Acton Eats: Tailgaters Grille
166 Great Road
In January, Clinton firefighter Dean Weeks saw his dreams go up in smoke when he responded to a four-alarm fire at his own restaurant, a sports bar that went by the name of Tailgaters Grille. But Weeks had the opportunity to make a fresh start, as he already had a second location in the works. That second location, on Route 2A in Acton, opened in early April.
The new Tailgaters Grille can be found in the building previously occupied by Ichabod's. And though the restaurant looks much the same on the outside, the inside has been completely renovated. While the interior is still split into two areas, the top of the wall that divides the rooms has been removed, giving it more of an open feel. Bricks have been added for added warmth.
A large new bar in the main room has rounded appendages in the corners that stick out like Mickey Mouse ears. If you're not sure if you want to sit at the bar or a table, you can have the best of both worlds.
And, as it is a sports bar, wide screen televisions line walls on the bar side, while two more sets hang in the corners of the dining side. My family and I visited on a Sunday afternoon in May, and the sets were tuned to the Indy 500 qualifiers, a billiards trick shot competition, and the Canucks/Sharks playoff game. All of the booths in the dining area were full, and there was a decent crowd at the bar, despite the fact that no Boston sports teams were in action.
Should you not find any of the programs to your liking (or if you want to actually hear the play-by-play), each booth also has a small TV. The remote used by the family at the next table kept changing the channel on our set, but that was a minor problem. And that conflict went away when the hockey game ended and the two televisions in the dining area were switched to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Yes, Tailgaters is also a family-friendly place.
While the food often plays second fiddle at a sports bar, the menu at Tailgaters is quite extensive, going well beyond burgers and sandwiches. Appetizers include clam chowder, quesadillas, nachos, and bacon wrapped scallops, and you can find a plethora of salads, from Cobb and Caesar to those topped with chicken, shrimp, or steak. Entrees include steaks and seafood, and many have names that go along with the sports theme, such as the "hat trick," which consists of spaghetti, garlic toast, and three meatballs. Specials on this particular day included a fried seafood platter and a clam roll. The menu also warns that a six-pound burger called the Tower of Terror is coming soon.
We started our early dinner with the wings sampler ($14), which consisted of 16 huge wing segments, four each of teriyaki, honey, barbecue, and Buffalo style. All were drowning in sauce, so we went through the ample stack of napkins our waitress had given us and had to ask for another. Carrot and celery sticks also came with the platter, along with a small dish of blue cheese dressing.
An order of about eight jalapeno poppers ($7) consisted of half peppers stuffed with cheddar and coated in a crunchy breading. A basket of sweet potato fries ($4) were cut fairly thick. They were good, but a thinner cut would have made them crisper.
Our son also got a steak and cheese sandwich ($9), which contained thinly sliced steak, cheddar cheese, grilled onions and peppers, and bacon. He got his burger with a side of crispy, flaky onion rings for an extra $2.
All of our food was fairly tasty. Some things could have been served hotter with the exception of the poppers, which had plenty of melted cheese to hold the heat.
But on to the important stuff. Tailgaters has a couple dozen beers on tap.
I had a nice Guinness ($5.50 for a 20-ounce glass), while my wife decided to try Tailgaters own lager ($4.50 for a large mug). The lager was similar to Budweiser or similar mass-marketed brands, but it tasted fresh.
Again, kids are not left out of the mix, as Tailgaters even carries their own label sodas. Our son had the raspberry lime ($2).
The restaurant is starting to add some special nights to the calendar. Children eat for free, off the kids menu, on Sundays, while a darts league is slated to take over Monday nights.
Tailgaters Grille fills a definite niche in the Acton restaurant scene, especially with the demise of JoJo's/Johnny Ray's in nearby Maynard. The food is nothing fancy, but it's a good place to hang out and watch the game.
Just beware that the prices are not exactly cheap. You could find your wallet empty if the game goes to extra innings.
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