After leaving behind their hometown in Greece, brothers Angelo and John Sellis put their entrepreneurial minds together to build a new life in the United States, with their restaurant Palm Court at the heart of their new venture. More than 30 years since greeting their first diners, John and other members of the Sellis family continue watching over the eatery's three dining rooms, learning the names of regular customers and giving them courtesy calls when their favorite specials are back on the menu. The brothers' team of chefs?overseen by Angelo in the kitchen?constructs its long-perfected dishes from foundations of duck, oysters, beef, and seafood as tinkling piano tunes fill the adjacent cocktail lounge, where customers sip signature martinis, wines, or domestic and imported brews.
The menu, decor, and homey atmosphere at Muldoon’s all share one thing in common: each is designed to evoke a traditional Irish pub. The tavern, along with its sister watering holes Kerry Piper and Tommy Nevin’s, all salute the Emerald Isle with hearty dishes such as corned beef and shepherd's pie. As Guinness and Smithwick’s flow from the row of spigots behind the bar, friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
Throughout his life, Bob Chinn has refused to sit still. He began his restaurant career on the streets of Chicago at age 14, delivering orders of Chinese food on foot. From those streets, he built a business, eventually opening family restaurants in Evanston and Wilmette. The challenge wasn't enough though, and Bob began planning a concept restaurant: a first-rate seafood restaurant located in the landlocked confines of Wheeling, Illinois. The Zagat-rated eatery skyrocketed to prominence, acclaim, and success, earning the number one spot on Forbes's list of the top-grossing restaurants in the United States and completing phase one of its plan to make crabmeat our new currency. The menu reads more like a world map than a list of dishes. Alaskan king crab legs, Maine lobster, and Hawaiian ahi tuna represent the disparate domestic choices, appearing alongside exotic possibilities such as Nigerian prawns and stuffed Asian basa. To retain the characteristic flavors of this seafood, the restaurant flies in entire shipments on a daily basis, proudly filling a display board with that day's list of "jet fresh" choices from around the globe. The Reader praised this uncompromising devotion to quality ingredients, calling the fish "exquisitely fresh." To round out the selection, the chefs also stir-fry chicken and grill steaks that have been wet-aged for 3–4 weeks. Faced with a level of demand not seen since the Smithsonian auctioned off Abe Lincoln's rookie card, Bob Chinn's Crab House expanded its dining areas to accommodate more than 700 patrons at a time. The densely packed tables and booths sprawl throughout multiple rooms, which means visitors can experience the hustle and bustle of the main dining room or take in the back porch's tree-lined views.
Since he came to the U.S. three decades ago, chef-owner Vittorio DiBenedetto has opened a few restaurants, but the Trattoria remains dear to him. Intimate even though it stretches across three dining rooms, the restaurant’s layout mirrors the chefs' commitment to friendly togetherness. That feeling of camaraderie extends to the circular cherrywood-and-granite bar, where pours of 40 different wines loosen up tongues in need of free-wheeling conversation or a reminder of what grapes taste like. Crisply contrasting black accents stripe the light yellow interior, where guests await house favorites including giant scallops and gorgonzola-topped steak.
It all started in 1946 when a Navy cook finished his tour of duty after World War II. He left his destroyer in the South Pacific and set sail for Chicago's South Side. There, he opened a carry-out fried-seafood joint and dubbed it Ship Shape Shrimp Shack, a name that was hard to say but easy to love, thanks to his signature fried-shrimp recipe. For 30 years, he continued delighting customers and living his dream, minus the part where he could fly, until 1976, when health issues forced him to close the restaurant. A few years later, a local truck driver and food-service veteran by the name of Frank took over, renaming the place Frank's Chicago Shrimp House. Under the Navy cook's tutelage, he learned everything there was to know about the shrimp and seafood business, and enjoyed the same success through the golden-fried shrimp and seafood of his predecessor. Today, his daughters are at the helm, keeping tradition alive and well at four locations throughout the Chicagoland area. At those restaurants, they fry up the classics and mix it up with frog legs and New Orleans–style fried shrimp, pairing the crispy morsels with classic sides such as hush puppies, cole slaw, and french fries.
Featured on one of Gayot’s Top 10 of 2012 lists, the seafood at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House "could not be fresher or better cooked." In addition to steaks and chops from its sister restaurant, Gibson’s, Hugo’s menu showcases a spread of classically prepared familiars including oysters on the half shell, pan-seared scallops, and giant lobster tails joined by drawn butter. But the eatery’s signature dish is a different kind of aquatic creature: frog legs arrive at tables sautéed and soaked in garlic butter. Maritime decor complements the nautical morsels, from nostalgic photographs of lighthouses to miniature models of ships to barnacles on the eyebrows of every server.