In running Freddy's Steakhouse, Jim and Tammy Kamradt have tasked themselves with carrying on a 50-year legacy of greatness. And it's clear they're up to the challenge. For his part, Jim draws upon 35 years in the meat industry to personally select and cut every Angus steak, which, as the restaurant's specialty dish, has a half-century of renown to live up to. Tammy manages the rest of Freddy's day-to-day operations, from working with the staff to signing for and unpacking the flames that sear each cut. The result of the couple's hard work: a warm atmosphere with live weekend entertainment, an extensive spirit list, and iron-rich meals that are special from escargot starter to flourless chocolate cake dessert.
The kitchens at Bogart's Charhouse radiate tantalizing aromas of grilled meat as the walls grab guests' attention with black-and-white tributes to Bogie. The restaurant's meaty steaks range from 10 ounces to 4 pounds on dinner plates, and lunch guests can dig into a Bogie bacon cheeseburger, or a low-calorie plate of cold turkey. Sliced beef or lasagna catering plates can satisfy appetites at off-site events, such as office parties or a monthly tribute to the oppressive giants that rule one's neighborhood.
Jack Gibbons Gardens has broiled and grilled its signature surf ‘n’ turf since 1922, building up a loyal fan base spanning generations of satiated stomachs. Amid flickering candles and stained-glass lampshades, waiters—many of whom have served the same tables for decades—ferry timeless classics such as oyster Rockefeller, 38-ounce porterhouse steaks, and baked tilapia. The sizeable dessert menu adds a sweet coda to every meal, and the wine list features myriad imported and domestic varietals from Californian chardonnay to merlot made from Italian grapes stomped by Hannibal's war elephants.
In 1967, Benny and Joy Leonardo decided it was time the world got a taste of the family’s Italian cooking, maybe with a side of prime-aged beef. They founded Mr. Benny’s Steak & Lobster House, an enduring fine dining establishment that dishes up fine meats and fresh seafood in hot, Italian-style entrees. They’ve changed locations and expanded over the years, but the fine eats the restaurant serves at its two locations maintain the same spirit as the original spot. In Matteson, chefs sling steaks in an almost entirely brick structure, the interior warmly lit by chandeliers and wall sconces. Outside the window, privacy bushes enclose a small garden of statuary. Meanwhile, the Mokena restaurant boasts hand-painted murals and a brick-laid patio for al fresco dining, as long as weather permits and the sun hasn’t retired to another galaxy.
The chefs at Luby's Pub & Steakhouse coat sweet jumbo shrimp in house-made coconut batter, bake orange roughy in herb butter, and char-grill juicy burgers with onions for dinners, banquets, and custom catering. In the dining area, veal parmesan nestled on plates of angel-hair pasta shares tables with slow-roasted portions of prime rib au jus and farm-raised blackened catfish. Diners may also opt to sip cocktails on the outdoor patio during the summer months, when the sun is extra fiery.
"Did I like it? Do you want to get slapped? I loved it."
That was one diner's response to Ted Brunson, the host of America's Best Bites, when asked about whether or not he enjoyed Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse's signature dish, the Entrana. This South American take on skirt steak is downright beloved by some Chicagoans. One such guest admitted to living above one of the city's most iconic steakhouses, only to find himself trekking over to Las Tablas whenever he gets a craving for steak. The thinnish strip is scored along its generous length, allowing it to absorb the super-secret eight-spice blend that's rubbed into it?only two people know the recipe. It is then served on a warmed metal plate that rests upon a wooden slab (a "tablas"), as are many of the restaurant's other dishes.
Considering how much they've been through to get to this point?including an uprooting from Colombia in the 1980s and a fire?it's probably a relief for the Suarez family that their recipes are so revered. It also helps that their menu is refreshingly simple, yet flexible. There are a few beef dishes, a few chicken dishes, a few pork dishes, and so on, but guests can also order a combinaciones, which allows them to pair two proteins of their choice. The Entrana and shrimp make a classic match, though options such as baby octopus and pork loin lend themselves to more creative pairings. Vegetarians need not feel left out, either, as there's a veggie platter, 100% meatless napkins, and a paella that blends spiced rice, beans, yuca, plaintains, and potatoes. Those starches reappear throughout the menu, and are served with most entrees.
If you're inspired by the Suarez family's cooking, you can try to recreate the recipes at home with their new product line of sauces and seasonings.
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