When the first Carson's Ribs opened its doors in 1977, it was far from the only barbecue joint in the Chicagoland area. Yet the quality of its tasty, smoky barbecue is proven by the fact that it’s still gaining accolades from the press more than 30 years later.
At Carson's Ribs in Chicago, the menu, remains as it has always been—offering tender cuts of barbecued meat. Churning out everything from baby-back ribs and barbecued shrimp to grilled prime new york strip or prime rib, Carson's grills and smokers never stop working. In fact, the barbecued-beef sandwiches boast brisket that simmers in flavorful smoke for a whole 24 hours.
Menus at Allgauer's may vary slightly by location, but each Hilton-anchored outpost of American dining serves high-end steaks and seafood. Mid-day appetites can be quelled with lunch offerings such as a starter of baked artichoke bruschetta ($8) and a hearty grilled rib-eye steak sandwich ($13). To dine during dinner, arrive in sundown-style and begin with an appetizing opener such as the mushroom pot pie with sherry wine and walnut blue cheese ($7). Sample the meatiest of meals, the grilled beef tenderloin medallions ($22–$33), or take a bathypelagic trip to fullness with sautéed shrimp and sea scallops ($17–$27). Entrees are served with a choice of the soup du jour or a house salad.
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.
Zipangu Hiro's chefs, specially trained in Japan, juggle meats and vegetables for patrons, searing it themselves or allowing guests to cook their own cuisine at one of Zipangu Hiro's five traditional yakiniku grill-top tables. The multifaceted menu contains such crowd pleasers as veggie and seafood tempura encased in crispy batter and golden-fried. Yakiniku—the Japanese tradition of cooking your own thinly sliced meats and vegetables on a smoke-free tabletop range—puts the piquant power in diners' hands with a variety of exotic edibles, including duck ($10), pork belly ($8), shiitake mushrooms ($4), and various dipping sauces. For fire-free dining, a huge list of sushi creations rolls over hunger, including such favorites as spicy tuna ($5) and california rolls ($5), and original specialties including lobster tempura ($15) and the house's special-sauce-laced Kamikaze ($11.95).
Lovell's of Lake Forest is co-owned by James Lovell, the NASA astronaut best remembered as the commander of the Apollo 13 space flight, and second-best remembered for playing Tom Hanks in the 1995 film, Apollo 13. Lovell's son, Jay Lovell, as co-owner and executive chef, oversees Lovell's of Lake Forest's dinner menu of steaks, seafood, sandwiches, and more. Commence consumption sequences with the fried calamari ($14) or its briny brethren, scallops ($15), before sinking fork and fang into Lovell's of Lake Forest's slate of steaks and chops. The 8-oz. filet mignon ($31) can come bacon-wrapped with cognac-veal reduction ($33), rock-crab-accompanied with asparagus and hollandaise ($37), or in other variations, while the 14-oz. Australian rack of lamb ($36), with its goat-cheese-and-Dijon crust, finds a use for sheep outside of pulling dogsleds. Other entrees include fish and chips ($18) and seared ahi tuna ($25), with desserts such as tiramisu ($9) providing a fine finale to feasting. The restaurant also serves lunch and breakfast.
Phil Gilardi, Jr. carries on his family’s legacy as the fourth generation to embrace the classic flavors and culinary techniques of the Old World. Joined by his uncle, Dan Sullivan, Phil packs his menu with the timeless recipes honed by his great-grandmother, Sophie, and his grandmother, Angie, as well as a few ideas of his own. Executive Chef Fabrizio Patano balances this blend of traditional and contemporary influences, crafting a lineup of Italian comfort foods with elevated touches.
Chef Patano and his team demonstrate their commitment to the menu’s Old World roots by importing prosciutto and parmigiano cheese for their entrees. At the same time, they highlight the inherent simplicity of Italian home cooking by hand-rolling their pastas and making fresh sauces in-house. This fusion of imported ingredients and homespun touches is readily apparent throughout the kitchen’s refined dishes, such as breaded veal cutlets with asparagus, lobster, and rich hollandaise sauce.
The casually elevated charm of the menu also influences the décor of Philly G’s, which sprawls across the floor plan and covered porch of a stately home. Textured walls lit by glowing sconces surround the tables draped with seafoam-green and white linens and flanked by high-backed chairs. On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the lounge area hosts live entertainment for diners, regaling them with musical performances as opposed to staged readings of last week’s winning lottery numbers.