Since opening in July, McGruder's Irish Pub has earned a loyal following of locals. A sports bar with a splash of Irish, the spot at 1350 E. Chicago St. in Elgin offers affordable food and drinks so you can catch a game then stick around for some live music.
Motif: Miller Lite footballs and jerseys hang from the ceiling and beer signs line the walls. A huge mural near the stage pays tribute to Chicago's sports teams. There are TVs tuned to sports behind the bar and a giant projector showing all the plays. If you don't like what's on, you can play on the electronic dartboard or Golden Tee game. Want to share your night out with all your friends -- even the ones who didn't come with? Snap a picture at the bar's jukebox and you can post it to Facebook on the spot.
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McGruder's Irish Pub1350 E. Chicago St., Elgin, (847) 931-0130, mcgrudersirishpub.com
Hours: 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
Crowd: The bar area was packed when we were there Friday night with 20- to 60-something drinkers enjoying pints and shots. McGruder's brings in lots of regulars who come in once a week, including plenty of car salesmen from the nearby dealership.
Food: The small menu blends pub grub standards with Irish fare. Favorites include jalapeņo poppers, where the peppers are wrapped in bacon and grilled instead of fried, and the house-made corned beef. Another hit for Lent is the Friday special of $12.95 fried cod served with fries or a baked potato. After the kitchen closes, hungry customers are welcome to order food from Mr. C's Hot Dogs and More next door.
Liquid consumption: This is an Irish bar, so Guinness drafts are not surprisingly the drink of choice, especially Wednesdays when they're $3. If you're looking to drink on the cheap, you can also get $2 Miller Lite pints Mondays, $2 Coors Light pints Tuesdays and $4 cosmos Wednesdays through Sundays.
Service: The place was hopping when we visited and no one came over to take orders at the tables around the bar. But when we went to the bar, we were quickly greeted and served by the bartenders.
Music: The bar hosts an open mic the second Friday of the month and a mix of classic rock, country and cover bands once a month. There's never any cover or drink minimum.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the free strip mall lot.
Overall: McGruder's offers a neighborhood hangout where you can cheer for your favorite team with a pint of Irish beer.