The tufted leather booths that line the perimeter of D'wan Hookah Lounge encourage not just sitting, but rather sinking into. The entire room, with its vaulted ceilings, dim lighting, and exposed brick columns, seems ready-made for leisurely socialization and casual conversation. And the hookahs only exacerbate the laid-back feel. Staffers bring guests freshly packed hookahs filled with aromatic blends of tobacco including safari melon dew, citrus mint, and tangerine dream. Customers can pick and choose blends??the menu features roughly 50 flavors??and then sink into their booths to chat about life between pulls from their hookahs, all the while blowing smoke rings that would make bubbles weep.
Classic diner breakfasts and lunches are the main order of business at Café Miele. But unlike the greasy spoons of yore, this spot boasts a modern menu that keeps dietary restrictions in mind. Buttermilk, multigrain, Belgian, or gluten-free flapjacks soak up streams of sweet syrups, while Kaiser rolls or gluten-free buns embrace burgers. Egg options include omelets and scramblers, as well as healthier items made with just the egg whites.
Great American Bagel Burr Ridge's family-owned bakery doles out dozens of its fresh-made dough discs from its brand-new location. Each bagel is mixed from scratch and steam-baked every day for maximum chewiness. The ring bearers also offer catering services, with platters for business meetings and wedding cakes made entirely from bagels slathered in cream cheese.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The kitchens inside La Bamba look a bit different from most. That's because they don't have a freezer or a fryer, and instead focus on fresh food cooked right in front of the customer. The restaurant's chefs start with traditional bolillos?a soft Mexican roll?or tortillas that are made specifically for the restaurant each day. In addition to the as-big-as-your-head La Bamba burrito, they craft tacos and tortas with meat or vegetarian fillings. Chefs then add a spicy touch and splash dishes with their hot sauce, which is so popular people ask for it in bottles or pepper-spray form.
As a military cook, Marcel Townsel spent three years preparing hot meals and coffee in the field. He had to feed troops quickly and efficiently, and leave them fueled up enough to tackle the day's tasks. In establishing Bungalow Joe's Coffee right where the Metra stops each day, Marcel draws upon the experience of serving in a high-pressure environment, swiftly turning out cups for fast-advancing hoards of a similarly demanding ilk:commuters. Having learned long ago that good food needs a fresh foundation, Marcel starts every cup of coffee with filtered water, and he pairs every pastry with a napkin freshly plucked from the napkin tree. Whether it's a cup of classic, French roast, hazelnut, or espresso, Marcel concocts it with his signature blend of epicureanism and hard-won pragmatism?and has it in the customer's hands long before the train pulls into the station.