Bill and Amy Wesolowski were no strangers to barbecue when they opened their restaurant. After all, they'd been grilling up mountainous platters of ribs, pulled pork, and grilled chicken at local parties and special events since 2008. Within their cheerful, sunlit joint, the seasoned caterers and skilled barbecue chefs whip up their signature dishes, along with southern-style sides of barbecue beans, collard greens, and coleslaw. The duo even accommodates vegetarians with meat-free menu selections, unlike other barbecue venues that require vegetarians to wear an itchy wreath of string beans around their necks. Plates pair with bottles of beer as they sit atop the white-cloth tables of the casual dining room, where colorful photographs and drawings of jazz instruments adorn the walls.
Here's the thing about Famous Dave: he wasn't always famous. Dave Anderson inherited his passion for barbecue from his father, a humble construction worker who knew where to find the best barbecue on Chicago's street corners. In 1994, Dave opened his first barbecue shack in Hayward, Wisconsin, and before long, the shack was attracting 5,000 customers weekly?a momentous feat considering Hayward had a population of 1,800. Dave's lifelong pursuit of barbecue perfection had certainly paid off. It gave him a new life's work to be proud of. And, of course, a new first name to put on his passport.
With locations now spread across the U.S., Canada, and even Puerto Rico, Famous Dave's has become a revelation for barbecue fans. It has earned more than 700 awards, including first-place honors for its ribs, wings, and sauces. Most of these awards have Famous Dave's cooking process to thank. For every batch, pitmasters hand-rub high-quality cuts and cook them for hours at a time in live-wood smokers, taking care to not disturb the dragons napping between the logs. For Famous Dave's renowned ribs, the process has an extra step after the smoker, as each rack gets tossed on a grill to caramelize the sauces before serving.
CJs Cafe in Bronte calls people to gather together. They gather at arts events, such as live music performances, authors' readings, craft-making lessons. They gather to admire the ever-changing art on the walls, made by local artists and lending a whimsical air to the high-ceilinged, cozy space. They gather to break bread, choosing from a menu of healthy sandwiches, salads, and wraps, including options for those who eat vegan or gluten-free. They gather over steaming cups of organic fair-trade espresso, made the old-fashioned way, with a pull-method machine, rather than the more modern method of squeezing beans with a vise.
Garnering praise from the Toronto Star, Sweetsmoke Barbecue and Grill crowns its menu with grain-fed, naturally raised meats barbecued in a three-step process that includes a slow cook in a wood smoker. Diners can choose main plates such as pulled pork ($15.00), hickory smoked side ribs ($14.50+), and shaved turkey breast ($15.00), each accompanied by coleslaw and iron kettle cowboy beans in a Stetson–shaped bowl. Sandwiches, including the grilled portobello mushroom melt ($8.50), give the menu a kick from warmer climes, stacking arugula, oven-dried tomatoes, grilled red onion, gruyere cheese, and guajillo aioli on rosemary focaccia. Sweetsmoke's team includes a Cordon Bleu–trained pastry chef who crafts confections such as the cake and shake ($6.50) that pairs a blackout cake and dark-chocolate pudding with a vanilla-bean milkshake.
The smell of fresh-baked bread is ever-present at Artisano Bakery Cafes. Thousands of loaves are handcrafted each and every morning here, and you can enjoy them with a coffee and a variety of other fresh, healthy foods. From ciabatta to nordico to fig and walnut loaf, the café’s 25 bread varieties match nicely with its selection of freshly sliced meats and cheeses to form gourmet sandwiches, paninis, and makeshift forts. The selection of meal items also includes made-to-order signature salads, as well as pasta and pizza that follow family recipes. Artisano emphasizes healthy ingredients and preparation, using fresh meats and herbs and extra-virgin olive oil and eschewing deep frying for in-house baking and grilling.