Open since 1978, The Assembly American Bar & Café is a classic neighborhood hangout, serving up raved-about burgers. Even if you're not hungry, the menu of locally brewed beers gives you plenty of incentive to come in for a drink.
Motif: The small spot features flat-screen TVs tuned to sports on either side of the bar and in the corners. Lighting is dim, but the space is brightened by vibrant abstract paintings. A large bar sits in the center, surrounded by tall tables with dark red chairs and booths positioned along the walls.
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The Assembly American Bar & Café2570 Hassell Road, Hoffman Estates, (847) 843-3993, assemblyrestaurant.net
Hours: 11:15 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:15 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Crowd: The Assembly draws in an older crowd, with age 40 and older customers coming in for dinner or drinking at the bar in small groups or solo.
Service: The bartender quickly greeted us and explained the drink list and specials. He was happy to pour us samples of each of the beers we expressed interest in, waxing on his favorites and checking back in to see which we liked and wanted to order. When he wasn't serving us, he was spending time chatting with the regulars or discussing the beer and food with other customers.
Liquid consumption: The family that owned the now-shuttered Taylor Brewing Company in Lombard bought The Assembly in 1995, and it's the only place around to get their excellent beers. You can get any of them on draft for $4.50 or the day's special pint for $3.75. We enjoyed all the brews we tried. The Golden Lager is light and refreshing and the Rusty Dog Amber is a step up if you're looking for something a bit richer. Our favorite was the Raspberry Wheat, reminiscent of a Blue Moon or 312, but with raspberry cutting the flavor instead of citrus fruit. It's disappointing you can't get these beers in bottle or even growler form, but that just means you have another reason to go back to The Assembly.
Food: Burgers are The Assembly's most popular food item. The 10-ounce patties are grilled behind the bar so you can see them sizzling. Our bartender pointed them out even before we got the menus, and we overheard a customer at another table saying the bar serves the best burgers he's ever had. Not your typical bar fare, these are served with a side of mushroom-onion sherry wine sauce and homemade coleslaw and can be ordered on a pretzel bun. Other offerings include ribs, Cobb salad, and the standard selection of bar appetizers including potato skins, Buffalo wings and nachos.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the bar's free lot.
Overall: A local tradition for more than 30 years, The Assembly is a welcoming spot where you can relax with a burger and a great beer while watching the game or just sharing some conversation.