Plenty of seating, casual music, moderately-priced beer and great sandwiches: Gene’s Place doesn’t leave a bar-goer wanting much.
Like a night out with good friends, a Saturday night in Rockford could bring with it just about anything. Yet, walking into Gene’s Place, located near the corner of Harrison and South Alpine, a person feels comfortable and relaxed. The spacious dinery gives folk the choice to grab a table near pool tables or slot machines, and the array of bottles stacked nicely behind the handsome bar invites everyone in the party to stay for another round.
One could argue that the bartenders hold Gene’s Place’s greatest strength in their hands. Not only do they provide quick and friendly service, but they also, in keeping with the atmosphere of the bar itself, emanate the sense that one could order any sort of mixed drink he/she desires. That said, there’s little doubt Gene’s Place is primarily a beer place; on an average night, they have about eight beers on tap and an assortment of bottles. Really looking for a deal? Scoot on over to Gene’s Place in time for their $3.75 mug special. Depending on the company you keep, you may not need more than one or two of these enormous tankers to last a stretch of quality bartalk.
And should you need some grub to soak up all that beer, Gene’s Place has you covered. A decidedly expansive menu for a bar offers mostly classic choices, ranging from appetizers to sandwiches. The coleslaw and BBQ sauce-topped Pulled Pork sandwich arrived to the corner of the bar nestled snugly into a bed of hot, thick french fries. Licking his fingers in the Pulled Pork’s great juicy aftermath, my meat-eating boyfriend pronounced the succulent stacker to be the best pork sandwich he has ever eaten. We can both vouch for the fries. Next time, we will definitely need to order an extra basket.
Vegetarians will have a hard time finding a full meal at Gene’s Place, but as far as snacky-bar food goes, the menu offers plenty of appetizer options. In fact, most of the appetizers, namely the Quesadillas, Fried Portabella Mushrooms, or Fried Green Beans, are hearty enough to tide peckish herbivores (and meat-lovers, too!) over for a few hours. A simple order of chips and salsa could easily be shared between two or three people who want something salty to munch on through the night. Also on the horizon for a future visit is a sampling of the intriguing and pub-classic Pretzel Balls.
As an added bonus, Gene’s Place always has something fun planned. Various days of the week will bring trivia (prizes for the winners!), karaoke, or one of several regular DJs. What’s most important is that the bar’s management keeps both Gene’s Place’s website and Facebook page updated, so potential patrons can know what to expect before they arrive. Feeling lucky? Head there on Money Monday, and you may head home with a little more in your pocket than you had when you arrived (unless you decide to treat everyone at the bar to the next round, which would be very kind of you indeed).
All in all, Gene’s Place is the best place in Rockford to go for a chill, amenable night out with friends. A few steps above a sports bar, though not ritzy enough to sneer at those of us who are fundamentally interested in the awesome happy hour promotions, Gene’s Place is both unassuming and familiar, cool and neighborly.
Rating: nine out of ten delightfully-oversized mugs of ice-cold domestic beer.