Beneath the classic yellow and red Vienna Beef sign, the cooks of Hot Dog Richie's labor as they have since 1975, bringing neighborhood diners Chicago-style dogs, homemade Italian beef sandwiches, and pizza makings. They dish up their signature invention known as the Auggie Dog, a jumbo-sized hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep fried, and doused with cheddar. Recently, the owners expanded their eatery, either to seat twice as many customers or to leave room for customers to eat twice as many hot dogs.
For more than 20 years, Photo's Hotdogs has been batting away hunger with a menu of classic handheld eats. The eatery's signature hot dog arrives dressed in true Chicago-style wearing an appetizing ensemble of onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, hot peppers, spats, and a pickle. Guests with a larger-than-life appetite can feast upon a Monster burger stacked high with two beef patties, mozzarella and american cheese, bacon, and grilled onions, or learn to munch in another language by sinking denti into a classic italian beef sandwich. Photo’s also ups the ante on its roster of classic American fare with more inventive menu selections such as Alaskan salmon burgers, fish tacos, and grilled turkey burgers.
Visitors to Bauer's Brauhaus, located in Palatine, Illinois, may feel as though they've stepped in from the streets of Munich. Eight taps bear names such as Spaten, Radeberger, and Weihenstephaner. Waitresses clad in custom-designed lederhosen ferry dishes between tables. And a hand-carved bar stretches 30 feet along one wall.
Owners Jason, Judy, Bob, and Gene Bauer drew from their German-American heritage to inspire their brew house's ambiance, decor, and menu. Chef Jason relies on time-tested family recipes to prepare German-American dishes—deep-fried pickles, hamburgers, and Wisconsin cheese curds—as well as German food such as beef rouladen, sauerbraten, and bratwurst crafted in-house. These dishes pair with wines hailing from both countries and a range of Old- and New-World beers that may arrive in standard pints, traditional boot-shaped steins, or a hollow bust of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Family recipes from across Italy make every spoonful of sauce and melty morsel of mozzarella at Gianni's Cafe remind you of a happy home. Start your evening with ricotta-stuffed baked eggplant rolls ($9.95). Then, trail teasers with a trinity of customizable pasta: Choose your own noodle, sauce, and ingredients with a Romanesque thumbs up or down. Options include pesto and spicy diablo sauce ($13.95 each), with add-ons such as pine nuts ($2.50) and meatballs ($3.50). For those who would rather not choose what they chews, a house specialty eliminates decision-making. Garlic, white wine, herbs, peas, and potatoes erupt from unpredictable veal vesuvio ($21.95); pollo (most dishes are $17.95) and pesce ($18.95–$31.95) are other protein-packed options. In addition to its post-meridian menu, Gianni's also serves lunch at the Kildeer location (open seven days a week), and Sunday brunch in Palatine (open Tuesday through Sunday).
As train whistles blow from the station down the block, Signature Sweets' surfeit of gourmet snacks delights travels and commuters with artfully honed combinations of sweet and savory ingredients. The staff fills bags and tins with heaping scoops of creative popcorn flavors, including bacon and cheese, apple cinnamon, and a Chicago-style mix of caramel and cheddar. Small- and medium-size candy arrangements burst from decorative cups, and sheets of cellophane wrap neglect basic etiquette by swallowing gift baskets whole.
Each day, the chefs at Vittorio de Roma guide fresh ingredients into Italian pasta makers to craft spaghetti, fettuccine, and lasagna. They plump up ravioli pouches with butternut squash, then toss them in cream sauce with sprinkles of hazelnuts. The restaurant's signature meatballs form classic unions with tender threads of spaghetti and miniature bowlers, as well as with pours from the extensive wine list.
Dark woods characterize the warm main dining room, home to live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings. The private dining rooms accommodate guests for events such as birthday parties, showers, and office gatherings.
Fortune Kookie Restaurant silences stomachs' grumbling cries for diverse Chinese cuisine with the numerous pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and vegetarian dishes populating its menu. Plates of sesame chicken hold lightly battered morsels doused in a tart, spicy sauce ($7.25 for lunch; $10.95 for dinner) to sate caged teeth accustomed to gnawing on tongues and tree bark shaped like steak for flavor. Frozen taste buds thaw under the rain of the fiery sauce that accompanies the stir-fried mix of bean curd, vegetables, and meat in the szechwan tofu with beef ($15.25). Much like a delusional pirate, the Eight Treasure tofu considers its golden till of fried shrimp, scallops, and squid as an ocean-drawn fortune ($13.95). Vegetarians and disguised sauropods indulge in vegetarian entrees such as stir-fried silver-thread noodles ($9.25 for vegetarian; $11.50 with meat) or the Farmer's Market, a grocer's stand of vegetables, including baby corn, broccoli, and fresh mushrooms ($8.95).