Looking for a place to watch the game with a big group? Old Towne Pub & Eatery on State Street in Geneva has been appealing to local fans since 2001 while upgrading to keep people coming back.
Motif: Old Towne's brick and wood walls are covered with mirrored and neon beer signs. The bar boasts 15 TVs that typically air multiple games at once, one with the sound on. The space is well equipped for groups, with most tables seating at least four and a set of large booths near the door. An upstairs private party room hosts up to 200 people for everything from rehearsal dinners to birthday parties.
Old Towne Pub & Eatery201 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 232-7962, oldtownepubeatery.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Food: In October, the bar launched a new burger menu including the particularly well-received Black and Bleu, which features plenty of potent bleu cheese crumbles and sauce plus crunch from onion straws and bacon. Other top picks include the buffalo chicken wrap, where the crispy meat is covered in a delicious sauce that's also displayed in the buffalo chicken salad and buffalo shrimp. For a side, pick the crispy tater tots instead of the thin fries. As a starter, the potato skins are well covered with cheese and bacon and not too greasy, but they're so deep and filled with potato you might just fill up before your entree arrives.
Liquid consumption: While Old Towne has a small cocktail menu, the focus is on craft beer delivered in drafts, bottles and through frosty table taps where drinkers can pour themselves glasses from breweries including Lagunitas and Revolution. The bar also plans to start offering beer from Penrose Brewing Company when it opens in Geneva.
Crowd: The place was jammed when we got there at 8 p.m. Saturday, filled with enthusiastic college football fans cheering and watching the game. While there were a few couples and families present, the place was dominated by larger groups. The spot brings in plenty of families for dinner and younger crowds on weekend nights, though you'll also find seniors and people of all ages fresh from shopping in downtown Geneva. Lunch does a big business and the place is packed for Blackhawks games and Sunday football.
Service: While we were deterred when the hostess said the wait would be 25 minutes or more, it turned out to be less than 10 and she kept us updated when tables were being cleared. Our server gave us the time we needed to look over the food and drink menu but still came back quickly despite the crowd. She was able to provide plenty of food recommendations and could guide us towards beers we might be interested in. Despite the big crowd, food came out fast and we didn't have to wait long for to-go boxes or the check.
Music: Old Towne hosts classic rock bands and occasionally country acts about twice a month on Fridays or Saturdays.
Parking: It's easy to find free street parking nearby.
Overall: After more than a decade, Old Towne Pub & Eatery has become a neighborhood game day destination.