Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Pizza purveyors will devour Edwardo's all-natural pies, made with 100% pure aged cheese, crisp crust, and a sweet n' secret tomato sauce. Those perusing the menu will swiftly find Edwardo's signature stuffed cheese and spinach pizza, a two-inch-tall tasty treat packed with enough hand-selected spinach to finally let Popeye defeat Emperor Palpatine ($17.25 for 9"). Edwardo's thin-crust pizzas are just as delectable, with the Hawaiian Luau pie hosting generous chunks of pineapple, savory Canadian bacon, monterey jack cheese, and sweet n' sour sauce ($12.25 for 10"). Gobble up the Chicken Pesto Passion calzone, brimming with tender grilled meat, mozzarella cheese, and homemade pesto ($7.29), or pick up two chunky meatballs, smothered in marinara sauce and roasted red peppers ($4.79), for a kicking kickoff or a supportive side dish to your meal.
Baking is a family affair at Sweety Pies Bakery, which is run by Arden and Bruce Kruger and their daughter and son, Dana and Chad. They told the Skokie Review that their passion started as a hobby; before opening the bakery, the family constantly made pies from recipes passed down from Dana and Chad's grandmother. In 2007, they opened Sweety Pies, and their housemade cupcakes, scones, and cookies have been gobbled up by visitors to downtown Skokie ever since. Everything's made from scratch in small batches using ingredients such as real sweet-cream butter and freshly cracked eggs. Their dedication has earned them such accolades as a first-place finish in the Skokie Patch's readers’ choice awards for their cakes—but it's their pies that truly set the bakery apart.
"Everything here is really good, especially the pies," Ted Brunson raved on an episode of Chicago's Best after sampling Sweety Pies’ rum-laced Crocodile pecan pie, dense chocolate cashmere pie, and raspberry supreme pie, which has a sour-cream topping that lends a cheesecake-like flavor to each bite. The Krugers never add preservatives to anything, so visitors should immediately teleport home with their turtle brownies or handmade scones, or consume the treats onsite in the cozy dining room along with cups of Intelligentsia coffee. The menu also includes quiches, soups, and granola by the pound.
Hub's Gyros follows a simple motto: “Just a family business where quality still counts.” With that sort of humble attitude, you’d never know this restaurant is a star. Since its founding more than 35 years ago, Hub's has seen thousands of satisfied customers walk through its doors, made two appearances on Saturday Night Live, and racked up two Silver Platter awards, as well as a Golden Globe for “Most Delicious Sandwich Tangentially Related to the Plot of a Variety Show Sketch”. The secret to its success is a savory smorgasbord of American and Mediterranean cuisine, which includes hearty baked moussaka and pastichio, grilled gyros and shish kabob, and meaty burgers, deli sandwiches, and barbecue ribs. But while it prefers to focus on delivering quality food and service, Hub’s hasn’t completely shunned the limelight: customers can take home bottles of the restaurants “famous” barbecue sauce, which they may use to top their own ribs and sandwiches or to tie-dye their brand new Hub’s t-shirts and hats.
As Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind, Harvey Bernstein took one small step into the hot-dog business. On that historic day in 1969, Bernstein grilled dogs, burgers, and salami sandwiches from a brand-new fast food joint named Poochie's. The eatery's mascot, a dog chomping a hot-dog, labels Poochie's as "home of the cheddar burger," though the Chicago Tribune suggests otherwise: "One out of seven items ordered at the place—according to owner Chris Christou—is its char salami sandwich." Described as one of "the most masculine sandwiches" ever encountered, the char salami tucks hickory-smoked Vienna Beef salami, mustard, and grilled onions into a crispy french roll. As accessories to meat-centric entrees, the kitchen churns out fresh-cut fries (often loaded with cheese, chili, or both), malts, and battered, deep-fried cheese, onion rings, and mushrooms.
Ken's Diner & Grill began as a kosher grocery and sandwich joint back in 1976, metamorphosing to become the 1950s-style, kosher diner it is today. Unlike a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, the restaurant didn't have the benefit of a cocoon to conceal its transformation, but it did have the benefit of owner Ken Hechtman's clear vision. He transformed his little sandwich joint in bits and pieces, starting with the obligatory red and white checkers replacing his grocery shelves and culminating with a shiny new kitchen and a jukebox. Kosher culture and 50s nostalgia blended seamlessly, and by 1989, Ken's Diner & Grill earned its reputation as a community landmark. The cooks still whip up original recipes, including the half-pound burger slathered with special sauce, and the Red October, a spicy chicken sub on toasted garlic bread.