The current location of a restaurant opened in 1912, the Skokie Club celebrates its approaching centennial serving a menu of traditional American dishes. Start suppers with a large greek salad topped with feta, anchovies, and an original house dressing ($10.95) or an order of saganaki, baked greek cheese flamed tableside to make sure it doesn’t cool or fade back into the Force before reaching the plate ($6.95). Carnivorous clientele sate predatory instincts with wide variety of hearty entrees such as the broiled New York Strip steak ($19.95) or a full slab of barbecue baby back ribs seasoned with a secret rub and buried under a layer of sweet sauce ($19.95). Diners can create their own pasta dish with their choice of pasta and sauce topped with chicken ($17.95), shrimp ($18.95), or scallops ($18.95). Pescatarians erase aqueous appetites with a broiled Lake Superior whitefish, while Lake Barely Passable fillets languish in grocery-store bargain bins ($17.95).
The Village Inn may look like an simple country kitchen, but the food is nothing short of gourmet. Chef and owner John A. Martino calls on his training at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu to craft a menu of contemporary American Continental cuisine, which ranges from potato-crusted Chilean sea bass to a veal porterhouse topped with sautéed mushrooms. After the chef inspects the dishes for quality, presentation, and political leanings, they emerge from the kitchen to waft gourmet scents through four separate dining areas. Everyday diners sidle up to white-clothed tables amid floral carpets and drapes in the Fireplace Room, while top-shelf liquors come together to form a host of creative cocktails in the wood-lined bar. For private occasions, groups of up to 20 gather at a long oak table beneath the cozy, low ceilings of the Wine Cellar Room, and large events bask in the glow of a towering chandelier in the bright and airy expanse of The Great Room.
Davison Road Inn's culinary architects satisfy rumbling stomachs by stacking a bevy of burgers, sandwiches, and a menu of other pub eats. Patrons perched at a tiled bar savor hand-carved, top-round roast beef folded into a Kimmelwick roll ($6.99) as cushy as a pillow filled with marshmallows, or juggle a Reuben with slow-cooked, thin-sliced corned beef ($7.99) between turns at darts or pool. Blue umbrellas dotting a pine-tree-lined patio shade the delivery of Davison Road Inn’s fresh half-pound burgers. The Emerald Isle-inspired patty, topped with Irish cheddar, arrives on a soft pretzel bun ($6.99), and the Bacon Blue burger's twists of applewood bacon and melted blue cheese ($6.99) choose to arrive traditionally in a palanquin carried by four waiters. The ears of Saturday-night diners feast on live music between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
In pubs across Ireland, the craic, which means enjoyable conversation and gossip, is everything. It's the same at The Curragh Irish Pub & Restaurant, with regular live music, Irish dancing, and live streaming of rugby and soccer matches from around the world. The Curragh's menu relies on its Irish ancestry, with traditional dishes such as corned beef and cabbage or chicken boxty. Beers follow suit, with dozens of Irish ales, including Smithwick's and Guinness, on tap. Whiskeys such as Jameson and Bushmills are also poured through tap-like spigots at the wood-paneled bar. In the summery months, The Curragh's patio radiates with warmth and conviviality, often humming with the cheer and snorted laughter of catered parties.
At Ed Debevic's, every house burger, hot dog, and diner entree shares a not-so-secret ingredient: sass. The servers welcome guests to the vintage venue with tongue-in-cheek remarks and paper deli hats, seating them next to vibrant examples of what Centerstage calls "smart-aleck decor": fake autographs, old-timey ads, and signs that carry proverbs such as "Eat Now…Pay Waiter." The mischievously retro tone is cultivated in homage to one of the owner's favorite restaurants, Lill's Homesick Diner. Back in the '50s and '60s, Lill acquainted Ed with the classic flavors of comfort food cooked from scratch, showcasing the spirited moxie that made her a standout in the short-order world.
Ed chose to emulate both her classic cooking and feistiness at his own diner. Many of his menu items are housemade, including the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the desserts, and the blue-cheese sauce on top of the Ed's Blue Moon burger. Milk shakes and malts pair well with a variety of hot dogs and sandwiches, especially when counterbalancing the effects of Atomic Mix: a blend of diced jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes that garnishes certain plates. The staff stays in comically impudent character throughout these meals. And every now and then, the servers pause to put on countertop dance numbers that are almost as exciting as the time your grandpa turned the lazy Susan into a zoetrope.
Comfort food doesn't have to be unsophisticated, and the elegant atmosphere at Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles III has proved it. Amid the dining room's refined decor, hosts usher diners to private tables where they tackle one of 14 variations of the restaurant’s eponymous dish. Whether laden with wings, breast, or gizzards, the crispy waffle discs can be customized with buckwheat or pecans or served Windy City style—with whipped cream and a choice of sundae-inspired toppings. The chefs take their sides seriously, too—soul-food staples abound to frame main courses with mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens, and Cajun red beans and rice, sometimes accompanied by live jazz performances.
At Hana Asian Bistro, cooks artistically prepare and arrange entrees of authentic Asian cuisine, pulling from a pantry filled with quality meats, fresh seafood, and market-purchased produce. The chic eatery—tucked inside the Skokie Fashion Square shopping center—jazzes up sushi rolls with unique pairings, such as lobster and mango, and spicy sauces, such as kung pao sauce or japanese curry. Chefs also prepare a lineup of specialties including walnut shrimp and seafood noodle soup. To complement these expertly crafted meals, diners can order a side of fried rice or a fruit-infused bubble tea.