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.
Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage’s tearoom wouldn’t be out of place in a Victorian dollhouse: delicate fine china teapots, fresh flowers, and doilies dot lace-covered pink tablecloths. Vines creep up mint-green walls and heavy wooden columns, and sunlight pours through picture windows. This ultra-dainty tearoom is ideal for afternoons spent sipping black, green, and herbal teas and nibbling freshly baked scones and finger sandwiches. It also serves up heartier housemade dishes that often feature organic, local ingredients, including vegetarian black-bean burgers and gluten-free fig, spinach, and gorgonzola pizzas.
In addition to hosting daily tea parties, Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage serves as a welcoming community hub where acoustic musicians gather to serenade patrons. Local artists display jewelry and paintings in the front room and, on some evenings, even attract craftsters and lost kittens by teaching knitting classes on the front porch.
Ski's provides a flavorful foray into authentic, Polish-American edible delights with a variety of hearty comfort food. Feel free to solicit the culinary advice of the friendly servers as you scan the menu. The golden-brown sauerkraut balls ($5.99, lunch) are deep-fried concoctions of diced ham and sweet and sour cabbage that create an accordion concerto in your digestive music hall and act as a delectable lead-in to the Chicken a la Ski Bake ($8.99 lunch, $10.99 dinner) and its cheese and cream flow atop mashed potatoes, vegetables, and chicken. Sample the family-recipe potato pancakes ($5.99 lunch, $7.99 dinner) or colonize a mound of mashed potatoes and gravy with a juicy kielbasa sausage ($7.99 lunch, $11.99 dinner).
The culinary wizards at Sidelines cook up hearty helpings of pub grub that patrons can discover on the extensive menu. Limber chomping muscles for a marathon meal with starters such as zesty battered and fried pub pickles ($5.79) or garbage fries, a savory mélange of bacon, tomatoes, and jalapenos lounging atop a bed of waffle fries and blanketed in melted mozzarella and cheddar cheeses ($7.59). The selection of five pizzas allows diners to indulge their craving for a disk without having to endure the gamey texture of a frisbee. Table visitors can also wrap tongues around the Porkzilla sandwich, staffed by grilled ham, slow-cooked pulled pork, and bacon ($8.99), or munch on the Knock-Out burger, a bunless wonder that packs the space between two grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and a half-pound steak burger patty ($9.79). Feel free to lubricate a parched palate by sipping one of the beers cascading from the Sidelines tap, such as Labatt, Killian's, and Blue Moon.
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.
In the age of convenience, Pitasub Express sets itself apart by inviting diners to completely customize healthy build-your-own meals, made from fresh ingredients and slow-cooked, authentic meats. Beginning with the foundation of either a pita or a bowl, cooks pile gyro, falafel, kafta, tawook, or beef shawarma beneath toppings such as grilled veggies, brown rice, and tomatoes. Next, creations are drizzled with or dropped like a cannonball into special garlic sauce or cucumber sauce. A variety of sides are also available, such as tangy grape leaves, creamy hummus, and fresh greek and fatoush salads.