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.
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.
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.
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 flambéed 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 piñata 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.
What do metal fans, Motown fans, and sports fans have in common? They all feel at home at Ye Olde Town Inn, where the music is just as satisfying as the menu's Mile High Burger. Past-show posters display lot of skulls, but every Wednesday night, a band called Brass from the Past conjures favorite funk, R&B, and swing tunes. If there's no band playing, Inn diners can wipe the pizza sauce off their fingers and pull up a song on the jukebox. Or, they can opt to play games on the big-screen Wii or video poker machine instead. Some gather simply to watch games on TV, rooting for favorite teams and fashioning orders of spaghetti into makeshift pompoms.