The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
The legacy of Zuni’s House of Pizza's signature-pizza recipe dates back to 1954. On each pie, gooey cheese melts over robust lochs of sauce atop a thin- or stuffed-crust foundation, which is then peppered with a panoply of fresh pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, or other toppings. At the Cedar Lake location, chefs cycle between a variety of 20 appetizers, 20 entrees, and 13 sandwiches—such as a southwest roll-up drizzled in mexi-ranch dressing. The Dyer location focuses on classic-pizzeria fare, with five specialty pies complementing fragrant farfalle pastas and piping hot calzones. Frothy suds sidle up to slices at both locations for a pairing as classic as muscle cars and drive-ins or drag racing while reading Archie’s comics.
Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.
Zodiac Cafe and Lounge balances a constellation of themed martinis with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of sandwiches, salads, and small plates. Diners design flights of cheese and olives, and chefs stuff grass-fed burger patties with a rotating selection of ingredients. Pints from the craft-beer menu complement edibles, as do 12 martinis that re-imagine each astrological sign as a concoction of colorful spirits. Muted earth tones and wood accents anchor both dining room and lounge to terra firma, and starburst light fixtures and an astrological chart grant insight into Zeus's interior-decorating scheme. After the sun sets on the patio, wander inside to check out the schedule of karaoke, open-mic performances, and sets from local house DJs.
Goulash. Knockwurst. Burek. The importers at Taste of Europe know Old-World flavors still trump their New-World counterparts, which is why they stock their pantries with meats, cheeses, and recipes hailing from Balkan and Mediterranean locales. Flame-kissed ćevapi sausage links, thick stews, and savory meat pies fill the dining room with homey aromas complemented by the crackle of the working fireplace. An onsite grocery also showcases the restaurant’s faraway fare, supplying at-home feasts with barbecue lamb, fresh deli meats, feta cheese, and jet-lagged coffee that tries to wake drinkers at 2 a.m.
Outside River Rock Restaurant's windows, manicured fairways wind between cool blue lakes, prairie, and forest. Despite this sumptuous visual feast, Chef Santana spends all day behind closed kitchen doors, whipping up a more traditional kind of meal. The chef and staff create an array of American creations, from bone-in ribeye steak to Hawaiian ahi tuna. They serve their creations in a dining room as elegant as its views, fortified by custom stonework, lined in dark Poplar wood, and guarded by magic.
For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).