Gino's East'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 canadian bacon. 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.
Danny’s Cafe warmly serves what co-owner Carl Dote described as “Italian peasant food” on Danny’s Check, Please! feature. Their cooking aims to comfort, from generously stuffed artichokes to their signature fried-meatball sub. The hefty sandwich, highlighted on WGN, comes to fruition after staff members hand-form fresh meatball mix into patties and pile on fried peppers. Co-owner and chef Paula Dote told ABC’s “Hungry Hound” that when she and her husband bought the restaurant, she wanted to make exactly what she made at home, and indeed, she uses recipes from her mother and mother-in-law in all of her cooking and homemade volcano experiments. She ladles vodka sauce and crumbled sausage over homemade rigatoni, and layers provolone, parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta in the four-cheese lasagna. Pork neck bones, one of Danny's more unique dishes, are served twice a week and praised by Hungry Hound for the tender meatiness resulting from hours spent simmering in spiced tomatoes. The eatery has also spawned relatives—appropriately named “Cuzzin’s Cafe”—that serve similar dishes in Des Plaines and Orland Park.
It's Greek To Me's expansive menu mixes fresh-made Greek fare with American favorites in dishes such as burgers, lamb chops, and pita sandwiches. In a spacious dining room, parties chew on classics such as spanakopita ($9.95), a blend of spinach and feta in the flaky embrace of phyllo dough. Five lamb chops ($22.95) marinate in a Grecian cocktail of olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, and pepper before acquiring charbroiled tattoos, and pork or chicken souvlaki ($9.95) declares its proud flavors and latent passion for dance atop wooden skewers. Diners can savor the bounty of cultural fusion with a half-pound Angus-beef Opa burger ($9.95) strewn with gyro meat and feta nuggets. Wine by the glass or bottle and domestic and import beers are also available. Desserts, authentically stolen from the divine pantries of Mount Olympus, end meals with sugary codas of honey-drenched baklava ($4.50).
Born from the bright enthusiasm of a teenager in the ‘50s, Jersey Mike’s outgrew its East Coast confines in the ‘80s and began launching authentic subs across the country. The sandwich-stuffed menu is backlit by the smiles of a friendly staff and the aromas of fresh-baked bread hovering in the air like meat zeppelins. Jersey Shore’s Favorite mimics the earth’s own strata with layers of provolone, ham, and thin-sliced cappacuolo arranged around a liquid iron core, and the Super sub envisions our planet’s not-so-distant future with the addition of a proscuittini mantle.
For more than 30 years, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage has served up a Chicago-centric menu of beef sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. Silence empty-belly rumblings with one of Pop's delectable beef sandwiches ($4.19–$6.35), such as the italian beef, heaped with mounds of succulent, thin-sliced beef soaked in special spices and natural gravy. Windy-city visitors can delight in the classic Chicago hot dog and the savory polish sausage (each around $2.29–$2.99, depending on location), each nestled underneath mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and the looming shadow of oscillating skyscrapers. Other handheld fare includes the meatball and corned-beef sandwiches, which can be upgraded with a variety of extras, including red sauce, sweet peppers, hot mix (all free on sandwiches, extra as a side), feta cheese, and bacon. A fleet of made-from-scratch soups and salads is also available, and includes such options as the hearty cream-of-chicken rice soup and the large garden salad ($2.09–$3.99).
For the past 60 years, the finger-lickin’ staff at Hienie’s McCarthy’s has impressed locals with a full menu of fried chicken, homemade soups and chili, and other tasty accoutrements. The eatery's extensive menu boasts chicken dinners big enough for a single person or a handful of hungry giants ($7.25/4-piece meal), as well as fried seafood, including jumbo-shrimp dinners ($11) and calamari ($7.99/lb.). Sink incisors into a deluxe sandwich, such as the tuna melt ($4.50) or the meatball sub ($4.25). A mandarin salad with grilled chicken breast (small $4.25, large $7.25) exercises next to a sluggish bowl of macaroni salad, whose jabbing elbows keep it from moving as a cohesive unit ($3/lb.).