Tribes Ale House: Great Beer and Food in Chicago’s South Suburbs

After Tribes Ale House was in the running for the best beer bar in the region by, the suburban restaurant and bar moved to the top of my list on places to try. With a menu filled with well-prepared comfort foods and an impressive tap list, it is no wonder why there are two locations. The Tinley Park location, opened since 2012, sits 30 miles Southwest of Chicago. Just a few miles passed that, is the original Mokena location, which has been open since 2009. Both are successfully proving that you can get good  food and even better beer without leaving the South suburbs.

You’ll find approximately 40 beers on tap and even more in bottles and cans, many of which are of the more elusive variety. The beer is the anchor of the restaurant with many events devoted to tap releases and brewery takeovers.


Since both the beer and the food are held to the highest of standards, a thorough beer and food pairing  guide is given on the menu to help you choose the best brew to compliment your food. Here is a brief description of the suggestions offered:

Light seafood, spicy foods, leafy greens, salads and chicken paired with Cream Ale, Blond Ales, Ciders, Pilsner, Pale Lager, Vienna Lager and Bock.

Cured meats, crab, mussels, salads, flatbreads, spicy foods, crab, mussels and lobster paired with Hefeweizen, Belgian Blond Ale, Saison, Tripel, Belgian Dark Ale, Weizenbock, and Sweet Fruit Beers

Game meats, fruit desserts, clams, oysters and funky cheeses paired with Lambic, Wild Ale, Flemish Ale and Imperial Pilsner

Aged and hard cheeses, fried foods, beef and bison burgers, elk and venison paired with American Amber Ale, American Imperial Red, American Barleywine, Bitter, English Pale Ale, English India Pale Ale, Belgian IPA, American Fresh Hop Ale and American IPA

Bleu cheese, cured meats, seared pork, poultry, game, dessert, barbecue and root vegetables paired with Brown Ale, Dunkel, Dopplebock, English Barleywine, Black IPA, Imperial Stout and Scotch Ale

You can put the pairing guide to good use while navigating the menu. You’ll find the expected pub-style food such as fish and chips, macaroni and cheese with pancetta, beer cheese and bacon soup, chicken wings, artichoke and goat cheese dip, fried pickles and more. Mixed in, you’ll find some upscale options including a bourbon-maple glazed Atlantic salmon, filet mignon and Belgian mussels, with while ale, shallots, celery, fennel and thyme.

Any restaurant that has a separate category for poutine is alright with me. If you’ve never had a poutine yet, it is a decadent dish borrowed from our Canadian neighbors. Essentially, it is fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. I opted for the Quebec Poutine, which consisted of hand cut fries topped with a savory and flavorful veal gravy and cheese curds that quickly melted with the heat of the gravy. I look forward to trying the other varieties – Bleu Belly, with pork belly, mushrooms and bleu cheese or the Mexican, topped with steak, jalapenos, tomato gravy, curds, Chihauhua cheese and poblano peppers.

TRIBES Poutine

Tribes was featured on an episode of Chicago’s Best for “Best Burger”. But in addition to the traditional beef and turkey, you’ll also find bison, elk and chicken. After you choose your patty, you can customize how it’s prepared. Santa Fe is with a roasted corn and tomato relish, guacamole, and chipotle ale, and the Pig & Goat is pancetta, goat cheese and caramelized onions.

The rest of the menu consists of comfort, classics but done with a twist. The pork belly  BLT, adds braised pork belly to Applewood bacon, a fried egg, roasted tomato and is served on focaccia. Bison sloppy joes, New England style lobster roll and crab cake lobster roll are just a few other selections.

Reuban at Tribes

Sandwiches range from a Cuban, turkey and brie and my personal favorite, a reuben on marbled rye with tender, salty, nicely flavored corned beef topped with a tangy sauerkraut with Marie Rose.

Tribes Mokena, 11220 W. Lincoln Hwy., Mokena, IL 60448, (815-464-0248)

Tribes Tinley Park, 9501 West 171st St., Tinley Park, IL 60477, (708-966-2051)

About Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar, author of Mac n' Cheese to the Rescue, is a food, travel, and beer writer based in Chicago. She contributes to Draft Magazine, Craft, Brewing News, and many other notable publications. When she's not writing, editing, or cooking, she's traveling the country with her husband visiting breweries and checking out the best places to grab a beer on the road.