By Tracy Jacks

Bar food is taken to another flavorful level within these distinctive confines.

It’s no secret that our downtown plaza is FULL of entertainment, food, and nightlife options. But one of the most storied fun spots in Rock Island actually sits a few blocks off the downtown plaza.

Once upon a time, the building at 2130 3rd Avenue was a synagogue. For a brief time, it was the sports bar 3rd & 22. But since 2011, we’ve known it as its best incarnation yet: Rooster’s Sports Bar & Grill.

Since 2014, Rooster’s has been in the capable hands of Jeff Lam, Sr. and his wife Beth. It’s their first restaurant venture and a welcome addition to the Rock Island landscape.

Jeff’s uncle used to own a Chinese restaurant in East St. Louis called House of Lam. That’s where he was first exposed to the food & beverage industry. From that point on, having a restaurant was always on the table. Jeff knew the previous owners of Rooster’s (Troy and Laura Green). “We loved the space, and when they decided to sell, we made the transition without even closing for one day”, said Lam.

With the Lam’s ownership came a new and expanded menu, offering a classic bar menu with a twist. “We consulted heavily with Chef Mike Smith right out the gate,” explains Lam.

“We take classic sandwiches and bar food and elevate it with twists and extra ingredients.” For instance, Rooster’s take on a simple Cuban sandwich involves 4 oz. of homemade thick cut bacon with 4 oz. of smoked pulled pork served up with thick sliced pickles and mustard on ciabatta bread and paired with a generous helping of fresh cut fries.

Their version of a Philly cheesesteak mixes a 1/2-pound burger with a 1/4-pound ribeye and 2 types of melted cheese with onions and peppers. The difference, Lam says, is Rooster’s commitment to homemade grub.

“We make our own tenderloins, cut them, and pound them down,” says Lam. “Our smoked pulled pork is homemade, as are our hand-cut fries. Jeff Jr. came up with our homemade hot and mild and barbecue sauces.”

The show-stoppers of the menu, though, will always be Rooster’s burgers and wings. Its not your average sports bar that offers burger toppings like avocado, chicken skin, fried eggs, bacon jam, ghost chile cheese, and mustard aioli.
But it’s not just the food that brings customers to Rooster’s. Rooster’s features outdoor volleyball on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That’s in addition to their men’s and women’s dart leagues.

On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Rooster’s comes alive with bookings from area DJs like Flood 93’s DJ K Yung. The upstairs at Rooster’s is available for private parties with a myriad of catering options. Sundays feature 75 cent wings, dollar tacos, and $5.00 domestic pitchers.

The next time you need a night out, elevate your evening at Rock Island’s sports bar with a twist. One visit might be all it takes to turn you into a Rooster’s regular. You can visit them on Facebook at @roosterssbg to keep up with the latest menu items and happenings, or call 309-283-7005 to inquire about private party booking options.