Tap House Grill in Des Plaines offers a modern take on your neighborhood watering hole -- comfortable, friendly and welcoming.
While it is part of a chain, with nine suburban spots, the Des Plaines location has its own look, as do the others in the Tap House family.
Tap House Grill1472 Market St., Suite A-103, Des Plaines, (847) 813-9996, taphousegrills.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Motif: Tap House Grill, at 1472 Market St., is sleek, modern and comfortable. The bar is not cluttered with memorabilia or knickknacks, but there are plenty of big screens for watching sports whether you are there for dinner or a craft beer.
Tap House offers bar seating, tall tables and booths for larger parties.
A standout, decor-wise, is one full wall of windowed garage doors. It was too cold when I visited, but I will be back when the wall is open to a starry night and a breeze. I like the idea of the inside becoming outside, without having overhanging trees dropping buds into my food.
Liquid consumption: Beers take precedence here, though a full bar and full complement of soft drinks are available. Your server will give you the latest beer listing, which changes monthly. The restaurant also highlights a brewer of the month with a couple of that brewery's beers on special.
Be sure to ask questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the summery Tangerine Wheat beer, but that's out of rotation already. If the names of the beers are unfamiliar, and most were to me, it might be easier to tell your server what you like in a beer and your server will no doubt find you a perfect match.
Food: Burgers are the focus, but there is much more to choose from -- from unique melts, tacos and salmon entrees to cheese curds and calamari. There are gluten-free options, too.
Sauces and dressings are made in-house and it showed in the tasty chipotle and caesar dipping sauces served with the grilled chicken tenders. It's nice to see a grilled option here. If you can't live without the fried version, however, you can get that, too.
Singled out as a specialty, the flavorful, juicy Tipsy Stout Burger was grilled to a perfect medium, as requested. A stout glaze is poured over the Certified Angus Beef patty, which features haystack onion strings on a grilled pretzel bun smeared with Merktz cheddar cheese. The bun is a perfectly humane size. Not too tall, not too big.
Another specialty: the Crispy Shrimp Tacos -- lightly fried shrimp served with corn salsa, lime-marinated cabbage, black beans and rice. I found the cilantro lime sauce to be too sweet, however.
We finished with the Ten Fresh Sticky Chocolate-Caramel Donuts. Freshly fried and tossed in a homemade caramel sauce, they are drizzled with chocolate sauce, with extra on the side. The doughnuts were heavenly, though I could only handle half of one. Share them or take them home.
Crowd: On a recent Wednesday evening, a nice crowd had gathered to dine, with the numbers picking up for trivia night. Earlier on, there were families in for dinner, too.
Check the website for the latest edition of the Brew News, a chain-wide newsletter, for upcoming events, promotions and entertainment.
Service: Our server was knowledgeable, patient and helpful. He graciously put up with a lot of questions, was quick to ask what we like in a beer and made a few spot-on recommendations.
Parking: There's plenty of on-street and lot parking.
Overall: Tap House Grill in Des Plaines offers great food, an eclectic beer list and a laid-back, friendly atmosphere.