As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments. In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Markella's Gyros serves tender meat and poultry in multifarious forms, from its signature gyros to italian beef and a slew of Vienna hot dogs. The chefs pair their American eats with tasty portions of french fries and milk shakes, and the eatery's outdoor patio allows diners to take advantage of free water refills on rainy days.
Kitchen of India's chefs embrace regional culinary approaches from Northern and Southern India to assemble a wide-ranging spread of authentic Indian cuisine. Finger-friendly appetizers set meals in motion with specialty breads such as afghani naan ($3.95) stuffed with nuts, raisins, and cherries. Fresh off a daring escape from a tandoori clay oven, hunks of chicken breast are codified on a malai kebab ($11.95) and branded with cardamom powder, cilantro, and individual inmate numbers, and the jumbo tiger shrimp ($16.95) ebbs hunger pangs with a glistening marinade and piquant spices. An expansive lineup of vegetarian curries satisfies herbaceous cravings with dishes such as paneer butter masala ($13.95), which loads homemade cheese with onion and bell pepper stewing in a saffron-tomato sauce. To chase zesty bites down hatches, patrons can send various Indian beverages to offer cooling relief including refreshing mango lassi ($2.25) and Indian beers.
Voted Chicagoland's best pizza by 670 The Score and awarded as the 2011 winner for best beer garden by the Southland Star, Durbin’s rewards watering mouths with a roster of gratifying pub fare, a full bar, and an idyllic outdoor beer garden at every location. Durbin's menus vary slightly between locations, united by an emphasis on meaty sandwiches, comforting fried nosh, pizza, and trademarked ribs. Prime appetites with a Durbin’s Combo—mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, potato skins, and onion rings ($8.50)—or the Kelly Special's mozzarella-topped butterflied filet mignon on toasted garlic bread ($10.95). Durbin's slow-smokes its signature Branding Iron ribs over an open pit of smoldering hickory wood, basting them with secret-recipe barbecue sauce and whispering sweet, flaming nothings to them to tenderize the meat ($11.95 for a half slab, $18.95 for a full slab). The 14-inch stuffed sausage pizza’s layers of meat and cheese are trapped between its saucy crust, forming a delicate closed ecosystem of Italian flavor ($17.95).
El Burrito Loco's staff dishes out the authentic flavors of Mexico in a low-key setting, with a wide-ranging menu that accommodates ample appetites. The restaurant fills its namesake dish with everything from tongue to chorizo to veggies, whetting whistles with the baby size ($4.90) and appeasing augmented appetites with the giant portion ($5.95). The specialty dinners showcase the eatery’s eclecticism, slinging meaty chilaquiles ($5.99) or chicken flautas ($9.35) with rice, beans, and tortillas. Vegetarians can order from a meat-free menu, kinder than a tofu dinner prepared by herds of unionized cows. Tamales ($2.10 each), enchiladas ($1.85 each), and tostadas ($2.65) can brandish beans or cheese, or both in the stead of meat. Many locations of El Burrito Loco keep late hours, giving sustenance to the musicians that play hold music round-the-clock.
For more than 22 years, the scent of freshly baking pizza has drifted out the door of Kenootz Pizza. Chefs fill their ovens with both thin-crust and deep-dish pies, sprinkling in more than a dozen toppings such as bacon, all-beef pepperoni, and spinach. To complement the flavors of their pizzas, chefs cook up classic Italian sides such as cheese-laden garlic bread, zucchini sticks, and fried mushrooms, as well as more substantial platters of meat ravioli and spaghetti. With a delivery area that covers most of the surrounding neighborhoods, the restaurant can stock groups with a tasty, sharable meal without them having to leave the house or cut a cheeseburger into eight equal parts.