Just off the Illinois Beach State Park, the mascot of Franks & Fries—an anthropomorphic hot dog—greets passersby with a wave of his cane and a tip of his hat. Perched on the restaurant’s red-and-yellow sign above a few outdoor tables, the mascot serves as an ambassador for the menu of cooked-to-order bites such as Chicago-style hot dogs made with 100% Vienna Beef. Along with burgers, cheesesteaks, and baskets of seasoned curly fries, cooks prepare desserts such as fried twinkies, fried Snickers bars, and fried Oreos.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
The cooks at George's Gyro carve thin slices of gyro meat from rotating spits to serve with soft pitas or stacked atop the George's burger between layers of bacon and barbecue sauce. The menu also stars such staples as the maxwell street polish under a mountain of grilled onions and the italian beef smothered with hot peppers and cheese. Sides from fried okra to house-made french fries perfectly complement meals, much like yellow mustard perfectly complements purple ketchup.
Located three miles from Six Flags, The People's Choice Family Fun Center's canary-yellow, 43,000-square-foot arena buzzes with the thrill of friendly competition across 150 arcade games and the 18-hole Rocky's Fun House Miniature Golf course. Styled to mimic a circus, the venue features statues of carnival barkers who challenge guests to step right up to skee-ball and air hockey. Players gather loot at the redemption center, where they can exchange spools of tickets won at arcade games for the more than 1,000 prizes, from candy and stuffed animals to electronics and a lifetime of self-satisfaction. Servers at the food court dish out festival eats including cotton candy and pizza, and vendors at Hershey's Ice Cream Shoppe fill cones, cups, and top hats with frosty treats. The center also plays host to holiday events and private parties throughout the year. Beyond the hustle and bustle of the carnival resides an 18-hole miniature golf course known as Rocky's Fun House Miniature Golf. Here, putters tiptoe through a darkened wonderland of glow-in-the-dark circus shapes. A phosphorescent replication of trapeze artists, elephants, and escaped monkeys running amok greets putt-putt posses in the circus-themed segment, challenging their ability to focus on deviously placed holes. A moving ferris wheel towers over players as they size up the unique challenges of each hole and read the grain of the AstroTurf; fun-house mirrors bend beams of light into goofy, distorted reflections. At the final hole, which is guarded by a strongman bell ringer, those who sink a hole in one win a free round of golf for two and the lifelong friendship of Rocky, the triceratops mascot.
Home cooking can be hard to find when home is on an entirely different continent. But the owners of Himalayan Restaurant knew how to bring the flavors of their South Asian home to Chicago. They sought out Chef Bishnu Subedi, who relies on his 12 years of experience as well as his training in a Kathmandu culinary school. Befitting the subcontinent’s rich and diverse history, Chef Subedi designs expansive menus, which embrace the Northern Indian, Nepalese, and Asian subcultures that define the region’s cuisines.
This cultural fusion is readily apparent in dishes such as the momos: steamed Nepalese-style dumplings that are typically stuffed with minced chicken or vegetables and served by street-food vendors throughout Nepal. Northern Indian flavors completely shine through on certain dishes, including the tandoori chicken, which marinates overnight in spiced yogurt before the chefs quickly barbecue the meat inside a traditional clay tandoor oven. House-made paneer cheese and fluffy naan also evoke the flavors of South Asia; the restaurant further embraces its cultural roots by serving Indian beers and water from melted Nepalese glaciers.