With live jazz music, USDA Prime steaks aged at least 21 days, and the freshest of seafood, Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak is a living tribute to the colorful life of Harold “Pete” Miller. Miller grew up an avid hunter, studied History in college, and earned a Purple Heart as a marine in WWII. He even spent time slinging hats, before eventually settling on becoming a music salesman—a profession that would ignite his love of jazz and lead him to the rhythm-rich city of Chicago. Once settled, he discovered the Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston where he became a regular, albeit outspoken, patron. He incessantly offered recommendations and recipe suggestions, eventually inciting the chef to hand him an apron and shout, “Do it yourself if you think you know so much!” Miller accepted the challenge and kicked off his culinary career with his usual flair and spontaneity.
Today, the pair of restaurants proudly carrying his name keep his legacy alive, hosting live jazz almost every night of the week, just like he would have wanted. In addition to the regular dinner menu, which features the likes of whole steamed lobsters and bone-in fillets, there’s also a bar menu that boasts more casual eats, such as burgers and sandwiches dressed in khaki slacks. The Wheeling location’s 250-seat patio features a granite bar with room for 50 people, as well as three huge fireplaces.
Among the Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu dazzles its visitors with a glimpse into an Incan civilization that was once deemed lost to time. The same can be said for Machu Picchu Restaurant in Chicago, which brings the tastes of tender steaks, seafood ceviche, and marinated chicken down from the Peruvian highlands. Exotic dried peppers accent the pulled chicken, and garnishes such as fried yucca enliven plates of deep-fried fish. As if that weren’t enough, wall-to-wall photomurals surround guests with mountaintop views of Machu Picchu's polished stone buildings and close-ups of adorable alpacas. Guests can bring along a bottle of their favorite beverage to pair with their cuisine.
Heat is key at Tango Sur, where flames lick the edges of rib eye, filet mignon, and pork. The Argentinean grill specializes in flavorful steaks, though its menu includes other Latin specialties such as empanadas and matambre—veal rolled and cooked with veggies and served cold. The dining room’s dim lighting fosters an intimate vibe where couples can retreat for a date night. When the weather warm, this BYOB spot opens its sidewalk seating for al fresco dining.
Hutch American Bistro doesn't just aim to serve better versions of the comfort food American moms and dads have made for decades?it also strives to be more comfortable than any parents' house. Anchoring the warm, intimate space is a bar backed with elegant wood shelves, a nod to the restaurant's rustic, furniture-inspired name. Twinkling, wheel-shaped chandeliers shower light onto tables clustered across vintage tile and gleaming hardwood floors. Inviting golden-yellow walls dominate the interior, while flowerbeds surround a sidewalk patio.
The bistro's real focus, though, is on crafting inventive updates of classic American recipes. The chefs always start early, aging steaks and pork in their spices for 28 days before cooking them with the bone in. Salmon fillets are dressed in barbecue sauce and grilled, while flatbreads are baked crisp in a brick oven. To further celebrate American cuisine, Hutch also serves a list of hand-picked regional wines and local beer on draft and in cans.
"Did I like it? Do you want to get slapped? I loved it."
That was one diner's response to Ted Brunson, the host of America's Best Bites, when asked about whether or not he enjoyed Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse's signature dish, the Entrana. This South American take on skirt steak is downright beloved by some Chicagoans. One such guest admitted to living above one of the city's most iconic steakhouses, only to find himself trekking over to Las Tablas whenever he gets a craving for steak. The thinnish strip is scored along its generous length, allowing it to absorb the super-secret eight-spice blend that's rubbed into it?only two people know the recipe. It is then served on a warmed metal plate that rests upon a wooden slab (a "tablas"), as are many of the restaurant's other dishes.
Considering how much they've been through to get to this point?including an uprooting from Colombia in the 1980s and a fire?it's probably a relief for the Suarez family that their recipes are so revered. It also helps that their menu is refreshingly simple, yet flexible. There are a few beef dishes, a few chicken dishes, a few pork dishes, and so on, but guests can also order a combinaciones, which allows them to pair two proteins of their choice. The Entrana and shrimp make a classic match, though options such as baby octopus and pork loin lend themselves to more creative pairings. Vegetarians need not feel left out, either, as there's a veggie platter, 100% meatless napkins, and a paella that blends spiced rice, beans, yuca, plaintains, and potatoes. Those starches reappear throughout the menu, and are served with most entrees.
If you're inspired by the Suarez family's cooking, you can try to recreate the recipes at home with their new product line of sauces and seasonings.
For Chef Rob, cooking fine cuisine is a family affair. He learned his skills at the knee of his Sicilian grandmother, who taught him everything he knows about how to run a kitchen. Today, he still hones his recipes in a similar setting, cooking furiously as his wife and daughter stand ready to dutifully taste his creations. After finishing his at-home experiments with the daily haul from the local market, he heads to Wilmette Chop House to begin preparing food for that night?s hungry customers.
During the dinner rush, Rob welcomes many of the same faces that he laughed and joked with at the market that morning. He oversees a grill filled with filet mignon, lobster tails, and his signature double-cut bone-in smoked pork chops. These delicious proteins come out hot on the heels of fresh-baked bread, acquired from Heavenly Hearth Bakery just around the corner. To wash down Chef Rob?s creations, bartenders mix up the restaurant?s signature cocktail?the Thin Mintini. In addition to describing the drink's refreshing taste, the beverage?s name also hints at the building?s history; the venue once served as the original bakery for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Not content to cater only to two of the five senses, Rob also retains the services of professional musicians at his piano bar on most evenings, who wow audiences and reviewers with their skill at the keys and with catching food tossed at their mouths.