Island Sports Bar and Grill maintains the balance between good food and good fun, serving up hearty bar food to complement a full schedule of social events. The kitchen crew grills beef, turkey, and veggie burgers to order, and tops Vienna hot dogs with all the Chicago fixings. Meanwhile, customers strut their stuff during Monday-night line dancing and karaoke, learn stepping lessons on Tuesday, listen to a live band on Wednesday, cut loose at ladies night on Thursday, or slap their knees in jubilant joy or subtle spasm during the Friday-night comedy hour. The middle of the week brings a host of events.
After Italian-born founders Vince and Nina Santoro immigrated to Chicago in 1969, they first sought out jobs delivering Italian bread and waiting tables, but they decided to take a risk and open their first restaurant in 1988. Their gamble paid off, as locals flocked to their dining room to taste authentic Old World cuisine made from Vince and Nina's time-tested recipes. In the kitchen, the chef rolls his own ricotta gnocchi and enhances select entrees with servings of seasonal vegetables. The menu also features pollo parmiagiana pounded pizza-thin and a risotto that, like the expression on the face of a statue in the park, changes daily. The restaurant's rustic charm extends to the dining room, which features Venetian-plaster walls, paintings in gilded and dark wooden frames, and wrought-iron chandeliers.
Odyssey Sweet Spot lets players unwind with cold beverages, sizzling pub fare, and a lineup of crisp high-definition TVs that funnel sporting events throughout the tavern. As bartenders sling drink specials, full table-size shuffleboard and Golden Tee 2014 arcade games allow players to enjoy the game of golf while still giving misbehaving 9-irons the silent treatment.
As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
To Jaime Flores, tamales represent two of the world's finest simple pleasures: eating and unwrapping presents. At Tamale Hut Café, he and his staff hand-wrap each tamale with a double layer of corn husks, then steam-cook them to seal in flavor. Jaime derives his methods and his choice of fillings—pork, chicken, pinto beans, and even crab meat with jalapeños—from his aunt and uncle, who taught him how to prep the portable delights in addition to other Mexican foods. He attests that his tamales are appropriate for any mealtime, and even sells steamer pots so that visitors can reheat their leftovers without using a microwave or rubbing them until friction kicks in. The quaint café is a venue for both sitting down for a snack and appreciating local culture. Beneath bulbs that glow inside of hanging tequila bottles, paintings and photographs by local artists draw the eye, and regular readings by visiting authors entertain audiences. To offset the savory bites of tamales, meatball soup, and gourmet salsas, guests can order drinks or seasonal paletas—Mexican fruit popsicles. Sweet tamales tinged with the taste of pineapple, blueberry, and coconut are another creative dessert option.
The Chef Du Jour provides catering/event planning, cooking classes, and personal chef services. A Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef Rita will provide you with mouth-watering food, or teach you the skills to do it yourself through interactive classes.