The Illini Inn is a bar located at the corner of Fourth Street and Daniel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This was one of my most favorite bars, because it offers in large quantity two of my most favorite things, those being beer and pinball. The selection of beer is of course standard, however the owners of the Illini Inn kept the bar stocked with five of the latest Bally or Williams pinball games. When a new one appeared on the market, the Illini Inn would have it. I first played Cirqus Voltaire there, as well as Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars.

Indeed, Bonnie Jean's, above the Inn, was quite a fine pizza place. When it was 20 below 0 outside, it wasn't that far of a walk from Sherman Hall across the street for some dinner.

I suppose now that Williams and Bally are out of the pinball business, the Inn is much less entertaining these days.

The Illini Inn is much more than a place for pinball and beer. It is a small and intimate bar, where most patrons are regulars. Perhaps the thing that the Illini Inn is most known for is the Illini Mug Club. This is a club that anyone can join. The initiation consists of:

1) Pay $6
2) Sign your name in the register to get assigned your number and sign your member card
3) The bartender ringing the bell and announcing that "We have a new mug club member!"
4) Chug one 20 oz. beer and the bartender rings the bell again once you finishing chugging your beer
5) The bartender asks you what your number is, and then you get another 20 oz. beer to drink at your own pace

They keep your member card behind the counter. Every domestic beer in a mug is $2 and imports are $3. You have to remember your number at the end of the night, otherwise, you'll have to join again.

Another distinctive aspect of the Illini Inn is the amount of graffiti everywhere. Almost every square inch is covered in somebody's initals, a message, a poem or doodles. The cover all of the walls, the bar, part of the ceiling, the bathrooms. . .everywhere. It's a unique history of its patrons. There are a lot of license plates and police patches since there is a police training institute very close to the Inn.

There is also a great pizza place directly above the Illini Inn. It is called Bonnie Jean's and it has the best thin crust pizza. Bonnie Jean's also has very good calzones and various other things on the menu. I would recommend having a mug or two first, then calling upstairs and ordering a large pepperoni pizza and then continue drinking your beer of choice. It is an experience that can't be beat.

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