All Stars On Board took over McCarthy's Restaurant & Irish Pub's space at Westfield Hawthorn Mall in June, but they renovated the interior to be reminiscent of an even earlier tenant, John's Garage. The Vernon Hills spot's long history as a drinking establishment has led to crowds quickly picking up even if it's changed from Irish bar to sports bar.
Motif: The 5,000-square-foot open space features 23 60-inch HDTVs plus three 15-foot projector screens along the back wall. The red walls are lined with neon and mirrored beer signs along with some Chicago sports photos and, oddly, a shot of Marilyn Monroe. There's also plenty of outdoor seating in front.
All Stars On Board506 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills, (847) 247-9999, allstarsonboard.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Crowd: All Stars On Board mostly brings in young and casually dressed locals, with the crowd during football games including plenty of Bears and Packers fans. Mall workers like to come in for a drink after their shifts end, and the bar has also hosted big weekend bachelor parties.
Food: The menu offers well-done versions of bar food standards like fish tacos, burgers, Wisconsin cheese curds and quite spicy hot wings. Fans of McCarthy's Reuben egg rolls can still find them here, loaded with corned beef and cabbage and served with Thousand Island dressing. The calamari is another great pick. It's never frozen, offers a good mix between rings and tentacles and is served coated in a crispy and salty breading with a light, sweet sauce.
Liquid consumption: A seasonally changing craft beer list includes Two Brothers Ebel Weiss, Stone Arrogant Bastard and five different 3 Floyds beers by the bottle. The cocktail menu is the only hint of the nautical theme found in the bar's name, offering sippers like the All Star's Signature Shipwreck, a blend of raspberry vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, and the Night with the Captain, which features Captain Morgan spiced rum, coconut rum, blue Curacao, crème de banana and pineapple juice.
Service: We were greeted quickly, and while some of the staff members were busy tending to a bachelor party, we never had to wait long for service. As a nice touch, a bartender also offered to turn the TVs nearest us to whatever game we'd like.
Music: DJs spin Friday, while Saturdays bring easy listening blues and classic rock acts.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the mall's free parking lot.
Overall: All Stars offers a new laid-back spot to cheer on your favorite team.