Choo Choo's train-themed eatery revs diners' digestive engines with a medley of wraps and sandwiches, as well as a miniature locomotive that gallivants through the family-friendly dining room. The dynamic servers, clad in engineer attire, deliver hearty menu items, such as the bacon-and-cheese char-burger ($8.49) and the tortilla-swaddled chicken-and-bacon wrap ($8.49). The Conductor's special bookends charbroiled chicken, marinara, and parmesan between a gourmet bun, and the Penn Central sandwich trots down the track, tempting tongues with rib-eye steak, mozzarella, grilled onions, and peppers embraced by french bread ($7.99). Watch kids marvel as a model train delivers food at the counter or chugs through a miniature city populated by tiny commuters and average-size thimbles.
For years, Julie Scianna’s celiac disease left her uncomfortable and bloated—until she eliminated gluten. The advice made her feel better almost immediately. However, finding gluten-free food to sustain her new diet proved easier said than done. To solve this problem for fellow celiac sufferers, Julie, in collaboration with Chef Andrew Hebda now makes gluten-free treats widely available through OMG…It’s Gluten Free. The restaurant’s entirely gluten- and peanut-free menu includes café items such as lasagna, pizza, and corn dogs along with bakery classics such as cinnamon rolls and brownies. In addition to the main café in Frankfort, Julie also distributes her gluten-free treats at various locations in eight states.
El Burrito Loco's staff dishes out the authentic flavors of Mexico in a low-key setting, with a wide-ranging menu that accommodates ample appetites. The restaurant fills its namesake dish with everything from tongue to chorizo to veggies, whetting whistles with the baby size ($4.90) and appeasing augmented appetites with the giant portion ($5.95). The specialty dinners showcase the eatery’s eclecticism, slinging meaty chilaquiles ($5.99) or chicken flautas ($9.35) with rice, beans, and tortillas. Vegetarians can order from a meat-free menu, kinder than a tofu dinner prepared by herds of unionized cows. Tamales ($2.10 each), enchiladas ($1.85 each), and tostadas ($2.65) can brandish beans or cheese, or both in the stead of meat. Many locations of El Burrito Loco keep late hours, giving sustenance to the musicians that play hold music round-the-clock.
Chef Dan McGee has worked in Paris, Switzerland, and Peru as well as spending time in the states at restaurants such as Charlie Trotters. Using fresh ingredients to create the dishes that grace the seasonal menu, Chef McGee whips up tongue-tapping appetizers such as duck confit ravioli with sautéed spinach and balsamic apples ($9) and a goat cheese gratin with ratatouille and a garlic crostini ($8). An asparagus soup with oregano and feta cheese is gracefully poured tableside, and can then be smoothly poured into your mouth tureen ($7). Entrees include the grilled fillet of beef, which nestle next to potato truffle risotto and asparagus ($29), while the crab and horseradish crusted tilapia swims alongside jasmine rice and champagne sauce ($19). Staple yourself down to a seat at the bar and peep through the kitchen window to watch chefs summon ingredients by waving their spatula wands, or order a libation from the full bar, which features specialty martinis and more than 50 wines, as well as microbrews, domestics, and imports.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
The Village of Park Forest lays claim to being one of the first postwar planned communities. In 1948, as World War II veterans were looking to make peacetime lives, the village’s pioneers built affordable housing and an accessible road system for a diverse, welcoming community dotted with green parks and tail-finned trees. Today those trees have grown into a mature canopy, and the village has taken steps to maintain its legacy while seeking to reinvent itself for the modern era. In 2000, the Metropolitan Planning Council awarded the village a Burnham Award for its downtown redevelopment. The revitalized downtown area features a variety of spaces where community members can come together, including its Dining on the Green meeting and banquet facility, which overlooks the village green's verdant pasture decorated with ornamental flowers, a gazebo, and sculptures that do not animate and roam the streets with each full moon.