The skilled chefs at Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe whip up burritos, enchiladas, and sizzling fajitas to fill an extensive menu of south-of-the-border cuisine. Diners push aside still-steaming nacho and quesadilla starters as a waiter approaches, arms meticulously stacked with plates of enchiladas and burritos ($8.99–$9.99 each). Chefs slather spinach and mushroom enchiladas in butter garlic sauce, and the burro en fuego specialty burrito befuddles meat detectors by burying contraband shredded beef and spicy chili sauce deep inside a warm flour tortilla. Diners can also look over a gluten-free menu to bite into enchiladas and fajitas prepared on corn tortillas as, in the kitchen, blenders buzz up pomegranate and strawberry frozen margaritas into salt-rimmed glasses for frozen fruit consumption without fear of stuck tongue.
Papa Murphy’s pizza eschews monarchical store baking and provides fresh, high-quality pies for customers to enjoy on their own terms. Every pizza on the menu is made to order and whipped together in moments by artisan dough-throwers, who slather on a groundwork of sauce and cheese and then construct leaning towers of harmonized toppings. Stuffed pizzas sandwich a slew of meat and veggies between two layers of dough in a tasty Windy City tribute ($12.99–$14.99) and gourmet pizzas such as the Papa’s Favorite feature traditional red sauce and smorgasbord of meat and veggie pie packers ($11.99–$13.99). A cornucopia of thin-crust pizzas can be loaded with one of four different sauces, including traditional marinara and herb tomato ($5.99–$11.99). With detailed instructions provided for baking, grilling, or laser blasting your personalized pizza at home, Papa Murphy’s lets you finally reclaim culinary sovereignty from the dictatorial delivery boy.
Inspired by trips to the state's northwestern lakes, Okoboji Grill conjures the wayfaring spirit of summer vacation with hearty American comfort food. Chefs marinate chicken strips in beer before hand-breading them in a secret blend of spices, crown crispy onion strings with Iowa-raised pork chops, and stack thin-sliced meats into towering club sandwiches and edible replicas of the Chrysler Building. Okoboji Grill also culls recipes from international cuisines, adding an American take to greek gyros, housemade tzatziki sauce, and italian bruschetta and pastas.
Tutored in the ways of cookie craftwork, Cookies, etc.'s team of bakers bend batter to their will to bake a variety of tantalizing treats from scratch using tested family recipes. Take the echo out of lonely cookie jars with a lid- and taste bud-lifting dozen baked discs in any combination of six flavors. The chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie settles exponential cocoa cravings by embedding milk-chocolate chips into a chewy brownie circle, and the pecan-chocolate-chip cookie infuses a nutborne crunch to please textural tasters. Cookies, etc.'s Frankenstein refreshment fabricators have harnessed all the powers of edible science to assemble the monster cookie, a rich blend of crunchy peanut butter and oatmeal dough packed with M&M'S and chocolate chips.
From its unexpected burger toppings to its funky decor, Oddfellow’s Burger Kitchen is chock-full of character. The all-American menu, which is festooned with cartoon Elvis silhouettes and a colorful hippie van, features quirky items, such as pasta dishes tossed in peanut butter and barbecue sauce, and starters including an “ice cold can” of PBR. And as the eatery's name suggests, the specialty here is burgers—15 of them to be exact—and despite the playful names and wacky topping combinations, the restaurant takes its creations seriously. Every day, the staff grinds its own beef in house, hand-forms each third-pound patty, and bakes fresh buns in order to build burgers such as The Ring of Fire, which packs the heat with hot sauce, jalapeños, and a Cajun spice rub. The Crabby burger features lump crab and garlic aioli, and the bacon-and-cheese-topped Oddfellow burger is sandwiched between housemade glazed donuts. Guests can substitute a grilled salmon breast, a grilled chicken breast, or a veggie burger, or add another beef patty for $3.
Owned by an intrepid pair of dough-spinning brothers, Jeff's Pizza Shop is a haven for delicious, quickly prepared Italian-American cuisine. Patrons can design trillions of custom pizzas using the five pie sizes and an ample toppings list or choose a specialty creation such as a 12-inch Cordon chicken ($13.49), which mixes rich ham with chicken strips and dumps the meaty medley over a thin crust stippled with alfredo sauce and honey mustard. Diners diagnosed with meat-deficiency syndrome can wrap their lips around a 14-inch Farmer Frank and all its ham, ground beef, bacon, bison meat, and extra cheese ($15.99), and vegetarians can indulge in the self-explanatory spinach, havarti, and artichoke pie ($10.69/10") paired with Sprecher's root beer ($1.69). Jeff's menu delves deep into baked savories beyond pizza, heaving hot, hefty calzones ($4.99+), toasted subs ($5.79), and thick cuts of saucy lasagna ($5.99) directly into mouths before they can apologize for taking small bites out of all the breadsticks ($2.99/side).