Just off the Illinois Beach State Park, the mascot of Franks & Fries—an anthropomorphic hot dog—greets passersby with a wave of his cane and a tip of his hat. Perched on the restaurant’s red-and-yellow sign above a few outdoor tables, the mascot serves as an ambassador for the menu of cooked-to-order bites such as Chicago-style hot dogs made with 100% Vienna Beef. Along with burgers, cheesesteaks, and baskets of seasoned curly fries, cooks prepare desserts such as fried twinkies, fried Snickers bars, and fried Oreos.
In their native Sparta, Kallianis siblings Dino, George, and Renee grew up milking cows, pressing oil from olives, and finding that night?s greens in the soil, inspiring a life-long passion for organic cooking. It wasn?t until the family immigrated to Illinois that they discovered another love: Creolo cooking. According to a piece in The Chicago Tribune, the Kallianis clan befriended a pair of Louisiana natives who helped the siblings learn English and introduced them to their first taste of southern-style comfort foods such as barbecue, jambalaya, and crawfish po?boys, inspiring Dino Kallianis to promise to one day open a restaurant in their honor. That restaurant became Captain Porky?s, an establishment that combines the low country flavors the Kallianis kids grew to appreciate with the farm-to-table philosophy of their youth. Locally-grown produce joins wild fish and olive oil imported from the family?s fields in Sparta, yielding platters of walleye pike and king crab or po? boys filled with catfish. For their barbecue dishes, they slow-smoke ribs, chicken, beef brisket, and pulled pork over a pit of dry-rotted red oak wood before slathering each cut in homemade barbecue sauce and pairing them with homemade dinner rolls or cornbread. There?s also homemade baklava, made by their mother Nota, as well as an ever-changing line-up of specials that at any given time could include a beef stroganoff made with wild foraged mushrooms or whitefish Rockefeller, a dish named for it?s popularity amongst New York?s most elite ice skaters.
The cooks at George's Gyro carve thin slices of gyro meat from rotating spits to serve with soft pitas or stacked atop the George's burger between layers of bacon and barbecue sauce. The menu also stars such staples as the maxwell street polish under a mountain of grilled onions and the italian beef smothered with hot peppers and cheese. Sides from fried okra to house-made french fries perfectly complement meals, much like yellow mustard perfectly complements purple ketchup.