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, drafted chef Juan Luis Gonzalez to craft authentic Latin and Mexican dishes that “dazzle” diners, according to the Daily Herald. The menu surveys both traditional and updated 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 chocolate molten cake with chipotle ice cream, as well as a cantina menu highlighted by margaritas, mezcals, and mojitos served in glass sombreros.
Having worked with professional MMA and UFC competitors, the instructors at Ludus MMA Fitness train students as if they were fighters. Inside the coliseum-shaped facility, intense, hour-long workouts blend elements of boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and yoga, and present a challenging alternative to standard routines. Sessions unfold atop Olympic-quality training mats, with heavy bags, speed bags, and weights enveloping groups in a fitness-driven framework.
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.
Chef Jose Luna brings three generations' worth of Mexican foodie forebears to fill his lunch and dinner menus with carefully honed flavors. During dinner, guacamole ($8.95) is prepared fresh tableside, assuring guests the concoction isn't artificially enhanced by creamy supplements or black-market food coloring. Chefs apply years of experience playing Operation to silently extract menu guesswork with a selection of chef's specials, such as the birria de borrego, a lamb shank braised in birria sauce and served with chipotle mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables ($20.95). Add extra flare to an arrachera marinated skirt steak ($18.95) or grilled atlantic salmon ($19.95) with one of Salsa 17's mole sauces, traditional Mexican concoctions that form palate-pleasing puzzles with up to 20–30 interlocking ingredients. Six pages of dinner options ensure that no appetite exits with its former owner, and a dense lunch selection meets multifarious midday cravings with grilled chicken tortas layered with mashed black beans and pickled jalapeño ($8.95) or an avocado- and orange-topped ensalada margarita ($6.95)
In its energetic, vibrantly colored dining room, the award-winning La Tasca Tapas Restaurant serves a savory array of Spanish cuisine in both tapas and full-sized dishes. Browse tapas menus and pick a handful of small plates, such as the pimientos asados with fire-roasted peppers and olive-oil vinaigrette ($6.95), or the herbaceous queso de cabra al horno, consisting of baked goat cheese resting in a tomato basil sauce ($8.25). Those tired booking a Zeppelin bound for Madrid for fresh paella can instead nosh La Tasca's paella valenciana, a culinary triumph of chicken, pork, Spanish sausage, mussels, and clams resting in a bed of saffron rice ($14.95 per person, minimum of two people). Wash down Iberian entrees with vino tinto from the wine menu, or indulge in a dessert drink such as the velvety East India Solera Oloroso sherry ($7.75 per glass) or Fonseca Port Bin 27 ($7.25 per glass).