A family-owned-and-operated establishment, the idea for Jenny's Steak House sprouted more than 60 years ago in a small pub on Chicago's South Side. These days, chefs still whip up menu items that the family concocted all those years ago, such as potato pancakes, braised lamb shanks, and oxtail soup. The culinary maestros at Jenny's Steak House also grill hand-cut steaks smeared with a special seasoning blend, pair wraps and sandwiches with homemade Idaho potato chips, and blacken, broil, or fry fresh seafood. Meanwhile, the pizza kitchen dispenses pies until 1 a.m., at which time all the uncooked dough and pepperoni turn into a magical pizza carriage. The lounge accommodates guests even later as they relax with martinis, local brews, or wine while enjoying evening entertainment such as live music and karaoke.
Choo Choo's train-themed eatery revs diners' digestive engines with a medley of wraps and sandwiches, as well as a miniature locomotive that gallivants through the family-friendly dining room. The dynamic servers, clad in engineer attire, deliver hearty menu items, such as the bacon-and-cheese char-burger ($8.49) and the tortilla-swaddled chicken-and-bacon wrap ($8.49). The Conductor's special bookends charbroiled chicken, marinara, and parmesan between a gourmet bun, and the Penn Central sandwich trots down the track, tempting tongues with rib-eye steak, mozzarella, grilled onions, and peppers embraced by french bread ($7.99). Watch kids marvel as a model train delivers food at the counter or chugs through a miniature city populated by tiny commuters and average-size thimbles.
Chef Dan McGee has worked in Paris, Switzerland, and Peru as well as spending time in the states at restaurants such as Charlie Trotters. Using fresh ingredients to create the dishes that grace the seasonal menu, Chef McGee whips up tongue-tapping appetizers such as duck confit ravioli with sautéed spinach and balsamic apples ($9) and a goat cheese gratin with ratatouille and a garlic crostini ($8). An asparagus soup with oregano and feta cheese is gracefully poured tableside, and can then be smoothly poured into your mouth tureen ($7). Entrees include the grilled fillet of beef, which nestle next to potato truffle risotto and asparagus ($29), while the crab and horseradish crusted tilapia swims alongside jasmine rice and champagne sauce ($19). Staple yourself down to a seat at the bar and peep through the kitchen window to watch chefs summon ingredients by waving their spatula wands, or order a libation from the full bar, which features specialty martinis and more than 50 wines, as well as microbrews, domestics, and imports.
Chicago Blu welcomes diners into its family-friendly eatery with live music and hearty bar fare. The menu revs up stomach engines with starters such as spicy southwest rolls stuffed with cheese and chicken and served with tangy ranch or sweet chili sauce ($7). Wrap tonsils around the Southside blu burger—a pretzel bun cradling a half-pound of charbroiled beef topped with bleu cheese and grilled onions ($8.50). Those who put pork on a pedestal can commission a replica of The Thinker made of bacon or can opt for a BBQ rib platter served with coleslaw and fries ($8.50/half rack, $16/whole rack). Entree salads can give grazers their fill of greenery ($9+), and a beer or a glass of wine from the full bar lubes up digestive tracks for the death by brownie dessert ($6).
For years, Julie Scianna’s celiac disease left her uncomfortable and bloated—until she eliminated gluten. The advice made her feel better almost immediately. However, finding gluten-free food to sustain her new diet proved easier said than done. To solve this problem for fellow celiac sufferers, Julie, in collaboration with Chef Andrew Hebda now makes gluten-free treats widely available through OMG…It’s Gluten Free. The restaurant’s entirely gluten- and peanut-free menu includes café items such as lasagna, pizza, and corn dogs along with bakery classics such as cinnamon rolls and brownies. In addition to the main café in Frankfort, Julie also distributes her gluten-free treats at various locations in eight states.
Sweet Frog?s frozen-yogurt flavors go beyond the norm. In addition to cookies ?n? cream and salty caramel, the lineup of 75 varieties includes maple-bacon donut, cake batter, and dulce de leche. Patrons can sprinkle on toppings such as fresh fruit and candies, then savor their confetti?d confections in the lime-green-and-pink restaurant. Smiling frogs and funky white hanging lamps give the stores an air of fun, but founder Derek Cha is interested in giving more than that to the community; through Sweet Frog, he sponsors children in need and dispatches frog mascots to those who need encouragement.