Mario Dovalina and Edwin Ptak established the original Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in 1967 in order to satisfy diners craving authentic Mexican dishes. With more than 40 locations in the Chicagoland area and northwestern Indiana and traditional eats that are sold across the United States and even in Mexico, Pepe's appeases a wide audience with its hearty options. Appetizers such as chips and fresh guacamole made daily or chili con queso ready bellies for veggie burritos bursting with seasonal vegetables. Flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports games or ballerina-wrestling matches dot the spacious walls at many of the chain’s casual eateries, keeping diners in their seats long after their shrimp, pork, or vegetable fajitas are finished.
The Egg & I offers a separate menu for their Chicago Heights and Tinley Park locations, each stocked with breakfast and lunch options, piling plates high with egg dishes, pancakes, sandwiches, and salads. The mexican skillet’s spicy chorizo sausage is served alongside tomatoes and onions under melted cheddar, sour cream, and salsa ($7.25–$8.74), and arrives with pancakes and toast just like The Egg & I’s other skillets and especially friendly census takers. Three crepes burst with strawberries under a dusting of powdered sugar that helps nab the fingerprints of criminally tasty fruit before an optional dollop of whipped cream flies in for a sweet landing ($6.50–$7.84). Fruit fiends will also enjoy the double-blueberry waffle, featuring a warm belgian discus saddled with a heap of fresh berries or compote ($6.95–$8.14). Lunchtime diners lay out a welcome mat for the blackened-salmon-fillet salad, adorned with crumbled blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and walnuts ($7.95–$9.74). Prices vary by location.
Bergstein's offers up authentic New York–style deli fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, most of which is made fresh in-house. For morning sustenance, toasted challah bread swaddles salami, egg, and Muenster cheese ($5.49), while Keith's lox breakfast platter is piled with cream cheese, tomato, olives, and a choice of bagel ($8.29). Moving on to the mightier meal mountains that punctuate Bergstein's modern, open space, the BNY sandwich smashes hunger with a monster truckload of deli staples (corned beef, pastrami, and brisket) on an onion roll ($11.49). Meanwhile, the lighter, but still stomach-filling big apple salad tosses chicken, dried cherries, blue cheese, and diced apples with balsamic vinaigrette ($7.29). Sweet and sour cabbage and fluffy matzoh ball soup ($4.29 for a bowl) are available every day, and several others get playing time depending on the soup schedule. Smaller bites include the classic black and white cookie ($2.25), sides such as potato pancakes ($1.79) and knishes ($1.79), and the by-the-pound bundles of lox shipped in from Brooklyn ($23.49 per pound).