M T Barrels took over City Limits' former space at 1712 W. Wise Road in Schaumburg in November, continuing the bar's tradition as a place to see live music while updating the menu and space to attract more people when there's nothing on stage.
Motif: There's plenty of room to dance or just stand in front of the large stage, where Sailor Jerry, Jameson and Sam Adams murals decorate the walls. The art transitions from booze to sports on the other side of the bar, depicting Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and the Blackhawks. A long bank of TVs hangs over the bar, so you can watch from a booth or tall table. The music fills the whole space, so even if you don't have a good view of the band you can keep listening while you play a game of darts or shuffleboard or try the skeeball game.
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M T Barrels1712 W. Wise Road, Schaumburg, (847) 301-9800, mtbarrelsbar.com
Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
Food: M T Barrels tries to attract guests by offering food a step above what you'll find at the average sports bar. The bar is best known for burgers, which can be topped with pico de gallo, avocado and jalapeņo along with more standard toppings. Pizza is also popular. For starters, try the barrel o' bacon, where the meat is thick cut to resemble beef jerky.
Liquid consumption: In addition to offering an expanded wine list, M T Barrels' owners focus on craft beers, selling 30 by the bottle and 20 on draft such as New Holland Dragon's Milk, Lagunitas Lil Sumpin' and Goose Island Sofie. Daily drink specials include $5 margaritas on Tuesdays, $3 Sailor Jerry cocktails on Thursdays and $4 bloody marys on Sundays.
Crowd: The crowd varies depending on who's playing, so you might find mostly 20-somethings for Modern Day Romeos but 50-year-olds gathering for an Eagles tribute band. The offer of half-price appetizers from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays has been attracting an after-work crowd, and Blackhawks games bring in plenty of fans.
Music: Local cover bands or original acts play every Saturday night, with a cover set at $8 or less. On Wednesdays, local musicians gather for a jam session and open mic, where anyone's welcome to get a feel for what it's like to play onstage complete with audio set up by the bar's sound engineer. The gatherings have drawn up to 24 performers and provide a good networking opportunity. Thursday is karaoke night and local DJs spin after the Friday night sports games.
Service: We were quickly greeted by a friendly server when we sat down at a table, and drinks came out reasonably fast considering the big crowd.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the free strip mall lot.
Overall: If you're looking for something to do on the weekend, you'll want to check out the schedule at this happening spot.