Gino's East's still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and canadian bacon. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Wok 'n Fire—named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living—tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
Historic Downtown Wheaton embraces many of the boutique gift stores, chic spas, and diverse culinary offerings that populate the historical storefronts of the western suburb’s walkable central shopping district. Before embarking on a day of checking off gift lists or simply sightseeing, slip under the colorful awnings at Front and Hale Streets to sneak a breakfast bite at the Egg Harbor Café, where The Handler sandwich tucks egg, bacon, and cheese onto a gourmet pretzel roll ($8.95). Eco-friendly gift shop It’s Our Earth's “buy recycled” philosophy unfolds space for ample creativity in the form of Snack Journals ($7 each)—fun notebooks reimagined from SpongeBob and Spiderman snack boxes that make the dog eating one's homework a slightly likelier excuse.
Ivy's executive chef Brian Goewey has assembled a menu of sophisticated cuisine made from fresh, premium ingredients. Start the gastro-revelry with the creamy greenery of spinach-and-artichoke dip, which comes paired with parmesan crisps ($10.25), or kick things off with calamari partnered with garlic butter and a blend of hot peppers ($10.50). A quartet of pastas, including butternut squash ravioli ($15.95), assists in quelling boot-shaped cravings, while steakhouse burgers ($11.50) help protein addicts get the meat monkey off their backs without risking fork-related injury. Double-hoisin pork-chops ($21.50), Kona-coffee-encrusted sirloin ($23.50), and gorgonzola lamb-chops ($27.95) all add to the mouth-powered flavor symphony. A lunch menu is also available, enlisting an expanded selection of sandwiches to keep chewing muscles from atrophying during daylight.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Head chef John Anderson, a staple of Adelle's Fine American Fare since its humble beginnings, curates a menu of upscale cuisine inspired by American comfort-food classics. Served in a dining room gilded with soft yellow lighting and woven-back chairs, orange-soy butter sauce adds a tangy accent to panko-herb-encrusted whitefish, and grilled flat iron steak cowers from voracious appetites behind a shield of blue cheese and red-wine demi-glace. Like the roster of Supreme Court justices, a lineup of specials changes daily, highlighting unique starters and entrees and fresh-baked desserts, from decadent pastries to sweet bread puddings infused with fresh fruits.