When Sababa's founder and head chef, Ed Wahhab, isn’t whipping up a homestyle menu of Middle Eastern dishes, he can be found in the dining room reading diners' fortunes in the bottoms of their cups of Arabic coffee. Ed’s banter and his love of card tricks create a sense of camaraderie that fills Sababa—Hebrew and Arabic slang for "awesome"—as patrons settle in at the bar, puff strawberry-daiquiri-flavored hookah on the patio, or sample housemade hummus and falafel.
Putting a modern American slant on traditional Mediterranean cuisine, the kitchen flavors beef sliders with kifta spices and creates nachos with pita chips, feta and cheddar cheese, lemon tahini sauce, and a medley of garbanzo beans and vegetables. Bartenders pour wine, crack open bottled beers, and mix up specialty cocktails, such as a manhattan with cardamom and a French martini, whose blend of Chambord, pineapple juice, and vanilla vodka is served in the traditional French way, by a weeping clown.
Dishing up fresh fare at a range of sophisticated and casual events for more than 60 years, Irene's was recognized as one of The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2010 picks. Patrons can employ their own service talents by picking up eats from the self-service carryout menu, such as an assorted sandwich tray for 12 ($32.95) or fresh vegetable platter for 26 to 35 ($38.95). Hot veggie sides serve about 25 guests, such as the julienne blend, a mélange of fresh carrots, snow peas, and red-pepper strips good for noshing or impromptu games of pick-up sticks ($21.95). Orders off the corporate express catering menu, priced based on a 10-guest minimum, come with delivery and setup. Sandwich and supreme deli-lunch buffets boast a plethora of sides and add-ons ($10.95+ per guest). Power breakfast packages inject energy into foggy minds ($4.95+ per guest), and board-room hot-lunch buffets allow gracious hosts to serve up anything from chicken à la king to homemade lasagna ($4.95+ per guest).
Behind the headlining comic, dots of light slowly change color, a hypnotic alternative to the brick wall of many other comedy clubs. Long tables stripe the dim room, giving guests plenty of space to savor a menu of burgers, salads, steaks, and other pub grub. But what makes the cabaret of Jokerz Comedy Club really stand out is its gallery of larger-than-life caricatures. Lushly rendered and outlined by shimmering gold frames, the portraits of some of the biz's most legendary names serve as muses for the up-and-comers taking the stage: Sam Kinison, Jerry Seinfeld, the Blues Brothers, and even Cheech and Chong's iconically smoky joyride are immortalized in the baroquely rubber-faced paintings.
The Good Life Catering imparts inquisitive culinarians of all ages and skill levels with relevant cooking fundamentals. Students arrange their own lesson by referencing the sample menu, which boasts dishes such as pecan-crusted scallops on corn cakes, wild-mushroom-stuffed tenderloin, and smooth chocolate-espresso-mousse layer cake. Though any menu items can be prepared, students are responsible for ingredient costs ($20–$75 extra). With each pivot of the knife, participants embrace the pressure-free learning environment, perfect for asking questions regarding the proper way to trim fat or what to do if a Boy Scout sells you counterfeit teaspoons.
Infini-tea's proprietors pour steaming pots of specialty teas, tisanes, and coffees, coupling them with the cuisine famed in Europe during traditional high-tea ceremonies. They possess a particular affinity for baking scones and make them from scratch each day, and also serve gourmet soups, fresh salads, and finger sandwiches—life's one opportunity to bite the hand that feeds you. Once guests are done, they can take a stroll by neighboring antique shops and quaint Antioch establishments.
Since 1987, Fodrak's Gyros & Ribs has carved out a niche with every slice of its signature gyro, earning the Pioneer Press’s Best of Lake County award as the Best Place for Gyros four years running. Their chefs build innovative dishes from the classic greek staple, piling it onto gyros pizzas and slam-dunking it onto gyros cheeseburgers. Not to be upstaged, the menu’s supporting cast can also hold its own. Cooks drench baby-back ribs in barbecue sauce, hand cut french fries, and assemble Chicago-style hot dogs topped with all manner of fixings. Their culinary creativity extends to their six varieties of baked potato, which include spuds capped with gyros and sauce or bacon and cheese. Like the finale of the Nutcracker, traditionally performed on candy flutes, dinners end on a sweet note, with desserts such as banana shakes and homemade baklava.