Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar cajoles the tahini-demanding bellies of vegetarians and omnivores alike with fresh wraps, salads, baguettes, and desserts, as well as a spectrum of Mediterranean specialties. Chef and owner Ilan Cohen slings traditional family meals straight from his native Israel onto the tables of his American bistro haven. Chickpea cheerleaders can form pyramids with one of many hummus-centered dishes, such as the sabih pita sandwich, with roasted eggplant and hard-boiled egg ($8), or the mahi-mahi beet wrap, rolled with sumptuous tiers of garbanzo mash, spinach, and alfalfa ($17).
In spite of its name, Asian Tokyo takes a broad approach that combines classic Japanese and Chinese recipes on the same menu. Iconic dishes such as kung pao chicken and homemade egg rolls appear alongside steak teriyaki and hibachi-grilled scallops. Additionally, the sushi chefs prepare orders of nigiri and sashimi as well as more than 50 different rolls, which can incorporate everything from tempura lobster and asparagus to smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Simple tables and dark wooden booths fill the earth-toned dining area. Red lanterns hang from the ceiling, casting their light across the bar's stone wall— which supports a pair of flat-screen televisions—and lending a soft, rosy glow that makes the dining room a perfect setting for a romantic date or a staged reading of Cabaret.
In the city, coffee shops tend to thrive so much that guests often have to circle the seating area like airplanes until a seat opens up. Coffee Planet tries to bring the appeal of city cafes to its family-owned suburban location in Rolling Meadows, which features a fireplace, couches, and board games, but without the seating backlog. Even the name of its beans smack of urbanity: Metropolis Coffees get brewed in the traditional manner or poured over into cups, dripping slowly into a hot mug and thawing the palate after a stressful morning or a snowcone binge. The coffee comes in a variety of options, including a Guatemalan and Honduran mix. But the baristas can appeal to other tastes, too, by brewing Rishi Teas or hand-crafting espressos.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex-style wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.