Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage’s tearoom wouldn’t be out of place in a Victorian dollhouse: delicate fine china teapots, fresh flowers, and doilies dot lace-covered pink tablecloths. Vines creep up mint-green walls and heavy wooden columns, and sunlight pours through picture windows. This ultra-dainty tearoom is ideal for afternoons spent sipping black, green, and herbal teas and nibbling freshly baked scones and finger sandwiches. It also serves up heartier housemade dishes that often feature organic, local ingredients, including vegetarian black-bean burgers and gluten-free fig, spinach, and gorgonzola pizzas.
In addition to hosting daily tea parties, Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage serves as a welcoming community hub where acoustic musicians gather to serenade patrons. Local artists display jewelry and paintings in the front room and, on some evenings, even attract craftsters and lost kittens by teaching knitting classes on the front porch.
In the age of convenience, Pitasub Express sets itself apart by inviting diners to completely customize build-your-own meals, made from fresh ingredients and slow-cooked, authentic meats. Beginning with the foundation of either a pita or a bowl, cooks pile gyro, falafel, kafta, or beef shawarma beneath toppings such as grilled veggies, brown rice, and tomatoes. Next, creations are drizzled with or dropped like a cannonball into special garlic sauce or cucumber sauce. A variety of sides are also available, such as tangy grape leaves, creamy hummus, and fresh greek salads.
Back in 1957 when Marie and Joseph "Jo-Jo" Hashim founded Jo Jo's Original Pizza, they decided to concoct original recipes for their breads, crusts, and housemade sauce. Fifty years later, most of these savory instructions are still in use, guiding chefs as they craft traditional pies as well as Jo Jo's specialty hawaiian and taco pizzas. Run today by Marie and Joseph's descendants, Jo Jo's rounds out its menu with other classic Italian fare, including housemade lasagna, pastas, and subs.
The scents of sugar and spices waft from the doors of Syd’s Bakery, evoking in lucky passersby memories of childhood birthday parties and trips to Grandma’s house. This scrumptious perfume is the byproduct of recipes developed in the kitchens of Hungary, Russia, and Poland—recipes that continue to earn new fans with each bite of the bakery’s cookies, tea cakes, and coffee cakes. Sitting on racks beside their Old World brethren, more than a dozen styles of classic American cookies teem with mix-ins such as chocolate chunks, peanut butter, and coconut flakes. Hand-rolled raised donuts also line the shelves, their insides brimming with colorful jams but not a gram of trans fat.
The bakers flex their artistic muscles when constructing cakes, which range from 6-inch rounds to full sheets that serve up to 90 wedding or graduation-party guests. When customizing cakes for special occasions, customers may choose from six icings, 12 fillings, and more than 20 swirlable cake flavors, which range from milk chocolate to pink champagne. An edible image or hand-drawn greeting makes each cake both tasty and informative, like a pie chart made of real pie.
Chili Jack’s Original Chili Mac’ wasn't the first to serve chili mac, but they are certainly one of the best. The eatery has earned recognition from the The Blade food critic for resurrecting the long-lost dish. Although chili mac is the star of the show, classically prepared hot dogs and sausages make up a full menu. Dog recipes draw influences from around the world, with recipes such as German bratwurst with sauerkraut and all-beef Chicago dogs with authentic fixin's: yellow mustard, green relish, and sport peppers grown in the end zone of Soldier Field.
Jasmine's culinary crew wrangles traditional Eastern ingredients and fresh cuts of seafood to masterfully craft decadent sushi and authentic Japanese and Thai cuisine. A master sushi chef draws on 25 years of experience to create a hodgepodge of sushi delights, such as mixed maki rolls ($12.95 for 18 pieces) or a Chirashi-sushi feast ($19), which tucks celebrated sea treats into a bed of rice after humming a lullaby about Herman Melville’s goldfish muse. Bowls of udon or soba noodles ($9.95 each) arrive festooned with golden pieces of tempura to engulf tongue buds with flash-fried glory, and more than 25 Japanese dinner entrees—such as tender hibachi steak ($16.95) and chicken teriyaki ($12.95)—subdue appetites with a headlock of sustenance. Thai spices infuse a lineup of 50 traditional entrees, such as red-curry chicken or pork ($12.99), which surround succulent proteins in a pentagon of flavors including coconut milk, bamboo shoots, green beans, and lime and basil leaves.
At Sylvania Diner, cooks marry classic American diner fare, such as burgers and omelets, with authentic Lebanese gyros, falafel, and shish kebabs. The dining room's decor mirrors this fusion of cultures, with one wall draped with an American flag and another swathed in a giant mural depicting a boat navigating the jutting cliffs, blue seas, and feta-scented beaches of a Mediterranean shoreline. Red, white, and blue streamers flutter from the ceiling, dancing above loyal regulars' heads as they bask in shafts of sunlight pouring through the restaurant's expansive windows.