Hand-carved tikis and 12-foot-tall stone Easter Island moai preside over Tiki Terrace. Seated under swaying palms at hard-carved booths and tables, dinner guests enjoy a regional menu that starts with traditional pupu appetizers, such as taro chips and housemade pineapple salsa, and proceeds to traditional seafood and pork specialties. In the party-friendly tiki tradition, groups of up to four can share the Hawaiian punch bowl, a powerful elixir that arrives in a volcano tiki bowl with a fiery surprise. On Friday and Saturday nights, the dining room's elevated center stage fills with the South Pacific’s dances, music, and ceremonial red-rover matches.
Bangkok Belly’s menu draws on sources from Thailand to Japan with sushi, noodles, and curries. More than a dozen sushi rolls represent Japan, running the gamut from traditional California rolls to the deep fried spicy tuna topped with asparagus and fried onions, and Japanese hallmarks such as egg rolls and tempura start dinners off as sacrificial offerings of thanks to the chef. Curries from Thailand simmer with spices over rice, while noodle dishes such as pad thai or lard na collate different spices and ingredients into a sauce-covered stir fry. Pra tu nam rice dishes are also served steaming from the kitchen. Bangkok Belly’s three locations span across the Chicagoland suburbs, with delivery, dine-in, or take out options.
Created in 1981 on the back of a few family recipes, Buona’s serves up appetite-satiating italian-beef-based sandwiches and comfort-fare classics. The menu is packed with palate-pleasing favorites such as hot dogs, sandwiches, grilled paninis, and thin-crust pizzas. Try an original Buona beef sandwich ($4.95 for a 7" size) made from a family recipe and served on freshly baked italian bread with natural gravy and beef that arrives tender, lean, and sheepish following an in-house roasting. Larger feasts such as the barbecue baby-back ribs ($9.95 for a half slab) or the grilled salmon cibatta ($7.25) quell the quagmires of even the most sovereign starvations. To keep meals as light as a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try one of eight crisp, hand-tossed salads, such as the pesto balsamico, tossed with whole-wheat pasta, pesto, and toasted pine nuts, and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette ($7.25).
When asked to name a favorite sandwich, Cibo Racconto's managing partner, Mike Sheahan, immediately thinks of the porchetta—a ciabatta roll containing thin slices of pork tenderloin slow roasted in a garlic-white-wine sauce. Perhaps it’s the oven-roasted tomatoes or the provolone cheese, which are both imported from Naples, Italy, like most of the ingredients that make up Cibo Racconto’s menu. Pasta dishes teem with fresh noodles and san marzano tomatoes, including the lumache arrosto, in which a tomato cream sauce douses sliced sausage and roasted peppers.
Two of the restaurant’s partners crafted the panizza themselves while brainstorming new ways to use their existing ingredients. They hand-stretched pizza dough, lining it with imported ricotta before rolling the sides over and baking it to a crisp golden brown. Panizzas and pastas alike are served on granite-topped tables surrounded by sand-colored walls under a gilded tin ceiling, which often leans down to steal bites of unattended paninis.
Wally's slings plates of handheld and fork-friendly classics alongside some unfamiliar twists on standard diner fare. The homemade italian beef swaddles seasoned roast beef with either hot or sweet peppers inside two halves of hearty french bread ($5.49+) and the Angus-certified, quarter-pound patty of the charbroiled hamburger adorns a bakery-oven bun before disappearing under a mélange of onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and condiments ($2.69+). The specialty gyros plate fills hot pita bread with slices of gyro garnished with sauce, fresh tomato, and raw onion ($8.49), offering a choice of potato, rice, or barbershop quartet as a side. A supporting cast of sides also dances down the line, with accompaniments such as Wally's spicy fries ($2.25–$3.25), hot ’n’ spicy buffalo wings ($3.95–$10.65), and sweet summertime milkshakes ($3.25) that make unseasonable snowmen melt with glee.
Crystal chandeliers glint over Café la Cave's main lobby, beckoning diners into opulent ballrooms, spacious banquet rooms, and the cavern room itself. Inside the restaurant’s rock-lined walls, rippling lighting, and singing stalagmites, chefs carve and cook many entrees tableside, including the tenderloin medallions of steak Diane sautéed with garlic, shallots, and cognac. Cocktails from the full bar and a carefully selected wine list pair with entrees as smoothly as creamy sides of garlic mashed potatoes pair with wild-mushroom mac 'n' cheese.