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Article posted: 10/26/2012 5:15 AM

J&D's in Wauconda plays to its strengths


There is a lot going on at J&D's Sports Bar & Grill in Wauconda, a large and lively place to watch the game, shoot pool, play darts, quaff a beer or chow down on tasty, value-priced food.

Motif: The spacious main barroom has high-tops scattered around the periphery of the large oval-shaped bar. Lots of windows let in the sun during the day. The pool room with four tables is off to one side, and large separate dining rooms can be reserved for private parties or used for overflow at busy times.

TV screens everywhere broadcast NFL games every Sunday, not to mention other games on other days.

Crowd: Sports fans of all ages frequent J&D's, although young adults are the predominant demographic. Happy hour attracts some folks wearing office attire after work.

Live entertainment adds to the mix on nights when there are no major games. Saturday is karaoke night from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Service: There is no shortage of servers, mostly young women wearing black. Our server was particularly nice and knowledgeable about both the drink and food offerings. Pacing of our order was just right.

Liquid consumption: Spirits and domestic beer on tap are the primary beverages of choice. This is not a craft beer house nor a destination for wine lovers. Of the five domestic brews on tap, three are light beers.

The most popular spirits and mixed drinks include Bloody Marys, Captain Morgan spiced rum mixers, Vegas Bombs and tequila shots. Bartenders know how to make a proper martini and Cosmopolitan, served in chilled stemware.

Food: Bar food predominates here, including deep-fried appetizers, burgers, quesadillas, wraps and ribs. Some lighter fare also is served, such as six salads and a grilled tequila lime chicken sandwich.

Buffalo wings, a house specialty, come in many varieties, including Greek, a grilled alternative flavored with lemon juice and olive oil and served with a light blue cheese dipping sauce. They are moist, flavorful and lower in calories than their usual deep-fried cousins.

The breaded zucchini sticks with ranch dressing dip were nothing special, but the portion size was generous and ideal for sharing.

Food bargains are offered regularly, such as $5 lunches on weekdays, 50-cent wings on Mondays and other specials on other days. The entire menu is half-price from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays, and daily drink specials are tempting, too.

Parking: A large parking lot provides plenty of space on even the most popular game days.

Overall: J&D's is a friendly, boisterous place for sports fans who like company and a party atmosphere for watching their favorite teams. When there are no big games playing, it's a pleasant, value-priced choice for a decent, filling meal.

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