Award-Winning Steak House | Classic Surf 'n' Turf | Live Entertainment | Californian Wines | Supper-Club Decor
When to Go: Try to plan your dinner for a Friday night around 8 p.m. That’s when musicians hit the adjoining Alley Cat Lounge stage, playing everything from oldies and jazz to modern rock and R&B.
Inside Tip: Show up hungry. All meals come with a salad, relish tray, and sourdough bread with butter and honey. A side of butter-sauteéd mushrooms also accompanies every steak.
Media Mentions: Over the years, 5 O’Clock has drawn national attention. The Travel Channel featured it on the program Steak Paradise, Saveur magazine named it one of the best steak houses in the country, and Travel + Leisure said it has a "Mad Men vibe."
Behind the Name: According to the restaurant's lore, the steak house got its name from an alarm clock that would ring every day at 5 p.m., alerting customers that it was time for a free drink.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Tour the Tripoli Shrine Center (3000 W. Wisconsin Avenue), a replica of the Taj Mahal and a member of the National Register of Historic Places.
After: If the entertainment at the Alley Cat Lounge isn't to your taste, head over to The Coffee House (631 N. 19th Street), which offers acoustic music and poetry performances.
As one of the first churrascarias in the United States, Rodizio Grill acquainted Americans with extraordinary dining traditions from Brazil, where founder Ivan Utrera was born. One such custom was making desserts of flan and chocolate cake from scratch. Another was flame-grilling meats on a rotisserie while applying a delectable mix of seasonings and sauces. But most impressive was the style in which the meats were served?skewered on three-foot spikes, carried to each table, and thinly carved by the attending gaucho.
That unique culinary experience has made Rodizio Grill a destination for adventurous?or merely hungry?diners since its first location opened in 1995. Guests inform their waiter of how well they'd like their meat cooked, then enjoy unlimited servings of more than one dozen proteins, including steak, chicken, pork, and fish. Picanha, or top sirloin, remains a crowd favorite, but the menu also features Brazilian sausages, bacon-wrapped turkey breast, and even grilled chicken hearts. The full Rodizio dinner provides access to all of these savory options, as well as the gourmet salad bar stocked with sides such as fresh salads, vegetables, black bean stew, and whipped potatoes. And, for those seeking sweeter slices, glazed and grilled pineapple arrives pinned upon the sword with which it was justly slain.
Jennifer Nowicki really loves produce; she's named her third restaurant Verduras, the Spanish word for vegetables. The completely vegetarian menu employs ingredients such as grapefruit, beets, and teriyaki-infused carrots to insulate sandwiches, salads, and soups, many of which are also vegan or gluten free. However, the ever-shifting curls of steam that tickle the hardwood floors, exposed rafters, and large windows hint at Verduras' primary focus: teas from all across the globe. Beneath the ivory-hued exposed bricks, white, green, rooibos, and local Rishi teas steep in hot water, filling mugs with the flavors of wild rose, hibiscus, or chai. The floral aromas of darjeeling fill the air as patrons gaze at the art on the walls, rendered in crisp black and white like a zebra’s yearbook page.
Classy Girl Cupcakes exclusively bakes cupped cakes, and boasts an extensive selection of flavors of both traditional cupcakes and cheesecake cupcakes. Traditional cupcake flavors include an almond pound cake topped with vanilla buttercream frosting, a dense dark-chocolate confection created with decadent Ghirardelli chocolate, and a deep-red velvet cake. More than 30 creative flavors of two-bite-sized cheesecupcakes are offered, including the caramel apple cheesecake, made with organic baked apples and an optional sprinkling of nuts, or the candy-rich Snickers cheesecake for a decadent cupped dessert. All of Classy Girl's creations are baked from scratch in small batches, with all natural ingredients, such as unbleached flour and hand-shucked corn.
Upscale Burgers | Late-Night Kitchen | Local Artwork
While You're Waiting: Admire the artwork lining the dining room walls. The collection rotates frequently to showcase the works of different local artists.
Inside Tip: Make a note, night owls: Elsa's kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. every day. The eatery's bartenders, meanwhile, keep pouring shots and lifting wine jugs over their heads to demonstrate their brute strength until at least 2 a.m.
When to Go: Head over on a Monday night, when Elsa's expands its normal menu to include 10 gourmet-chicken sandwiches, including versions that highlight Chinese, Mexican, and Italian flavors.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Ogle an extensive collection of ceramics made by Pablo Picasso at the David Barnett Gallery (1024 E. State Street).
After: Nurse a proper brandy old-fashioned while watching some live music at Swingin' Door Exchange (219 E. Michigan Street).
Kavo-Apna's chefs bring the flavors of India and Pakistan to the mouths of customers with an extensive menu and full lunch buffet. They boil prawns in a creamy masala curry with tomatoes and onions. Meanwhile, they slow-roast whole chickens in their tandoor, the clay oven trapping heat and searing the flavors of spices into the bird's skin. They even serve traditional lamb dishes, such as the mutton biryani over spiced basmati rice.