The lengua burritos, Jarritos, and red and green sauces that smother enchiladas aren't the only authentic south-of-the-border touches at Changarro Cocina. Its drink list also brings some traditional flavor. The granite bar area, part of the new owner's renovations, hosts more than 70 different tequilas and margaritas made fresh without any mixers. Patrons sip these beverages while nibbling ceviche, huaraches, and tortas and cheering on soccer matches, baseball games, and ice-fishing tournaments broadcast on TVs throughout the restaurant.
Bustling with plates heaped with zesty comestibles and the musical trickle of wine, Al Primo Canto mimics the lively atmosphere of a Brazilian galeteria with family-style dishes and festive fire-toned lamps. Celebrating pairs and dual-pairs can compare bite marks in thick pieces of roasted eggplant, drizzled with tahini, lemon, and olive oil, before launching pieces of roasted mushroom and goat-cheese bruschetta at each other with a catapult. Side dishes including crispy-fried polenta, shimmying under a shower of grated parmesan cheese, dance around main dishes such as young chicken, marinated in white wine and slow-roasted gaucho-style, or leg of lamb marinated in 15 spices. A bottle of wine lubricates bicameral paper-or-plastic debates among pairs, and two bottles serve as twin juggling clubs for four sure-handed diners.
Not a lot of ideas dreamed up on a first date come to fruition. But for Daniela and Brad, their first date in a Sao Paulo pizzeria grew into more than just a romance. With every successive date, their wouldn't-it-be-nice dream of opening a Brazilian-style pizzeria grew too shape. Not too long after, they decided to use the recipes handed down from their Italian ancestors to create their pizzeria, Fogo 2 Go.
In their cozy store-front—taken up by a main counter and an enormous brick oven—they bake crispy, Italian pizzas paired with unique Brazilian influences. Their pies come layered with everything from classic Italian sausages to more unique brie margherita and shrimp scampi toppings. True to the idea's Brazilian roots, they also cook up treats such as coxinha—an empanada filled with seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes—as well as desserts such as flan and Nutella & Banana pizza.
Aside from the Brazilian-Italian comestibles, Fogo's crown jewel is the brick-fired, charbroiled whole, half, or quarter chicken. Thanks to the intensity of the oven's heat and the incantations of the bistro's house shaman, the chicken quick-cooks, leaving a bacon-crisp skin and sealing in juices. What they never decided in their dream was the type of beverages to serve, so the pair let customers make that choice themselves with their BYOB policy. Fogo 2 Go even satisfies late-night hungers by staying open until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Brazilian-born chef Jorgina Pereira relies on ingredients such as cassava root, collards, and coconut to infuse stews and stir-fries with tropical flavors at Sinhá. Pereira prepares her homeland's cuisine at home, welcoming guests into her historic brick townhouse for intimate meals, morning to mid-afternoon. In addition to doling out tropical comestibles at its brick-and-mortar location, the staff takes a custom catering menu on the road with Brazilian musicians, dressing for events in a Carmen Miranda-like uniform of flowing dresses and fruit-filled head dresses. Sinhá is a local favorite, and was even featured on ABC 7 Chicago News in a restaurant segment.
Stand facing one way in the parking lot of Niko’s Lodge and you’re in suburban Algonquin; turn the other way, and you’re in a mountain resort town. As diners pass under immense dark wood beams, they encounter a handsome pinewood bar, a roaring fireplace flanked by comfy furniture, and, drifting through it all, the fragrance of steak, rotisserie chicken, and pork ribs. Flavors tend toward hearty American favorites: barbecue, meatloaf, and decadent combinations such as a chicken-and-bacon mac and cheese, to name a few. Much of the fish is supplied by nearby rivers and lakes, and all the beef comes from upper-Midwestern Braveheart Black Angus cattle. If guests have saved some belly space, they can step outside to the fire pits to toast complimentary s’mores and destroy napkins on which they wrote embarrassing sonnets to pot roast.
Dan Beelow culls his Mundelein-raised cuts of beef and pork from his brother Duane's prized stock, ensuring that the meat that takes center stage at Beelow's Steakhouse's best USDA-graded quality. The succulent cuts of slow-roasted prime rib and steaks are aged a minimum of 45 days and fired over mesquite wood or a single match before joining fresh seafood and locally sourced produce atop white-cloth-covered tables. The passion for all things local extends to the bar, where mixologists assemble Snowshoe martinis with locally crafted Few white whiskey and regional musicians strum away until the late hours of Friday night.