Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
The Village of Park Forest lays claim to being one of the first postwar planned communities. In 1948, as World War II veterans were looking to make peacetime lives, the village’s pioneers built affordable housing and an accessible road system for a diverse, welcoming community dotted with green parks and tail-finned trees. Today those trees have grown into a mature canopy, and the village has taken steps to maintain its legacy while seeking to reinvent itself for the modern era. In 2000, the Metropolitan Planning Council awarded the village a Burnham Award for its downtown redevelopment. The revitalized downtown area features a variety of spaces where community members can come together, including its Dining on the Green meeting and banquet facility, which overlooks the village green's verdant pasture decorated with ornamental flowers, a gazebo, and sculptures that do not animate and roam the streets with each full moon.
Live jazz music swirls throughout Flavor Restaurant on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings each week, blending with the sweet and spicy aromas of Southern breakfast and dinner specialties. The restaurant conjures made-from-scratch dishes from family recipes, and specialties include Grandma Haywood's blackened catfish and eggs, pecan-stuffed chicken, and sweet-potato pancakes with mandarin-orange butter. Breakfast triumphs over the sun on select jazz nights, when diners can conclude their evenings with menu items typically reserved for sunrise. The dessert menu punctuates meals with Southern classics including New Orleans bread pudding, and adds Southern kicks such as peach cobbler.
When Harris Davis decided his adopted home of Chicago didn't have enough delis, he established one. The native New Yorker grew up with a deli seemingly on every block of his Brooklyn neighborhood and transported the classic culinary gathering spot to the Second City. Now he and his family dish up deli favorites and personal recipes, including matzo-ball soup, corned-beef sandwiches, and baked-salmon salad.
The Egg & I offers a separate menu for their Chicago Heights and Tinley Park locations, each stocked with breakfast and lunch options, piling plates high with egg dishes, pancakes, sandwiches, and salads. The mexican skillet’s spicy chorizo sausage is served alongside tomatoes and onions under melted cheddar, sour cream, and salsa ($7.25–$8.74), and arrives with pancakes and toast just like The Egg & I’s other skillets and especially friendly census takers. Three crepes burst with strawberries under a dusting of powdered sugar that helps nab the fingerprints of criminally tasty fruit before an optional dollop of whipped cream flies in for a sweet landing ($6.50–$7.84). Fruit fiends will also enjoy the double-blueberry waffle, featuring a warm belgian discus saddled with a heap of fresh berries or compote ($6.95–$8.14). Lunchtime diners lay out a welcome mat for the blackened-salmon-fillet salad, adorned with crumbled blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and walnuts ($7.95–$9.74). Prices vary by location.
Mario Dovalina and Edwin Ptak established the original Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in 1967 in order to satisfy diners craving authentic Mexican dishes. With more than 40 locations in the Chicagoland area and northwestern Indiana and traditional eats that are sold across the United States and even in Mexico, Pepe's appeases a wide audience with its hearty options. Appetizers such as chips and fresh guacamole made daily or chili con queso ready bellies for veggie burritos bursting with seasonal vegetables. Flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports games or ballerina-wrestling matches dot the spacious walls at many of the chain’s casual eateries, keeping diners in their seats long after their shrimp, pork, or vegetable fajitas are finished.