Honey Baked Ham Co.'s specialist butchers boast more than 40 years of experience preparing glazed meats. The staff slices roasted hams weighing up to 16 pounds, each dry cured, hickory smoked, and oven baked to fend off hungry snowmen. A fine glaze of honey and spices covers each ham, which is cut spirally to keep its sections intact for horizontal slicing. To complement its sweetly seasoned protein namesake, Honey Baked Ham Co. also furnishes meat collectors with honey roast beef, pork, and turkey.
For more than 25 years, the family of arctic artisans at Zarlengo's Italian Ice has infused real fruit and carefully selected ingredients into more than 50 varieties of temperature-defying delicacies, each carefully forged on-site and collectively voted Best Ice Cream in the Chicago Area by Chicago Sun-Times readers. Guests may commission miniature igloos in seasonal flavors such as pumpkin gelato or apple-cinnamon Italian ice (medium $3.25), or they can unite flavors such as mango, chocolate, and strawberry Italian ice with soft serve ice cream in an arctic cooler (medium $4.29). Natural ingredients such as fresh tangerines and bananas come together in real fruit slushes (medium $4.29) to enjoy a refreshing reprieve from their day jobs as still-life models, and hand-dipped novelties such as the Zar bar accommodate busy patrons with 10 varieties of chocolate-ensconced portability ($1.89).
Al Ferreri, his sister Frances, and his brother-in-law Chris Pacelli Sr., developed their signature italian-beef sandwich out of necessity in 1938. The economic depression made meat harder to come by, so the trio of sandwich makers made their supplies last by cutting thinner slices of roast beef.
Their business started with them feeding guests at family weddings, delivering meals to local hospitals, and catering the country's first food fight, but they soon founded a more permanent curbside food stand in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, Al's Beef & Nancy's Pizzeria rapidly expanded and now boasts franchises throughout the Chicago area and across the country. The family business has garnered plentiful acclaim throughout the years, having been named Adam Richman's best sandwich in the Midwest on the Travel Channel show Best Sandwich in America in June 2012, appearing on Richman's Man v. Food and earning a place on Esquire's list of The Best Sandwiches in America in 2008.
The cooks begin every morning by roasting cuts of beef for the day, kneading fresh pizza dough, and cutting french fries with an industrial-strength laser pointer. The hearty italian-beef sandwiches can emerge from the kitchen with simple, unadorned meat or with blankets of melted cheese and spicy housemade giardiniera. The pizzas range from crispy thin-crust disks to deep-dish pies with 2.5-inch-thick crusts, supporting any combination of the 24 available toppings, which include oven-roasted garlic, baby spinach, and bacon.
The Bergstein's NY Delicatessen food cart carts around authentic New York–style deli fare made fresh by in-house cooks. Check the truck's Twitter to pinpoint locations around downtown or simply listen for the melodious unwrapping of corned beef on rye sandwiches ($8.50). Once parked, the meal mobile entertains waiting customers with a flat-screen television and outdoor speakers while chefs serve a menu of salads and sandwiches. Taste buds can traverse the crispy mixed greens of the Big Apple salad ($8) or the swiss-cheese-glued corned beef and pastrami of the Bensonhurst ($9.00). Aggressive pickle publicists get their clients featured with every sandwich, and diners can choose from several sides including homemade chips, macaroni salad, or potato knish ($1 each; $2 for knish or a drink-and-side combo). Desserts such as the big black-and-white cookie ($2.25) add a sweet exclamation point to a thorough dissertation on deliciousness.
An American tourist in Mexico might stroll by a restaurant decorated with goat horns and not give the decor a second thought. However, the horns do often signify something special: birria, a hearty mexican stew from the state of Jalisco. And while Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos may not have goat horns strung across its walls, its chefs do make the spicy, soul-warming treat—but only on weekends.
The name Mr. Burritos should give away the eatery’s other specialty, which comes in nearly 20 varieties—including two vegetarian options and two sizes, baby or giant. Similar spiced meats, such as barbacoa, steak, and carnitas, also fill tacos and chimichangas. People who weirdly enjoy mornings can stop by in the a.m. for a hearty Mexican breakfast of eggs and chorizo. Aside from inviting guests to test their heat tolerances at three locations, Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos deliver their food directly to doorsteps and can also cater events such as birthday parties and presidential debates.
Originally located in a converted house that could only seat 20 people, Sanfratello's Pizza has grown over the years to four locations in Illinois and Indiana. At each of these, family recipes for authentic Italian cuisine yield classic creations such as shrimp alfredo and meatball sandwiches. Petite pan pizzas host deep layers of sauce and cheese, and thin crusts, like the mouths of most competitive shouting champions, can stretch up to 17 inches wide.