Cab's Wine Bar Bistro brings global tastes to downtown Glen Ellyn. Husband-and-wife Chef Luis Ayllon and general manager Lisa Ayllon oversee a diverse menu, which draws on Luis's training in France while nodding to Spanish, Asian, and Cajun cuisine. His worldly experience adds a unique touch to dishes ranging from paella to cassoulet, a hearty, slow-cooked casserole that proves especially enjoyable during colder months or whenever you find yourself trapped in a meat locker. Chef Ayllon also specializes in wine pairings, and invites diners to complement their meals with selections from the bistro's wine list, or purchase a bottle to take home.
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.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
Beer House couldn't be more accurately named. The global beer emporium showcases more than 60 on-tap pours, as well as hundreds of bottled craft beers from top breweries, such as Omission and Dogfish Head. Amid all the beer love, bartenders also serve several gluten-free brews and on-tap wine that travels straight from winery barrels to Beer House's pour lines.
Though the beer behemoth serves no food, patrons are welcome to bring their own or order meals from neighboring burger, pizza, and sushi joints. And what the taproom lacks in food, it makes up for in televisions—with 14 60-inch flat-screens and one 80-inch—all of which show the evening's biggest games. On non-game nights, live musicians serenade visitors, be they at the bar's 20-seat community table or starting up a rival band across the room.
Sam Elias knows that being cooped up during long winter days can make people stir-crazy. So in 1993, after moving from Florida, land of palm trees and beaches, to Chicago, land of frigid winds and gray slush, he founded WhirlyBall as a way for people to release pent-up energy even as snow was falling outside. During each competitive WhirlyBall game, which combines aspects of basketball, hockey, and jai alai, players zoom across an indoor 50'x80' court in motorized cars called WhirlyBugs. They wield plastic scoops to toss a wiffle ball back and forth to their teammates before throwing the ball through an elevated goal. Refs keep watch during the games, eliminating score arguments that would otherwise end in sunrise duels. To fuel up for a bout, players nibble teriyaki chicken satay, gourmet pizzas, and prime rib, and swig draft beers, which vary by location.
All three WhirlyBall spots boast off-court diversions such as video games, pool tables, foosball, and air hockey. The Vernon Hills location hosts an indoor rock-climbing wall, and both the Chicago and Vernon Hills locations invite guests into multilevel Lasertron laser-tag arenas, which fill with fog and flashing lights as combatants duck, aim, and invoke Geneva Convention protocols regarding armed conflict.
From the beckoning peals of jazz-playing buskers in Jackson Square to the amiable rush of revelers traipsing down Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ French Quarter earns its reputation as one of America’s liveliest locales. The chefs at French Quarter New Orleans Kitchen bring this same bonhomie to the plate, recreating Cajun staples including blackened fish, gumbo, and Cajun-spiced steak. Like holding a jazz funeral for a dead goldfish, the dining room’s bead-strewn chandeliers and gold and crimson walls add a touch of Fat Tuesday flair to everyday life. As guests sup on spicy jambalaya and sip southern cocktails, a lineup of live acts entertains crowds with DJs and blues bands.