Chasers Sports Bar and Grill in the Northwest Chicago suburb of Niles (see map) is one of those surprising places that I've found out about within the past few months. Surprising in that the food is actually pretty good for a sports bar, including their pizza which is some of the best in a city that has world class pizza all over. I was first turned on to Chasers by the guys from Abt Electronics last fall and I have now been there about five or six times over the past few months.
Chasers originally opened about 20 years ago and quickly became THE destintation to watch sports on TV soon thereafter. Chasers has over two dozen flat panel televisions and two large projections televisions - one in the main dining room as you walk in and the other in the little dance club toward the back. If there's a game on, they have it.
Their menu is typical sports bar food - sandwiches, appetizers, burgers, and salads. They also feature a number of sub sandwiches - or "authentic East Coast grinders" - and Greek specialties such as gyros, saganaki and spinach pie. And, as I said, the food is surprisingly good. Especially their chicken wings and pizza.
I'm not a huge chicken wings fan, but I have to say that the wings at Chasers are some of the best I've ever had. The wings are big and meaty, juicy and not overcooked. They are offered plain, or with a mild or hot sauce. They also feature barbecue sauce chicken wings and an over-the-top hot sauce they call "Ay Carumba!" You can order the wings either in lots of 10 or 18, or for a couple bucks more per order you can get small chicken drumsticks instead of wings. I've had both the mild and hot sauce chicken wings. While I wouldn't call the hot sauce all that hot, it has more of a peppery taste to it.
We stopped into Chasers after the Iowa/Northwestern football game last fall to get a little something to eat and to watch some football. I got an order of chicken wings - mild - thinking that someone would help me eat them. No one else did and I think I had about seven before I got to a point where I was full. You don't get cheated on the chicken wings at Chasers. They're a meal in themselves.
But the biggest surprise at Chasers is the pizza. It's a thin crust pizza, loaded with mozzarella and plentiful toppings. They use the big chunks of Italian sausage on their pizza at Chasers, and the vegetable toppings are all fresh. It's a very good pizza.
I first had their pizza last fall when I met up with a bunch of guys from Abt Electronics after an in-store event they were having. One of the veterans from Abt, Brian, was telling me about Chasers and how good the pizza was. I had a piece of just a basic pepperoni pizza when I got there and I was absolutely floored by the taste. The tomato sauce was tangy and sweet. The cheese was perfectly caramelized on top and the crust was thin, but not too thin where the slice would droop under the weight of the toppings and cheese. I've been back two more times since then and had the pizza and I have to say that I'm overly impressed with Chasers pizza. Sure, there are a number of sports bars that feature pizza, but I've not found a similar place that has as good of a pizza as Chasers. Chasers pizza is better than some pizza joints I've visited in the Chicago area. And that says a lot about their pizza!
The only caveat about the pizza at Chaser's is that they use canned chopped mushrooms instead of fresh chopped mushrooms. They have sort of an earthy taste to them and can almost overwhelm the taste of the fennel sausage and pepperoni. But it's definitely not a deal breaker by a long shot.
I also want to point out that the service at Chasers is pretty damn good. The young waitresses are on top of things, friendly and overly attentive to your needs. And they're pretty quick at bringing a cold beer to the table after you order one.
After nine p.m. on some weekends, the back room turns into a dance room and the age skews well under 30 in the place. It can get pretty loud in the place - as well as pretty crowded. Dance clubs that play urban music aren't quite my scene and I prefer to be out of there soon after the music starts. I've never cared for places that play loud music when you're trying to carry on a conversation with friends without having to scream above the music level. However, on nights when there are UFC fights being telecast, Chasers shuts down the dance floor and cranks up the big screens to show the fights.
Chasers is also one of the few places in the NW suburbs that is open to 4 a.m. and their kitchen is open until 3 a.m. Maybe a few years ago that may have been a good selling point for me, but I'm long past my urges for late night carousing. Plus, as I've heard many times, not a lot of good happens after 2 a.m. But Chasers has an ample staff of bouncers to help keep the peace from any alchohol-fueled incidents that may arise.
But, to me, sports and the pizza is the draw for Chasers. The wings are excellent, the pizza is outstanding and if you can't find a game to watch at Chasers, well, then it just ain't on. Throw in some excellent service and cold beer and you've got a good sports bar to hang at in Northwest Chicago.