Basketball games light up a large projection screen at the front of the bar, echoing the dynamic displays seen on nearby flat-screen TVs above the heads of diners eating burgers and sipping beers at a wraparound bar. The kitchen serves up American-style comfort food and pub favorites, including steak sandwiches, Reubens, pasta, and burgers. Thin crust-pizzas include the buffalo pizza, the hawaiian pizza, and the double-meat Fiesta pizza, on which bacon, pepperoni, and sausage accompany onion, mushrooms, and green peppers.
The grill holds court in the kitchen of Mina Mediterranean Restaurant, where flavors from Egypt and Morocco sizzle across a menu of all-halal meat dishes, such as kebabs and tagines, as well as veggie offerings. Morsels of chicken and beef prepared three different ways tumble over a mound of seasoned rice and grilled peppers on the Mina platter ($16.99), described as "a panoramic sampling of the kitchen’s versatility" by the Chicago Sun-Times, which also lauded the "superb" service. Beyond the kitchen, the dining room hosts white-cloaked tables set amid paintings of villagescapes and trompe l'oeil murals that resemble courtyard walls painted with trompe l'oeil murals. A full bar dispatches wine and other nectars as patrons bob to the beats of live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Everything about Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe is bright, warm, and sunny. Natural light floods the restaurant's eight locations, which sprinkle across Chicago and its suburbs like powdered sugar over a slice of french toast. Orange and yellow walls surround every dining room, and some locations have fireplaces, which make ideal places to sip Ghirardelli hot chocolate or espresso beverages. Even the food is colorful. Fresh fruits?either in solid or juice form?complement dishes such as the Mediterranean omelette, baked in the French style and filled with a vibrant medley of spinach, tomatoes, olives, and imported feta cheese.
Those omelettes, like what most of what comes from Eggsperience's kitchen, start with grade-AA, farm-fresh eggs. The chefs work magic with those eggs, whipping them into frittatas and poaching them for five different "Eggsquisite Benedicts." They also use them to create their signature pancake batter, but in this case, eggs are only the beginning. Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits mix into the pancakes.
The creativity shown with those pancakes and egg dishes extends to dozens of other breakfast items, and diners could spend countless mornings at Eggsperience without boring their taste buds. The chefs don't stop at breakfast, either. They simply transition to lunch, when they grill Cajun avocado burgers and pair gourmet chicken-salad sandwiches with a soup of the day.
Black Cow Kitchen & Bar's prep area echoes with a wood-fire oven's unmistakable sizzle and pop bouncing off the shiny, new appliances surrounding it. Using this old-fashioned method of cooking, the chefs give their menu's ample roasted and broiled meals??such as whole stuffed chickens and barbecue baby-back ribs??their signature smoky flavor. The team piles food high on plates, weighing down load-bearing tables and conditioning servers to win the annual inter-restaurant arm-wrestling competition. Diners mine their meaty mountains with fork and knife amid the subtly combined elegance of exposed brick, wooden paneling, canary-yellow walls, and simple silver lamps overhead. :m]]
An unassuming strip-mall storefront belies Retro Bistro?s cozy dining room, where wall murals painted by a local artist and white-draped tables set the scene for elegant French and Tuscan cuisine. The menu, which pleased Zagat's tasters, balances upscale plates of seared foie gras or wasabi-crusted ahi tuna with more casual options, including sandwiches and Alsatian-style flamb?ed pizzas.
?I think that?s what people realize when they get here?how affordable it can be to get out for dinner,? said Christopher Barth, who owns the bistro along with his wife, Lorraine. ?We have so many regulars.?
Lorraine cites the pair?s love of food, people, and wine as the passion behind their business, and the amply stocked wine list features plenty of budget-friendly bottles, as well as reserve vintages to toast special occasions, such as an engagement or a pi?ata making it to retirement. The eatery?s bar and lounge area also facilitates revelry, as mixologists blend specialty martinis with a focus on fruit-infused and chocolate-flavored options.
When paired with blues chords, the smell of barbecue sauce transcends the normal sensory experience. Housemade dry rubs and sauces sink into smoked brisket, turkey, pulled pork, baby back ribs as the meat smokes slowly over a mix of hickory and applewood chips. Blues Bar masters this ethereal combination of soulful sounds and soul food, coupling weekends of live music with saucy ribs and sides of honey-chipotle corn bread and homemade fries. Inside the lofted dining room, tables look down onto the bar and its 24 HDTV screens that play live sporting events. Also you can find well over 75 plus craft bottled beers and 20 continually rotated draft craft beers. The blues joint’s decor pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chicago icons the Blues Brothers with a larger-than-life mural of the smart-suited duo and a full-sized vintage squad car in which John Belushi’s hat was once arrested for armed robbery.