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.
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.
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.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
The sandwiches at Sandwichville look a lot like the one's you'd find in Memphis. Or Manhattan. Or New Orleans. That's because the shop takes inspiration from classic sandwiches from all around the country and compiles them together onto one menu that pays homage to the best inventions on sliced bread. Reubens are piled high with corned beef that's grilled instead of steamed, allowing them to hold their own against those made in any New York deli, while southern-style barbecue pulled pork sandwiches get a splash of hometown flavor thanks to a generous slathering of Johnny V's sauce, which is bottled locally. Diners will also find cubans, BLTs, muffulettas, and a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich dubbed the "salute to Elvis" for its famed association with Canadian figure skating champ Elvis Stojko. Of course, they can also take the fate of their lunch into their own hands by custom building their own sandwich from a generous selection of meats, cheeses, and condiments.
Nicodino's Pizza Co. & Café bridges the culinary gap between sweet and savory with a multipronged menu that couples sizzling pizzas with piping-hot café drinks, as well as cataloging gluten-free pizza and pasta. Fresh toppings adorn hand-tossed pizzas and run the gamut from succulent meats, such as italian beef and roasted chicken, to veggies, including green peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and jalapeños. The kitchen doesn’t restrict itself to making pizzas, though; chefs also grill chicken-pesto paninis and bake spinach calzones and mostaccioli. To complement the savory food, the café side of the eatery presents offerings such as mango smoothies and tiramisu. When it’s warm, Nicodino's Pizza Co. & Café invites guests to an outdoor seating area. In addition, the restaurant offers catering for those throwing a dinner party or a pizza-themed wedding in which all the toasts are cheesy and made with marinara sauce.