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.
The LBGT-friendly Velvet Rope invites revelers with open minds and refined tastes to enhance their evenings with the lounge's slate of fine wines, international cuisine, and elaborate entertainment in the form of go-go dancers and drag shows. Beneath the suffuse lighting of tulip chandeliers, the bustling main floor hosts a full bar, where 35 specialty martinis brim with creative ingredients—such as cookie-dough vodka and absinthe—while the private VIP loft accommodates dozens with a dedicated server, a private television, and plush furnishings for late-night pillow forts. Food and drink packages deck out special events, and the nightclub's calendar overflows with karaoke nights, drink specials, and live performances.
Olive or Twist pairs its 36 unique martinis, 20 bottled microbrews, and international wines with contemporary American fare concocted by chef Robert Nava. Shaken or stirred libations range from the Thin Mint martini, which comes in a Girl Scout box, to the Florida Key Lime Pie martini, a dram of Bacardi rum, Midori liqueur, and chocolate liqueur garnished with lime ($9–$11). Diners can also choose from brews including 3 Floyd's Alpha King pale ale ($5) to accompany small plates such as the potato-wrapped prawns with spinach, artichokes, and mustard-seed butter ($10). Tenderloin sliders topped with blue cheese and red-onion confit ($9) annex tummies before calling for reinforcements of classic American sandwiches ($6–$12) or large-plate entrees such as the jerk ribs with an auxiliary unit of saffron shoestring potatoes ($18). For dessert, sweet teeth delight in the banana split ($8) and apple-and-cheese strudel ($5), named after Frank Zappa's overlooked fifth child. Dinner patrons should call ahead for reservations amid Olive or Twist's low-lit tables and brick walls.
Casa De Montecristo stocks its ample humidors and regal environs with row after row of tasty smoking tobacco. A La Sirena Trident summons piquancy from the depths of the broadleaf ($9.95), while an E.P. Carrillo Elite hits only the most select flavor notes ($11.95). Casa De Montecristo also boasts a free VIP membership lounge, which can be accessed by calling ahead. The spacious smoking cavern teems with plush amenities such as leather chairs and private humidified lockers. Kick back in the bar and tune in to a flat-screen television, or recline in the theater room for a movie, game, or cigar-smoking tutorial led by Groucho Marx.
Adapted from the popular animated film by DreamWorks, Madagascar Live! brings to life the furry adventures of the familiar cast of on-the-lam zoo animals as they break out of New York's Central Park Zoo and return to their ancestral homeland in the African isle of Madagascar. This frenetic fusion of music and dance celebrates friendship with original songs, imaginative sets, and vivid costumes, leaving audience members clamoring to stage their own inspired midmorning escapes from the carpool lane. With more than 4,000 seats—each with unobstructed views—Rosemont Theatre provides a much more stately venue to witness a dancing-animal show than the neighborhood dogs' backyard production of The Sound of Music. Seats will be located in balcony level A through S or floor level AA-HH. Ticket pick-up is available starting an hour before the performance. Groups should plan to pick up their tickets early for best chance of sitting together.
Riddles Comedy Club has been rolling out the laugh-barrels for more than 20 years, propelling standup stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Carey, and Martin Lawrence into the spotlight. Today’s deal treats visitors to the show of their choice between now and the end of May, plus tickets to any future show attended after the first show. In addition to entertaining the troops in Iraq, Al Del Bene (October 14–15) has accompanied Dane Cook on his Isolated Incident tour. Political satirist Tim Slagle (October 21–22) will give funny bones a pre-election tickling, and Trial by Laughter champ Mike Baldwin (October 28–29) plans to fill bellies with laughs before guests pack them with Thanksgiving stuffing. Instead of rehearsing their own standup routines for crowds of fickle mannequins, club-goers can practice them on Riddles’ friendly bartenders as they sip beers, martinis, or Long Island iced teas.