Several months ago, after a long, wonderful day at Clinton Lake, my husband and I were hungry, and more importantly, thirsty for a beer. We drove to the town square of Clinton, Illinois and stumbled upon Snapper’s, a casual sports bar and grill. We sat at the bar, shared a meal, enjoyed cold beers, and had a lovely conversation with the owner. After our first encounter, I knew I wanted to come back and review without the cloud of all-day-hike-hunger sitting in my belly.
For my second go-around, I brought along a small group of Champaign-Urbana natives who had never been to this popular Clinton establishment. We arrived on a beautiful Thursday evening to a packed outdoor patio (that’s pet friendly), so we grabbed a table inside. A server warmly and quickly greeted our table. We had a round of waters and an appetizer order placed within five minutes.
For a Thursday evening in a smaller town, Snapper’s had a decent-sized crowd, and I’m guessing many regulars based on the cheerfulness and camaraderie at the bar. It can be hard to judge the patron number, because the inside is huge. It’s got a typical sports bar vibe, with a large bar, lots of high top tables, and stools. The back area has lower tables and an attached side room that looks perfect for hosting a group event. The music is kept low, which is much appreciated when trying to catch up with family. Food is cooked in an open-air area at the bar, but none of us noticed that distinct grill smell on us when we left.
Let’s get to the literal meat and potatoes: The menu boasts a large and eclectic selection of burgers, beef, and chicken sandwiches. There is a small salad section, traditional and boneless chicken wings, and the usual pub appetizer fare (onion rings, cheese sticks, pickle fries, mini corn dogs, etc.). Oh, and I won’t forget to mention the boats of bacon you can get: they come ranging from five to twenty pieces.
On staff recommendation, we started with the tantalizers with a side of ranch ($5.29). They came out golden-fried, hot, and delicious. Each bite is filled with potato, cheese, and jalapeño. For those averse to spice, no worries, the jalapeño provides the pepper flavor, but the cheese overload keeps the spice at bay.
We got a round of drinks; Snapper’s has a large craft beer selection on draft, including rotations from Two Doors Down Brewery, located...two doors down from Snapper’s. House wine was $4 and craft beer averaged $6.
Two in our group ordered burgers: the original burger ($4.49) and seeing double ($5.99). The original comes with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion. Seeing Double is an original: just double the meat patty and double the cheese. You can add a hearty portion of crispy bacon for an extra $1.69. Served on buttered, toasted buns, the beef was grilled to perfection. The carnivores declared it had been one of the best burgers they’d had in awhile, and definitely the best meal of the day. Both opted for a side of crinkle fries ($1.79), which paired nicely with the cheesy, juicy burger.
The chicken aficionado of the group had to try the Fergie ($7.99) a hoagie-style bun packed with spicy popcorn chicken, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. It was a hefty portion size, almost shareable. Again, not too spicy, but enough to come through and pair well with the dairy components. The bread was warm, fresh, and a wonderful bed for the crisp chicken. The veggies on top, and in the side salad ($3.59) ordered by one, were garden-fresh. The last meal was simple: the grilled cheese add tomato ($4.29). Bread selections included white, wheat, rye, and sourdough. To feel like a grown up, I recommend getting the sourdough. The American cheese was oozing out, and you could not take a bite without getting cheese and sweet, summer tomato.
Snapper's offers good bar food. There was care and finesse on each grilled component. Nothing was over- or under-cooked. The presentation of the Fergie was high-end dining worthy. There is a warning sign near the bar that says they cook everything fresh and to order, so expect to wait 15+ minutes for food. It's well worth the wait.
303 S Side Square
M-Sa 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Su noon to midnight
Photos by Jordan Goebig