Don?t let the shepherd's pie, fish 'n' chips, and draft beers fool you. Though Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery snatches up the best cultural fragments of Scotland, England, and the Emerald Isle, the eatery started in Las Vegas. Restaurateur Mark DiMartino sought to combine the communal, rousing feel of pubs in the British Isles with the campy fun of American sports bars, pairing hearty food and traditional trappings with televisions and waitresses clad in mini kilts and alluring plaid halter-tops modeled after William Wallace?s eveningwear.
Since its founding, Tilted Kilt locations have popped up in 25 states and two Canadian provinces, serving all manner of hybrid dishes such as the Scottish cheese steak, the Sloppy Jane made with sliced turkey or shaved rib eye, and the Tilted Guilt, an ice-cream sundae perched atop a cookie.
It’s a scene you’d expect to find in a quiet alpine town: inside a charming, half-timbered lodge, lamps of stained glass cast a warm glow on diners as they fill up on German dishes such as Bavarian pretzels and mini pierogis. But this is The Bavarian Lodge, where chefs craft wiener schnitzels from farm-raised, antibiotic-free pork cutlets and bake Bavarian roulade—a beefsteak stuffed with veggies, egg, and sausage—in rich peppercorn gravy. As with any German restaurant, however, the beer menu takes precedence. Here it deserves to, with 35 taps and more than 160 bottled brews lined up in tidy rows. This fine collection of suds won The Bavarian Lodge the title of world-class site from BeerAdvocate, which also gave the Hoover Dam that honor before learning that it was not, in fact, built to stockpile beer.
Q Sports Bar & Grill couldn't fit all its pub attractions under one roof. There were too many beanbags, not enough room for the pool tables, and nowhere for the darts to hide. So, guests can get their Q fix at locations in both Darien and Downers Grove. An Internet jukebox plays convivial tunes as waiters take food orders, describing, if asked, the kitchen's bounty of housemade chicken wings, turkey clubs, Angus-beef burgers (Darien), and burrito and taco entrees (Downers Grove).
Both restaurants invite patrons to wend through a sea of green-felt pool tables and keep in touch with sports via high-definition TVs. Additionally, Q's Darien location boasts a large projection screen and in-booth models in addition to the regular wall-mounted TVs. The Darien spot is also the place to catch performances by local and nationally touring musicians or soak up vitamin D on an outdoor patio.
In October 1957, the owners of Suburbanite Bowl watched their dream become a reality as they opened the doors of their brand-new alley perched atop a swampy piece of land at the end of a gravel road. Since then, Suburbanite Bowl has undergone multiple renovations and has doubled their lane space. Today the 32-lane alley is outfitted with a modern Bose music system and automatic scoring for those with pencil phobias. Home to open bowling and leagues geared toward all demographics, the alley garnered praise from Centerstage for its black-light bowling, when music "well-suited for busting out a cocky strut" blares across glowing lanes. The festivities unfold on Friday and Saturday nights after 8 p.m.
Players can also compete in Bill and Frank's Game Room, where classic and contemporary arcade games and an LCD TV border four softly lit pool tables. Nearby, the snack shop caters onsite parties and helps bowlers power throwing arms without having to plug them into a wall socket.
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.
WineStyles’ inspiration for its wine-tasting parties began, of all places, at a backyard barbecue. Some friends at the barbecue found themselves with too many bottles of wine. As an experiment, they decided to taste the wines blindly, so as not to be influenced by price or packaging. This impromptu tasting became the template for WineStyles, a boutique designed to help you choose a wine simply by taste. That is, wines here aren’t categorized by varietal or region, but instead by one of eight taste profiles: crisp, silky, rich, and bubbly for whites; fruity, mellow, bold, and nectar for reds. However, patrons interested in knowing more about their selected bottle can still do so—each bottle comes with a description of its characteristics and suggested food pairings.
Those looking to learn even more about wines can attend one of WineStyles’ weekly tastings or discovery classes. During these events, certified specialists explore everything from the history of different varietals to current trends in wine drinking, such as which wine goes best with texting. Different levels of wine-club membership give participants two to three bottles a month (each selected by a Masters Wine Panel), invitations to private tastings, and discounts toward additional purchases.