Brazilian-born chef Jorgina Pereira relies on ingredients such as cassava root, collards, and coconut to infuse stews and stir-fries with tropical flavors at Sinhá. Pereira prepares her homeland's cuisine at home, welcoming guests into her historic brick townhouse for intimate meals, morning to mid-afternoon. In addition to doling out tropical comestibles at its brick-and-mortar location, the staff takes a custom catering menu on the road with Brazilian musicians, dressing for events in a Carmen Miranda-like uniform of flowing dresses and fruit-filled head dresses. Sinhá is a local favorite, and was even featured on ABC 7 Chicago News in a restaurant segment.
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open-flame grill and serving its diners with a luscious meaty mélange of multiple steak selections. The full dinner ($46.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, as diners welcome a continuous flow of flavorful proteins, including brazilian sausage, filet mignon, flank steak, and bacon-wrapped chicken breast. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Diners can also feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheese, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Not a lot of ideas dreamed up on a first date come to fruition. But for Daniela and Brad, their first date in a Sao Paulo pizzeria grew into more than just a romance. With every successive date, their wouldn't-it-be-nice dream of opening a Brazilian-style pizzeria grew too shape. Not too long after, they decided to use the recipes handed down from their Italian ancestors to create their pizzeria, Fogo 2 Go.
In their cozy store-front—taken up by a main counter and an enormous brick oven—they bake crispy, Italian pizzas paired with unique Brazilian influences. Their pies come layered with everything from classic Italian sausages to more unique brie margherita and shrimp scampi toppings. True to the idea's Brazilian roots, they also cook up treats such as coxinha—an empanada filled with seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes—as well as desserts such as flan and Nutella & Banana pizza.
Aside from the Brazilian-Italian comestibles, Fogo's crown jewel is the brick-fired, charbroiled whole, half, or quarter chicken. Thanks to the intensity of the oven's heat and the incantations of the bistro's house shaman, the chicken quick-cooks, leaving a bacon-crisp skin and sealing in juices. What they never decided in their dream was the type of beverages to serve, so the pair let customers make that choice themselves with their BYOB policy. Fogo 2 Go even satisfies late-night hungers by staying open until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Bustling with plates heaped with zesty comestibles and the musical trickle of wine, Al Primo Canto mimics the lively atmosphere of a Brazilian galeteria with family-style dishes and festive fire-toned lamps. Celebrating pairs and dual-pairs can compare bite marks in thick pieces of roasted eggplant, drizzled with tahini, lemon, and olive oil, before launching pieces of roasted mushroom and goat-cheese bruschetta at each other with a catapult. Side dishes including crispy-fried polenta, shimmying under a shower of grated parmesan cheese, dance around main dishes such as young chicken, marinated in white wine and slow-roasted gaucho-style, or leg of lamb marinated in 15 spices. A bottle of wine lubricates bicameral paper-or-plastic debates among pairs, and two bottles serve as twin juggling clubs for four sure-handed diners.
The lengua burritos, Jarritos, and red and green sauces that smother enchiladas aren't the only authentic south-of-the-border touches at Changarro Cocina. Its drink list also brings some traditional flavor. The granite bar area, part of the new owner's renovations, hosts more than 70 different tequilas and margaritas made fresh without any mixers. Patrons sip these beverages while nibbling ceviche, huaraches, and tortas and cheering on soccer matches, baseball games, and ice-fishing tournaments broadcast on TVs throughout the restaurant.
Al's challenges chewers with prodigious portions of sizzling steaks, succulent seafood, and Texas–sized sandwiches. All the restaurant's steaks, such as the queen filet mignon ($25.95), are hand-cut and aged a minimum of 21 days before diners welcome them to the table with hearty appetites and glinting steak knives. Pescatarians can cast their nets around Cajun catfish filets ($18.95), which come covered in a Bayou blend of seasonings and blackened in a cast-iron skillet. Grasp a one-pound charburger ($11.95) in one hand while hoisting a frosty beer or martini in the other, then use your kneecap to gesture toward a selection from the superbly sugared dessert menu while your elbow fends off the poaching of untrustworthy tablemates.
Using all-natural meats, Amish free-range chicken, and produce from Midwestern farmers’ markets, Hemmingway's Bistro serves fresh, flavorful French fare in an attractive, white-tablecloth-laden dining room. Executive Chef Ala's fondness for melt-on-your-tongue seafood makes its mark on the menu—the restaurant imports fish from the East Coast daily. Satiate seafood cravings with the herb-crusted whitefish paired with caper butter ($18.95), or guzzle away at the Dijon salmon with a side of cream lentils ($21.95). The Classic ($36.95) stuffs grumbling stomachs with half a lobster, nine oysters, three shrimp, three clams, six mussels, and two crabs. Before the main course, showcase your magic skills by cutting the baked brie topped with apricot preserves ($11.95) in half with your saw-teeth. Vegetarians can fork in warm goat-cheese petite salad ($7.95) while carnivores sink their teeth into the roasted lamb rack paired with ratatouille ($26.95). Cleanse your esophagus with a glass of '99 Saint Clement syrah ($9 for a glass) or an '06 Campanile pinot grigio ($7 for a glass) from Hemmingway's stockpile of red and white wines.