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.
Family-owned restaurant Kalyva slings authentic Greek dishes from traditional recipes in a pristine, rustic storefront. Kick off the meal with an amuse bouche such as the feta filo ($6.95), a wedge of cheese gift-wrapped in dough and tied with a honey and sesame bow. Carb cravings are curtailed with pita sandwiches, loading bready pockets with sautéed vegetables in garlic and fresh basil ($6.95) or pork, onions, and tomatoes ($7.95). Carnivores can sink their teeth into the N.Y. strip steak with greek herbs and spices ($19.50), five thin-cut païdakia lamb chops ($23.95), or an all-veal model of the Parthenon. Wash down the feast with assorted soft drinks, juices, wine, or domestic ($3.50) and imported ($4.50) beers. During the summer, diners can venture to the patio to soak up Mediterranean-style heat and embrace Hippocrates's famed practice of using greek yogurt as sunscreen.
Mrs. Prindable's is most renowned for the massive apples liberally spackled in sugary wonder (starting at $22.95). From a giant dark-chocolate-and-cashew-covered Granny Smith to milk-chocolate pecan, the 1.5-pound treats can happily serve eight to ten people. The apples are available in eight signature flavors. For those seeking pure sugar satisfaction, Mrs. Prindable's also offers gourmet caramels ($8.95 for a 4.5-oz gift bag), chocolate-covered pretzels ($5.95 for two pieces), and milk- and dark-chocolate jumbo nut clusters (six for $23.95). Instead of passively waiting around for the Easter lagomorph to strike, be proactive in quenching cravings with a gift basket ($49.95–$199.95) elegantly wrapped in Mrs. Prindable's regal purple ribbon. Choose your own message for $49.95. The Illinois-based company features speedy second-day shipping, or schedule the delivery up to 90 days in advance.
At CiCi’s Pizza, patrons wander along a buffet brimming with fresh-baked pizzas, hearty pasta, crisp salads, and warm desserts. Dough spinners whip up pizza crusts from scratch every day, slathering them with vine-ripened tomato sauce or zesty white sauce before sprinkling on a coat of whole-milk mozzarella—the perfect trap for unsuspecting toppings such as ham, pineapple, Italian sausage, spinach alfredo, and macaroni and cheese. All of CiCi's offerings are free of trans fat and sad flour, including sweets such as brownies, apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls. Although pricing varies by location, many franchises offer the buffet for less than $6 per person, while inviting guests ages 2 or younger nosh for free. The pizzeria spices up its edible good works by launching community-oriented programs that range from fundraiser nights to lunch-and-learn field trips for students.
After opening Riggio's with her husband, Pasquale, Adreana Riggio became well known to the residents of Chicago's North Center neighborhood, who called her Mama. The year was 1952, and the scent of pizza was still unfamiliar in the city. Though the restaurant has since moved to Niles, customers are still treated like family. Diners can dig into savory Italian classics such as veal parmigiana and American dishes such as chopped steak with housemade mushroom gravy. The pizza menu brims with three sizes of thin-crust pies as well as deep-dish pan pizzas, which can be customized with ingredients such as pepperoni, spinach, or pineapple.
Fresh Farms International Market showers its shoppers in grocered greatness, including organic produce, fresh meats and seafood, imported cheeses, and international breads. Tread toward the counter of fresh-caught seafood and reel in one of the market’s aquatic edibles, such as wild octopus ($2.99/lb.), fresh flounder fillets ($9.99/lb.), or live lobster ($7.99/lb.). Protein pilgrims can set sail for the meat department, which can help them build a new society based on hand-cut steaks, smoked ham shank ($1.49/lb.), and young duckling ($2.49/lb.). Cheerful cheesemongers cater to customers’ fancies for foreign fromage, including selections from cheese-making nations such as Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, and Russia. Sink lactose-longing teeth into a Bulgarian feta ($2.99/lb.) or a block of Mountain Brand Swiss cheese ($3.99/lb.) whose neutrality is betrayed by its clear preference for deliciousness. The market’s fresh produce includes California broccoli ($0.79/lb.) and Wisconsin dry yellow onions ($0.19/lb.), and its bustling bakery churns out French baguettes and Italian ciabatta rolls ready to be transformed into sandwiches or whittled into Earl of Sandwich action figures.