Twin Peaks, a Texas-based chain of sports bars where guests are waited on by attractive, scantily clad servers, opened its first Illinois location in February, taking over Claim Jumpers' former space on Milwaukee Avenue in Wheeling. The mix of ice-cold beers, plenty of TVs, big food and "scenic views" has proved a winning combination, bringing in huge crowds of guys.
Motif: The space has an alpine lodge theme, with a giant stag statue outside and mounted deer and ram heads inside. It's also decorated with moose antler chandeliers, chairs made to look like they've been carved from branches and booths lined with prints depicting woodland animals and trees. Walls are either stacked stone or made to resemble a log cabin and decorated with signs saying "Welcome Hunters" or "Ski Colorado." There are tons of TVs, with most tuned to sports while a few introduce the "Twin Peaks Girls" or offer "Man Facts" like a duck's quack doesn't echo. The bar also carries all UFC fights and boxing events, which you can watch without paying a cover.
Twin Peaks781 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, (847) 459-4049, twinpeaksrestaurant.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
The sprawling space features plenty of long tables in the dining room, making it great for big groups. There's also a small enclosed patio with marble tables and half booths, more TVs and a view of the flowers and trees in front of the bar. The space is equipped with heaters so it can stay open even when the weather gets chilly.
Crowd: Unsurprisingly, given the concept, Twin Peaks' clientele is almost 95 percent guys ages 25 to 65, though you can spot a few families around dinnertime. The bar brings in a solid lunch crowd and then picks up by 6 p.m. Blackhawks games packed the 450-seat space, and the bar expects to do the same sort of business during Bears season.
Food: Burgers and blackened chicken quesadillas are among the most popular items on Twin Peaks' menu, which is divided into suggestive categories such as "teasers" and "smokin' hot dishes." Portions are huge, with the nachos piled 10 inches tall and the country fried steak measuring eight by 14 inches.
Liquid consumption: Drafts are served below freezing so when they're poured into a frosted mug they actually form an ice cap at the top. There's a nice selection of craft brews including Goose Island Green Line and Brooklyn Lager. There's also a solid whiskey list and a small menu of well-made classic cocktails like the salty but fresh-tasting margarita mixed with agave nectar and lime juice. Partiers can also order a set of shots served on a ski.
Service: Servers and bartenders here are clad in khaki shorts, snow boots and checkered shirts tied to reveal plenty of cleavage and midriff. Shirts are pinned with sparkly name tags, though servers will still introduce themselves and colleagues so you can flag someone down. I was quickly greeted when I sat down at the bar and offered a menu and recommendations. The bartender serving me checked in to make sure I enjoyed my drink and was happy to linger and chat.
Parking: A huge lot offers plenty of free parking.
Overall: Twin Peaks was made for guys' night out.