Hailed by Chicago magazine as one of 2009's best new restaurants, Glen Prairie has solidified its commitment to Midwestern flavor during the ensuing years, with a kitchen that transmutes organic, gluten-free or family-farmed ingredients into platefuls of contemporary American cuisine. Buns cradling certified Black Angus burgers or Dietzler Farms all-natural patties materialize atop sleek tables in puffs of purple smoke as diners lounge beneath the incandescent light of the sage-toned dining room. The hip setting belies the restaurant’s homey flavors, as elements of comfort food infuse dishes such as the mac ‘n‘ locally farmed cheese, which accompanies chervil-crusted pike or arrives solo as part of the vegetarian selection.
Eco-friendly wines share the fruits of sustainable vineyards. And a choice of regular or mini desserts punctuates meals with perfectly portioned chocolate-chip-cookie sundaes, smothered in gelato and smoked sea-salted caramel. A brunch menu greets the morning with more healthy spreads, featuring frittatas, benedicts, and omelets made from cage-free eggs, trans-fat-free oils, and vegetables that got perfect scores on their ACTs.
Alfie's Inn takes its name from the 1966 film in which Michael Caine plays a carefree playboy. In contrast to this flippant character, the chefs at Alfie’s Inn work with military precision, particularly when it comes to their signature burger. After whipping up a top-secret in-house seasoning, they grind burger meat and treat it for precisely one minute and 10 seconds—any longer and patties become mushy; any shorter and they toughen. Fried and mounded with grilled onions or blue-cheese crumbles, the end result is an epic burger that has earned praise on WGN’s Chicago’s Best.
Though known for its burger, the eatery also boasts impressively sized portions of baby back ribs, new york strip steaks, and surf ‘n’ turf dishes. Diners feast on meals amid the restaurant’s medieval decor, complete with suits of armor and a roaring indoor fireplace. Kids also walk away bearing trinkets including balloons, lollipops, and a little Magna Carta that emancipates them from their parents.
Skuddlebutts Pizza, which opened in 1939 as a small tavern specializing in baked ham sandwiches, outgrew two locations over the decades and vastly expanded its menu to include an array of comfort fare. Diners begin to slow clap when the cooking staff performs piping-hot pizza preparation, hearty sandwich layering, and crisp salad tosses with fresh, homemade dressing. Polite and timely waiters parade thin-crust and Chicago pan-style pies into the dining room two at a time, as each pizza is sold on a two-for-one basis, and juggle an assortment of sandwiches and half-pound burgers. Skuddlebutts' catering menu makes gatherings of 10–30 friends and family members simpler with a selection of salads, sides, and entrees.
Before touching down on the dining-room tables, plates greet diners with the wafting aromas of authentic Chinese-style veggies, spices, and sauces. Equally adept at sautéing tofu, shredding pork, and crisping duck, the cooks can accessorize their entrees' savory flavors with spoonfuls of sweet 'n' sour plum sauce or fiery scoops of hot-chili paste, which burns as intensely as a bonfire full of matchbooks. For added doses of transpacific flavor, they can also stir in traditional Chinese ingredients such as water chestnuts and stir-fried string beans.
The cozy red booths at Glen Oak Restaurant are a perfect match for the classic American comfort foods found within the bountiful pages of the menu. From farm fresh eggs served all day to breaded veal cutlets served with brown gravy, the cuisine here has been soothing and warming hungry visitors for 35 years. Burgers, melts, and salads adorned with bacon and feta cheese are just a few of the timeless crowd-pleasers that never disappoint, while dishes such as chicken kabobs or steak quesadillas treat taste buds to global flavors so dinner never gets boring. Of course, no visit would be complete without a slice of one of Glen Oak's fruit or cream pies, the flavors of which change daily or even sooner on days when the restaurant is frequented by clowns.
Hokkai Sushi Cuisine has several specialty rolls, but only one special enough to bear the restaurant's name. The Hokkai roll is an elegant construction of salmon, salmon skin, cucumber, and avocado crowned with a scoop of salmon roe. This might be one of the most popular rolls on the menu, but it's not without its challengers. The World Series roll, for example, is named in honor of the 2005 White Sox and hits it out of the park with a blend of soft-shell crab tempura and tuna garnished with Big League Chew. Hokkai's chefs also slice up an eclectic variety of sashimi and cook hot plates of shrimp tempura and teriyaki chicken.