BEST BAR FOR SPORTS
BEST CHICKEN WINGS
Buffalo Wild Wings
2808 N. Dirksen Parkway, 670-0048
4420 Wabash Avenue, 546-9453
Walk into Buffalo Wild Wings and there’s not a seat in the house from which you can’t see a TV or two – or five, for that matter. With athletic competition broadcast from every angle on big screen TVs, it’s hard to beat Buffalo Wild Wings in the sports department. But this year’s best bar for sports isn’t just a sport sanctuary; it also whips up some excellent food. While the boneless wings are delicious, it’s even worth the trouble to invest in a basketful of traditional wings, savory and smothered in your choice of 16 sauces and four different seasonings.
BEST BAR TO NETWORK
BEST PLACE FOR A GROWN-UP PARTY
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
Even grown-ups like to play games. That’s a major part of why Floyd’s Thirst Parlor’s second floor, remodeled in 2009, is such an asset. Besides the usual dartboards, Floyd’s offers air hockey, skee ball and pool, served up within walls of exposed brick, behind a window adorned with a touch of stained glass and among a large collection of Mike Manning prints. Established in 2002 as Floyd’s Thirst Parlor, the building used to be a clothing store, also dubbed “Floyd’s” – a fun fact for a future Floyd’s rendezvous. Floyd’s ratio of one-part classy to two-parts fun makes it both the best place in Springfield for a grown-up party and the best bar for networking.
BEST BEER GARDEN
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
3219 S. Sixth St., 529-5806
Built in 1932 and run by the same owners since 2002, the Curve Inn is a Springfield tradition, even though it is actually in Southern View. And if you like beer tents at the fair, you’ll love the Curve Inn beer garden. With a deck, dance floor and room for hundreds, the Curve is a great place to enjoy live rock and roll, or perhaps the blues. Music starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the outdoor music season, with closing time at 3 a.m. Party on.
Beer garden runner-up: Alamo
Live music runner-up: Marly’s
BEST GAY BAR
Club Station House
306 E. Washington St., 525-0438
Closed last year for a few months while new management took the reins, the bar at 306 E. Washington is back and better than ever. Formerly called Station House, the new Club Station House now has a bigger dance floor, an upgraded bar and a display window looking out onto the street. The owner, Ryan Bandy, put about $40,000 worth of work into the place before reopening last fall, says bar manager Paul Williamson, who’s been working there for 15 years. Besides the atmosphere and friendly bartenders, Club Station House boasts drag shows directed by local legend Jericha Knight and great live music, including Carla Sloan on the first Friday of the month. While the establishment is a favorite for gay patrons, Club Station House is also a hit with straight singles in the mood to dance after 1 a.m. Why? It’s simple, says Williamson: “We’re fabulous, we’re clean and our bar staff is very friendly.”
BEST WINE SELECTION
2930 Constitution Drive, 698-1116
With as much floor space as a supermarket, Friar Tuck’s has room for lots and lots of alcohol, and they do, indeed, have lots and lots of alcohol, ranging from cognac to moonshine. Wine doesn’t get short shrift, with aisle-upon-aisle groaning under the weight of offerings from all corners of the planet. Found the perfect Pinot Grigio but it’s room temperature and the party starts in 45 minutes? Not to worry. Friar Tuck’s will happily chill any wine they have in just a few minutes.
Runner-up: The Corkscrew