At Lai Thai Restaurant, daintily named appetizers often turn out to be savory, fried surprises. Golden bags, for example, are really wonton skins filled with crab and cream cheese. Likewise, the angel wings are stuffed chicken wings, battered and brimming with bean thread noodles, veggies, and more ground chicken. The menu’s entrees typically bear more transparent titles: spicy catfish, fried rice, and pad thai all constitute popular specialties. Five types of curries—from panang coconut to pineapple shrimp—quell spice cravings, and the sweet almond beef mixes almonds, water chestnuts, and onions in a brown sauce, allowing for a more satisfyingly crunch than eating uncooked noodles out of impatience.
Inside Omega Restaurant, ovens blaze as they lightly brown cheesecakes in spring-form pans, trays of tiramisu, and large baking sheets of fruit-filled danishes. These sweet wares, available for takeout, also accompany the restaurant’s hearty plates of American-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees, prepared 24 hours a day. Servers supply tables with warm dishes such as fluffy three-egg omelets, grilled ham and swiss paninis, and hearty slices of housemade meatloaf.
In the main dining area, dark-wood tables complement cocoa-hued walls and framed abstract artwork to create a contemporary atmosphere. The adjacent coffee bar with glass bakery cases features complimentary WiFi access to pair with freshly brewed gourmet coffees, accommodating both customers on the go and laptops in need of a caffeine boost.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Home cooking can be hard to find when home is on an entirely different continent. But the owners of Himalayan Restaurant knew how to bring the flavors of their South Asian home to Chicago. They sought out Chef Bishnu Subedi, who relies on his 12 years of experience as well as his training in a Kathmandu culinary school. Befitting the subcontinent’s rich and diverse history, Chef Subedi designs expansive menus, which embrace the Northern Indian, Nepalese, and Asian subcultures that define the region’s cuisines.
This cultural fusion is readily apparent in dishes such as the momos: steamed Nepalese-style dumplings that are typically stuffed with minced chicken or vegetables and served by street-food vendors throughout Nepal. Northern Indian flavors completely shine through on certain dishes, including the tandoori chicken, which marinates overnight in spiced yogurt before the chefs quickly barbecue the meat inside a traditional clay tandoor oven. House-made paneer cheese and fluffy naan also evoke the flavors of South Asia; the restaurant further embraces its cultural roots by serving Indian beers and water from melted Nepalese glaciers.
Overlooking the rolling fairways of Tam O'Shanter Golf Course, The Howard Street Inn serves up tasty plates of pub fare and helpings of crisply televised sports. Tongues waltz with morsels of deli and grilled sandwiches, a dozen different Angus burgers, pizza, and seafood during Friday's fish fry. Domestic and imported drafts, as well as specialty cocktails and bottled wines, wash down bitter memories of second-place finishes in the soapbox derby. A covered patio grants sweeping views of the links, while 15 flat-screen TVs afford unparalleled views of live games from NFL, MLB, and NCAA packages.