Rose and Stanley Sacharski never meant to open a tiki bar. Their first watering hole, The Lucky Start on Fullerton and Lockwood, was a simple neighborhood tavern until some bamboo wall coverings inspired endless questions from customers: were they a tiki bar? By 1963, the Sacharskis decided their answer was yes, and let their young son pick a new name—Hala Kahiki—from a copy of Dennis the Menace Goes to Hawaii.
Now located inside a former greenhouse in River Grove, Hala Kahiki pours more than 100 tropical-themed cocktails, mingling rum with daiquiris and gin with tropical fruits. Hanging shells sway above the bamboo-lined bar, and rattan lampshades and cane chairs evoke the pleasures of an endless Hawaiian summer. Tables and chairs dot a spacious outdoor garden, and an on-site gift shop stocks Hawaiian shirts, leis, wood-hewn lamps, and several former cast members of Gilligan's Island.
Fragrant hookah smoke swims through the vividly hued lounge at Arabian Nights, undulating past curtains, pillows, and curling decorative accents. Guests take in scents through the winding tubes attached to their stations' apparatuses, choosing from an extensive list of shishas that includes herbal varieties for those who'd like to avoid tobacco. Guests are free to bring their own snacks to the lounge, which also serves teas, sodas, coffees, and juices.
The decor is eclectic. In one section, royal-blue walls contrast with the fairy-light-sprinkled vines that crawl around the perimeter of the ceiling. In another, orange and red walls corral a TV and a DJ station flanking a fireplace. Dramatic mirrors, low cushions, and checkerboard walls characterize other regions of the softly lit space, filled with guests surfing the web with complimentary WiFi and caterpillars avoiding political topics on first dates.
More than 100 flavors of shisha infuse Milan Hookah Lounge’s softly lit atmosphere with a smoky haze that swirls off of premium tobacco from brands such as Fantasia and Starbuzz. Tobacco-free hydro herbal molasses comes in a slew of sweet flavors, satiating nicotine abstainers and easing the conscience of leafy, tobacco-human hybrids, and refreshing colas and teas cleanse smoke-saturated tongues. Guests kick back in a cozy lounge area with ceiling-suspended lamps, low couches, and sports-broadcasting TVs as occasional live music and belly dancing swell the airwaves with melodious and abdominal vibrations.
Much like the Bat Signal summons Ted Williams back to life, Entourage summons diners with a giant, illuminated, cocktail-shaker-shaped side bay window. Once inside, Entourage offers an upscale dining environment filled with American-style cuisine. Starters include the light but powerful mesclun green salad, which hefts a stilton bleu and dried cherry vinaigrette onto spiced pecans and Fuji apples ($6.75), while the creamy lobster bisque hints at spicy notes ($6.25). Firecracker shrimp tosses crispy fried gulf shrimp into a kiddie pool of sweet chili sriracha sauce along with cilantro, lotus root chips, and grilled lemon ($12.95), and the macadamia-nut-crusted tilapia with banana coconut butter is paired with jasmine rice studded with dried fruit ($24.95). Entourage also offers several specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list.
Lincolnshire Gourmet offers proper pairings of healthy, fresh fare and lively musical entertainment within a cozy, welcoming storefront. Lunch and dinner options include gluten-free chorizo meatballs dunked in a jalapeño-lime sauce ($7), po' boy sandwiches gripping shrimp, veggies, and spicy mayo ($18), and entrees starring the restaurant's worst-kept secret, the NoOodle. With zero net carbs, zero gluten, zero soy, zero fat, and zero calories, the all-natural NoOodle boasts oodles of benefits and makes a fitting bed for entangled edibles such as grilled salmon with sautéed spinach, garlic, avocado relish, and olive oil ($20), and ultralite primavera mingling with spinach, red peps, yellow squash, and carrots in a creamy garlic sauce ($11). To accommodate youthful appetites, the chefs also offer finger-friendly items such as grilled cheese paired with fresh fruit ($5), paper-thin, whole-wheat cheese pizzas for two ($6), and napkins. Reservations are not required, but they are recommended.