When childhood pals Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher bought Elmwood Park's Victory Tap in 1956, one of their first orders of business was determining the name of their new establishment. Michael won the deciding coin toss, but to dodge any complaints that might arise, slyly chose to dub their eatery Armand’s Victory Tap, after his coin-toss-losing partner. With Armand’s original artwork gracing the walls and Michael’s thin-crust pizza flying from the oven, the restaurant received positive reviews; and although Armand sold his portion to Mike in the 1960s, the eatery—since renamed Armand's Pizzeria—still thrives today.
City-dwellers and suburbanites alike can taste a slice of the original thin-crust pie at any of Armand's 10 locations. Though menus differ slightly at each eatery, all contain thin- or pan-crust pizzas crowned with an array of fresh toppings, ranging from ham, bacon, and pineapple to feta and kalamata olives to italian beef and spicy giardiniera. Beyond pizza, the chefs pull mozzarella mostaccioli from the oven, glaze baby back ribs with tangy barbecue sauce, and assemble hearty sandwiches from italian beef and italian sausage, the same materials that used to line the deli counter at the Roman coliseum.
It all started in 1946 when a Navy cook finished his tour of duty after World War II. He left his destroyer in the South Pacific and set sail for Chicago's South Side. There, he opened a carry-out fried-seafood joint and dubbed it Ship Shape Shrimp Shack, a name that was hard to say but easy to love, thanks to his signature fried-shrimp recipe. For 30 years, he continued delighting customers and living his dream, minus the part where he could fly, until 1976, when health issues forced him to close the restaurant. A few years later, a local truck driver and food-service veteran by the name of Frank took over, renaming the place Frank's Chicago Shrimp House. Under the Navy cook's tutelage, he learned everything there was to know about the shrimp and seafood business, and enjoyed the same success through the golden-fried shrimp and seafood of his predecessor. Today, his daughters are at the helm, keeping tradition alive and well at four locations throughout the Chicagoland area. At those restaurants, they fry up the classics and mix it up with frog legs and New Orleans–style fried shrimp, pairing the crispy morsels with classic sides such as hush puppies, cole slaw, and french fries.
As dusk begins to set in near the corner of Thatcher and North, a familiar site lights up the intersection—a towering chimney with blazing neon letters that read "Russell's." The iconic eatery originally opened its doors in the 1930s, and it remains unflinchingly committed to its deep neighborhood roots. "Russell's is more than a restaurant," claimed a 1999 feature in the Chicago Tribune, "it's a living piece of history."
This sense of history is most prevalent in the menu of slow-cooked barbecue and classic, home-style comfort foods. In addition to the signature barbecued-pork sandwich that appeared on the Food Network's Sandwich King, the menu also features slow-cooked beef and hearty slabs of ribs, all of which arrive with Russell's time-honored barbecue sauce. An assortment of familiar side dishes help complete each meal, including crispy onion rings, coleslaw, and brisket-scented oxygen.
Plenty has changed at Jim & Pete's since the family-owned eatery’s opening in 1941, but one thing has remained constant: the recipes. Along with a few updates and one robot line cook, chefs still depend on those time-tested formulas to craft an array of signature chicken dishes, risotto specials, and fish entrees. The restaurant also offers 20 types of pasta and 13 special sauces, including besciamella and string bean. Those combinations can be customized, as can unions between five kinds of pizza crust and 20 toppings such as sausage, anchovies, and red peppers.
Imported and domestic bottles of sparkling, white, or red wine complement meals, which unfold in a brick-walled dining room decorated with wine racks. In addition to dine-in feasts, Jim & Pete's cuisine is available for carry-out, catering, and banquets.
The cooks at Wingstop put the ubiquitous phrase, “It tastes like chicken,” to the test. This is because they serve bone-in or boneless chicken wings in 10 different flavors, based on recipes from around America. They slather hawaiian-style wings in a sweet, mild sauce, or bedeck louisiana-rub wings in a dry blend of spices. They also cater to extreme spice-cravers with an amped up buffalo sauce named atomic, for its ability to disintegrate taste buds and convert them into electricity to power a deep fryer. They pair their hearty servings of wings with tasty sides, most notably fresh-cut, seasoned fries made from Idaho potatoes.
Inari Sushi is the place to be. Japanese cuisine that is part of a healthy and light diet. Carefully prepared fresh fish and seafood are full of nutrients and the elegant way the food is served gives you a good reason to meet with a date, with friends, or for a business meeting.