Founded in 1913, Leonidas produces more than 100 kinds of Belgian chocolates and disseminates them to sweet teeth the world over. Inside the cozy Chocolate Café, hot-chocolate beverages trade stock tips with solid chocolate callettes, each made in accordance with traditional methods from 100 percent pure cocoa butter, fresh butter, and fresh cream. Leonidas's chefs create additional treats with hazelnuts from Turkey, morello cherries from the Périgord, and walnuts from Grenoble, with items available in-store and online. The staff encourages decadence and serves an assortment of fresh truffles such as the perle coco, which is forged with milk-chocolate ganache and coconut flakes.
The menu at Big Tomato Pizza tags three distinct species of pizza pie: thin, stuffed, and Chicago-style deep dish. Diners can adorn their pies with more than a dozen toppings, including pepperoni, giardiniera, and pine nuts. To entertain pintsize taste buds, the kitchen bakes pizzas into kid-friendly shapes such as dinosaurs, teddy bears, and, since they suggest clown noses and games of ring around the rosie, circles. Stuffed pastas such as ravioli and manicotti brim with creamy cheese and a choice of five sauces, and local, organic coffee couples nicely with international desserts such as chocolate cannoli.
153 Akira's traditional and specialty sushi rolls are crafted with a hint of French flair, which has helped earn the eatery its reputation as one of the best sushi restaurants in the area according to Citysearch readers in 2010. With sushi offerings ranging from sashimi to vegetable rolls and specialty maki, the eatery has selections fit for all types of sushi lovers, even those who just pretend to until they get to a restaurant. Luckily for those diners, the chefs also create traditional Japanese dishes such as beef udon and chicken teriyaki.
Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar cajoles the tahini-demanding bellies of vegetarians and omnivores alike with fresh wraps, salads, baguettes, and desserts, as well as a spectrum of Mediterranean specialties. Chef and owner Ilan Cohen slings traditional family meals straight from his native Israel onto the tables of his American bistro haven. Chickpea cheerleaders can form pyramids with one of many hummus-centered dishes, such as the sabih pita sandwich, with roasted eggplant and hard-boiled egg ($8), or the mahi-mahi beet wrap, rolled with sumptuous tiers of garbanzo mash, spinach, and alfalfa ($17).
As Chuck Rometty sat in his yard one day, sipping a beer next to his 160-pound newfoundland, he wondered how he might re-create that relaxing experience on a daily basis. To do so, he founded The Big Black Dog Tavern & Grill, where pictures of large, sable-coated canines on the brick walls pay homage to Rometty's beloved pet. As for the beer portion of his vision, bartenders pour cold drafts from four rotating taps and open 55 different bottles of imported and domestic beer, including picks from Chicago- and Midwest-based breweries. The chefs smoke the pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket in-house and present diners a choice of texas barbecue, memphis sweet, or carolina mustard sauce. As Chicago magazine points out, the eatery is steps away from Rometty's other restaurant, the bistro and wine bar called Gilson's. The new, comparatively casual BBD space boasts cozy wooden booths, several TVs for sports fans, and a jukebox playing songs that only dogs can hear.
Fuel Restaurant's kitchen staff prepares a rotating menu of gourmet fare completely on site using quality ingredients from local sources, including produce and eggs from nearby farms, bread from neighboring Heavenly Hearth Bread Company, and meat from Wisconsin. Salads freshly mixed by a house DJ greet dinner guests in three varieties, including a caprese, whose fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes mingle under a drizzling of balsamic vinegar, and a slightly sweet toss of pickled fennel, apple slices, candied walnuts, and goat cheese.