Fox's Restaurant & Pub first propped open its doors in 1964, welcoming diners with an extensive menu that eventually grew to encompass comfort foods from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to familiar Irish staples—including corned-beef sandwiches and shepherd's pie—the cooks sear 10-ounce hamburger patties and slather baby-back ribs in a rich barbecue sauce. For a distinctly Mediterranean touch, they also hand-form meatballs into perfect dodecahedrons and whisk together their own marinara sauces in-house. The pizza chefs can layer oven-crisped pies with more than 10 available toppings, such as giardiniera, sausage, and chopped garlic.
Select locations help to keep spirits high by hosting live music and restaurant-wide games of musical chairs throughout the week. Bands can get diners' toes tapping and heads bobbing by playing a combination of lively Irish classics and popular favorites.
Wall-to-wall windows fill Sushi Thaime with natural light, creating an inviting atmosphere for the enjoyment of fresh sushi and sizzling East Asian cuisine. Chefs slice salmon and freshwater eel for sashimi, as well as fashion more complex sushi such as the Godzilla roll with tempura shrimp, spicy bean sprouts, and fish eggs served on the plate-size battery-compartment door of Mechagodzilla. Korean-beef short ribs absorb the flavors of a sweet marinade before being charbroiled to perfection, and shrimp mingles with straw mushrooms in the coconut soup's creamy, herb-infused broth.
6'x12'. Those were the dimensions of Dick Portillo's first hot-dog stand, which he opened in 1963 inside a converted Villa Park trailer. The trailer had no bathroom, and Portillo had to run 250 feet of garden hose from a nearby building to have running water. Despite these hindrances, the stand was a certified success by 1967, and now Portillo's Hot Dogs operates at 48 locations, many of which recall bygone decades. Some of the shops are filled with glowing neon signs and 1920s memorabilia, and others sport red stools and black-and-white checkered floors straight out of a 1960s soda shop.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
There's more than one way to appreciate a bouquet. That's the idea behind Avenue Flower Shop & Wine Bar, a successful floral shop that has recently opened a tasting room where visitors can sample wines from Europe, South America, South Africa, and the Columbia Valley. Perhaps unsurprisingly, flowers decorate almost every corner of the space, from the hardwood bar that rests atop small neoclassical columns to the tables that stand draped in black tablecloths. On some nights, wine flavors and floral aromas mingle with live harmonies from local blues and jazz ensembles, which creates a casual atmosphere and teaches lilies music theory. Avenue Flower Shop & Wine Bar also recently branched out into gaming with the addition of five video poker machines.