Thirty years of practice has given the chefs at Irish Rose Saloon a refined sensibility, which they use to craft accessible pub food that pairs flawlessly with the bar's selection of craft beer on tap. The chefs travel to Chicago markets each week to find the freshest seafood, meats, and produce. Once they've dreamed up inventive daily specials, the options are displayed on a chalkboard menu that hangs on the restaurant's exposed brick wall, featuring entrees like duck meatloaf, jamaican pork, and sustainable fish such as Lake Superior whitefish and shrimp that always bring fabric bags to the grocery store.
These specials join the regular favorites on the lunch and dinner menus, including housemade veggie burgers, linguine with housemade italian sausage, and chicken breast baked in a wood oven. Patrons can team their selections with dozens of draft beers, such as regular and seasonal suds from New Holland and Flying Dog breweries.
There are plenty of intimate tabletops and booths inside Murasaki Japanese & Thai Fusion, but the best seats in the house are arguably stationed in front of tableside hibachi grills. There, diners can marvel at expert chefs, who sizzle cuts of steak, salmon, and shrimp amid dancing flames and trees that have retired as chopsticks. As hibachi masters labor over the grills, sushi chefs create colorful pieces at the sushi station, slicing up fresh fish for sashimi and more than 20 types of specialty rolls—including the Sunshine roll, with tuna, scallion, and yellowtail, which was celebrated by the Rockford Register Star. The Asian fusion restaurant also whips up Thai and Japanese specialties, ranging from spicy pad thai noodles to simmering Japanese udon noodle soups.
It's not just artisanal breads and tempting desserts that are made from scratch at Mary's Market––it's everything on the menu. From the dressings on the café's fresh salads to the sauces on their hearty pastas, all of it is crafted using top quality ingredients and TLC. This dedication to the art of food earned Mary's Market a James Beard Award nomination in the category of America's Classics, a division that honors locally owned restaurants that embody the character of the their communities. Chef Christopher Holden helms the catering side of Mary's Markets, relying on his expertise in weddings and banquets to impress guests with passed hors d'oeuvres, signature menus, and cakes big enough for the band to pop out of.
For more than 30 years, Quiznos has toasted its submarine sandwiches to bring out the hidden flavors found in butcher-quality meats, cheese, and artisan breads. Its classic and signature subs take on a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles ranging from the prime-rib with mushrooms and swiss to the classic italian, which dons black olives, mozzarella, red-wine vinaigrette, and plentiful sliced meats. Those closely monitoring their waistlines can take unabashed bites of sandwiches that have fewer than 500 calories, such as the bourbon chicken and Baja-chicken subs. A selection of grilled flatbreads, soups, and salads round out Quiznos' varied menu.
The cooks Pete's Tom & Jerry's three outposts specialize in all things American food. Line cooks sling everything from charbroiled 1/4-pound burgers to steak sandwiches made with USDA ribeye. The main draw here is their roster of sandwiches. Cooks put together a range of traditional handheld eats, from their specialty gyros?they proudly stake their claim to the gyro throne with the tagline, "King of the Gyros"? to deli classics such as reubens. For those not wanting dinner between two slices of bread, chefs also create 7-inch personal pan pizzas, 21-piece shrimp dinners, and desserts such as traditional baklava, apple pie, and milk shakes.
Chefs at Izakaya 88 specialize in Japanese-style tapas, which they create alongside eclectic international dishes such as soft shell crab BLTs and fresh sashimi crowned with sizzling sesame oil. Seated next to tall botanical sculptures or beneath a grid of organically-arranged lights, guests dig into plates of slow-roasted pork belly, sipping on mai tais or beers from the bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, visitors can lend an ear to fellow diners, who belt out karaoke classics beneath the glow of multi-colored lights and the distant gaze of glowering, music-hating deities.