From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon a frosty foundation of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirls idyllically into cones, cups, overturned top hats, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal a surprise filling of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic? powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers? cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit pur?e forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast 150 calories or fewer.
Every four–six weeks, Cemitas Puebla's owner and chef, Tony Anteliz, sends a family member to Mexico to gather ingredients such as chipotle peppers and giant cinnamon sticks. He relies on time-tested family recipes honed in Puebla, Mexico to assemble these imported ingredients into sandwiches, tacos, and salsas that have been praised in the Chicago Tribune and on WTTW 11’s Check, Please!. Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives highlighted the restaurant’s signature cemita sandwich: sesame-seed-bread laden with fresh oaxaca cheese, papalo—a fragrant herb grown in Tony's mother's garden—house-stewed chipotles, and a choice of meats such as breaded pork and carne asada. Inspired by Lebanese shawarmas, tacos arabes begin with layers of pork shoulder and onion skewered on a rotisserie. The stack of meat rotates as slowly as a ferris wheel being ridden by a herd of elephants before a member of the open-air-kitchen staff shaves off tender meat and tucks it into pita-like tortillas.
Far from a little house alone on the prairie, Prairie House Tavern carries quite a bit of local history in its walls and floorboards. The newest resident in a building that once housed Jerry’s Supper Club and Jerry’s Tap, the tavern carries on the tradition of hospitality by feeding a procession of locals with pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches. Recently honored by the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce as the 2012 Business of the Year, the tavern lives up to its billing with a jukebox, dartboards, and a veritable squadron of televisions. The fun especially picks up on karaoke nights, when guests grab the microphone to sing their favorite song or dramatically read their latest jury summons.
Repeat winner of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association?s Blue-Ribbon award, Maggie Moo?s combines fresh ingredients and mix-ins to create uncommon frozen desserts. The evolving array of iced treats includes such options as strawberry-bubblegum ice cream, pink grapefruit sorbet, and chocolate-fudge low-fat yogurt. Dozens of mix-ins upgrade the texture and decadence of ice-cream cones and come standard in such delicacies as frozen cakes, cupcakes, or pizzas. Though dessert pizzas resemble their baked brethren, Maggie Moo?s substitutes marinara for red icing, adds white-chocolate curls in lieu of cheese, and swaps the delivery boy for the neighborhood Wookiee.
Jagmohan Jayara’s dream of sharing his Indian culture with others through cuisine became a reality when he opened up the first India House in 1993. Since then, the restaurant has grown a following that demanded three more locations. Each one brings Chicago-area locals the spices, herbs, and vegetarian-friendly dishes that characterize Indian cuisine. The menus include lamb kebabs, tandoori chicken, or whole chickpeas cooked in traditional Punjabi masala. The chain offers dining, takeout, and a buffet alongside banquet and catering options for special celebrations including weddings, birthdays, and first cricket victories.
The neon lights and bright colors at Grande Jake’s Authentic Mexican Grill’s three Chicago-area hubs hint at the menu’s dedication to spicy eats. Chefs scoop grilled steak, chorizo, and chicken into burritos, then douse them in melted chihuahua cheese and salsa ranchera. Homemade tamales burst with pork or chicken, and the pollo asada al carbon tops a 12-ounce char-grilled chicken breast with mole or green sauce. Refried beans, spanish rice, and chips serve as supporting actors to entrees, and the creamy Mexican-style custard in flan finishes dinners more sweetly than a dinner mint delivered by a troupe of newborn kittens.