Hub's Gyros follows a simple motto: “Just a family business where quality still counts.” With that sort of humble attitude, you’d never know this restaurant is a star. Since its founding more than 35 years ago, Hub's has seen thousands of satisfied customers walk through its doors, made two appearances on Saturday Night Live, and racked up two Silver Platter awards, as well as a Golden Globe for “Most Delicious Sandwich Tangentially Related to the Plot of a Variety Show Sketch”. The secret to its success is a savory smorgasbord of American and Mediterranean cuisine, which includes hearty baked moussaka and pastichio, grilled gyros and shish kabob, and meaty burgers, deli sandwiches, and barbecue ribs. But while it prefers to focus on delivering quality food and service, Hub’s hasn’t completely shunned the limelight: customers can take home bottles of the restaurants “famous” barbecue sauce, which they may use to top their own ribs and sandwiches or to tie-dye their brand new Hub’s t-shirts and hats.
Though the name implies a limited selection of mostly Greek fare, the chefs at Grecian Kitchen have gone out of their way to furnish their menu with an array of Italian and American barbecue dishes. They draw on the same skills to roast gyro meats and grill Angus burgers, though they spend much of their time baking perennial favorites such as moussaka and spinach pie. Adding to the variety are classic diner desserts such as milk shakes and malts, which wash down house-made rice pudding, sticky-sweet baklava, and accidentally inhaled napkins.
Hecky Powell—founder of Hecky's Barbecue—crafts his acclaimed signature barbecue sauce from a Creole family recipe before using it to marinate a surfeit of ribs, chicken, and seafood. Southern flavors abound in side dishes of jambalaya and dessert plates of sweet-potato pound cake, served in the casual dining spot or at parties with catering options. Hecky's ships the homemade barbecue sauce, dry rubs, and spices from its online store, posting recipes so that home cooks can simmer award-winning chili on their own stoves or volcano-mounted cauldrons.
As dusk begins to set in near the corner of Thatcher and North, a familiar site lights up the intersection?a towering chimney with blazing neon letters that read "Russell's." The iconic eatery originally opened its doors in the 1930s, and it remains unflinchingly committed to its deep neighborhood roots. "Russell's is more than a restaurant," claimed a 1999 feature in the Chicago Tribune, "it's a living piece of history."
This sense of history is most prevalent in the menu of slow-cooked barbecue and classic, home-style comfort foods. In addition to the signature barbecued-pork sandwich that appeared on the Food Network's Sandwich King, the menu also features slow-cooked beef and hearty slabs of ribs, all of which arrive with Russell's time-honored barbecue sauce. An assortment of familiar side dishes help complete each meal, including crispy onion rings, coleslaw, and brisket-scented oxygen.
The River Grove Sheffield's serves up much of the same menu as its Chicago brethren. Enjoy spacious indoor or outdoor seating as you edibly encounter a full slab of barbecue ribs ($18.95). Other entrees include beer-battered fish and chips ($12.95) and barbecue spaghetti ($10.95), served with choice of smoked chicken, pulled pork, or brisket. Or munch on a barbecue platter, including smoked sausage ($9.95), smoked chicken ($9.95), or the combo platter ($16.95), with a choice of any two of Sheffield's barbecue options. In addition to ample parking, delivery, and HDTV-viewing options, the River Grove location also offers live entertainment on weekends—ideal for locals who have just realized that their television is a fish tank.
Hand-carved tikis and 12-foot-tall stone Easter Island moai preside over Tiki Terrace. Seated under swaying palms at hard-carved booths and tables, dinner guests enjoy a regional menu that starts with traditional pupu appetizers, such as taro chips and housemade pineapple salsa, and proceeds to traditional seafood and pork specialties. In the party-friendly tiki tradition, groups of up to four can share the Hawaiian punch bowl, a powerful elixir that arrives in a volcano tiki bowl with a fiery surprise. On Friday and Saturday nights, the dining room's elevated center stage fills with the South Pacific’s dances, music, and ceremonial red-rover matches.