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.
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.
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.
Though the cushy red booths, shiny checkered floors, and soft hanging lights could belong to any sandwich shop in America, the vivid photographs that line Pita Pita Mediterranean Grill's dining-room walls depict another world. In one image, an elderly street vendor grills skewers of meat. Other photos depict a young face wrapped in a scarf and an old woman at work. The black-and-white Middle Eastern scenes pay homage to the restaurant's Mediterranean roots. Each day, cooks combine fresh ingredients and herbs into traditional kebab, shawarma, and casserole entrees. They slice ribbons of meats from rotisseries and tie them into bows around portions of hummus or baba ghanouj.
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).