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.
Since 1980, Golden Wok Restaurant's chefs have used zero-trans-fat vegetable oils while preparing spice-filled Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine. At dinner, the restaurant's tables fill with dishes of sizzling barbecue pork egg foo young, chow mein and lo mein, and Cantonese–style lobster tails.
No matter how old you are, when a toy train pulls up bearing your lunch, you smile from ear to ear. At 2Toots Train Whistle Grill, O-scale toy trains bustle around the '50s luncheonette-style grill, delivering burgers, hot dogs, and fries to each table. These, however, are not just ordinary hot dogs, hamburgers, and chili; they're sourced from national and Chicago news journalist Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass grass-fed and pasture-raised beef, which means they're imbued with more nutrients and vitamins than beef that's been commercially-raised or fed a diet of candy corn.
But the veteran owned and operated eatery's sense of giving back doesn't just stop there. The restaurant promotes 1 Vet at a Time, a pending 501c3 that helps combat veterans secure business loans by serving as a benevolent lender.