Two restaurants that make me feel like a local on a night out are Caboose Smokehouse in Bloomington and Tom's Grill in Decatur. They share a lot of features including an exterior that makes you say, "We're gonna eat here?!?" and a dim interior dominated by a bar.
Tom's Grill looks like any rough and tumble package liquor from Main Street. But park in back and walk through the hallway plastered in family photos and you'll discover one of the most unique dining experiences in D-town. For starters it's got an old school mobster feel to the red leather booths and they bring an appetizer set up to the table with pickled beets. B and I were unsure what to make of this the first time. I usually order a steak there and it's really good. It's not overly seasoned (unlike Roadhouse's salty steaks) and always cooked to order (if you order rare it will truly be rare, not medium rare). Once I got the prime rib on special and it was really good too.
The Caboose Smokehouse lives up to it's advertisements, "Hard to find, easy to love." It is way off the beaten track in a residential area west of Illinois Weslyan. It's prettier than Tom's from the outside and you can smell the smoker a block away. Inside it is also a dimly lit bar with great meals. Last time B and I went we were both pleased with every aspect of the meal, especially the steak and ribs, and could have stayed and played darts all night. It would be a fun place to see live music, which they have every week.