Every morning at City Limits Diner and Pancake House begins the same way: the staff unlocks the doors at 6 a.m. and regulars eventually file into their partitioned booths for steaming coffee and homestyle diner classics. Alternating between breakfast and lunch like a picnic on the International Date Line, the cooks fill their griddles with eggs and regular or multigrain pancakes before stirring pots of homemade soups and chili. The extensive menu embraces comfort foods from around the world, placing gyros and crepes alongside American classics such as freshly grilled hamburgers and biscuits with sausage gravy.
Though the chefs at Dan's Downtown Tavern adeptly craft pub classics such as pulled-pork sandwiches and award-winning chili, the core of their menu remains 25 custom burgers. Made with ground beef from Knights Market, the 1/3- and 1/4-pound patties arrive topped with traditional and unorthodox ingredients, from house-made beer-BBQ sauce to peanut butter. The Saline and Clinton bars brim with 36 and 19 different beers, respectively, and emptied taps decorate each tavern’s exposed brick walls.
Below rows of spigots, dartboards invite friendly competition and flat-screen TVs broadcast the latest sports. Patrons can also wander outside to the patio, where red and green umbrellas will protect them from the sun's rays and the moon’s ability to turn everything it shines on to cheese.
Chili Jack’s Original Chili Mac’ wasn't the first to serve chili mac, but they are certainly one of the best. The eatery has earned recognition from the The Blade food critic for resurrecting the long-lost dish. Although chili mac is the star of the show, classically prepared hot dogs and sausages make up a full menu. Dog recipes draw influences from around the world, with recipes such as German bratwurst with sauerkraut and all-beef Chicago dogs with authentic fixin's: yellow mustard, green relish, and sport peppers grown in the end zone of Soldier Field.
The scents of sugar and spices waft from the doors of Syd’s Bakery, evoking in lucky passersby memories of childhood birthday parties and trips to Grandma’s house. This scrumptious perfume is the byproduct of recipes developed in the kitchens of Hungary, Russia, and Poland—recipes that continue to earn new fans with each bite of the bakery’s cookies, tea cakes, and coffee cakes. Sitting on racks beside their Old World brethren, more than a dozen styles of classic American cookies teem with mix-ins such as chocolate chunks, peanut butter, and coconut flakes. Hand-rolled raised donuts also line the shelves, their insides brimming with colorful jams but not a gram of trans fat.
The bakers flex their artistic muscles when constructing cakes, which range from 6-inch rounds to full sheets that serve up to 90 wedding or graduation-party guests. When customizing cakes for special occasions, customers may choose from six icings, 12 fillings, and more than 20 swirlable cake flavors, which range from milk chocolate to pink champagne. An edible image or hand-drawn greeting makes each cake both tasty and informative, like a pie chart made of real pie.
Back in 1957 when Marie and Joseph "Jo-Jo" Hashim founded Jo Jo's Original Pizza, they decided to concoct original recipes for their breads, crusts, and housemade sauce. Fifty years later, most of these savory instructions are still in use, guiding chefs as they craft traditional pies as well as Jo Jo's specialty hawaiian and taco pizzas. Run today by Marie and Joseph's descendants, Jo Jo's rounds out its menu with other classic Italian fare, including housemade lasagna, pastas, and subs.