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."
The staff at Jean Therapy outfits women in denim from renowned brands such as Hudson, Miss Me, and Seven for All Mankind. The denim, which envelops bottom halves or fashion-forward arms size 0–12, is often stylized with touches such as patterns or embellished pockets. Denim gurus work to help patrons find the right type of fit for the right type of person. Shoppers can build complete ensembles with the boutique's selection of patterned tops and colorful jewelry.
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.
"Did I like it? Do you want to get slapped? I loved it."
That was one diner's response to Ted Brunson, the host of America's Best Bites, when asked about whether or not he enjoyed Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse's signature dish, the Entrana. This South American take on skirt steak is downright beloved by some Chicagoans. One such guest admitted to living above one of the city's most iconic steakhouses, only to find himself trekking over to Las Tablas whenever he gets a craving for steak. The thinnish strip is scored along its generous length, allowing it to absorb the super-secret eight-spice blend that's rubbed into it—only two people know the recipe. It is then served on a warmed metal plate that rests upon a wooden slab (a "tablas"), as are many of the restaurant's other dishes.
Considering how much they've been through to get to this point—including an uprooting from Colombia in the 1980s and a fire—it's probably a relief for the Suarez family that their recipes are so revered. It also helps that their menu is refreshingly simple, yet flexible. There are a few beef dishes, a few chicken dishes, a few pork dishes, and so on, but guests can also order a combinaciones, which allows them to pair two proteins of their choice. The Entrana and shrimp make a classic match, though options such as baby octopus and pork loin lend themselves to more creative pairings. Vegetarians need not feel left out, either, as there's a veggie platter, 100% meatless napkins, and a paella that blends spiced rice, beans, yuca, plaintains, and potatoes. Those starches reappear throughout the menu, and are served with most entrees.
If you're inspired by the Suarez family's cooking, you can try to recreate the recipes at home with their new product line of sauces and seasonings.
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As boats and kayakers chug down the adjacent Chicago River, guests savor beer-steamed mussels, wild mushroom truffle filets, and cold-water lobster tail. The patio sits right on the river walk, but the view of the river and the towering architecture across it is equally appealing in the street-level dining room.
After picking up their favorite bottle, couples tuck into a cozy dining room built entirely from vintage and repurposed materials. In the kitchen, chef Edward Kim plays love 'em and leave 'em, producing dishes that rotate with the seasons. He has attracted a host of suitors, including GQ, which named Ruxbin one of their 10 Best New American Restaurants for 2012.