Thai Vilage entices taste buds with classic ingredients including basil, peanuts, and plum sauce, infusing them into an array of authentic Thai dishes. The seasoned crab meat and cream cheese of crab rangoons ($6.95) pave the way for a classic pad thai entree, which peppers fried rice noodles with eggs, bean sprouts, and magical tamarind incantations ($9.95). Patrons warm their hands over the pineapple, walnuts, and sweet chili sauce of the Blazing salmon ($14.95), and forks battle over the spicy mongolian beef resting on a bed of crispy rice noodles ($9.95). Guests are invited to open their own libations without the burden of a corkage fee, or sample authentic liquid flavors with thai iced coffee or tea ($2.50).
Batavia Creamery began its life as a Baskin-Robbins in 1991, but even 31 flavors proved too limiting to the shop’s ambitious owners. They rebranded and went independent, boosting their flavor count to 44 and supplementing their traditional cones and cups with thick shakes, smoothies, and custom cakes. Though the flavors are subject to change, there’s always something for everyone—recent cakes and pies have included praline-pecan, mint-chocolate-chip, and cookies ‘n’ cream varieties. The shop also sells its creations in take-home pints and quarts, which customers can keep for themselves or use to play fetch with the neighborhood kids.
With its Vienna Beef hotdogs, polish and italian sausages, and housemade italian beef, Bulldog's Red Hots satisfies cravings for classic Chicago-style food. Surrounded by neon yellow walls, employees bedecked in eye-grabbing red shirts stack grilled onions onto bourbon-chicken sandwiches, pile freshly cut fries into baskets, and slather cucumber sauce over gyros. They also grill 10 types of Angus beef burgers that couple half-pound patties with melted feta cheese, jalapeños, or barbecue sauce.
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.
Limestone Coffee & Tea's organic, fair-trade coffees are brewed with beans from Chicago Coffee Roasters, promoting feelings of health and responsibility with each sip from the classic coffee menu. Caffeinate a morning with a double latte ($2.90) or a cup of the daily brew ($1.60/12 oz.), or enhance a standard teatime with Green Walnut tea, a smooth green tea mixed with coconut and halved walnuts ($1.75/12 oz.). To combine solid sustenance with luxury beverages, peruse the light breakfast and lunch menu for café fare such as a slice of spinach-and-feta quiche ($4.16) and an herbed bacon bagels, an everything bagel crowned with onions and bacon ($5.50).
A well-loved wooden bar dominates O'Brien's Pub & Grill's interior, but it isn't the only place to comfortably lounge. An outdoor patio takes advantage of Chicago's temperate summers by providing a breezy venue for diners to enjoy one of the many sandwiches named after an O'Brien family member. The views of downtown Batavia's well-preserved historic district remind patrons of another era, before the invention of cell phones or noisy children. Inside, murals of happy drinkers in green getups frolic across the walls above the wood paneling.