When Basil Restaurant opened in 2009, the Columbus Dispatch reported on owner Rhome Ruanphae's inspiration: his mother’s string of successful Thai restaurants—beginning with Thai Village in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood—that she ran with her husband while he was growing up. Rhome borrowed his mother’s culinary mastery for Basil, which teleports taste buds to Thailand with a menu of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. Chefs gather rice or egg noodles to lay the foundation for many entrees, such as specialty kee mow, a soft or crispy maelstrom of rice noodles with thai basil, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The menu also features a rainbow of curries, soups, salads, and appetizers to keep ravenous diners from eating their napkins.
The seasoned confines of a former antique shop welcome diners to Basil Restaurant, decked out with bare brick and a retro advertisement for ice painted on the back wall. As a glittering chandelier casts light on colorful curries, wine-dark panels of varnished wood gaze at diners from the wall, and exposed lengths of ductwork add a neoindustrial aesthetic without the overkill of steam-powered dessert trays or austere Orwellian maitre d's.
The cobbled stonework that comprises Coaches Bar & Grill's exterior serves as an apt metaphor for how hard it can be to turn down items from the roster of burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. This cuisine basks in the glow of flat-screen TVs that stream a steady flow of sports games. As monitors display feats of athleticism, the kitchen staff displays feats of culinary prowess by cooking half-pound patties bedecked with cheese and bacon, along with a mélange of hot subs, sandwiches, and buffalo-chicken pizzas. From behind a dark wooden bar, their bartending counterparts pour beers and cocktails, which they disseminate to far-flung diners by shooting them out of a T-shirt cannon. The team also brings its serving game to the outdoors patio, where umbrellas shade picnic tables granting clear sightlines to several televisions.
The menu features Mexican staples such as tacos and fajitas side by side with American favorites such as pizza and cheeseburgers, proving that nothing unites differing factions like the gooey brotherhood of coagulated milk protein. Start the meal by plowing through a plate of gigantic nachos, a foot-tall mound of fresh seasoned tortilla chips, melted queso, shredded lettuce, jalapenos, sour cream, and tomatoes ($7.99). For an appetizing non-appetizer, order a pair of tacos that can be stuffed with barbacoa, carnitas, chorizo, or even seasoned gyro meat ($7.99–8.99). The southwestern burger (avocado, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle sauce on a half-pound patty; $7.99) and a spectrum of eight pizzas—heaped with toppings such as spicy shrimp, pesto chicken, and feta cheese—provide tasty north-of-the-border alternatives ($9.99).
Belly dancing is an art form recognized for its health benefits no matter what the age, size, or shape of the dancer. Three lessons will teach newbies to incorporate their entire body in the dance and not just bob their head to the beat like an old desktop computer floating in a kiddie pool. Belly dancing strengthens, tones, provides a low-impact aerobic workout, and can relieve back pain. Even pregnant women are encouraged to take classes, as the dance has become an alternative Lamaze class, making baby deliveries and seducing the pool boy much easier.