For centuries, there weren’t many lively, TV-enhanced pubs with gourmet food coming out of the kitchen. Luckily for those in Naperville, Tap In Pub & Carvery balances good times with a few good eats. As patrons cheer on the home team or diss a rival town’s Jeopardy contestant, chefs carve sandwiches to order, such as Thanksgiving sliders with sage stuffing and cranberry jam, or a torta cubano with hand-carved pork, ham, Swiss, and sliced pickles. Succulent meats pair nicely with throwback beers and local craft brew drafts from Solemn Oath, Two Brothers, and Revolution. Guests wanting something a bit sweeter can get a seasonal Arnold Palmer or a signature cocktail such as the Ben Hogan with Buffalo Trace bourbon, cherry Madagascar vanilla molasses, ginger beer, and fresh sprigs of mint. For sports fans, the venue plans to add golf simulators in the near future.
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.
Totals Sports Bar's electrified atmosphere unites fans of teams, tunes, and eats seven days a week. Alongside a mammoth projection screen, 24 large televisions join forces to upend boredom and beam big games straight into thirsty eyes. As guests browse the variegated menu of succulent burgers and satisfying entrees, chefs step out from behind an onsite smoker to test the structural integrity of dinnerware with heaps of barbecue pulled meats and char-grilled baby back ribs. An extensive beer menu offers to offset savory bites with sudsy sips from brewers such as Two Brothers. On weekend nights, the bar transforms into a high-energy music venue, complete with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and auto-tuned bouncers.
Located within the clubhouse of Country Lakes Golf Club, Navarro’s of Naperville’s menu aims to complement the casual, yet refined surroundings. For the most part, Chef Jerry Navarro draws on his 35 years of experience with fine Italian cuisine, making everything from italian sausage and gnocchi to marinara sauce and cannolis in-house. He isn't afraid to branch out, however, rounding out the selection with dishes like barbecued ribs and chicken marsala. Even with this variety of influences, the menu demonstrates an undeniable commitment to comfort food with an elevated touch and homemade ingredients.
Weather permitting, outdoor seating allows patrons to enjoy their meal with a view of the surrounding golf course, while the indoor dining area provides a bit more shelter amid the rich wooden tones and ceiling fans that help circulate light throughout the room. Friday and Saturday evenings become a bit livelier in the clubroom when the restaurant hosts Rock N Dine events, bringing in live music to entertain the guests and encourage celebrating on the dance floor. Navarro’s also has banquet facilities where guests can hold weddings, graduations, anniversaries, birthdays, or parties for any occasion.
Watching a movie should be a magical experience, one that transports the mind to places it wouldn't otherwise go. Nothing undercuts that faster than traipsing down a sticky aisle to squeeze into a creaky seat and watch a movie where some guy just staples paper for an hour. The experience couldn't be more opposite at Hollywood Blvd. and Hollywood Palms Cinemas, where people might start an action-packed new release or cult classic by meeting the film's stars. Fans of the theater have written tons of appreciative letters, recalling their experiences hobnobbing with Tippi Hedren before a showing of The Birds, or seeing a cast reunion of Back to the Future, which one mega-fan wrote was "one of the best experiences of [their] life."
But it's not just these meet-and-greets that elevate the experience at Hollywood's theaters. Instead of cramped row seating, there are high-backed swivel chairs encircling tables, and instead of concession stands, there're servers ferrying food and beverages to tables throughout the show. The extensive menu is mostly upscale casual dishes, including the Whoopi Goldburger with Angus beef, bacon, and barbecue sauce. From the bar, guests can order Rat Pack–inspired martinis, craft beers, or specialty cocktails such as the Tequila Mockingbird margarita with raspberry liqueur.
At each location, the architecture and decor rivals that of a film set. The lobby at Hollywood Blvd. is a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and at Hollywood Palms, individual screening rooms pay homage to Marilyn Monroe and The Wizard of Oz. Not surprisingly, the Hollywood Blvd. theater has an on-site museum with real movie artifacts, including costumes worn by the Munchkins, whom the theater successfully petitioned to receive their own star on the Walk of Fame.