The neon lights and bright colors at Grande Jake’s Authentic Mexican Grill’s three Chicago-area hubs hint at the menu’s dedication to spicy eats. Chefs scoop grilled steak, chorizo, and chicken into burritos, then douse them in melted chihuahua cheese and salsa ranchera. Homemade tamales burst with pork or chicken, and the pollo asada al carbon tops a 12-ounce char-grilled chicken breast with mole or green sauce. Refried beans, spanish rice, and chips serve as supporting actors to entrees, and the creamy Mexican-style custard in flan finishes dinners more sweetly than a dinner mint delivered by a troupe of newborn kittens.
Snap Fitness, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneakers to treadmills or lift their first weights, staff meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting personalized fitness plans based on clients' strength, cardio condition, and bionic-limb manufacturers. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthful eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists. Staff also forestall exercise-routine boredom by working individually with clients on a routine basis.
The horseback lesson takes place at Sunflower Farms, which boasts 170 acres of pristine wooded lakefront farmland, ideal for galloping horses and running a mildly successful Internet business. Start the two-hour session with an hour-long ground lesson that helps riders get to know their horses, covers the basics of riding equipment, and teaches horse-grooming methods. Once riders feel comfortable enough around a horse to not be overwhelmed with the desire to challenge it to a staring contest, they'll saddle up and ride for a full hour, outfitted with a certified helmet from Saddlers Row. Sunflower Farms instructors will work with riders of any skill level, from beginner to competition level.
Jimano's Pizzeria's deft dough-tossers craft homemade crusts, succulent sauces, and pies layered with fresh ingredients for an oven-fresh menu of Chicago-style pizzas. Top a thin-crust cheese pizza ($15.80 for a 16") or piñata-pack a pan-baked deep-dish cheese pizza ($17.95 for a 16") with a panoply of ingredients, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, or pineapple ($2.10 per ingredient for a 16" pizza), ensuring that modest pizzas don't have to arrive at the table undressed. Cooks also create stacked delights such as the italian beef ($5.85) or the crispy buffalo chicken sandwich ($5.99); baby back ribs ($16.99 for a full slab, $14.99 for a half slab) offer carnivorous sustenance coated in a homemade St. Louis–style barbecue sauce. The pizzeria's famed bread sticks ($3.99) satisfy carb cravings alongside a slew of pasta dishes, which arrive with sides of saucy banter and cheesy dialogue.
When not busy tending future landscape champs culled from their lush greenhouse plants, Floral Acres' florists furnish stunning floral arrangements. Make a lasting ocular impression with the Delightfully Daisy bouquet, as lavender competes with daisy spray chrysanthemums for face time from the see-through confines of a clear, glass bubble bowl ($29.99+). A vase of white and yellow daisies ushers in upcoming solstices bedecked with a cheery yellow ribbon ($29.99). Floral Acres supplies the flowered greenery for myriad occasions, commemorating milestones ranging from a sister’s new baby to a brother’s new Burger Time high score with specially designed displays.
As the sun sets over Antioch every Wednesday night, most people are thinking about going to bed; that’s not the case at Port of Blarney. Instead, a captain is firing up his boat for the weekly sunset cruise, which departs from the eatery’s 8-acre stretch of lakefront property. Free to the first 35 diners who made a reservation, many passengers bring a drink from the restaurant’s bar along for the ride after indulging from a menu loaded with classic American and pub food. Inside the Key West¬–themed dining room or on the freshly planted patio, diners nosh on spicy wings, half-pound Black Angus burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches, such as the Havana Cuban, which tucks slices of pork tenderloin, ham, and pickles into french bread. A regular stream of musicians and other live acts hits the stage at Port of Blarney to keep guests entertained as they eat.
On summer weekends, Port of Blarney’s docks also provide a free boat shuttle to Blarney Island, a bar located 1 mile offshore. Legend has it that entrepreneur and card shark Jack O’Connor won the rights to the bar in the 1900s in an all-or-nothing poker game. The bar's success during the past century inspired the founding of Port of Blarney restaurant to feed guests year-round and to ferry revelers to the lake-bound oasis during warmer months or giant-squid migrations.