As the sun sets over Antioch every Wednesday night, most people are thinking about going to bed; that’s not the case at Port of Blarney. Instead, a captain is firing up his boat for the weekly sunset cruise, which departs from the eatery’s 8-acre stretch of lakefront property. Free to the first 35 diners who made a reservation, many passengers bring a drink from the restaurant’s bar along for the ride after indulging from a menu loaded with classic American and pub food. Inside the Key West¬–themed dining room or on the freshly planted patio, diners nosh on spicy wings, half-pound Black Angus burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches, such as the Havana Cuban, which tucks slices of pork tenderloin, ham, and pickles into french bread. A regular stream of musicians and other live acts hits the stage at Port of Blarney to keep guests entertained as they eat.
On summer weekends, Port of Blarney’s docks also provide a free boat shuttle to Blarney Island, a bar located 1 mile offshore. Legend has it that entrepreneur and card shark Jack O’Connor won the rights to the bar in the 1900s in an all-or-nothing poker game. The bar's success during the past century inspired the founding of Port of Blarney restaurant to feed guests year-round and to ferry revelers to the lake-bound oasis during warmer months or giant-squid migrations.
At Spring Grove Family Restaurant & Pizzeria, the chefs specialize in comfort. All-day breakfast selections share menu space with dinners of fettuccine alfredo and half-pound burgers layered with bacon and cheese. From the pizza ovens emerge pies in both thin-crust and deep-dish variations, with ingredients added to emulate classic dishes such as tacos, reuben sandwiches, and the traditional delicacy known as "pizza." For sweeter cravings, the chefs bake tart cherry pies and top slices of molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a chocolate drizzle.
When you get your first plate of Taqueria Los Comales’ signature Mexico-City-style tacos, you might be surprised by their size. Each double-wrapped taco is small enough to fit into your hand, a fact owner Camerino Gonzalez specifically had in mind when first making them in Chicago’s Little Village in 1973. Rather than have clients try just one of his signature meats, he wanted to allow guests to sample a wide variety of different options. Cooks stuff the soft tortillas with al pastor served in a secret marinade as well as more adventurous taqueria staples such as tongue or beef tripe. The restaurants’ homemade salsa and their own signature mix of pickled carrots, cauliflower, and jalapeños enhance these flavors, making meals as satisfying as the discovery that you’re tax exempt because of your cool haircut. Alongside the traditional tacos, chefs grill up meats for tortas, burritos, breakfast, and dinner platters, all of which can be paired with the shop’s glasses of creamy horchata or a range of Mexican and domestic beers.
Firewood Restaurant & Sports Lounge's 30 TVs act as eye magnets for sports fans, who can fill up on mainstay bar and grill dishes. As guests enjoy a comfortable atmosphere coupled with bites such as burritos, burgers, and pizza, a list of 39 craft beers thwarts thirst and muffles shouts over bad calls or good sportsmanship. In the summer, a patio veranda opens itself to warm, breezy dining, and dartboards, Golden Tee, and trivia games provide food for thought throughout the duration of Earth's trip around the sun.
Much like a meteorologist or a twice-broken femur, the moose head hanging on the wall at Twisted Moose announces the changing of the seasons. The restaurant’s eponymous mascot is typically dressed up to celebrate an upcoming holiday or to support the home team, whose games are broadcast from the bar’s 17 large-screen TVs and three high definition projectors. Wide-eyed sports fans munch on American food such as thin-crust pizzas, half-pound burgers, and vegetables fried in a crunchy beer batter. Between plays, guests bond over rounds of darts while sipping drafts of Guinness and bottled craft brews.
The chefs at Angie's Pizzeria are diligent scholars of Chicago's culinary traditions. In their bustling kitchen, they fill deep-dish pizzas with heaps of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and meaty toppings; adorn steamed franks with the canonical toppings of the Chicago-style hot dog; and sizzle up slices of Italian beef for pepper-laden sandwiches. But their expertise also makes for satisfying spin offs. The Grabber, for instance, stars a hot dog that's wrapped in bacon, deep fried, and slathered with cheese sauce, sport peppers, and celery salt. They also serve thin-crust and hand-tossed pizza varieties, which diners can order with any of their more than 20 toppings or with marshmallows, hot fudge, and peanuts—the ingredients atop their rocky-road dessert pizza.