Village Pottery Café invites would-be Chagalls of ceramics to lavish paint upon the stoneware of their choice while noshing upon a variety of homemade snacks. With no studio fees, Village Pottery Café allows painters to bask in artistic freedom as they customize mugs ($7.50+), plates ($10–$15), platters ($22+), the Statue of Liberty's understudy, and more objets d'art. After staff members slather them with a protective glaze, pottery luxuriates in the extreme warmth of the kiln, and emerges lacquered and ready to be taken home. Village Pottery Café also provides special crockery options for children ($2–$10). Café refreshments include locally roasted coffee; soups such as chicken enchilada, loaded baked potato, and pasta e fagioli ($4.99); quiches ($5.49); and other savory and sweet morsels.
The scent of freshly baked biscuits, peppery gravy, and fried potatoes waft out of Republic Cafe’s kitchen 24 hours a day. Like the red, white, and blue of the French flag, the diner's housemade breakfasts pay homage to Americana, especially the country-fried skillet—a mound of hashbrowns topped with sautéed peppers and onions, cubes of country-fried steak, two eggs, and country gravy. Comfort-food classics populate the lunch menu as well, which stars BLTs, chicken-fried chicken, and open-faced beef sandwiches floating in a pool of savory, brown gravy.
Three crusts are the foundation of the experience at Mr. Bigg’s Pizza. St. Louis–style thin crust can support pies such as the mexican with its seasoned beef, diced green pepper, and a specially blended sauce. Thick crust can burden the load of the Bigg’s meat pizza and all its sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, and bacon toppings. And the kicker, hand-tossed New York–style pizza, might sport the toppings of the veggie pizza—mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and tomatoes.
Though the pizza roster forms the central pillar of the menu, it’s not alone. Pasta dishes, such as baked mostaccioli and lasagna, complement non-Italian food, including a chicken bacon ranch sandwich. And drinks contrast the pizza selection, too. From draft and bottled beer to wine and specialty cocktails, the libation list has thirsty throats covered.
If guests would rather not stare at one of the big-screen TVs that adorn a wall in each dining room, they can eat their pasta and sip their wine on the patio where picnic tables and a fish-populated fountain surround cobblestone walkways.
The Alli's Family Restaurant building has been refilling tanks along Historic Route 66 for 80 years. It began as a gas station, but then took on the mantle of restaurant and has never looked back or at the sun. The eatery's Facebook page contains sneak peeks from the full menu and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Chicken-fried chicken and its menu companions are hearty enough to sustain patrons on road trips, whether their road trips are from Chicago to LA or the result of a stick in the middle of the highway.
When you order guacamole at Las Margaritas, you aren’t just asking for the avocado-based chip dip; you’re asking for a spectacle. That’s because the staff brings the entire guacamole-making production to your table, mashing together the ingredients in front of you and delivering the tasty concoction as freshly as if the kitchen had an avocado tree growing in the sink. This dedication to fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine sums up Las Margaritas, where chefs make salsas by hand daily and churn out favorites such as chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
The menu also includes more innovative dishes, such as pork-and-pineapple-filled tacos and the camarones tocineta—cheese-stuffed shrimp that are wrapped in bacon and topped with a pork rind whittled into a bow. A chilly margarita quells any spicy main course and incorporates only natural ingredients to flavor its pomegranate, peach, mango, and pineapple varieties.
The chefs at Houlihan's Restaurant and Bar refuse to follow the trend of restaurants using premade dishes and preservative-laden foods. Instead, they elevate their cooking to a higher standard, handcrafting each meal from scratch with local produce in open kitchens that overlook modern, welcoming dining rooms. The dishes fuse familiar comfort fare (think down-home pot roast and bacon-studded mac 'n' cheese) with adventuresome flavors, from goat cheese and asparagus poppers to a spicy burger lavished with fritos. The spacious bar's mixologists concoct a slew of long island iced teas, specialty cocktails, and martinis that chase bites or stand on their own merit. Flights of three mini martinis allow the comparing and contrasting of a trio of flavors or refresh each of the mouths of a single guest’s head.
Martin Hernandez grew up with 14 siblings in the city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. That's where their community taught them the importance of family and hard work, but no one more so than their mother. She created flavorful, fresh meals for the family, never cutting any corners. As the owner of Primas Mexican Grill, Martin has the chance to recreate not only the homemade meals, but also the festive family atmosphere at his restaurant.
Along with a talented staff, Martin pays homage to his mother with traditional Mexican house specialties: pico de gallo, smothered carnitas, fish tacos, and fajitas, to name a few. But the menu doesn't adhere strictly to south-of-the-border fare. There are also American favorites such as burgers and steak served with fries.