Tap House Grill soars with tasty comfort food, craft beers, friendly vibe

  • Tap House Grill executive chef Olivia Cid shows off the Very Very Veggie Flatbread at the Wheeling sports bar.

      Tap House Grill executive chef Olivia Cid shows off the Very Very Veggie Flatbread at the Wheeling sports bar. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Inventive sippers include the Watermelon Berry Press (Smirnoff Watermelon Vodka, fresh lemon, watermelon syrup, muddled blackberries and soda), left, and The Beach (coconut rum, pineapple juice and soda) at Tap House Grill in Wheeling.

      Inventive sippers include the Watermelon Berry Press (Smirnoff Watermelon Vodka, fresh lemon, watermelon syrup, muddled blackberries and soda), left, and The Beach (coconut rum, pineapple juice and soda) at Tap House Grill in Wheeling. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Wings come with a choice of sauces, including mild, barbecue, hot, exotic or Devil's Catsup at Tap House Grill in Wheeling.

      Wings come with a choice of sauces, including mild, barbecue, hot, exotic or Devil's Catsup at Tap House Grill in Wheeling. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • General manager Arnie Franks keeps things moving smoothly at Wheeling's Tap House Grill.

      General manager Arnie Franks keeps things moving smoothly at Wheeling's Tap House Grill. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Bartender Madeline Haag pours a beer at Wheeling's Tap House Grill.

      Bartender Madeline Haag pours a beer at Wheeling's Tap House Grill. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • The Beach is made with coconut rum, pineapple juice and blue curacao.

      The Beach is made with coconut rum, pineapple juice and blue curacao. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Tap House Grill serves flatbreads like the Very Very Veggie.

      Tap House Grill serves flatbreads like the Very Very Veggie. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Multiple flat-screen TVs adorn the dining room at Wheeling's Tap House Grill.

      Multiple flat-screen TVs adorn the dining room at Wheeling's Tap House Grill. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Tap House Grill opened recently in Wheeling.

      Tap House Grill opened recently in Wheeling. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
By Eric Scott
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/18/2018 12:24 PM

After being cleared for takeoff a couple of months ago, the new Tap House Grill on Milwaukee Avenue in Wheeling is so close to one of the runways at Chicago Executive Airport that it might consider installing a fly-through window. The flight line location at the place many still affectionately call Palwaukee Airport is home to the eighth and newest Tap House Grill in the Chicago area.

This sports pub and grill occupies the restaurant space within the airport's dated-looking Ramada Inn. You might think of a roadside hotel restaurant as just an average, convenient place to eat for guests walking over from their rooms. But there is nothing average about the food and drink options on the menu. From the ample selection of craft beers and specialty drinks to a monster eating challenge, this place is quickly developing its own identity on the Milwaukee Avenue restaurant corridor.

 

Upon walking in, you'll discover a sports bar theme with plenty of flat-screen monitors hanging overhead, but not in an "in your face" kind of way. Wood and brick design touches add to its inviting atmosphere. Also accenting the decor are several dozen beer tap handles of all shapes, sizes and colors behind the bar. You have to like a sports bar with more beer tappers than TVs.

After poring over an extensive drink menu, my wingman and I chose a couple of local craft brews to start. My pick was a new one for me, the Tighthead Chilly Water American Pale Ale brewed in Mundelein. Not too heavy and not too light -- a somewhere in the middle beer that can be paired with anything. Tap House has a nice selection of local and regional craft beers, including selections from Tocayo Brewing Company in Warrenville and Half Day Brewing in Lincolnshire.

The tangy stout glaze made Tap House Grill's Tipsy Stout Burger something special, according to our reviewer.
  The tangy stout glaze made Tap House Grill's Tipsy Stout Burger something special, according to our reviewer. - Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Tap House also features craft beer cocktails, including the Loaded Radler with Bombay Sapphire gin served over ice with Stiegl Radler grapefruit beer. There's also the Raspberry Snakebite with raspberry REAL purée, fresh lime wedges and mint. It's served over ice and complemented with Angry Orchard hard cider. A full menu of familiar cocktails is also available.

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There are food and drink specials every night. Since Tuesday was Burger Night (after 5 p.m.) we focused on the wide selection of signature Angus burgers. My pick was the Tipsy Stout Burger that features a stout glaze over certified Angus beef and crispy haystack onion strings on a pretzel roll. You can get that with an optional, hefty spread of Merkts cheddar cheese. I can't remember the last time I thought a burger was absolutely delicious, but this one was worthy of high praise. The stout glaze is completely different from anything I've had on a burger before. It sported a tangy taste somewhere between pineapple juice and caramelized onions.

Wheeling's Tap House Grill's menu features the Blue Cheese, Pecan, Apple & Grape salad, left, the Very Very Veggie Flatbread and hot wings.
  Wheeling's Tap House Grill's menu features the Blue Cheese, Pecan, Apple & Grape salad, left, the Very Very Veggie Flatbread and hot wings. - Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Our other entree was the Farm Burger, which features cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and bacon spread all topped with a fried egg. The buns are all locally made, and gluten-free buns are available, too.

Remember that monster eating challenge? For $27.99 you can take a shot at downing the King Kobe Burger. It's 1.5-pounds of Kobe beef topped with a choice of a half-pound of cheese or a full pound of fries. Finish the whole thing and you get a T-shirt. You can wear it for your nap immediately after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If you're not in a burger mood, Tap House also has a large selection of flatbreads with assorted veggies, meats and cheeses. And there are tacos, salads and a section dedicated to two-handed sandwiches. If that wasn't enough to pick from, the house specialties feature fish and chips, beer-brined chicken and drunken shrimp pasta, among others.

Don't forget dessert like Fresh Sticky Chocolate-Caramel Donuts at Tap House Grill.
  Don't forget dessert like Fresh Sticky Chocolate-Caramel Donuts at Tap House Grill. - Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

You could call Tap House Grill a "sweet spot" place -- meaning it has a wide variety of tasty comfort foods and beverages that really stand out. Another nice touch is that for a large menu, it's not overwhelming. There's definitely something for everyone.

And don't let the roadside motel exterior fool you while "flying by" the place. Tap House has a friendly vibe, conversational-level music that all ages can appreciate, and it looks like it's a great place to watch a game.

If you're traveling near the airport, you'll want to put this place on your dining radar.

• • •

Tap House Grill

1090 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, (847) 215-1210, taphousegrills.com/

Cuisine: American

Setting: Sports bar and grill

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Entrees: $9.99-$27.99

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

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