Open since 1945, Elmer's Doghouse has been a haven for generations of diners looking for cold brews, hot meals, and a set of familiar faces to enjoy them with. At this casual neighborhood spot, the kitchen staff still dishes out burgers, pizzas, and steak dinners lit by the neon glow of beer signs. On Monday nights, these meals emerge amid the tuneful clatter of the bar’s acoustic open mic, refueling audiences and musicians alike. Other musical entertainments include karaoke nights and live bands, who often coax diners into dancing or just giving them a bite of their food.
Ballydoyle specializes in comforting Irish fare and even more comforting Irish ales. Folks will wonder why more meat isn't corned after trying the star of Ballydoyle's sandwiches, the corned beef on marble rye (8.95). Heartier Irish specialties include shepherds pie ($11.95), Bangers and Mashed ($11.95), and Dinny's Irish Fry—an aorta-challenging amalgamation of Irish bacon, Irish sausage, black-and-white pudding, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, two eggs any style, toast, and the keys to Dublin for those that clean their plates ($12.95). Another Irish specialty, boxty ($11.95–$13.95), wraps a homemade potato griddle cake around a variety of fillings, such as vegetables, chicken, and Larry Bird's NBA championship rings. An Irish pub would just be Denny's without an extensive list of draft and bottled beer. Ballydoyle's is one of the only pubs that serves McCaffrey's Irish Cream Ale, making it as delicious as it is exclusive.
The friendly staff at Rudy's Place fuels mealtime revelry and poolroom rivalry with a menu of Mexican favorites alongside classic American sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and pizza. Armed with homemade tortilla chips, diners dive into meals with an appetizer of guacamole or wake up palates with a sampler platter salvo of chicken wings, mini tacos, flautas, and breaded bites of alarm-clock parts. Kitchen magicians pack a half-pound of pure Angus beef into each burger, dressing the most ornate patties in barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese, and onion rings, or in fried jalapeños and chipotle ranch sauce. Within the bready bookends of a philly cheesesteak, seasoned green peppers and onions fresh from the grill court gooey swiss with charred fragments of the Liberty Bell, and across the table tangy green salsa smothers chicken, beef, steak, or cheese enchiladas as beans, rice, and guacamole offer sideline commentary. Smiling barkeeps pour heaping glasses of beer to refresh over-stimulated palates, whisking away savory sensations with amber bubbles from makers such as Sam Adams, Budweiser, Guinness, Coors, and Miller.
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.
Moves Dance Studio hosts a jam-packed schedule of energetic, challenging dance classes led by talented faculty members. Dancers select two weekly sessions and can get down with beginning or intermediate hip hop classes for ages 10 and up, focusing on east- and west-coast moves with choreography as sharp and precise as a perfectionist laser beam. Contemporary and lyrical dancers find expression in a variety of movement progressions and exhilarating performance dynamics; Pilates introduces students to the strength of their own cores and the sight of their own lower backs. Other classes include tap and a multitude of lessons for 4–6 year olds, including Broadway Babies, which teaches the fundamentals of ballet, tap, and tumbling.
McBrides Plainfield Pub & Grille is a lot like its classic Blarney burger: at first glance, it conjures the history and tradition of the Emerald Isle, but inside, it's full of all-American favorites. The lettuce-, tomato-, and onion-topped Angus patty joins philly steak sandwiches, six styles of wings, and barbecue ribs to lend a taste of home as the neighborhood haven's big-screen TVs and video games forge a bustling atmosphere for drinking and dining. Both draft and bottled beer of the domestic and imported variety—including the essential Guinness stout—balance the hearty flavors, and special events and weekends usher in live bands that croon love songs to reticent bacon cheeseburgers.