The rich scents of smoked meats and barbecue sauce fill Hickory River Smokehouse, where chefs slow-smoke beef brisket, pulled pork, and baby back ribs. They cover select cuts of meat in a housemade dry rub before smoking them for many hours in a hickory wood filled smoker. Succulent Texas-style barbecue is the result of the low and slow smoking style. Diners can indulge in award-winning pulled pork, sampler platters, or opt for a lighter fare, including low-fat smoked turkey and country ham. Housemade sides such as cornbread, Texas-style ranch beans, mustard- and mayonnaise-based potato salad, and homemade Texas-style chili round out the hearty meals.
Pho Ha is about as authentic as you can get. For starters, the menu is printed in Vietnamese and English, accommodating its regular clientele of vietnamese transplants, pho enthusiasts, and curious newcomers. Guests peruse the menu designing feasts from more than 40 different noodle dishes, a host of bahn mi sandwiches, and a slew of Vietnamese specialties. Servers trundle bowls of simmering beef and chicken pho soups out to the bright dining room, where a vibrant sea-scape mural flows across the wall. Diners sprinkle fresh herbs and crisp bean sprouts into their bowls before adding a dab of hot sauce and a twist of fresh lime. For a post-prandial treat, Pho Ha blends fresh smoothies, which are served with real tapioca balls at the bottom.
Peachwave Yogurt’s frozen yogurt brims with live, active cultures, creating a calcium- and protein-rich dessert that laid the groundwork for more than 70 locations nationwide. Fourteen self-serve dispensers fill cups or open mouths with a rotating selection of 100% kosher flavors, such as low-fat red velvet, sugar-free white chocolate, nonfat pomegranate, or nondairy Dole pineapple. Container after container of jewel-toned fresh fruits, nuts, and other edible adornments line the topping bar, which boasts more than 50 yogurt accompaniments in total, including seasonal flavors like eggnog, pumpkin pie, mint chocolate, and gingerbread.
Celebrating its 25th birthday in 2013, Bella Luna Cafe continues to do what it does best: quench appetites with Italian favorites. The restaurant anchors its menu with three styles of pizza: deep dish, thin crust, and stuffed, which come packed with enough goodies to address different topping cravings. The cafe also offers a build-your-own-pizza option, enabling diners to customize their pies with varying sizes, crusts, saws—a rotary saw puts a pizza cutter to shame. Pizzas aside, Bella Luna specializes in pasta, too. In fact, the cafe has 10 different pasta options, including a home-style, eight-finger cavatelli creation served with a vodka sauce.
At Salt Creek Barbeque, two distinct aromas weave through the air: a cocktail of herbs and sauces distilling itself into barbecue sauce, and the scent of hickory from a smoker, where each of Salt Creek's meats spends 5–12 hours to enhance flavor and unwind from its fight with the butcher. The house-made sauce drenches dishes such as hand-pulled pork and shaved brisket—stacked atop sandwich buns or texas toast—and bastes plates of slow-smoked meaty rib tips with its aromatic flavor. The signature sauce makes yet another appearance as a uniform for chicken wings, also available in coats of buffalo or spicy sauce that diners wash down with fountain drinks or pitchers of domestic and imported beers from the full-service bar. A full slate of burgers and catfish sandwiches round out the menu of quintessentially American fare, accompanied by classic sides of corn bread and mashed potatoes. Salt Creek Barbecue also caters for special events, forging party-sized portions of its iconic menu items.
Before convertibles, or highways, or paved streets in Chicago's suburbs, a little field house fronted by two gas pumps sat on a two-lane dirt road that some people called North Avenue. The house's residents pumped gas for thirsty cars and whipped up meals for hungry travelers, and their little business became an oasis for those on their way in or out of the city. Times changed, and as the town grew the little business kept pace, transforming over 75 years from a gas station and tavern into Ki's Steak and Seafood.
Today, Executive Chef Daniel has a few more tools at his disposal than the original proprietor's stove top and frying pan. He works in a professionally outfitted kitchen, churning out hand-cut black angus steaks, bacon-wrapped scallops, and roast duck. Meanwhile, his saucier whips up endless batches of bernaise and bourdelaise sauce to drizzle over steaks or play a gourmet version of bobbing for apples.
The little dirt road that ran past the house became a busy, concrete vein of commerce, pumping car-fulls of customers into the establishment's parking lot. However, despite this urban sprawl, the owners have done their best to ensure that the view from the windows remains nostalgically delightful. Their restaurant sits on six acres of farmland, and its grand picture windows overlook a rustic barn occupied by peacocks, sheep, and rabbits, and framed by flower beds and ponds.