One of the first things you notice about Tavern on La Grange is how colorful it is: hot pink and indigo lights wash walls in a neon watercolor effect, and the bottles behind the bar are backlit with red and fuchsia. Murals of art deco-style buildings and figures give the room another added pop. Pasta and steak dishes are among the menu's crowning achievements, along with the likes of lobster tail and lamb chops. People fill the restaurant's spacious, kaleidoscopic dining rooms throughout the week to take in bistro-style meals, drinks, or one of the establishment's periodic events. Those evenings are just one part of what the restaurant's owners hope makes Tavern on La Grange "a quality dining experience and community meeting place."
Al's challenges chewers with prodigious portions of sizzling steaks, succulent seafood, and Texas–sized sandwiches. All the restaurant's steaks, such as the queen filet mignon ($25.95), are hand-cut and aged a minimum of 21 days before diners welcome them to the table with hearty appetites and glinting steak knives. Pescatarians can cast their nets around Cajun catfish filets ($18.95), which come covered in a Bayou blend of seasonings and blackened in a cast-iron skillet. Grasp a one-pound charburger ($11.95) in one hand while hoisting a frosty beer or martini in the other, then use your kneecap to gesture toward a selection from the superbly sugared dessert menu while your elbow fends off the poaching of untrustworthy tablemates.
Jack Gibbons Gardens has broiled and grilled its signature surf ‘n’ turf since 1922, building up a loyal fan base spanning generations of satiated stomachs. Amid flickering candles and stained-glass lampshades, waiters—many of whom have served the same tables for decades—ferry timeless classics such as oyster Rockefeller, 38-ounce porterhouse steaks, and baked tilapia. The sizeable dessert menu adds a sweet coda to every meal, and the wine list features myriad imported and domestic varietals from Californian chardonnay to merlot made from Italian grapes stomped by Hannibal's war elephants.
Chefs at Aodake Sushi & Steak House dispatch sushi and hibachi-seared steaks beneath hanging lamps and glowing globes. Meat, vegetables, and seafood make for multicourse lunches, and a variety of kitchen entrees bolster the thronged dinner menu. At the bar, more than 20 vodkas alchemize into a variety of martinis or blocks of pure gold.
The house specialty carne asada dominates Mexico Steakhouse's selection of recipes honed over 40 years of service. The kitchen concedes to morning cravings with a battery of egg breakfasts and frantic signals with a white napkin, and traditional dishes, such as pork tamales, travel to tables later in the day. A bright-blue awning and a row of arched windows distinguish the brick restaurant, where a jukebox recites an encyclopedic compilation of tunes for diners inside.
Using all-natural meats, Amish free-range chicken, and produce from Midwestern farmers’ markets, Hemmingway's Bistro serves fresh, flavorful French fare in an attractive, white-tablecloth-laden dining room. Executive Chef Ala's fondness for melt-on-your-tongue seafood makes its mark on the menu—the restaurant imports fish from the East Coast daily. Satiate seafood cravings with the herb-crusted whitefish paired with caper butter ($18.95), or guzzle away at the Dijon salmon with a side of cream lentils ($21.95). The Classic ($36.95) stuffs grumbling stomachs with half a lobster, nine oysters, three shrimp, three clams, six mussels, and two crabs. Before the main course, showcase your magic skills by cutting the baked brie topped with apricot preserves ($11.95) in half with your saw-teeth. Vegetarians can fork in warm goat-cheese petite salad ($7.95) while carnivores sink their teeth into the roasted lamb rack paired with ratatouille ($26.95). Cleanse your esophagus with a glass of '99 Saint Clement syrah ($9 for a glass) or an '06 Campanile pinot grigio ($7 for a glass) from Hemmingway's stockpile of red and white wines.
Polo Café and Catering owner and chef Dave Samber has been cooking American-style brunch and eclectic dinner fare for more than 20 years. Since opening in 1990, his restaurant has been a regular at the annual Taste of Chicago, where Samber carts out evidence of his broad palate in dishes such as shark veracruz and baked crab-cake nuggets. He also shares his adventurous tastes amid the green and white diner's tin ceiling, tufted booths, and antique sconces, the vintage glamour of which is only interrupted by a row of dolls who refuse to wear gloves to dinner. The adjacent Old Eagle Room, a repurposed theater built in 1914, accommodates up to 100 banqueters on its main and mezzanine levels. These guests enjoy entertainment from a Rodgers 360 theater organ or a 20-channel audio system.