For more than 20 years, Photo's Hotdogs has been batting away hunger with a menu of classic handheld eats. The eatery's signature hot dog arrives dressed in true Chicago-style wearing an appetizing ensemble of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, hot peppers, spats, and a pickle. Guests with a larger-than-life appetite can feast upon a Monster burger stacked high with two beef patties, mozzarella and american cheese, bacon, and grilled onions, or learn to munch in another language by sinking denti into a classic italian beef sandwich. Photo’s also ups the ante on its roster of classic American fare with more inventive menu selections such as Alaskan salmon burgers, fish tacos, and grilled turkey burgers.
An unassuming strip-mall storefront belies Retro Bistro’s cozy dining room, where wall murals painted by a local artist and white-draped tables set the scene for elegant French and Tuscan cuisine. The menu, which pleased Zagat’s tasters, balances upscale plates of seared foie gras or wasabi-crusted ahi tuna with more casual options, including sandwiches and Alsatian-style flambeed pizzas.
“I think that’s what people realize when they get here—how affordable it can be to get out for dinner,” said Christopher Barth, who owns the bistro along with his wife, Lorraine. “We have so many regulars.”
The couple took over the business from Lorraine’s father, Dominique Legeai, in 1997. Lorraine cites the pair’s love of food, people, and wine as the passion behind their business, and the amply stocked wine list features plenty of budget-friendly bottles, as well as reserve vintages to toast special occasions, such as an engagement or a piñata making it to retirement. The eatery’s bar and lounge area also facilitates revelry, as mixologists blend specialty martinis with a focus on fruit-infused and chocolate-flavored options.
In the kitchen of El Sombrero Restaurant, Chef Ignacio "Nacho" Suchil prepares Mexican favorites such as big burritos, corn-tortilla enchiladas, and fish tacos made with icelandic cod and lime. While live music plays in the dining room, he splashes housemade creole sauce onto grilled shrimp and tosses skirt steaks onto blazing grills. El Sombrero Restaurant augments its eats with a game room, outdoor seating, and a lunch buffet on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Dissatisfied with the slices of pie at fast-food joints, CravePizza owner Rafael tinkered with recipes for savory dough and hearty tomato sauce until he was satisfied. He opened CravePizza to craft pies from the basic foundation of buttery-crust dough, custom-spiced sauce, and a house blend of cheese. Three chefs with 40 years of collective experience toss thin, pan, or stuffed pies and top them with traditional meats and vegetables, as well as unexpected options such as roast beef, shrimp, and cilantro. The family-friendly restaurant welcomes customers dining in to enjoy a drink from the full bar, and delivery and pickup orders receive the same piping-hot fare with a free box.
Adi Mor opened the first Garden Fresh Market in 1980, selling fresh produce from a 1,000-square-foot lot in Skokie, which he would stock by taking 2 a.m. trips to Chicago's South Water market. Today, Garden Fresh Market sprawls over six suburban locations, where fresh produce from apples to zucchinis is still procured daily.
Grocery items range from fresh meat from Midwest famers to a wide selection of ethnic foods and national brands. The deli slices meats and cheeses both domestic and imported, and house-made seasonal salads and main courses make bringing dinner home easier than stealing it from a neighbor's windowsill. Many of the market's online recipes have even made it onto NBC5, giving its cooks their share of 15 minutes of fame.