While technically and metaphorically a chain restaurant, Houlihan's bedazzles its chain with glitter and winsome intrigue, boldly preparing every last bite of its savory fare by hand. Hosts of diverse ingredients culminate inside one open kitchen where professional food handlers slice, sauté, marinate, and arrange food to its tasty and aesthetic best, allowing each meal to display its individuality before being broken down into individual nutrients for absorption in the body. Casual dining is elevated by meticulously designed restaurants that pepper a patron's experience with a playlist of hand-picked tunes and customer-designed coasters that give a voice to condensation-catchers.
Dubbing the theater “The Palace” when it opened in 1921, Chicago architect J.S. Aroner strove to capture a regal ambiance with a patchwork of diverse, though uniformly opulent, building styles. Patrons today can spot baroque, Greco-Roman, and even art-deco designs as they drift through the restored rose, blue, and cream entryway. But in 1959, The Palace was crumbling, and it seemed that future generations would miss out on this aesthetic experience. A concerned citizen by the name of Mrs. Ella Morris swooped in, though, purchasing the building for an undisclosed sum and then selling it back to the city for $1, which she promptly blew on gumballs. Newly named, the theater welcomed such acts as Louis Armstrong, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac in the ensuing decades until a major, two-year overhaul began in 1998. Now restored to its original condition, the venue hosts standup acts, Broadway musicals, big-name concert performances, and fully produced ballets.
The nature of the seasoning that gives Whiskey Dick's Five Star Dive Bar’s handmade, never-frozen beef patties such a bold flavor will forever remain a kitchen secret. The origin of the 5-Star Stack burger’s name, however, is anything but secret: the towering structure consists of two grilled cheese sandwiches that bookend two patties crowned with grilled onions and bacon. Along with the behemoth entree, Whiskey Dick’s menu includes bar classics such as mozzarella sticks hand-dipped in housemade breading, as well as a half-pound ground beef burrito rolled in a jalapeño cheddar tortilla.
To complement the meaty dishes that emerge from its kitchen, Whiskey Dick’s hosts entertainment every night, including football games broadcast on a 108-inch HD screen. Open jams let musicians gather for impromptu melody making, live bands rock out every weekend, and acoustic musicians play after-dinner sets that soothe stomachs more effectively than the nightly lullabies you sing to your navel.
It can be hard to keep track of how food is produced when it comes from the other side of the country. That fact, along with a desire to support the area economy, explains why chefs at Constant Spring––a non-smoking bar––attempt to source their ingredients locally. Hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and veggie patties shaped by hand fill sandwich buns. In the kitchen, chicken marinates in buttermilk before a trip to a deep fryer, and pots of housemade jerk sauce pour forth steam like a supercomputer trying to write a birthday card. More than 50 beers run in sudsy rivulets from glasses, hinting at the hard work of brewers at Left Hand, Founder’s, and 3 Floyds.
Legends Sports Bar & Grille unites a brawny team of hearty pub and diner standards with a full roster of entertainment of both the televised and hands-on varieties. A concentrated breakfast menu, made from squeezing cookbooks until they release their sweetest breakfast juices, revs up belly-engines with a large order of biscuits and sausage gravy with hash browns ($6.50) and Michigan-roasted coffee ($1.50). Later in the day, kick off lunch and dinner with an order of spicy onion scoops with ranch or blue cheese ($4.50) or a cup of house-made soup ($3), perfect for testing the gastronomic waters before introducing gargantuan beef bundles such as the Legends burger—a 10-ounce patty reinforced with cheese, sautéed onions, crispy bacon, and waffle fries ($9.50). Kids can dine on time-tested tot favorites of chicken strips or mac ’n’ cheese ($5 with fries and drink).
Voted Best Italian Restaurant in 2010 by the readers of the Kalamazoo Gazette, Erbelli's and their elite squad of dough gurus dish out an eclectic array of pizza pies and traditional Italian eats. Famished patrons can customize their own gourmet pizzas with one of eight different crusts, including original hand-tossed, deep-dish, gluten-free, or whole-wheat crust, and a plethora of meat toppings, types of cheese, veggies, and seasonings. Erbelli's in-house specialties include the Disco Q pizza, a homemade Cajun crust covered in blue cheese, spicy wood-grilled smoked chicken, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar, and the Grizzly Bear pizza, jam-packed with six fresh meats including meatballs, genoa salami, and spicy capicola ($15.39+ each). Diners seeking noncircular chow can peruse the menu for Italian favorites such as chicken mushrella calzone—crammed with pizza sauce, fresh mushrooms, and grilled chicken ($7.99+)—and the smoked turkey breast and ham submarine sandwich ($5.99+). Vegetarians or time-traveling brontosauri will relish the assortment of fresh salads and carb-fiending customers will get their noodle fix from the selection of pastas.