You don't just go to Ballydoyle Irish Pub and Restaurant for lunch. You go for lunch and a beer. It's hard to say no to the dozen or so hearty taps that stare you down when you enter the downtown Downers Grove hot spot.
It's also one of the few suburban spots with a consistent calendar of live entertainment. The venue hosts open-mic nights, traditional and Celtic rock bands and even the occasional troupe of Irish dancers. In fact, patrons can watch Irish dance lessons in the pub's Highlander room on Thursdays. Some of the bar's bigger draws create a logjam in the narrow area between the stage and the bar. For those not in the mood to fight the crowd and noise, the dining area extends deep into the long, slender restaurant, offering refuge. And when the weather's nice, there's also an outdoor seating area available.
The menu is full of traditional Irish fare like corned beef, fish and chips and a Guinness-marinated steak sandwich. The restaurant also offers some interesting choices like a deep-fried mixture of corned beef and cream cheese and a whole menu page devoted to boxty dishes, which are potato pancakes filled with various meats and veggies. Most items cost less than $10.
As Irish pubs go, Ballydoyle is pretty standard, with a friendly atmosphere, a range of beer selections and pretty good bar food. But in a landscape dominated by chain and fast-food restaurants, that's enough to make it stand out.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jim Collins