A smattering of 20 sauces and seasonings dripping from handspun wings coats patrons' fingers as they cheer on their favorite professional sports teams broadcast on Buffalo Wild Wings' TVs. Eyes are torn between watching teams dribble a ball, shoot a puck, and land a grand jeté, and plates of plentiful wings, burgers, wraps, salads, and ribs. For more entertainment, trivia games exercise brains, and the Blazin' Challenge offers recognition for those brave enough to down a dozen wings slathered in the eatery's hottest sauce in 6 minutes.
Grady's Grille loads tables with an eclectic dine-in menu of modernized classics inside a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant. Platters of fish or shrimp tacos ($11) satisfy taste buds idling at a delicious crossroads of seafood and mexican seasonings, and the barbecue-chicken flatbread invites a coterie of mozzarella, red onions, cilantro, and chicken breast to party hard with a crispy crust ($9). Hearty, half-pound burgers dress pretzel rolls or buns in a variety of elegant ingredients such as the Grady burger's dapper suit of blue cheese and onion strings ($9.50), and rival gangs of pasta dance through a tasty medley of spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and "Beat It" on plates of penne mediterranean ($9; $12 with chicken). Polished bottles levitate on glass shelves behind the L-shaped bar where drinksmiths dole out glasses of Ocean Song pinot grigio ($7.50) and chocolate martinis ($7).
J.T. Sausage Company, a family owned and operated butchery, produces a host of high-quality sausages and deli meats, as well as sells locally crafted foods within its cozy storefront. Nestled beneath a shiny glass case, links of italian sausage—including orange peel ($4.99/lb.) and mild and hot ($4.49/lb.)—beg to be cooked, grilled, or roasted over an open laser, and deli standards, such as pepperoni and salami ($7.99–$18.99), mingle with the wide selection of italian cheeses. Sauces from Cipriani Pastas and Sauces, a local noodle house hailing from Chicago Heights, and breads from Marconi Baking Company fill the store's narrow, yet well-stocked shelves.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
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.
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).