Situated in a quaint building in downtown Niles, 3rd Street Pizzeria bears a name that makes it an easy find for dine-in and carry-out orders and a menu that features hot subs, specialty pizzas, and stuffed calzones. On days when it is too chilly to people-watch from the restaurant’s benches or sidewalk tables, opt for free delivery or head inside, where heat from the kitchen’s ovens pervades the air, and pizzas stay warm under blankets of cheese.
Eggstacy fills its breakfast and lunch menu with omelets, sandwiches, and traditional midmorning favorites made with fresh ingredients and prepared from scratch whenever possible. Homemade sauces such as strawberry compotes ooze over fresh pancakes and crêpes or slices of French-toast bread, baked daily in the Eggstacy kitchen next to edible copies of Le Petit Prince.
The Stop In Family Restaurant serves up hearty portions of classic American comfort fare. Early risers can indulge creative impulses by building towers of fluffy pancakes ($3.59 for three) and using the waffles to make crispy castles with gooey syrup moats ($3.89). Meanwhile, the farmer's omelette yields tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, an edible edition of Poor Richard's Almanack, and a choice of meat ($6.29). At lunch, the three-alarm pizza cranks up the heat with a medley of jalapeños, peppercinis, and banana peppers ($12.95 for 14 in.).
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
An independently owned restaurant that has been building its open-establishment reputation for nearly four decades, The Carriage House Dining Room & Gardens has cemented its status as Indiana's destination restaurant. For 24 years, it has received the AAA Four Diamond Award (one of only four Midwestern restaurants to accomplish this). And for the past 28 years, Wine Spectator has praised its cellar, most recently with a Best of Award of Excellence in 2013.
These achievements would be impressive on the strength of a single menu, but The Carriage House changes up its board of fare every season. Prepared in traditional French style—in accordance with the vision of the restaurant's founder, Indiana Restaurant Association Hall-of-Famer Evelyn C. George—each dish is made fresh from gourmet ingredients. These selections infuse the dishes and cocktails, which might include caramelized apple crepe with creme fraiche, grilled sirloin steak with horseradish-cream sauce or eggs benedict with pancetta, asparagus, and basil hollandaise. The restaurant also hosts a gourmet selection of breakfast, lunch, and delectable European-style pastries.
The impeccable presentation doesn't stop at the dinner plate's edge. It encompasses the main dining room's hand-hewn walnut beams (unchanged since The Carriage House was first built as a church in 1851) where live classical guitar can be heard ruminating in the air and its showcase of Indiana Hoosier Salon paintings dating from the early 20th century. No matter the season, sommelier Judith Coté (Evelyn's daughter) can recommend a wine for any occasion thanks to her years of study with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.