Some traits are hereditary: hair color, height, even color-blindness. Aguamiel founder Sylvia Xim?enez inherited something else: a passion for Mexican cooking. As a 3rd-generation restauranteur, she got her start when she was just 14 years old, working in the bustling environs of her family's Santa Fe Restaurant. During her years in the industry, she cultivated a sense of culinary adventurousness, finding ways to bring out each dish's inherent complexity. Xim?enez also relied on her precise attention to detail to make sure that every customer left the table counting the days until they could come back. It's these qualities that earned her attention from the ABC7's "Hungry Hound" Steve Dolinsky, and earned her a place on The ? Beat's list of up-and-coming Latin entrepreneurs. It's these qualities that diners experience every time they enter Aguamiel's door.
In order to help fulfill her vision, Xim?enez hired chefs that shared her own passion for authentic (but inventive) Mexican cuisine. The chefs at Aguamiel pack a pretty hefty resume. Executive chef Enrique ?Kike? Gomez spent decades as a teaching chef for Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill, and young-gun sous chef Fernando Manriquez topped the ranks of his culinary school at just 18 years of age. Together, the pair share an understanding of old and new, valuing both scratch-made preparations with traditional ingredients and the exciting possibilities of newer techniques such as molecular gastronomy. This shines through in their dishes; diners might opt for cazuela??roasted chayote, potatoes, and zucchini in pascal sauce. They could also sample ceviche made with ocean-fresh albacore tuna, or seared pork belly paired with mashed sweet potatoes.
No matter the order, dishes from Aguamiel's kitchen pair well with drinks from the well-stocked bar. Not content to simply follow the same old script, Aguamiel's mixologists have crafted a full menu of cocktails that you won't find at the average Mexican restaurant. The Rubia Bonita mingles Patron Silver with bitter orange liqueur, simple syrup, and lime juice before introducing a refreshing combination of fresh strawberries and cilantro leaves. Classicists find refuge, too; the bar also sports an extensive menu of traditional margarita preparations, as well as non-alcoholic agua fresca.
Open for 25 years and celebrated by AM670 The Score, the Southland Star, and Patch.com, the items on the Durbin’s menu vary by location, but all of its kitchens prepare hearty sandwiches, pizzas, and barbecue. Wood embers infuse ribs and chicken with smoky flavors as USDA Black Angus steaks are plated alongside sautéed mushrooms and homemade coleslaw. Fresh donut holes are also made in-house and stacked on ice cream sundaes topped with a single red cherry that resembles the setting sun resting on a pillow of vanilla-flavored clouds.
Sullivan's Irish Pub & Eatery, a bastion of Irish culture in Chicago's South Side, is a time-honored destination for traditional Irish food and cold craft beer. Servers sling plates of corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, and other comforting classics, as well as boxtys?commonly known as Irish-style potato pancakes. Burgers, wings, and draft beer from Irish breweries such as Guinness and Smithwicks round out the menu. In addition to the hearty food and drink, the pub houses a stage for live music, while an outdoor bar stays open all four seasons for open-air sipping and plate Frisbee.
Every Monday night, The Blarney Stone opens its doors to a very special group of people—the geeks. Their weekly hosted trivia night, lovingly called "Geeks Who Drink," allows eggheads and trivia buffs of all walks of life to come together and test their wits as they feast on Irish classics such as the shepherd’s pie and halibut and chips. Meanwhile, cozied up to the bar or tucked behind a table, those who hide their geekiness under a bushel basket can mutter the answers under their breath while nursing an expertly poured pint of Guinness or tearing into one of the pub’s many flavorful burgers. In addition to the trivia night, patrons can satisfy their need for competition with NFL broadcasts and an accompanying football breakfast, a big-screen hookup to a Nintendo Wii, and paired pool tables and dart boards.
Sisters Carey Williams and Lisa Marcotte bartended their way through college at the University of Illinois, but their love of the restaurant world didn’t go away after graduation. Carey followed up with culinary school and spent a stint as a caterer before joining Lisa to open Marcotte's Bar & Grill. Now she runs the kitchen, crafting a menu of bar food that ranges from buffalo wings and chicken-salad sandwiches to certified Black Angus burgers and thin-crust pizzas. In addition to the delicious food, the two sisters also entice guests with their family-friendly pub space’s amenities, which include free WiFi, patio seating in warmer months, and weekly events such as bingo, karaoke, and trivia night.
The Lingering Black Death sounds like its best feature is that it can only happen once. However, it happens as many times as you like at The Linger Martini Bar, where the moniker refers to a potent cocktail—a blend of absinthe, Pages Parfait Amour, and Bombay Gin is cut with cherry bitters, a sugar cube, and a dash of sweet champagne. The Death is just one of the bar’s 25 specialty drinks, which incorporate liquors such as Patron, Ciroc, Jose Cuervo, and Bacardi Limon. Patrons who leave their pet woodpeckers at home can enjoy cocktails and appetizers at a 25-foot walnut bar, or lounge on a comfy couch or in a low-clung captain’s chair. And for a bit of entertainment, they can try their hand at five machines with video slots and video poker, or enjoy the sounds of live music that never requires a cover.