Team USA vs. The World may sound like the title of Shaquille O'Neal's autobiography, but it is in fact a mixed martial arts competition that pits 12 of this country's finest mixed martial arts athletes against teams of fighters from Australia, Ireland, and Poland. Stuff your pockets with miniature American flags and gird your thrillcitement nodes for an evening of leg tussles, arm bars, and rear naked chokes. With ground-floor seats, you'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat on the fighters' brows and smell the adrenaline puffs as they condense into clouds shaped like clenched fists in the air above the ring. Fighters scheduled to battle for Team USA include John Hansen (205 lbs.), the 2008 USA National Champion in the LHW Division, Alex White (155 lbs.), who won in the 2009 Ringside World Boxing Championships, and Eric Daigle (155 lbs.), who obtained the lightweight title during the ISCF National Tournament in 2009.
Ryans Public House makes meals merry with Irish and American comfort fare and more than 70 beers and whiskeys from around the globe. Guests can devour a little bit of Celtic culture with an appetizer of corned-beef bites—mini open-faced sandwiches with swiss cheese and horseradish-cream sauce ($6.95)—or a whole lot with an authentic fish 'n' chips dinner ($9.75). A hearty shepherd's pie ($8.95) sates meat-and-potatoes cravings, and fish tacos hook diners with a double-lure of Mexican street corn and avocado-cream sauce ($9.95). The Chiappetta burger brings the bounty of two meals, sandwiching bacon, grilled onions, and a half-pound of Angus beef between two regulation-size grilled-cheese sandwiches ($9.95).
No matter where you sit, there’s a good chance you’ll be in full view of the game at Harry's Sports Bar—that's because the Countryside pub encircles bar-goers with more than 10 plasma and LCD screens, three oversize projection screens, and 30 or so standard TVs. As the sound system roars with cheers and jeers during professional ice hockey games and MMA matchups, guests drink ice-cold drafts and top-shelf liquor and order thin-crust pizzas and sandwiches. On the off chance there’s no game to watch, Harry’s provides live entertainment of its own, thanks to three pool tables, beer pong, and trivia nights.
Red Lobster, Wicker Park’s Mirai Sushi, and Lincoln Park punk bar Delilah’s are three seemingly disparate venues. However, they have something in common—all three have hired graduates of American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois to mix their drinks and man their bars. The schools have been landing graduates at notable Chicago establishments for more than 60 years, but their connection with alums doesn’t end with their first gig. Graduates receive lifetime, personalized job-placement assistance and can call the school’s career hotline 24 hours a day to find out about job openings or trade meatloaf recipes.
The schools' focus on employment also shows in their bartending classes, which are modeled after on-the-job training and led by teachers with an average of more than 20 years of industry experience. Taught at bars complete with realistic faux liquor, the sessions cover topics from mixology to presentation and etiquette.
For more than 20 years, comedians of all levels of notoriety have peddled their laugh-inducing verbal wares on Riddles Comedy Clubs’ stages. An airbrushed city skyline sits behind the corner stage at the original Alsip location, where such comedians as Jeff Dunham, Louie Anderson, and Drew Carey slung jokes to side-split audiences. A full bar with overhanging LCD TVs dispenses alcoholic and nonalcoholic whistle-wetters in between sets at both the Alsip location and the new Berwyn spot. Additionally, Riddles' lots house free parking for those driving from far-off locales or patrons who can't find a limo service that takes knock-knock jokes as payment.
Off Broadway Pub's owner, Rick Dahms, always knew his hot wings were something special. What he didn't realize, was that everyone else knew it as well. This became evident when his jumbo hot wings won 670 The Score's listener's best wing award in 2010, taking the top slot largely due to the heaping portions he serves and the amount of meat on the bone. His kitchen doesn't skimp on the restaurant's other entrees either, which range from hearty hamburgers and half racks of ribs to build-your-own pizzas. Two flat screen televisions play the city's game over Off Broadway's lengthy bar, where bartenders pour shots of Jaegermeister, draft beers, and mixed drinks.