Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger—the Whopper sandwich—consists of flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and Hershey pie keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
The cooks at Paul’z Burgerz & Dogz, which nabbed a runner-up spot for the city’s Best Burger in the Riverfront Times restaurant guide, churn out an expansive menu populated by tongue-thrilling twists on two Americana staples. The Cockadoolemoo burger combines a patty, bacon, and fried egg, blurring the lines between meals, much like a caesar salad sprinkled with Cap’n Crunch. The Windy City dog includes classic Chicago--style ingredients—mustard, relish, sport peppers, and terms of agreement prohibiting the use of ketchup—accompanied by chips and fries, which are made fresh every day. Visitors chow down in Paul’z’s lively, welcoming dining room, whose vibrant orange and red walls are decked out in autographed photos and headlines and wainscoted in corrugated metal, adding a slightly industrial vibe to the friendly establishment.
Lola's chefs bring the aromas and flavors of creole cuisine to their casual brick-walled space in the heart of downtown. Menus scrawled on chalkboards feature dinner plates such as barbecue shrimp and grits, creole-style chicken breast, traditional jambalaya, and spanakopita-stuffed portobello mushroom. On Saturdays, the kitchen opens for a brunch characterized by inventive takes on traditional dishes such as biscuits and crayfish gravy, savory creole bread pudding, and chicken and waffles with maple butter. The eclectic drink menu features cocktails blended from champagne, flavored vodka, and bourbon, as well as refreshing or hearty craft beers and flights of cognac. On some nights, Lola welcomes DJs and bands onto a small stage set in front of framed posters of famous musicians, which start glowing if they approve of the performers.
After leaving his hometown of Salemi in Sicily, restaurant proprietor Baldo Gandolfo began dazzling locals with mouthwatering Italian recipes honed through four decades. Baldo's wife, Madda, welcomes guests on their arrival to the mirror- and artwork-flecked dining space, and Baldo's sister Rita keeps a generous supply of saucy pastas, rich veal, and succulent chicken dishes flowing from the kitchen. Diners sit down to sup at linen-cloaked tables in the floral-wallpapered dining area and toast to a satisfying meal over glasses of espresso and flavorful Italian wines. In addition to dishing out hearty entrees and gelato-tinged desserts to families and friends, Da Baldo's provisions larger gatherings with a private banquet space capable of comfortably fitting 90 people or 60 Shriner cars.
Within the recently renovated historical Temtor Building, artisan sandwich makers craft their menu's masterpieces and build-your-own sandwiches from regional ingredients supplied by local farmers and merchants. Atop each hearty slice of bread, which can include bread varieties such as pretzel rolls and flatbread, the deli pros pile bacon, hot pastrami, or other meat selections before adding crowns of cheese. A house-made sauce such as rosemary olive oil assures each sandwich has a flavor distinctive of Davis Street Market Deli. More than a lunch spot, the deli also serves breakfast and dinner, and guests on the go can also pick up groceries, craft beers, fine wines, and household goods.
Subtle flavors pair with an elegant ambiance inside Trattoria Toscana's new Gravois Road location. Beneath framed prints of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other Italian landmarks, the tops of high bar chairs taper out like the shoulders of an evening gown. White tablecloths are creased in evenly pressed squares and hold plates of authentic Italian pastas and chicken, veal, and seafood sautéed in delicate wine sauces. Amid the gray-stippled walls, diners can question the manager about reserving a 75-person private party or rally the servers, busboys, and bartenders into a philosophical discussion on what it's like to be one who waits.