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.
Simplicity and quality meet in The Full Slab's choice-cut meats, which absorb the rich flavors of house-made marinades, six barbecue sauces, and hand-blended dry rubs. The aroma of flame-smacked, made-from-scratch pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, as well as seafood and pasta plates, fills the eatery. Diners can also take in a game on one of The Full Slab's big-screen TVs while enjoying a hand-crafted cocktail or cold beer from its well-stocked bar.
The first IHOP?the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin?opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the "International House of Pancakes." Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Japan and China are usually separated by the East China Sea. But at Hunan Buffet, they coexist in a single restaurant—or, more accurately, their cuisines do. The culinary team crafts sushi rolls with such ingredients as shrimp, asparagus, and sweet potato, or fill Philadelphia rolls with cream cheese and brotherly love. Chinese classics complement the Japanese cuisine. Szechuan-style beef, for example, wakes up taste buds with spicy flavors, and vegetable chow mein brims with crunchy noodles.
Walls the color of frozen margaritas and fresh guacamole surround visitors to Tipsi Monkey, their electric green hue mirroring the energy of the restaurant's busy goings-on. But despite the game-watching nights, Vegas nights, and dance parties filling its schedule, Tipsi Monkey is all about the food. Classic Mexican food dominates the menu, including carnitas slow-cooked for three hours, and chorizo and potato tacos. A bevy of aged tequilas adds a piquant note to meals and keeps the steam-powered avocado-masher running.
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.