Every four–six weeks, Cemitas Puebla's owner and chef, Tony Anteliz, sends a family member to Mexico to gather ingredients such as chipotle peppers and giant cinnamon sticks. He relies on time-tested family recipes honed in Puebla, Mexico to assemble these imported ingredients into sandwiches, tacos, and salsas that have been praised in the Chicago Tribune and on WTTW 11’s Check, Please!. Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives highlighted the restaurant’s signature cemita sandwich: sesame-seed-bread laden with fresh oaxaca cheese, papalo—a fragrant herb grown in Tony's mother's garden—house-stewed chipotles, and a choice of meats such as breaded pork and carne asada. Inspired by Lebanese shawarmas, tacos arabes begin with layers of pork shoulder and onion skewered on a rotisserie. The stack of meat rotates as slowly as a ferris wheel being ridden by a herd of elephants before a member of the open-air-kitchen staff shaves off tender meat and tucks it into pita-like tortillas.
The chefs at Pavilion Restaurant's two locations elegantly blend and fuse flavors from European and American cuisines into gourmet entrées. Drawing from the French, the chefs sear foie gras a la Versailles appetizers, presenting each rich morsel on a crisp pear slice dressed with signature sauce and a witty description from the previous night's salon. The marinade of soy sauce, teriyaki, orange juice, and fresh thyme on the Asian skirt steak expands the scope of the menu to Eastern territories. The chefs focus on Italian tradition as they crown the seafood linguine with fresh shrimp, scallops, and alfredo sauce. Stationed at the bar, bartenders fill glasses with a selection of international wines, beers, and expatriate cocktails.
Patrons can relax and unwind their ears after a long week with live jazz music at the Northbrook location as they split butter crepes with red caviar from the late-night menu.
Repeat winner of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association’s Blue-Ribbon award, Maggie Moo’s combines fresh ingredients and mix-ins to create uncommon frozen desserts. The evolving array of iced treats includes such options as strawberry-bubblegum ice cream, pink grapefruit sorbet, and chocolate-fudge low-fat yogurt. Dozens of mix-ins upgrade the texture and decadence of ice-cream cones and come standard in such delicacies as frozen cakes, cupcakes, or pizzas. Though dessert pizzas resemble their baked brethren, Maggie Moo’s substitutes marinara for red icing, adds white-chocolate curls in lieu of cheese, and swaps the delivery boy for the neighborhood Wookiee.
The neon lights and bright colors at Grande Jake’s Authentic Mexican Grill’s three Chicago-area hubs hint at the menu’s dedication to spicy eats. Chefs scoop grilled steak, chorizo, and chicken into burritos, then douse them in melted chihuahua cheese and salsa ranchera. Homemade tamales burst with pork or chicken, and the pollo asada al carbon tops a 12-ounce char-grilled chicken breast with mole or green sauce. Refried beans, spanish rice, and chips serve as supporting actors to entrees, and the creamy Mexican-style custard in flan finishes dinners more sweetly than a dinner mint delivered by a troupe of newborn kittens.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.