Maki Sushi & Noodle Shop earned city-worthy praise in both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune for the elegant simplicity that characterizes both its menu and décor. Japanese letters run down the floor-to-ceiling murals that color the bright eatery’s mint-green walls, flanking a sushi bar centerpiece where more than 20 seats rest courtside as master chefs prepare soft shell crab, homemade dumplings, and crispy rangoons. They also churn out fresh sashimi and dozens of signature maki rolls including Crazy Crunch filled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and tempura crunch topped with wasabi mayo and unagi sauce. The clean lines of the eatery’s exposed brick pillars and polished wood-grain floors spill over into lunchtime bento boxes, which compartmentalize protein such as crabmeat fried rice or chicken katsu. Delicate flutes of martini glasses filled with fruit-infused takes on the classic cocktail. Equipped with a glass-enclosed wine cellar, Maki Sushi’s lower level lounge plays host to private get-togethers, corporate happy hours, and very short games of hide-and-seek.
Inside a cheerful café marked with a striped awning, chefs dote on hot pans that cradle delicate French crepes destined to encapsulate sweet or savory fillings. Cream of the Crêpe's batter whisperers take pride in the smallest details of their crepes, demanding that each flaunts a flaky texture, toothsome filling, and crisply ironed handkerchief. Crepe masters fill the edible envelopes with eggs and cheese during breakfast, grilled meat and crisp vegetables during lunch, and fresh fruits or decadent spreads during sweet-tooth attacks. Artful baristas grind Lavazza coffee beans to brew into drip coffees or strong espressos topped with scoops of frothy milk. Between customers, servers wipe the granite counter and set vases bursting with flowers on every table, where the blooms soak up light reflecting off the café's sunny yellow walls.
The dual-level Cafe Zalute marries classic Italian fare and juicy steaks with an extensive wine and martini list. The upstairs’ neutral-hued wall showcases ornately framed paintings, while the lower level pumps out motown, classic R & B, and disco tunes. Diners munch on asiago-infused gnocchi, linguine with clams, filet mignon, and house-made desserts. Free wireless Internet facilitates multitasking without having to juggle buttered rolls during dinner. The outdoor patio proffers views of incoming planes at nearby O’Hare International Airport, and Cafe Zalute's location across the street from Rivers Casino offers the opportunity for postmeal profit.
You can usually tell the season by the selection of frozen yogurts at Yourgurt. During the spring, fruity flavors such as pomegranate-energy-vitamin-boost reawaken palates from winter. But as the weather cools in fall, creamier, richer flavors such as pumpkin take the stage. Some flavors, however, such as cookies 'n' cream and triple chocolate, are popular enough to have a place in the shop year-round. All of these flavors can be customized with the house toppings, which combine sweet, salty, and chocolatey like a vending machine's food pyramid.
Swim in a tangy, saucy consortium of fall-off-the-bone ribs ($13.79 half slab, $19.99 full slab) served with fries, slaw, and a roll, or speak softly and carry six mozzarella sticks, 15 mini corn dogs, and beer nuggets by ordering the appetizer platter ($9.99). The pizza––with a signature recipe that dates back to 1967 (or 1709 in dog years)––is served with thin crust, in the pan, or stuffed. Perry's also has a vast array of pastas, sandwiches, salads, holiday wishes, wraps, and more. Along with daily-deal specials, patrons can bask in the never-ending ambience of the pizza and salad bar ($6.99) or the pizza and salad plus Italian favorites ($8.99), which are available three to five days a week. For bulk orders, check out the catering menu options for specific prices. This Groupon is valid for the pizza, salad, and Italian buffets.
Al Ferreri, his sister Frances, and his brother-in-law Chris Pacelli Sr., developed their signature italian-beef sandwich out of necessity in 1938. The economic depression made meat harder to come by, so the trio of sandwich makers made their supplies last by cutting thinner slices of roast beef.
Their business started with them feeding guests at family weddings, delivering meals to local hospitals, and catering the country's first food fight, but they soon founded a more permanent curbside food stand in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, Al's Beef & Nancy's Pizza rapidly expanded and now boasts franchises throughout the Chicago area and across the country. The family business has garnered plentiful acclaim throughout the years, having been named Adam Richman's best sandwich in the Midwest on the Travel Channel show Best Sandwich in America in June 2012, appearing on Richman's Man v. Food and earning a place on Esquire's list of The Best Sandwiches in America in 2008.
The cooks begin every morning by roasting cuts of beef for the day, kneading fresh pizza dough, and cutting french fries with an industrial-strength laser pointer. The hearty italian-beef sandwiches can emerge from the kitchen with simple, unadorned meat or with blankets of melted cheese and spicy housemade giardiniera. The pizzas range from crispy thin-crust disks to deep-dish pies with 2.5-inch-thick crusts, supporting any combination of the 24 available toppings, which include oven-roasted garlic, baby spinach, and bacon.