Arlington Park's racetrack hosts a summer season of on-site wagering on live thoroughbred horse races across its sweeping, verdant turf. A blend of vintage and modern, the racetrack's tiered white buildings house myriad dining options—including a café, food court, Mexican restaurant, upscale restaurant, and two casual pubs—which provide a refuge for eager audiences and the horses' proud families. The popular Mr. D's Sports Bar caters to patrons with casual pub fare, including burgers, paninis, and hot dogs. In addition to screening live and off-season races, Mr. D's Sports Bar's TVs air live simulcast racing from around the country and screenings of other sports, such as full-contact chess.
Mago, which is Spanish for magician, owner chef Juan Luis Gonzalez to crafts authentic Latin and Mexican dishes that “dazzle” diners, according to the Daily Herald. The menu surveys both traditional and modern dishes, including three kinds of ceviche, empanadas stuffed with seasoned meats, and complex moles. Beyond the main dishes, the chef experiments with sucrose in desserts such as warm mexican spiced bread pudding, as well as a cantina menu highlighted by margaritas, mezcals, and over 250 premium 100% Agave tequilas.
A neighborhood bar is best when it reflects the local culture, which is why it’s no surprise that Harrys’ of Arlington pours brews from a variety of local craft breweries such as Revolution, 5 Rabbit, and Goose Island. A long wooden bar that stretches nearly the length of the room features a dozen tap handles in regimented rows above its polished surface. Those taps spout both macro- and microbrewed beers, which can be obtained on specials that run every day of the week. Cooks complement these libations with an extensive menu of pub grub, including customizable sirloin-patty burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of mac and cheeses spiced up with enticing ingredients.
Occasionally, the staff clears the rows of tables and hooks up their sound and light systems to host concerts. For these convivial events, they invite musicians who run the gamut of musical styles, from rock and blues to funk and tribute bands, who play music in lieu of paying taxes.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Visitors to Bauer's Brauhaus, located in Palatine, Illinois, may feel as though they've stepped in from the streets of Munich. Eight taps bear names such as Spaten, Radeberger, and Weihenstephaner. Waitresses clad in custom-designed lederhosen ferry dishes between tables. And a hand-carved bar stretches 30 feet along one wall.
Owners Jason, Judy, Bob, and Gene Bauer drew from their German-American heritage to inspire their brew house's ambiance, decor, and menu. Chef Jason relies on time-tested family recipes to prepare German-American dishes—deep-fried pickles, hamburgers, and Wisconsin cheese curds—as well as German food such as beef rouladen, sauerbraten, and bratwurst crafted in-house. These dishes pair with wines hailing from both countries and a range of Old- and New-World beers that may arrive in standard pints, traditional boot-shaped steins, or a hollow bust of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Durty Nellie's combines spirited entertainment with a variegated menu of Irish-American pub fare. Finger-friendly appetizers launch meals into a crunching frenzy with savory starters such as roasted red pepper hummus, which coaxes pita chips into a vortex of feta cheese and kalamata olives. Helping to further mute the doo-wop hums of empty bellies, entrees follow in the form of succulent burgers, hot roast-beef sandwiches, or sweet-potato-crusted salmon—an 8-ounce Chilean fillet adorned in crispy potato bits and served alongside fresh salad and rice pilaf. A fully stocked beer selection irrigates parched pipes with more than 100 worldly beers, including lagers, ales, porters, and stouts.