McNamara’s acquaints guests with the culinary traditions of Ireland by crafting hearty pub cuisine, steak, and seafood dishes within a traditional Irish atmosphere. Familiar cuts of beef and salmon rest alongside edible archetypes of Irish culture, such as juicy flanks of corned beef, savory shepherd’s pie, and sculptures of James Joyce made entirely from mashed potatoes. During morning hours, diners revel in traditional Irish breakfasts and modern brunch favorites amid the corner tavern’s eight HD televisions or upon the umbrella-studded patio.
It’s fitting that Sabatino’s makes its home in Old Irving Park, a historical neighborhood that has held on to the vestiges of its late 19th-century splendor. The Chicago Tribune's Kevin Pang describes the Italian restaurant as “an anachronism that’s hipper than you’d give it credit for,” citing its adherence to old-school dishes such as shrimp deJonghe and oysters rockefeller. In many ways, Sabatino’s does seem nostalgic. How else to explain the violinists who stroll around tables playing sentimental tunes or the house piano player who clinks away at keys on the weekends? Within these Old-World environs, couples can throw back a steak diane for two or entangle their forks into a net of linguine with black mussels.
The number 13 has gotten a bad rap through the years, but the Pineda clan is attempting to turn that around. Thirteen members of the Pineda family run Thirteen Asian Tapas + Bar, with four crafting meals in the kitchen while Gary Pineda leads the pack as general manager. All of their recipes are sourced from Filipino culinary traditions, themselves a fusion of Asian and Latin influences, as evidenced by dishes such as soy-sauce-infused adobo chicken and the roasted and fried lechon, or pork, topped with achara, a traditional pickled papaya garnish.
The kitchen calls on overseas recipes in selections such as pancit, a traditional Filipino birthday dish comprised of thin rice noodles sautéed with cabbage, carrots, and meat that diners unwrap to reveal a miniature band of singing party guests. On some nights, live jazz fills the intimate dining room, where purple walls and exposed brick surround a bar that begets nine specialty martinis that mirror the cuisine's manifold influences with flavors of ginger, mint, tequila, and imported Philippine gin.
El Tinajon, a cozy eatery on West Montrose Avenue, has a long history of serving up authentic Guatemalan food to Chicagoans. "With two decades under its belt, this might just be the oldest Guatemalan spot in town," wrote Time Out Chicago. There's a good reason for the spot's longevity?fresh, sumptuous dishes laden with what the Chicago Reader called "wonderful seasonings."
The food here tends to be a bit lighter than Mexican cuisine, and the depth of its flavor may be a pleasant surprise if you've never eaten Guatemalan food or interrogated a Guatemalan diplomat about their favorite dishes. Cooks saut? succulent shrimp with ginger and wine, and simmer Mayan chicken stew with imported Guatemalan spices. Crisp curtido salad (a mixture of cabbage, beets, and green beans) tops the enchilada guatemalteca. Food may be the biggest reason regulars keep coming back to El Tinajon, but it's not the only one; there's also live music every other weekend, and a bar stocked with sangria and the fixings for tropical margaritas.
The cooks at Beef & Burger specialize in food-stand classics such as hot dogs, burgers, and gyros. They shave slices of browned meat from a gyros spit, layering them inside pita bread with creamy tzatziki sauce, marinate chicken breasts for sandwiches, and send sliced potatoes into the fryer twice for French fries with a crisp surface and creamy interior that one Serious Eats writer called "the real reason to visit Beef & Burger."
True to its name, 15 dishes on Siam Taste Noodles' menu are made with noodles and offer plenty of taste. Rice noodles soak up the spicy-sour broth of tom yum soup, and glass noodles tumble with egg, baby corn, and mushrooms in pad wun sen. The kitchen also crafts dishes such as chicken in garlic sauce and panang curry, which are some of the most popular entrees as determined by the number of diners who save a seat for them at their table.