The redolent aromas of a medley of unique culinary syntheses permeate the cleverly mismatched furnishings of Vibe's lively lounge. After perusing the menu, ease into an evening as smooth and enjoyable as a hang-glide session with Fabio by romping through the tilapia ceviche, a piquant citric noshable served with tortilla chips ($9.50). Works by local artists gaze watchfully from the walls as diners tear into bacon, apple, and blue cheese pizza ($9) while basking in the glow of one of the many vibrant orange sofas or the lounge's outdoor seating. Meatloaf sliders, crowned with fried onion and jalapeno mayonnaise ($2.50 each), serve up a new twist on a traditional dish akin to Emeril's famous chicken-noodle schnapps. Vibe's bar pours mirth into the glasses of guests who enjoy colorful environs framed by hanging curtains and eccentric lighting, which host a variety of live musical performances and well-known artists 3–4 times a week and other events.
The festive displays at Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express pluck visitors from forests of skyscrapers and tangles of telephone vines and prepare them for the holiday season. Energy-conserving LED lights⎯750,000 of them⎯twinkle in the crisp air of an outdoor magical winter wonderland. Inside, amid the falling of faux snow, tiny model locomotives chug through an elaborate 10,000-square-foot display featuring decorations, holiday trees, botanicals and poinsettias, and more than 80 mini models of Chicago’s famous buildings and landmarks. Designed by holiday wizard Paul Busse, the model-railroad garden combines artistic design, horticulture, and Windy City pride to delight children, parents, grandparents, and estranged snowmen cousins alike.
The menu, decor, and homey atmosphere at Muldoon’s all share one thing in common: each is designed to evoke a traditional Irish pub. The tavern, along with its sister watering holes Kerry Piper and Tommy Nevin’s, all salute the Emerald Isle with hearty dishes such as corned beef and shepherd's pie. As Guinness and Smithwick’s flow from the row of spigots behind the bar, friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
Established in 1990, the bar and grill formerly known as Pete's Pizza took on its new nommé de cuisine in 2008 after extending the menu to encompass burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and Greek fare from chefs Spiro Theodoropoulos and John Patouhas. The hugely varied pub fare weighs down tables in the expansive, relaxed dining room. In the adjoining bar, raucous games of darts, pool, and sudoku wait to break out. During warmer weather, diners take in fresh air on the stone patio that also provides the ideal amount of give for toe-tapping to the sporadically scheduled live music.
House-made cuisine isn't supposed to be flashy, and Mario's Mondo Cafe doesn't try to impress diners with anything beyond an unwavering dedication to Old World flavors. Inspired by generations of family recipes, Chef Mario cobbles together a menu of familiar Italian staples while incorporating local and sustainably sourced ingredients whenever possible. The Chicago Tribune praised the restaurant for its commitments to tradition and unpretentious comfort food, calling the eatery, "a casual, hidden treasure."
Even the decor aims to create a cozy ambiance. Butcher paper covers the tabletops and a single shelf lines the pale orange walls, displaying a variety of homestyle mementos, such as framed pictures and bronzed kickball trophies.
Flatlander's pampers malt-pining palates by balancing a seasonal lineup of more than seven house-made brews with a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare to gourmet entrees. Beer flights guide diners through five distillations and the on-site brewmaster ensures appetizers highlight each brews best qualities, matching seared asian ahi to the crispness of the Jackson Wit and spicy jumbo wings to the Flatlander IPA's training as a firefighter. Thick cuts of homestyle meatloaf and crispy morsels of fish and chips embody the roles of classic pub fare, subtly supported by gourmet-inspired castmates such as linguine pomodoro and USDA-prime center-cut filet mignon. An arsenal of 13 hearty burgers accessorized with toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, or fried onions gratify any diet while bookended around a choice of USDA-prime chuck, ground turkey, veggie, or peppermint patties.