of warm flour tortilla, sidekicked by an entourage of shredded cheese, sweet onions, tap-dancing bodyguards, and bell peppers ($10.99). Made-from-scratch cheesecake ($4.99) delivers a sweet finale to the meal. Alongside universal favorites, the beer menu showcases many of Michigan's brews; fill up a glass with the Mackinaw pale ale from the tap or sip on a bottle of the Bell's Seasonal.
Steiny’s Tavern honors barstool regulars with a rewards program replete with a special beer mug and VIP access to bar events—the first hint that Steiny’s is as much a community hub as it is a casual watering hole. In addition to honoring their regulars, owners Mama and Papa Bear Steinhurst have outfitted their parking lot with 20 bike parking spaces and furnish smokers with a heated outdoor smoking patio. The duo welcomes local bands and DJs many nights of the week and also shows sports broadcasts on 10 flat-screen TVs. A menu of barbecue specialties, salads, and sandwiches greets each diner, as does a friendly wait staff that encourages customers to chew every bite the recommended 32 times before swallowing.