Alibaba Retro Restaurant's menu of Slavic and Mediterranean dishes, from goulash and blintzes to chicken kebabs and lamb steaks, tops tables surrounded by yellow walls bearing colorful murals. Bartenders serve drinks from a fully stocked bar in the back of the restaurant as music fills the dining room. The eatery often rearranges tables so that patrons can dance or practice karate in the middle of the room.
At Rex Italian Foods, Josephine Pinello and her son Anthony prepare what Time Out Chicago describes as "rare items" from their native Sicily. Their signature schiacciatas—which are like a mixture between pizza and paninis—drew the attention of Guy Fieri's _Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which aired a segment in which Anthony Pinello reveals the secrets of the family recipe for the dish. Available in five varieties, the schiacciatas blend fresh peppers, cheese, and a variety of ingredients on panini-pressed bread, creating a dish so iconic it's depicted on the 5-euro bill, though the dish itself is only accepted as currency at banks during lunchtime. The eatery's house-made pastas, hand-stuffed Italian sausages, and imported deli meats are available for dine-in, carryout, or catering.
Owners Tony and Dan conjured Caponies Trattoria as teenagers, envisioning an authentic Italian eatery sustained by a menu of Tony’s time-tested Old World recipes. Now at a new location after 16 years in the same spot, Caponies Trattoria still boasts the same owners and culinary pedigree. The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago magazine praise the restaurant’s wood-burning brick oven, where crackling infernos forge 10 specialty pizzas without employing the kitchen’s long-since-decommissioned staff dragon. Crack chefs challenge guests with devising their own pasta from any combination of 7 noodles, 10 toppings, and 8 robust sauces, such as a spice-laden meat sauce and the Suprema’s blissful union of alfredo and marinara. Neon signage accompanies aged family photographs atop a stone archway, ushering diners into a charming rustic interior buzzing with a convivial vibe fueled by the bar’s selection of domestic and imported beers.
A newly inaugurated neighborhood eatery, City Tap & Grill serves up a menu of hearty American dishes, more than 25 classic and craft beers, and inventive cocktails in a welcoming space accented by large windows and big-screen TVs. Crispy sweet-potato fries ($4.99) dive into chipotle dipping sauce, and heaping spoons of golden-brown macaroni and cheese ($9.99) blast into eager maws like drool-seeking missiles. The City Tap burger ($9.99) costars bacon, cheddar, and giardinieras on a marquee of juicy beef, and the Vesuvio chicken wrap ($8.99) corrals lettuce, onion, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and caesar dressing into a tasty tortilla embrace. Diners can complement bites with a locally crafted Goose Island Honkers Ale ($4.50), or they can slurp dessert with a chocolate martini ($8), which is decadent enough to make Las Vegas blush.
Taco Burrito King’s cooks prepare fresh burritos, tacos, and quesadillas using energy-efficient devices and water heated by solar panels. All locations serve spicy dishes such as heaping plates of fluffy eggs with chorizo and king-size portions of fajitas stuffed with grilled vegetables, sour cream, and steak. Taco Burrito King’s staff promotes diverse community events in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, helping with church and park festivals, sponsoring sports tournaments, and recording minutes for the meetings of area secret societies. Taco Burrito King also sponsors University of Illinois at Chicago Flames basketball and is the official concession vendor for all UIC outdoor sporting events.
At J Bean Coffee Shop friendly coffee experts summon jets of steam to whip up lattes and cappuccinos, creating intricate designs in the layers of foam and froth. The independent, locally-run shop recreates the ambience of a cozy Italian café, with every drink handmade to order the way Renaissance-era baristas used to do it. Guests can munch on grilled paninis and wraps as they sip strong espresso or dark-roast coffee, or treat tastebuds to a flood of sweetness with shakes, mochas, caramel lattes, and creamy gelato.