Don’t let the name fool you—Peking Tokyo has more on its menu than delicacies from its namesake city. That’s because the cooks draw from other culinary traditions as well, assembling a well-rounded lineup of pan-Asian cuisine. In addition to the Japanese staples of sushi, vegetable tempura, and hibachi-grilled morsels, cooks can prepare Chinese entrees such as fried rice and moo goo gai pan, as well as a selection of Thai dishes that includes pad Thai and curry shrimp.
Pinkys pays homage to its Windy City location with a vintage tough-guy logo and a menu of Chicago-style polishes and gyros. Daily specials include classics such as catfish strips, a Maxwell Street-style polish, and barbecue-rib tips. Containers of croutons and thousand-island, blue-cheese, or creamy-ranch dressing sit on the side of meaty salads, ensuring that dishes get the partner of their choice, unlike most cops who live on the edge. Diners can round out their meals with a side of sauce or wash down each bite with a milk shake.
For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).
As the name might suggest, Daddy's Kitchen is truly a family business. The restaurant recreates traditional meals with Southern-inspired soul food and dessert recipes plucked straight from grandma's cookbook. Although the specials change every day, heaping portions of beef short ribs, turkey wing and cornbread dressing, and fried catfish frequently play well with sides including macaroni and cheese, greens, and candied yams. Homemade desserts, including peach cobbler, banana pudding, and a rotating assortment of cakes, bring each meal to a sweet conclusion.
Led by owner Mike Galderio, Balagio Ristorante unites families and friends around fresh-made pasta, breads, sauces, soups, and a trove of different wines. For lunch, guests can conquer stomach pangs with a selection of salads, signature pasta dishes, or handheld eats, including the 8 oz. black angus burger, served with fresh mushrooms and mozzarella on a brioche bun ($7.95). Evening-time guests, on the other hand, can peruse or origami-fold a dinner menu brimming with chicken, seafood, and pasta entrees. Start with an appetizer of baked eggplant marinara ($7.95) or crispy fried calamari ($8.95). Move on to classic tossed pasta dishes, such as the Hay & Straw spinach-and-egg fettucine ($12.95), or savory chicken entrees, such as the signature scaloppine Balagio-style , served with a side of braised escarole ($12.95). Browse a selection of veal, chops, and steak fresh-cut daily, or kick back with a bottled beer or martini, such as the Midnight in Rome.
Owner Kelly Garofalo presides over her family’s second restaurant, Grady’s Grille, aiming for a modern twist on the neighborhood eatery. Homestyle favorites, such as the hot ham 'n' cheese, served on a pretzel roll with dijon mustard, burst from the kitchen along with flatbreads, half-pound burgers, and shrimp tacos, which are ensconced in spicy house glaze previously used to deter gingerbread-house lickers. Playful breezes gambol across the outdoor patio and live entertainment includes acoustic sets from The Walk-ins to set diners’ hips swaying.
In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.