Palatine's Alley 64 touts cold beer and warm service -- and delivers on both counts. As summer revs up, both are welcome draws for this biker-themed sports bar on Rand Road that has a strong menu to boot.
Motif: The 1-year-old Palatine bar is Alley 64's second location; the first is in St. Charles. It's billed as a Harley-themed sports bar, and the decor fits.
Alley 642001 N. Rand Road, Palatine, (847) 934-6408, alley64palatine.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
There's plenty of seating along the large center bar, as well as high-topped tables and stools. Tires and bike parts hang from the walls and corrugated metal ceiling. Weathered wood and a beer can collection around the bar's perimeter complete the garage-like look.
Flat-screen TVs line the walls, but there's also pool, darts and Golden Tee for anyone wanting to give them a try.
Crowd: The crowd skews 35 and older, but there were a group of 20-somethings enjoying games of pool over beer on the night we visited. It's very casual with outdoor seating available in good weather. The bar also sponsors theme nights, like car shows on Wednesday and bike night Thursday.
Food: The menu offers a long list of sandwiches, wraps, salads and various platters. The brisket and pulled pork are among the bar favorites, along with the burger -- which was nicely done with an order of seasoned fries.
Starters run the usual bar gamut: nachos, sliders, potato skins and more. But there are also more unusual items, like deviled eggs with bacon.
We started with the wings, and there are lots of options for spice level, sauce and with bones or without. The boneless chipotle wings had a nice spicy-smokey flavor and a bit of crunch from the coating, while the bone-in barbecue wings were juicy and loaded with sauce -- clearly a four-napkin undertaking.
The grilled jalapeņo poppers were even better. Our waitress cautioned us that they packed heat, and they lived up to her warning. But the spicy grilled peppers were balanced by the flavorful, lightly browned cheddar and cream cheese filling, and presented with diced tomatoes, onions and cilantro on a bed of tortilla chips.
Liquid consumption: Beer seemed the right choice, and there are a number on tap, including Sam Adams and Blue Moon. You'll also find the usual drinks with specials throughout the week like $3 house margaritas on Wednesday and $5 Smirnoff Bloody Marys on Sunday.
Service: Our waitress was fun and friendly and kept the ice water coming -- key for washing down the jalapeņo poppers. Our food and drinks arrived promptly, and she checked back frequently.
Parking: There is plenty of parking in the lot.
Overall: Good food and welcoming service make Alley 64 worth a stop.