Amid rich woodwork and four big-screen TVs, 800 West treats taste buds to savory steaks, scrumptious sandwiches, and seafood. Customers can commence consumption with the 800 West shrimp, tender prawns tossed in a spicy cream sauce ($10.29), before applying paws to a hearty handheld such as the grilled-barbecue-chicken-ranch sandwich ($9.29). Dive fork-first into the blackened mahi-mahi with pineapple salsa for a taste of the tropics ($14.99), or opt for the 7-ounce char-grilled filet mignon served with onion strings and maitre d' butter if you only eat fish born as cheesy crackers or 7-ounce filet mignons ($23.99). The six-cheese purse pasta—little pockets stuffed with sundried tomatoes, spinach, and garlic and blanketed with parmesan cream sauce—sates herbaceous bellies and pastaterian pandas ($10.99). To rinse down solids, patrons can saddle up to the full-service bar and sip a glass of wine ($7–$12), a beer ($3–$5), or a martini ($9–$10).
New American Cuisine | Hyperlocal Ingredients | House-Canned Goods | Smart-Casual Dress Code
Where to Sit: If possible, grab the table right in front of the fireplace, which adds to the coziness of the welcoming, yet elegant digs.
While You're Waiting
Chef Paul Virant's claim to fame is his knack for pickling and canning, which he wrote about in his cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen. Honor his passion by replacing your usual cufflinks with full-sized Mason jars.
Reservations are recommended.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a page out of the chef’s book and go on the hunt for fresh, local ingredients at the Western Springs Fruit Store (925 Burlington Avenue).
After: Catch a show at the Theatre of Western Springs (4384 Hampton Avenue), which hosts local plays and national acts, including the celebrated Beatle’s cover band, American English.
Mécénat Bistro and Gathering Place's menu is stocked full of seasonal American specialties. Guests can pair truffle fries, marinated skirt steak, or creamy crab and lobster risotto with one of 70 varietals on the bistro’s wine list. Domestic craft beers also span the menu, accentuating flavors in seasonal specialties such as the pan-seared duck breast with braised red cabbage or the sautéed potato gnocchi with organic mushrooms.
A member of the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Little Joe's Restaurant boasts a deliciously uncanny knowledge of hot dog, burger, sausage preparation, and well-known italian beef. Peruse the menu and opt for a classic Little Joe's hot dog ($2.85), or doll it up with chili and cheese ($3.75) for a nice night out on the tongue. An order of buffalo wings ($6.50) or a grilled chicken sandwich ($3.95) quashes the hunger of patrons who have spent the day vacuuming coal mines, and the freshly made italian beef ($4.95) curbs cravings the size of a young buttero's dreams. Little Joe's also throws the spice of variety into the mix with tamales ($1.75) and homemade soups ($2.85).
Named after the Greek word for “green”, Prasino follows a farm-to-table philosophy that revolves around hormone-free meats and organic produce. The seasonal menu collects internationally inspired eats such as an Irish skillet with corned beef hash, and the Paris: poached eggs, brie, and truffle hollandaise over a pretzel croissant.
Christopher and Mary Spagnola, owners of Back Alley Burger, boast an extensive, ingredient-driven menu of fresh-to-order, grass-fed-beef burgers and nitrate-free, all-beef hot dogs. Bite into the Knead a Big burger ($8.99), which finds a juicy beef patty, tender pastrami, and a fried egg lounging like spoiled princes atop a downy bun pillow, craft a burger from scratch ($5.99+), or step outside the cattle box for a Crabtastic crab-cake burger ($8.99) or veggie burger ($7.99). Along with its burger creations and puppet shows on the history of beef, Back Alley Burger also blankets scrumptious, all-beef Nancy's dogs with Merkts cheese and sauerkraut ($4.25), whips up a variety of sandwiches and salads, and prepares an array of tasty sides, such as sweet-potato fries ($2.50) and chili con carne ($3.99).