In 1962, Alberto Heredia and his wife, Carmen, flung open the doors of Carmelita's Restaurant, introducing a menu of tried and true family recipes from Puebla, Mexico. Now, a fourth generation of the Heredia family helps marinate carnitas and blend avocados into guacamole at two Carmelita's locations. The dining rooms, which are bedecked in vibrant knickknacks and paintings, let diners bask in bright colors without getting yelled at by a judge for bringing a kaleidoscope to court. Against the electrically hued backdrop, mariachi bands play on special occasions, their trumpets rising in warm spirals above fiddles and guitars.
The chef deep-fries half a boneless duck until it forms a crisp outer shell and then douses the poultry in a honey-barbecue sauce. He then moves to another grill and browns prawns marinated in a tequila cream sauce. Eclectic dishes, such as the honey-roasted duck, fill Siam Patio Thai Cuisine’s menu. Unique ingredients pop-up in all aspects of the menu—from curries with a pumpkin and seafood pairing to a deep-fried crispy chicken sautéed with mango. Chefs also include old Thai favorites on the menu, such as pad thai and fried-rice dishes, for those who prefer the comfort of familiarity, much like hugging an imaginary friend.
The cooks at Sauce’d Pizza & Cocktail House know that the authenticity of a wood-fired pizza can’t be replicated in a standard oven, so they don’t even try. Instead, they heat up their menu’s signature pizzas the old-fashioned way, and, like the architect of the world’s first all-edible skyscraper, top them with surprising fixings such as honey and sliced pears, smoked salmon, or hummus. Paired with the house’s popular mozzarella garlic knots and a tasty cocktail or two, the pizzas evolve into a filling meal best enjoyed alongside live guitar or jazz music.
The passionate and experienced chefs at Takieng Thai Cuisine dished up meals in Thailand before heading to the states to plate a menu of authentic Thai cuisine. Greeting taste buds with mild, medium, or hot levels of spiciness, the thai fried rice hosts a party bustling with egg, veggies, and a special-guest protein of your choice ($8.95), who promises to not wear a clown mask this time. Classic noodle dishes such as pad thai ($8.95) or pad see-ew ($8.95) slide down esophageal slaloms, and yum-tow-hu—tofu salad ($6.95)—fills bellies with cilantro-laced sustenance. The cozy, wood-paneled interior is enhanced by Thai artifacts, resulting in a casually intimate atmosphere ideal for deep conversations about filling out W-9 forms.
Urban Dog and Sausage serves up encased meats armed with innovative flair and premium ingredients. The menu stars Vienna Beef–brand sausages, flown in from Chicago, that range from the aptly named Chicago Dog with all the fixins ($3.69) to the breakfast-breaking Brunch Dog, a freshly grilled frankfurter topped with fried egg, smoked bacon, and yellow mustard ($3.79). For patrons who prefer to sate their juicy, carnal cravings sans link, Urban boasts a single burger option, Royale with Cheese ($4.09), and for those who crave sans carnal cravings, the Nhot Dog, a meatless frank dressed with grilled onions and yellow mustard ($3.19) is offered. On the sausage end, Urban outputs The Govna, a beer bratwurst covered in dusseldorf brown mustard, with a choice of grilled onions or sauerkraut ($4.19), and which pairs properly with sides including coleslaw, potato salad, or chili ($1.49 each), or the diner's signature urban fries ($2.49 for a shareable size).
At only one place can people find Bob Marley, Burt Reynolds, and Christopher Columbus on the same bill. Sundance Sandwich's staff has named all of its sandwiches, both hot and cold, after pop and historical icons. For the cold Christopher Columbus, they layer Italian salami and provolone on a fresh-baked french roll, before setting it to sail, while the Ann Margret, a roast beef dip, is served hot.