Backed by shout-outs from Midwest Living and The Mix, the black-clad crew at Dos Diablos weaves mesquite-fired meat and hand-shaken margaritas into a menu of Mexican and Tex-Mex fare sans the mole sauces. Rough wood beams and big, boxy lighting fixtures hover overhead as diners dig into hefty portions of enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas. A fully stocked bar, framed by decorative steel, houses specialty cocktails, beer, and wine. Every Thursday is dedicated to lobster and its many uses, from thickening up tacos to silencing squeaky door hinges, and every Saturday finds Dos Diablos' chefs whipping eggs, bacon, fruit, and cheese into scrumptious brunches. The restaurant’s resident mechanical bull entices patrons to snatch a sombrero off the eatery’s walls before hopping atop the faux beast for a ride.
Head chef Edgar Torres and his kitchen crew bedeck handmade corn tortillas with braised meats, homemade salsa, and fresh vegetables. Frosty imported brews tower over steaming tacos, huaraches, and tortas, and more than 50 tequilas made with blue agave serve as the foundation for margaritas, cocktails, and the logic behind carrying silly straws everywhere. Frequent visitors snag favored firewaters from rented tequila lockers to fuel revelry over plates of barbacoa tacos, which the Chicago Sun-Times called an "instant hit." Natural wood accents, distressed walls, and festive murals parade rural color, and waiters deliver water in liquor-bottle-shaped decanters with oversize shot glasses for quick imbibing. Tendrils of mouthwatering aromas tickle passersby late into the evening, drifting from overstuffed tacos that reporters from Where reported "wowed" taste buds.
Chili's was founded in 1975 after owner Larry Lavine converted a former Dallas postal station into the original burger joint. Since then, Chili's all over the world have spread the original restaurant's quirky sense of humor, emphasis on hospitality, and flavorful fare. They even uphold traditions such as flipping a framed photo upside down, imprinting the saltillo tile floor with dog-paw prints, and staying open during Tell Your Coworker A Lie Day. Chili's menu has a wide selection of Southwestern eats and drinks, including fajitas, quesadillas, and several flavors of margarita, as well as classic American fare such as burgers and baby back ribs slow-smoked and slathered in barbecue sauce. Committed to using its resources to help those in need, Chili's has partnered with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and raised more than $30 million for the hospital in the past four years.
Jaime and Mary Cianca, owners of Tuxpan Mexican Grill, create a menu of authentic Mexican fare based on recipes from their hometown of Tuxpan, Mexico. Inside the kitchen Jaime, also acting as head chef, fills tacos with steak, seasoned pork, and cilantro, and prepares signature dishes—including chicken topped with house-made red or green mole sauce. Meanwhile, Mary, also working as a server, delivers plates of the popular shrimp fajitas and tall glasses of horchata to diners, leading the bilingual staff with instructions in both English and Spanish. Additionally, customers may choose to bring in a favorite bottle of wine to uncork during dinner thanks to the restaurant’s BYOB policy. The dining area’s orange-hued walls are adorned with butterfly decorations to mimic the famous winter migration of monarchs to the forests of Tuxpan, before for they head to their retirement community in Florida.
Praised by metromix as an eatery that “even diehard carnivores will enjoy,” the Chicago Diner has been a vegetarian and vegan-friendly destination for all dietary persuasions since 1983. Situated amidst the lively shops and bars of Lakeview’s Halsted Street, the Diner touts a meatless menu that features crave-worthy Buffalo-style ‘wings,’ and the Radical ‘Reuben’ sandwich—chosen as Vegetarian Times Magazine’s ‘Readers Choice Winner’ for the Best in the Midwest. All options on the menu are available vegan, though the diner does offer a host of locally crafted Wisconsin cheeses to top off Cajun black bean burgers and pesto ‘chickün’ sandwiches. Even the cupcakes, muffins, and cookies from the bakery are free of dairy, eggs, and trans-fat, lovingly made instead with non-hydrogenated oil and oil blends containing canola, soy, and palm fruit.
Recipes from South-Central Mexico inspire the chefs at Amelia's Mestizo Grill, but the menu also incorporates familiar Old-World flavors. The spirit of innovation undergirds their commitment to traditional Latin-American staples, with dishes such as the grilled pork tenderloin with roasted quince that the Chicago Reader claimed, "could have come out of a far more pretentious kitchen." Stuffed poblano peppers arrive with a sherry-pecan sauce, and smoky chipotle peppers add a distinctive kick to the Mediterranean-tinged flavors of the grilled rack of lamb and potato gratin.
Coming back to its roots once again, the restaurant's dining room embodies a down-to-earth ambiance, complete with exposed brickwork and simple wooden chairs. A red accent wall adds a splash of color to the space, as do vibrant paintings of flowers, children, and Mexico's first rainbow.