Twin Dragons Restaurant's chefs prepare a sprawling menu of Chinese cuisine without the use of MSG, lard, or butter. Using high-flame woks, they stir-fry their entrees with very little oil, ensuring that their meals—made with hand-trimmed lean beef and 99% fat-free chicken breast—do not carry greasy residues. They also gladly keep out specific ingredients upon request.
When you get your first plate of Taqueria Los Comales’ signature Mexico-City-style tacos, you might be surprised by their size. Each double-wrapped taco is small enough to fit into your hand, a fact owner Camerino Gonzalez specifically had in mind when first making them in Chicago’s Little Village in 1973. Rather than have clients try just one of his signature meats, he wanted to allow guests to sample a wide variety of different options. Cooks stuff the soft tortillas with al pastor served in a secret marinade as well as more adventurous taqueria staples such as tongue or beef tripe. The restaurants’ homemade salsa and their own signature mix of pickled carrots, cauliflower, and jalapeños enhance these flavors, making meals as satisfying as the discovery that you’re tax exempt because of your cool haircut. Alongside the traditional tacos, chefs grill up meats for tortas, burritos, breakfast, and dinner platters, all of which can be paired with the shop’s glasses of creamy horchata or a range of Mexican and domestic beers.
Sandwichville's amiable servers expedite made-to-order bread-and-protein towers. The Elvis the King's amalgam of peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and honey ($5.29) saunters and swivels its way across the mouth’s threshold with gooey charm. A menu packed with stackable sustenance lets customers concoct You Call It dagwoods ($4.99) that sport custom assemblages of bread, fillings, condiments, and extras such as guacamole and bacon ($0.50 each). Symbolically make up for past encounters with subpar paninis or all-too-human human childhood heroes by triumphantly tackling the Cuban, which piles high ham, roast pork, salami, and swiss cheese on a pressed roll ($6.29).
A native of Hong Kong, Chef Brian Eng masterminded a menu of healthy family recipes infused with fresh, handpicked ingredients and devoid of MSG. A smattering of starters, such as a duo of crispy egg rolls ($3.25) and hot-and-sour soup ($2.95–$4.75) prevent mouths from chugging a bottle of soy sauce. Made-to-order mains include the beef in a nest, sliced beef doused in onion-infused gravy nestled in a soft bed of Cantonese pan-fried noodles ($7.25–$10.75), and the empress chicken, a jewel-encrusted chicken frolicking with peppers and onions in a barbecue sweet-and-sour sauce ($7.00–$10.50). Diners can cast a net around the silver shrimp and scallops served on broccoli next to a pool of cream sauce ($10.45–$15.50). A quintet of almond cookies ($1.25) rounds out the meal more eloquently than a soliloquy from a bilingual Shakespeare impersonator.
Every Sunday, Papa Saverio welcomed his family with the enticing aromas of simmering tomatoes, garlic, and onions as he cooked a traditional Italian meal for the whole clan. Two generations later, his children and grandchildren have grown into expert cooks themselves—thanks to their papa's teaching—and have founded their very own restaurant, Papa Saverio’s Pizzeria. Opened in 1997, what was once a single shop in Lake in the Hills has since expanded to 15 stores scattered across Chicagoland. Yet no matter the location, Papa Saverio’s Old-World recipes remain the same and his love of family pervades each eatery. Patrons can build their own pies atop a light and flaky thin-crust canvas or a slightly thicker pan-pizza crust, or they can go even bigger with the Chicago-style deep dish, which requires a fork and knife for mess-free consumption. Chefs hand-roll the eatery's original double-dough pie and layer cheese and toppings, such as sausage, green peppers, and hot giardiniera, between two crusts to create the stuffed pizza. Although Papa Saverio’s is known for its pies, the menu also features other Italian favorites, such as baked mostaccioli and lasagna, and plenty of sandwiches and wraps for those who already ate pizza for breakfast, lunch, and second lunch.
There is no dine-in service at The Golden Bowl, a Bartlett Chinese restaurant specializing in takeout and delivery. But that doesn't phase the regulars who keep coming back for spring rolls, house-made dumplings, and pan-fried noodles. In addition to these classics, the eatery's chef whips up original creations such as Crunchy Bartlett Chicken, which pairs shredded, lightly breaded chicken with tangy apricot sauce. Diners can order all of these dishes and more online, preventing one from having to pick up the phone or softly pray for chow mein to rain from the sky.