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.
Mullets Sports Bar and Restaurant’s rosy interior brims with a huge range of time-tested pub foods and a full bar, all basking in the glow of 41 flat screen televisions. The menu's bevy of appetizers, each as American as John Wayne hugging apple pie, eases hunger-hammerers into culinary bliss with golden-fried queso cubes ($5.99) and beer battered cheese curds ($6.99). Sink canines into a hamburger Hercules crowned with pepper-jack cheese, jalapeño bacon, fresh lettuce, and tomato ($8.99) and chicken and veggie patties wait in the wings, ready to be tagged into epicurean battle by their beef brothers. Neptunian noshers opt for the surf 'n' turf wrap filled with steak, shrimp, pico de gallo, and provolone ($10.99).
In business for 25 years and renowned for its slow-cooked barbecue ribs, the family-owned Nick's Barbecue maintains a culinary stable of more than 100 equally tempting items on its menu. Fall-off-the-bone barbecue baby back ribs cover fingers in a sweet signature sauce, dinner’s perfect complement to stylish sauce-colored outfits ($10.99). The barbecue pulled pork ($7.59) and half-chicken dinner ($7.45) team up tender white meats with three down-home sides, including mac ‘n’ cheese, potato wedges, barbecue baked beans, or mixed veggies. Two items that are as authentically Chicago as a silver bean riding the L train—the italian beef sandwich ($4.69) and the vienna all-beef hot dog ($2.15)—do their city proud as they tame the windiest of appetites.
Gino's East's still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and canadian bacon. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Danny’s Cafe warmly serves what co-owner Carl Dote described as “Italian peasant food” on Danny’s Check, Please! feature. Their cooking aims to comfort, from generously stuffed artichokes to their signature fried-meatball sub. The hefty sandwich, highlighted on WGN, comes to fruition after staff members hand-form fresh meatball mix into patties and pile on fried peppers. Co-owner and chef Paula Dote told ABC’s “Hungry Hound” that when she and her husband bought the restaurant, she wanted to make exactly what she made at home, and indeed, she uses recipes from her mother and mother-in-law in all of her cooking and homemade volcano experiments. She ladles vodka sauce and crumbled sausage over homemade rigatoni, and layers provolone, parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta in the four-cheese lasagna. Pork neck bones, one of Danny's more unique dishes, are served twice a week and praised by Hungry Hound for the tender meatiness resulting from hours spent simmering in spiced tomatoes. The eatery has also spawned relatives—appropriately named “Cuzzin’s Cafe”—that serve similar dishes in Des Plaines and Orland Park.
Against the backdrop of seaside murals, Casa Margarita's indoor waterfalls and bubbling fountains transport diners to the shores of Cabo San Lucas. The restaurant, which has been in business for 18 years, features festive decor, live plants, a cacophony of colors, and authentic arches. Cooks tantalize tongues with plates full of authentic Mexican eats, such as carne asada, shrimp fajitas, and enchiladas, though, the star of this eatery is their margaritas. They come in a variety of experimental flavors, including mango, raspberry, and peach, or in the traditional style of lime juice and tequila on the rocks—a phrase that was first coined by cavemen mixologists.