Offering a menu of inventive American cuisine with seasonal ingredients, SugarToad's kitchen at the Hotel Arista excels at bold flavors. The chef sources the freshest ingredients possible, including produce plucked from his own Chef’s Garden right outside the door. The rotating menu changes to match the calendar, with past entrees including pork tenderloin with dried-apricot chutney, sweet-potato mash, and napa cabbage, and Slagel Family Farm beef burgers with sun-dried-tomato relish. Willis also serves an ever-changing roster of organic brunch entrees, which may include smoked-salmon benedicts and caramel-banana french toast with candied walnuts and maple syrup. Between bites of tot-sized brunch boxes with fresh fruit and housemade twinkies, children may sip milk flights of chocolate, strawberry, and banana flavors while caregivers sample cucumber-cantaloupe mimosas, french-press coffee, and the sweet, fleeting silence of a tear-free breakfast.
Each meal at Walker's Charhouse is an artistic process. Chefs cut every piece of meat fresh by hand each day before lowering it onto the broiler or the grill. They specialize in fresh USDA-choice angus steaks, but their refrigerators also brim with Lake Superior whitefish and Atlantic salmon, ribs, and pork chops. Near that crowded ice chest, they prepare each sauce, dressing, soup, and dessert with care.
Following the dishes into the small dining room, one stands beneath walls chronicling the charming history of Naperville, including Christmas 1957 when the town got its first puppy. When not preparing burgers, steaks, and seafood, the staff of Walker's Charhouse has found time to support local churches and schools and partnered with other businesses in 2010 to send aid to victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
Traditional Japanese recipes and cooking styles continue to inspire the chefs at Shinto Naperville. Mushrooming bursts of flame erupt from stainless-steel hibachis as they sear diners' orders tableside. In between shuffling platefuls of scallops or 28-day-aged filet mignon across the steaming surface, the chefs entertain their hungry audience by juggling utensils, tossing small pieces of food into guests' waiting mouths, and correctly guessing everyone's least favorite astrological sign. Measured doses of house-made teriyaki sauce or herb-infused butter lend even more flavor to the carefully caramelized entrees. Meanwhile, the chefs behind the sushi bar avoid grills entirely as they roll specialty maki with premium ingredients, including tempura lobster and jalapeño.
At Raffi's on 5th, chef Silverio Rodriguez alchemizes the cuisines of France, Italy, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries into a one-of-a-kind menu. A chandelier illuminates the exposed-brick walls and Middle Eastern rugs that feed eyes, while fork tines dive into steak, pasta, and seafood dishes. By marrying the cuisines of different cultures, chef Silverio paves the way for unique food pairings—meals may travel from an appetizer of goat-cheese fondue to an entree of lamb kebabs or a daily rotating pasta entree complemented by a sprawling wine list and periodic passport checks. The restaurant also presents catering options for feeding up to 500 people.
Owner and executive chef John Borras stokes his love affair with New Age Spanish cuisine by crafting a constantly evolving, seasonal menu of more than 40 classic tapas and fresh, unique dishes. Sweet sangria and wine flow as freely as newly paroled poetry while gustatory gurus sling such favorites as goat-cheese croquettes, mussels in spicy marinara, and beef tenderloin with manchego cheese and toast points. On the first Monday of each month, Macarena Tapas celebrates Lab Day, an event in which the flavors of nascent prospective menu items are paraded before discriminating guests, who nibble and offer advice on the ingredients' love lives.
Eata Pita’s cooks stuff pillowy pitas and wraps with a wide variety of roasted meats, crisp veggies, and creamy sauces. Seated in a casual, cheerful dining room with yellow walls, diners can savor the traditional Mediterranean flavors of gyro pitas with tzatziki sauce or opt for fusion snacks such as the teriyaki-chicken pita with provolone cheese. The expansive build-your-own-pita ingredient list offers everything from black-bean patties to bacon, and a kids' menu includes cheese quesadillas, hot dogs, and other favorites sure to win favorable newspaper write-ups from pintsize food critics.