Named in honor of local firefighters and police, The Department's restaurant and liquor lounge serve modern cuisine in a loft-style space outfitted with exposed-brick walls, gleaming wood floors, and an abundantly stocked bar. In preparation for the dinner rush, waiters flip crisp white cloths to hide tables’ risqué tattoos while chefs fire up the grill and stir marinades for gourmet steaks, pork loin, and seafood plates. House specialty dishes reflect the chef's meticulous attention to detail; the Cajun rib eye basks in a marinade for 48 hours, and the crab-stuffed tilapia offsets the rich seafood with a white-wine sauce. At lunch, a menu of gourmet sandwiches and burgers fosters casual meals. Fridays see live acoustic entertainment filling the air with quarter notes as bartenders work hard shaking potent cocktails and luring corks out of wine bottles with maraschino cherries. Those craving al fresco eats during warmer months may dine on The Department's tree-lined, second story balcony.
The Chunky Chicken fills its menu with a multitude of well-seasoned white-meat options. The eatery's signature chicken chunks are marinated in special seasonings for two whole days, then breaded and deep fried or grilled. The Chunky Bowl dresses chicken chunks in a mashup of corn and mashed potatoes, erupting with molten gravy and cheddar cheese ($5.95 with a small drink). Chicken chunks are available in a variety of other incarnations, including inside a wrap or pita, sandwiched in french bread, cheese, and mayo, or drenched in barbecue sauce ($4.95 each, or $6.95 in a combo with a side and medium drink). A selection of surf includes the Fisherman's Platter, which arrives splayed with cod, walleye, and shrimp ($8.95–$10.95). The Chunky Chicken assures customers that each dish is served fresh, without the artificial warmth of heat lamps or backhanded compliments employed by inferior poultry establishments.
For the past 30 years, Nardi has never stopped honing his skills as a cook, and he now feeds the masses at his restaurant, Nardi's on Chicago. Nardi's celebrates Joliet's local history as well as casual Italian and American food. In a dining room decked out with a series of vintage photographs that depict former Joliet businesses and bridges, classic pasta, steak entrees and craft cocktails top tables. Nardi uses only organic produce and free-range meats in these dishes. He crafts his signature offering, a simple platter of spaghetti and meatballs, from his grandmother's own recipe.
The cooks at Jody’s Hot Dogs dishes out their menu of casual American eats inside a charming ‘50s-style restaurant furnished with gumball machines and a white-and-red checkered floor. The open kitchen allows patrons to watch as cooks grill all-beef hot dogs and burgers, prepare homemade french fries, and roast gyro meat on a revolving spit instead of a jewelry box that constantly plays "Rock-A-Bye Baby". Along with the famous Chicago-style dogs served on poppy-seed buns, Jody's staff can whip up chili-cheese nachos, philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and shrimp dinners, all made to order.
El Burrito Loco's staff dishes out the authentic flavors of Mexico in a low-key setting, with a wide-ranging menu that accommodates ample appetites. The restaurant fills its namesake dish with everything from tongue to chorizo to veggies, whetting whistles with the baby size ($4.90) and appeasing augmented appetites with the giant portion ($5.95). The specialty dinners showcase the eatery’s eclecticism, slinging meaty chilaquiles ($5.99) or chicken flautas ($9.35) with rice, beans, and tortillas. Vegetarians can order from a meat-free menu, kinder than a tofu dinner prepared by herds of unionized cows. Tamales ($2.10 each), enchiladas ($1.85 each), and tostadas ($2.65) can brandish beans or cheese, or both in the stead of meat. Many locations of El Burrito Loco keep late hours, giving sustenance to the musicians that play hold music round-the-clock.