Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Fox's Restaurant & Pub first propped open its doors in 1964, welcoming diners with an extensive menu that eventually grew to encompass comfort foods from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to familiar Irish staples—including corned-beef sandwiches and shepherd's pie—the cooks sear 10-ounce hamburger patties and slather baby-back ribs in a rich barbecue sauce. For a distinctly Mediterranean touch, they also hand-form meatballs into perfect dodecahedrons and whisk together their own marinara sauces in-house. The pizza chefs can layer oven-crisped pies with more than 10 available toppings, such as giardiniera, sausage, and chopped garlic.
Select locations help to keep spirits high by hosting live music and restaurant-wide games of musical chairs throughout the week. Bands can get diners' toes tapping and heads bobbing by playing a combination of lively Irish classics and popular favorites.
When Mario Aliano set out to start his own restaurant, he kept three simple principles in mind: pizza, pasta, and friends. Today, that triumvirate remains on the crest of Aliano?s Ristorante, emblazoned across an Italian flag that symbolizes their dedication to old-country recipes and hospitality.
Though the piles of pasta, piping-hot pies, and pressed sandwiches evoke the flavors of the distant Italian countryside, all of the dishes are homemade with fresh ingredients. They also look closer to home for inspiration, drawing on Italian-American inspirations to concoct Chicago-style pizzas famous for thick crusts that stay anchored to the ground on windy days. Occasionally, guests can enjoy occasional live entertainment from musicians and comedians?if they can pry their attention away from the veal cutlets or pastas piled on their plates.
The aesthetically inclined chefs at Swordfish special order fish from overseas, then compose the fresh fillets into a variety of grilled entrees, sashimi, and artfully presented sushi. Colorful sauces and garnishes accent the gentle pastels of seafood dishes, and crunchy golden sprinkles attract desperate leprechauns from the tops of rolls such as the calamari tempura.
Swordfish's bartenders pour out warm sake or line stemware with one of the house's wines or signature martinis, encouraging the swelling sounds of conversation during evening dinners or weekday happy hours. The sounds of mingling patrons bounce off of the dining room's crimson walls, adorned with contemporary murals and artwork, as the crackling fireplace emits tendrils of heat.
Believing the human body can be rejuvenated through more methods than medicine alone, the staff at Brinka Health and Wellness Center utilize various holistic techniques to bolster patients' well-being. Doctor of Chiropractic Ryan Brinka, who became a strong believer in the profession in college after a chiropractor eliminated the pain resulting from a childhood neck injury, eases discomfort by adjusting the body's spinal column. The staff further shoos away pain with oriental medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Life coach Brenda Brinka keeps patients in shape during her 12-week weight-loss program by tailoring exercise regimes, recommending dietary supplements, and blasting a bullhorn whenever clients pick up a donut.
At Initial TKD Martial Arts, Ms. Ke and Mr. D.—third-degree black-belt instructors and winners of the 2009 Illinois State Championship in Forms—combine 26 years of experience to foster strength and increased self-confidence in students aged 4 and older through tae kwon do practices. The duo operates under the philosophy that students flourish best in an atmosphere without pressure, and in order to foster a stress-free environment, the instructors personalize lessons to fit individual pupils’ needs. Natural light bathes the hardwood floors within the studio, and an area dedicated to viewers allows parents or guardians to watch their child, spouse, or ambitious pet kangaroo ascend through the dojo’s colored-belt system.