Whether you’re headed north to the Windy City, south to the historic capital of Springfield, or if you’re just looking to explore some of the best breweries in Illinois, you’re fortunately bound to come across great food along the way. Grab your road map (and designated driver) to check out 10 of the state’s best breweries serving food and brewpubs in the Land of Lincoln.
Revolution Brewpub | Chicago
This Logan Square neighborhood brewery has just as much of a devotion to their food as they do great beer. They butcher a pig from a local farm each week to use the freshest meat, which is served on the house-made charcuterie with freshly-baked bread. Menu items like Cross of Gold-braised corned beef, a crispy pork belly and egg sandwich and chocolate chunk bread pudding made with Eugene Porter, make Revolution a can’t miss destination on your tour of Chi-Town.
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria | Chicago
Chicago may be known for their thick, deep dish pizza, but this Wicker Park brewpub’s thin New Haven-style pizza is a delicious option and pairs perfectly with their award-winning lineup of beers. Their pizzas come in three basic styles: red (tomato or BBQ sauce and mozzarella), plain (red sauce topped with garlic, extra parmesan and olive oil) or white (plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic and mozzarella cheese), with loads of fresh toppings available. Wash it down with two of my favorites: The Weight, an American pale ale or Top Heavy Hefeweizen.
Wild Onion Brewing Co. & The Onion Pub | Barrington
The Onion Pub uses their beers throughout the food menu at this scenic brewpub. Jack Stout is used to marinate the steak, in the mustard dip and in beer-battered onion rings. HopSlayer Polish sausage is made with HopSlayer Double IPA, Paddy Pale Ale onions are sautéed for the Paddy Ale Melt and the beer cheese soup is made with Kainz Brau, a classic Czech-style Pilsner.
The Lucky Monk | South Barrington
There are salads like the Chopped, Waldorf and Caesar, but it’s hard to overlook the heftier options like a beef burger sandwiched between two bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches, or Poutine Montreal Style—fries topped with beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds and Solitude beef gravy. Pair your meal with Tritica, their German-syle wheat beer or the Fallen Angel, a Vienna-style lager.
Stockholm’s | Geneva
In downtown historic Geneva, Stockholm’s focuses on cask-conditioned, unfiltered beers. They have a mix of pub food staples like all natural steak burgers, shrimp tacos and buffalo wings, but you’ll also find unexpected items like beef tenderloin risotto, gorgonzola stuffed gnocchi and blue crab cakes.
Pig Minds Brewing Co. | Machesney Park
Just looking at Pig Minds’ menu warms any vegan’s heart. The place is a paradise for herbivores with choices like the soy chicken salad, black bean burger and a steakless sandwich with marinated soy curls tossed in homemade slaw. Wash it all down with a California-style golden ale fermented with blueberries, and you’re good to go.
Blue Cat Brewpub | Rock Island
A favorite in the Quad Cities, the extensive menu has a plethora of seafood options like the oatmeal-crusted walleye, jalapeño cornbread catfish, grilled ahi tuna and mussels in an ale butter. Finish off the meal with a Big Bad Dog Old English Ale or Tucks Tenacious Trippel.
Bent River Brewing | Moline
Bent River offers Midwestern comfort food at it’s finest with thick sliced meatloaf and mashed potatoes covered with a brown ale gravy, or Stashu’s brat served on onions and sauerkraut. My favorite thing on the menu is their fire-roasted jalapeños stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with ancho cilantro dipping sauce, which pairs perfectly with their freshly-brewed Jalapeño Pepper Ale.
Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery | Flossmoor
Voted Small Brewpub Company and Small Brewpub Company Brewer of the Year in 2006 at the Great American Beer Festival, Flossmoor carries the train theme throughout the menu and décor. A few standout dishes include the Roundhouse Beer-B-Que Ribs, City of Miami Beer Shrimp (battered using their Station Master Wheat Ale) and Brew Kettle Chili that is slow cooked with their Panama Ltd. Red Ale. Besides brewing their own beer, they also make old-fashioned ice cream at the Caboose Ice Cream Shop, which is a remodeled train car on the front lawn.
Brickstone Restaurant & Brewery | Bourbonnais
Brickstone’s chef offers pairing suggestions like their Golden Promise English IPA with the creole tilapia that’s topped with a cream sauce, shrimp udon noodles tossed with chicken in a sweet thai chili sauce paired with Irish Red Ale and the Forbidden Wheat with the Southwest chicken rolls. Brickstone serves appetizers with components from their own garden and nearby regional producers like house-made pickles, homemade French bread and Marcoot Jersey Creamery cave-aged cheeses.
Kristen Kuchar, author of Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue, is a writer and editor that is fortunate enough to cover her greatest interests: travel, food, and craft beer. The Chicago native recently returned from a twenty-one state culinary and beer road trip where her passion in both increased even more. She is also a member of the Pink Boots Society.