Chow down on hearty sandwiches while sipping fruit smoothies at The Hub, a cozy spot offering a bevy of huggable, Chicago-inspired comfort eats amid an inviting atmosphere. Patrons can choose from a host of menu items that satisfy both discerning and cast-iron palates. Allow taste buds free reign across the asiago roast beef panini, a melty marriage of roast beef, asiago cheese, ground mustard, optional red onions, and toasty italian bread ($6.49). All-beef Chicago-style hot dogs bench-press neon relish, diced onion, yellow mustard, and sport peppers atop a poppy seed bun ($3.39 each). The Hub features plentiful vegetarian options, such as the veggie dog ($3.19), three-cheese panini with mozzarella, provolone, and fontina on tart sourdough bread ($5.95), and harmoniously crunchy salads ($5.95–$7.95). Smoothies ($3.75 regular, $5.50 large) sweet-talk blushing tongues with a variety of flavors, including the breezy Brazilian Orchard (with açaí, peach, pear, and apricot), strawberry pineapple, and bubblegum. Bubble teas ($3.75) and milkshakes ($3–$3.50) pack a flavorful punch that’s more rejuvenating than outrunning a territorial badger during a morning jog.
The artistic bakers at Delicately Delicious make and decorate cakes, cupcakes and a full menu of other baked delights. Cupcakes come in dozens of flavors, from simple classics ($18 per dozen), such as vanilla, to innovative specialty cupcakes ($24 per dozen), such as an irish-cream cupcake (yellow cake topped with irish-cream buttercream frosting), and portrayals of favorite childhood treats, such as the Handmade Hostess, a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow filling and chocolate ganache frosting. Serve 12 to 16 salivating people or one hungry grizzly bear with an 8-inch round cake ($30–$35) that has a specialty filling flavor such as bavarian cream, or a combination cake with a mix of chocolate and yellow cake. All baked goods are made to order, so place your order online or call ahead seven to 10 days before you plan on serving your sweet treat.
In large Old-World style letters, August Weber Haus declares its name on its red sign, followed by the telling addendum "Est. 1865." The restaurant preserves much of its vintage charm while serving a modern menu of fondue treats, more than 100 wines, and more than 30 craft beers. Fondue comprises most of the menu, from appetizers to desserts, but only some of it revolves around cheese. Entrees come with hot sauces or flavored oils, with the uncooked morsels following a certain theme. The Sea entree, for instance, boasts bites of scallops, Canadian lobster tail, ahi tuna, and salmon alongside flavors ranging from garlic butter to wasabi soy.
In the interest of keeping mouths contented, cooks prepare Cedarburgers, the popular reuben, and cranberry walnut salad. At the bar, the sculpted heads of a dozen tap handles represent local breweries such as Lakefront and Leinenkugel. But on game night, the restaurant's star is not its sandwiches or its spirits, but rather its atmosphere. As fans clad in team colors toast to victory, icy light from the TVs and the neon beer logos reflects off the silvery tin ceiling.
Pino Piroso dedicated himself to founding a distinctive, Roman-style pizzeria, saying that "after years of hard work, we knew we had built something very special." His lauded chain eventually grew to include franchises in six states and two countries outside of the United States. Despite their geographic separation, each location has the same stringent standards for their ingredients and their Exit-sign locations. No kitchen stores pizza fixings in a freezer—instead, the cooks begin every morning by stirring sauces, kneading dough, and dicing fresh seasonal toppings from local farms. The circular or rectangular pies can support as many as 33 of these familiar and nontraditional toppings, such as goat cheese, sweet corn, and roasted chicken.
Downtown Pizza’s chefs crown their signature pies with inventive toppings such as hawaiian jerk sauce and sliced corned beef before pairing them with wings, pastas, or gooey desserts. Tufted leather booths squeak as diners vie for the final slices of German pizza loaded with sauerkraut, bratwurst, and potatoes or steamy pot-pie pizzas that pile tender bits of chicken atop rosemary-crumble crust. Vegetarian pizzas arrive slathered in creamy pesto sauce or topped with marinated mock duck, and six varieties of sauce souse the breaded and baked chicken wings. Hanging lights emit a soft glow that accents the retro pizzeria’s red and turquoise walls on which vintage plates and kitschy salt and pepper shakers perch in shadowboxes and await puppet-show requests.