Since it was founded in 1968, Tao Natural and Organic Foods Cafe has grown from a place to buy bulk herbs and specialty books to an emporium of nutritional supplements, organic foods, and holistic health services. The chefs in the caf? cater to paleo, raw, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners with a menu full of progressive, farm-to-table cuisine, which can be enjoyed in the dining room or on a patio under lush gingko trees. Acupuncture, reiki, and massage treatments help restore balance to bodies, while frequent workshops teach healthy habits to whole families, training kids how to cook and parents how to use home remedies.
From humble beginnings as a child in Jerusalem, Falafel King's proprietor worked his way up from having just a frying pan and gasoline burner to his name to owning a trio of Lebanese eateries. A brightly lit yellow crown draws diners to the Falafel King as surely as the bat signal attracts superheroes and grizzled detectives. Inside the restaurant, pitas ensconce grilled meat filled with Mediterranean spices and crisp falafel sits alongside whirls of hummus.
Stone tiles surround a serene Buddha as he presumably listens to the light chatter ricocheting off the carved wooden walls and ceiling. The cuisine at Chiang Mai Thai is just as nuanced. Chef Thi Mai Evans nods to Bangkok street food with appetizers such as chicken satay and sweet dried beef, but then turns toward southern Thailand with comforting curries spiced to the preferences of her diners. She also draws from the Thai royal family's cookbook to balance hot and sour flavors in tom yum soup. Along with piquant dishes, the candlelit Buddha Lounge encourages social dining with creative cocktails infused with thai basil and lemongrass. It also hosts events such as Back Alley Karaoke every Thursday, which is sometimes known as Friday's slightly more responsible sibling.
At Byblos Lebanese Grill, the chefs prepare handmade meals using natural ingredients, chop fresh tabouleh salad, and sear marinated lamb kebabs from scratch daily. Diners can nibble toasted wraps stuffed with shawarma, kafta, and gyros meat. The selection is decadent, but the menu also offers vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives to accommodate those with special dietary needs. For dessert, you can nibble homemade baklava, cheesecake, or ice cream and sip Lebanese coffee or tea.
The flavors of the desert and the Mediterranean mingle at Ariana Kabob & Gyro Bistro, where chefs specialize in the hearty entrees of Afghanistan and the surrounding area. They pair authentic Afghan breads brushed with olive oil and garlic with traditional mezzes such as baba ghanouj and hummus topped with olives, feta, and gyro meat. That same meat goes into classic gyro sandwiches dressed with a dollop of tzatziki sauce and paired alongside crispy french fries. They also layer gyro meat, chicken, beef, or falafel onto skewers before grilling them over an open flame. To balance out the savory flavors without making their napkins out of spun sugar, the chefs create desserts such as baklava and firnee, a chilled cornstarch pudding studded with pistachios.
After ascending two floors of ivory and ebony decor that adorns the Marquette Hotel, the subtle colors of Basil's Restaurant stand out. Tables and booths situated next to the third-story windows bathe in natural light during the breakfast and lunch rush. Dishes include the smoked salmon gravlax with capers and eggs or banana flambe french toast for breakfast and escalate to lunch eats such as lamb burgers with gruyere cheese or cider-brined pork chops. That's because Basil's Restaurant's chefs keep time with the sun, making sure to rotate their menus throughout the day.
At night, the ambiance imbues elegance, donning a backdrop of twinkling lights and views of the IDS Center's Crystal Court from the dining terrace. The chefs, too, work with finer ingredients and utensils that wear top hats in order to craft steak au poivre with a blueberry demi glaze or seared diver scallops with carrot and parsnip puree.