To Jaime Flores, tamales represent two of the world's finest simple pleasures: eating and unwrapping presents. At Tamale Hut Café, he and his staff hand-wrap each tamale with a double layer of corn husks, then steam-cook them to seal in flavor. Jaime derives his methods and his choice of fillings—pork, chicken, pinto beans, and even crab meat with jalapeños—from his aunt and uncle, who taught him how to prep the portable delights in addition to other Mexican foods. He attests that his tamales are appropriate for any mealtime, and even sells steamer pots so that visitors can reheat their leftovers without using a microwave or rubbing them until friction kicks in. The quaint café is a venue for both sitting down for a snack and appreciating local culture. Beneath bulbs that glow inside of hanging tequila bottles, paintings and photographs by local artists draw the eye, and regular readings by visiting authors entertain audiences. To offset the savory bites of tamales, meatball soup, and gourmet salsas, guests can order drinks or seasonal paletas—Mexican fruit popsicles. Sweet tamales tinged with the taste of pineapple, blueberry, and coconut are another creative dessert option.
In Jimmy's Place's kitchen, chefs cook chicken vesuvio in a finely-tuned blend of olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasonings. According to a December 2011 article in the Forest Park Review, this signature dish is a favorite of Food Network star Jeff Mauro, who featured it on his show Sandwich King. The crispy Italian-American meal uses a recipe passed down through owner Jim Jodoin's family?as does the rest of the menu. Years of culinary tradition are written into the homemade marinara sauce that blankets the restaurant's chicken parmesan, the meat that stuffs its homemade ravioli, and the weighty toppings that keep its pizzas from floating up to the ceiling.
Out in the dining room, these meals pair with a distinctly local atmosphere?newspaper clippings and photos of customers line the walls, and bartenders pour drinks at a full bar as flat screen TVs beam in sports.
Since 1977, Starship Restaurant & Catering has fed Chicago's unending need for sandwiches and soups. The cooks' most classic creation goes by the name The Starship, and, to make it, they load a sesame seed bun with ham, turkey, bologna, and two kinds of cheese, topping it with fresh veggies. The sizable sandwich pairs with more than 150 varieties of soup, including familiar staples such as French onion and split pea, as well as original recipes such as pepperoni pizza and Oktoberfest soup, which yells "Prost!" each time you take a sip.
With more than 31 years of experience filling Chicagoland's frozen statuary needs, Nadeau's Ice Sculptures makes party luges that offer aesthetic and tactile pleasure to drinkers of chilled beverages. Liquors and mixers poured down the ice-formed spouts will chill and combine, emerging at the end of their frozen journey as new liquids. When ordering, Groupon holders can choose between two options: the Party luge or the Suck It Up luge. The Party luge combines simplicity and elegance, with two entrances and two exits, each connected by a long trough, giving all poured ingredients plenty of time to learn one another's middle names. Those who value complexity will appreciate the Suck It Up: three pour areas with chutes running through solid ice down to a trough on the bottom, from which mixed drinks may be sucked up through a straw. Whichever luge is chosen, Nadeau will bag and box the ice for convenient pickup and transport and will include a drainage tray for mess-free ice amusement.
As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Karen Gruber founded The Perfect Dinner to confront the dilemma she saw facing “working, commuting, chauffeuring moms”: either burn out trying to cook after long days, or grab fast food and end up feeling guilty. The Perfect Dinner aims to break the cycle with crowd-pleasing family dinners made fresh each day and available for pickup or delivery.
Convenient containers can go straight into the oven, microwave, or refrigerator, with three size options ensuring that there's enough for all family members and any dishwashers demanding sustenance. Each day's menu is marked to clarify which items accommodate special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and nut-free choices.
The Perfect Dinner also caters feasts with platters, plated dinners, casual party fare, and other options tailored for each event, whether hosts need assorted quiches for a brunch event or 20 flank-steak sliders to fuel cheers during badminton matches.