Rose and Stanley Sacharski never meant to open a tiki bar. Their first watering hole, The Lucky Start on Fullerton and Lockwood, was a simple neighborhood tavern until some bamboo wall coverings inspired endless questions from customers: were they a tiki bar? By 1963, the Sacharskis decided their answer was yes, and let their young son pick a new name—Hala Kahiki—from a copy of Dennis the Menace Goes to Hawaii.
Now located inside a former greenhouse in River Grove, Hala Kahiki pours more than 100 tropical-themed cocktails, mingling rum with daiquiris and gin with tropical fruits. Hanging shells sway above the bamboo-lined bar, and rattan lampshades and cane chairs evoke the pleasures of an endless Hawaiian summer. Tables and chairs dot a spacious outdoor garden, and an on-site gift shop stocks Hawaiian shirts, leis, wood-hewn lamps, and several former cast members of Gilligan's Island.
Olive or Twist pairs its 36 unique martinis, 20 bottled microbrews, and international wines with contemporary American fare concocted by chef Robert Nava. Shaken or stirred libations range from the Thin Mint martini, which comes in a Girl Scout box, to the Florida Key Lime Pie martini, a dram of Bacardi rum, Midori liqueur, and chocolate liqueur garnished with lime ($9–$11). Diners can also choose from brews including 3 Floyd's Alpha King pale ale ($5) to accompany small plates such as the potato-wrapped prawns with spinach, artichokes, and mustard-seed butter ($10). Tenderloin sliders topped with blue cheese and red-onion confit ($9) annex tummies before calling for reinforcements of classic American sandwiches ($6–$12) or large-plate entrees such as the jerk ribs with an auxiliary unit of saffron shoestring potatoes ($18). For dessert, sweet teeth delight in the banana split ($8) and apple-and-cheese strudel ($5), named after Frank Zappa's overlooked fifth child. Dinner patrons should call ahead for reservations amid Olive or Twist's low-lit tables and brick walls.
Critics from the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Tribune are mixed on the food at Sawtooth but like the atmosphere. OpenTable reviewers give it an average of 4.1 stars, and 82% of Urbanspooners like the restaurant. Yelpers give it an average of 3.5 stars.
It almost feels like the skyscrapers that surround this open-air rooftop are trying to peer over the tall brick walls that encircle it. Yet the restaurant still manages a sense of intimacy: diners lounge on comfy couches as they sample fish tacos, lobster cheese fries, and Tabasco-honey glazed duck wings.
A jacket that once belonged to Muddy Waters hangs from the wall in this electric blues joint and barbecue restaurant. Buddy Guy does one better than his fellow legend, showing up in the flesh to pull up a stool at the bar or pick at his guitar onstage.
Featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, and the New York Times, Gilt Bar slings a selection of farm-friendly plates, handcrafted cocktails, and an expansive wine list in an eye-catching modern-yet-rustic atmosphere. Celebrate precious leap-year birthdays in style with an intermediate-level drink package and beginner-level food package that supplies up to 30 friends with enough drinks and appetizers to last until next February 29. Start nights by sampling local sauce with a Death's Door daisy, Wisconsin–distilled vodka infused with Aperol, St. Germain, and lemon. Gilt's old fashioned also pleases palates with demerara sugar, Angostura, and orange bitters, and the Paloma, Lunazul tequila with grapefruit, lime, and soda tastes like summer in a glass. Sip wines from Italy and Spain to enhance the flavors of tenderloin steak tartare or down glasses of pinot grigio alongside bites of foie gras and pork-liver mousse. Dairy devotees can enjoy triple creme délice de bourgogne cheese with fig jam and herb salad, while aromatics aficianados munch on sweet balsamic roasted garlic with olive oil.