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posted: 7/13/2011 12:01 AM

JJ's scores with more than just sports fans

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  • Tony Arkeilpane pours a beer at JJ's Prime Time.

       Tony Arkeilpane pours a beer at JJ's Prime Time.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • You can catch a game or just relax with friends over dinner and drinks at JJ's Prime Time in Aurora.

       You can catch a game or just relax with friends over dinner and drinks at JJ's Prime Time in Aurora.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • Games attract sports fans to JJ's Prime Time.

       Games attract sports fans to JJ's Prime Time.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • JJ's Prime Time opened in February.

       JJ's Prime Time opened in February.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

 
By Samantha Nelson
Daily Herald correspondent

Since opening in February, JJ's Prime Time Sports Pub has been bringing in local fans for big games. Even when there's nothing on, the bar's good food and cheap drinks make it worth a visit.

Motif: The large open space features plenty of room between tables. A long table in the back can be used for big groups or buffet space during parties. TVs tuned to sports are arranged at all corners, with four more sets at the bar and three projector screens throughout the space. Walls are lined with team logos, illuminated beer signs and posters showing the drink specials. One wall showcases a bank of electronic darts, golf and hunting video games.

Crowd: The bar primarily draws 35- to 45-year-old guys. Families come in earlier for dinner and the bar also does a decent lunch business. The place seats 172 but can get packed on live music nights. The owner is a former coach and sponsors local soccer and baseball teams, so you can also catch their coaches and sometimes the entire team hanging out.

Service: Our server checked in quickly and regularly and was good about telling us the specials and making recommendations for both food and drinks. Our only complaint was that when we ordered beer she brought us the biggest size without asking what we'd prefer. But she made up for it with a coupon sheet that made our appetizer free since we'd ordered entrees.

Liquid consumption: JJ's Prime Time's drink prices are hard to beat. Pints are always $2.50, with a draft list including great picks like Goose Island 312. The only exception is Stella Artois and Guinness, but then they're still $3.50. Bombs are $4.50 and you can get shots like the surprisingly tasty peanut butter vodka for $3.50.

The bar also offers a small menu of cocktails. Our server said the rum runner was one of the best and after trying it we agreed. The blend of two types of rum, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, grenadine, orange juice and sour mix is dangerous, clearly packing plenty of booze but very easy to drink.

Food: Lots of sports bars try to distinguish themselves with "better than bar food" but JJ's Prime Time actually succeeds. Everything we tried was great. The chicken quesadillas are crispy rather than greasy, loaded with meat, and came with a nice homemade pico de gallo with chunky tomatoes, onions and plenty of spicy jalapeno peppers.

The menu changes every three months and one of the newest alterations was tweaking the recipe of the Cajun chicken pasta. The result is a hearty but not too rich dish featuring a creamy sauce over ziti and flavorful blackened chicken. The Angry Pepper Jack burger, which includes pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and grilled jalapenos, had a solid kick. But the best part of the burger may have been the crispy coconut onion ring it's topped with and the delicious sweet potato tater tots that you can get as a side.

Entertainment: Monday is trivia night; Wednesday and Thursday offer karaoke. On Friday, a tableside magician performs. Bands play Saturday, with a mix of music ranging from blues to classic rock to acoustic acts.

Parking: The free lot has plenty of spots.

Overall: Along with being a good place to watch a game, JJ's Sports Pub offers a great blend of food, drinks and other entertainment that makes it worth sticking around long after the final score is in.

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