At Tequila Restaurante, green peppers and onions sizzle and snap in steaming skillets, as much a soundtrack to any traditional Mexican restaurant as mariachi and corrido music. Many of the other sensory details of an eatery in Mexico fill the Crown Point restaurant, including the citric bite of ceviche and the aromas of carne asada. Tequila Restaurante serves up traditional margaritas as well as those made with fresh banana, banana liquor, brown sugar, cinnamon, and other unorthodox ingredients. The dining room is alive with the vibrant colors associated with the country; crisp white table linens complement the red, orange, and green walls, and a string of white vine lights curlicues across the restaurant’s ceiling.
Crown Brewing’s statement light fixture isn’t like traditional chandeliers hung with crystals—instead, the amber light that filters down to the floor shines through an array of empty beer bottles. There are plenty of full bottles and pints to be found, however, as the brewery's boasts 12 varieties of brew, including award-winning beers such as the blueberry and Special Forces IPA, which Chicago magazine named one of the city's 36 best local craft beers. From the cozy bar, patrons get a view of the brewery itself, where brewmaster Steve Mazylewski is hard at work crafting batches of customer favorites and testing out his new recipes. Weekly specials include stein nights, discounted growler refills, and half-price pints can be enjoyed inside or on Crown Brewing's outdoor patio.
Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
The legacy of Zuni’s House of Pizza's signature-pizza recipe dates back to 1954. On each pie, gooey cheese melts over robust lochs of sauce atop a thin- or stuffed-crust foundation, which is then peppered with a panoply of fresh pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, or other toppings. At the Cedar Lake location, chefs cycle between a variety of 20 appetizers, 20 entrees, and 13 sandwiches—such as a southwest roll-up drizzled in mexi-ranch dressing. The Dyer location focuses on classic-pizzeria fare, with five specialty pies complementing fragrant farfalle pastas and piping hot calzones. Frothy suds sidle up to slices at both locations for a pairing as classic as muscle cars and drive-ins or drag racing while reading Archie’s comics.
The amphitheater at Fair Oaks Farms doesn’t host agriculture-themed theater productions, or talks by resident farmers and cheese-makers. Instead, it’s the stage for an astonishing real-life drama. Before a giant wall of glass, audience members hold their breath as they watch a dairy cow give birth atop a bed of hay. Its calf enters the world in full view, rising up on its wobbling legs and hearing the sound of dozens of human hearts melting at once for the very first time. It all happens approximately 80 times each day.
The birthing barn anchors the farm's Dairy Adventure tour, giving families and school children a literal window into the world of sustainable dairy farming. At Fair Oaks Farms, the sustainability is as important as the milks and cheeses. As the New York Times recently reported, the farm creates natural gas from livestock waste. This ever-replenished source powers 10 barns, a cheese factory, an ice cream parlor, and everything else at the farm. It even becomes fuel for delivery trucks, which take raw milk to processing plants in three different states.
A lot of the dairy products stay right on the farm, however. At the onsite café, staffers serve countless glasses of chocolate milk and plates of grilled cheese sandwiches, the most popular items on the menu. The dining area overlooks the farm's cheese-making and milk-bottling facilities, so diners see exactly where their snack comes from.
As for the cafe's produce, it comes directly from the farm's Green Garden Gate, a collection of gardens that sit in the shadow of a 25-foot milk bottle. The oversized container, known as "Udder Heights," is actually a climbing wall complete with belay systems and footholds. It stands at the center of Mooville, an outdoor play area that also contains train rides and a giant jumping pillow for when someone orders a milkshake.