If it's a spaghetti and meatballs kind of night, ratings say you'll find the best Italian at Greco's of Willow Springs.
Fear not you gluten-free or low-fat eaters, you'll have plenty of choices here.
Drinks are also on the menu here, so guests can start the night off right.
This restaurant is more than willing to accommodate families, so kids are welcome to tag along.
Greco's of Willow Springs easily accommodates large groups — there's even a reserved room available for extra special occasions.
Sunny day plus appetite equals the perfect time to head to Greco's of Willow Springs.
Wifi is on the house at Greco's of Willow Springs, so you can stay connected on your mobile device.
It's best to call ahead for a table as the restaurant can get packed.
Greco's of Willow Springs goes easy on the dress code — business casual is expected, so no need to squeeze into your finest attire.
Greco's of Willow Springs is known for serving great food, and they are able to serve it at your next event with their excellent catering.
Short on time? Don't wait for a driver — pick it up yourself.
We're nicer than our competitors. We have free parking in our own lot at no charge to you.
A visit to Greco's of Willow Springs will set you back less than $30 per person, so you can make it a regular part of your schedule.
The restaurant's dinner menu receives the most attention, but diners have the option of grabbing breakfast or lunch here, too.
While high-priced, the Italian food at Greco's of Willow Springs is well worth every penny!
Next time you're in the mood for authentic Italian cooking, remember to try the delicious fare at Greco's of Willow Springs.
Fragrant Indian fare and five-star ratings are the name of the game at Taste of India.
Taste of India serves up endless healthy meal options.
The drink list at this restaurant has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Little ones are free to make a mess at this restaurant, where the whole family is invited to dine.
Sized just right for big groups, the private room at Taste of India would be an ideal pick for your next birthday party or family gathering.
Free wireless Internet is also available at Taste of India, so bring your tablet or laptop along.
Reserve a table in advance and get seated when you're ready.
Put the suit away when heading to Taste of India — dress is casual, as are the vibes.
Don't want to go out tonight but still want great food? Order takeout or delivery from this restaurant.
A catering menu is also available if you're looking to dazzle the guests at your next shindig.
At Taste of India, diners can make use of the valet service or a parking lot next door.
Typical diners should plan to spend about $30 per person on Taste of India's moderately priced fare.
Taste of India accepts major credit cards, including Discovery and AMEX.
With food so tasty, you'll want to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner here...and you can go right ahead as Taste of India serves three meals a day.
The Indian dishes at Taste of India come quite highly-rated, so what are you waiting for?
So when you have a hankering for some Indian fare, head on over to Taste of India and get your fix.
Meatheads Burgers and Fries will satisfy your craving for classic burgers topped with all your favorite fixin's.
Looking for low-fat, gluten-free meal options? Look no further than Meatheads Burgers and Fries.
Parents, bring your kids along to this burger joint, where you'll find a family-friendly menu and ambience.
Enjoy the beautiful weather while you chow down — with outdoor seating, Meatheads Burgers and Fries is a great summer destination.
Seating is readily available at Meatheads Burgers and Fries for those with large parties.
Wireless Internet access is available for no charge at Meatheads Burgers and Fries.
You'll want to time your arrival to Meatheads Burgers and Fries just right since reservations are not accepted.
Comfort is prioritized at Meatheads Burgers and Fries, and guests are encouraged to come as they are.
What's that you hear? It's carryout at this burger joint.
At Meatheads Burgers and Fries, free parking is offered on the whole block.
Meatheads Burgers and Fries offers parking for all diners, including those who travel by bike.
Who s hungry for great grub at a reasonable rate? Meatheads Burgers and Fries s yummy creations will leave a mark in your memory but not a dent in your pocketbook.
Meatheads Burgers and Fries is a burger lover's paradise, so make your way over to the restaurant today and munch on a tasty burger.
When you're up for a casual meal, head over to Meatheads Burgers and Fries and grab a burger.
For Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, eavesdropping has paid off in a big way. Back in the 1940's, a couple of Illinois farmwomen overheard a gas station owner mention that he wanted to sell more food. They struck up a conversation, and soon he was selling their special-recipe fried chicken from the gas station's lunch counter. Business was good—so good, in fact, that the owner converted his space into a full-service restaurant, Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, just off of Route 66. Since then, the restaurant has become a landmark of the iconic roadway, earning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and a feature on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
Although the juicy, original-recipe chicken—which is marinated for a full 24 hours— keeps diners coming back, current owner Patrick Rhea crafts his own dishes to spice up the menu. His signature deep-fried macaroni and cheese is cooked to order, and wings are slathered in his own barbecue sauce. Besides fried chicken gizzards and other poultry, diners can expect grilled jumbo shrimp, Italian sausage sandwiches, and old-fashioned root beer floats. For additional entertainment, the restaurant hosts live trivia and karaoke weekly, as well as live blues and rock-and-roll shows set to the rhythmic backbeat of crackling fryers.
If warm tortillas and chips 'n salsa is your idea of a good time, Chipotle Mexican Grill should be right up your Mexican-food-eating alley. Rave reviews are the norm here, so come ready to eat.
Low-fat, gluten-free, and vegan options are all available here.
Youngsters are more than welcome to join mom and dad at this restaurant.
Enjoy the cool summer breezes on Chipotle Mexican Grill's seasonally available outdoor seating.
At Chipotle Mexican Grill, you won't have to wait for your large or small group to be seated.
Arrive a little on the early side for your pick of the prime tables — no reservations are accepted at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Catering from Chipotle Mexican Grill will take your party to the next level.
You can also grab your grub to go.
Chipotle Mexican Grill's diners will appreciate the free parking in a lot next door.
Store your bike at one of the many racks outside of Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Chipotle Mexican Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by whenever is most convenient for you.
For the highest rated Mexican food around, make Chipotle Mexican Grill your first stop.
So amp up your lunch hour and head over to Chipotle Mexican Grill for a casual Mexican meal.
The Mexican eats at Chipotle Mexican Grill are filled with endless flavors, so come on by today and enjoy a taste of Mexico.
Pop over to Barone's Countryside-Pizza for some hop (and highly-acclaimed) 'za, and find out what everyone's been raving about.
Guess what? Barone's Countryside-Pizza serves food that's free of gluten and low in fat, so everyone can find something that tastes and feels great.
If you're in need of a booster seat, this pizzeria's got you covered. This is a great spot for the whole family.
Tables at Barone's Countryside-Pizza are available first-come, first-served, so be sure to show up a bit earlier on busy weekends.
Don't sacrifice comfort for style — Barone's Countryside-Pizza's dress code is business casual, so guests can look and feel great.
Barone's Countryside-Pizza can also cater your next party; call today for details.
Choose wisely. Wait at home for delivery or come into this pizzeria for carryout.
For quick and easy parking near Barone's Countryside-Pizza, park on the street.
If cycling is more your speed, you'll find plenty of space to stash your bike outside the pizzeria.
When melted cheese and quality crust is all you can think about, it may be time for a hot slice or two. Experience pizza at its best when you order a pie from top-rated Barone's Countryside-Pizza.
If you are looking for a creative and fun pizza joint in town, check out Barone's Countryside-Pizza.
Cindy Espinosa has cooked almost every dish on the menu at Nellie’s (2458 W. Division St.), the Humboldt Park luncheonette she co-owns with her husband, Pablo. Yet she’s never attempted mofongo, a dish of mashed fried plantains that’s a Puerto Rican tradition.
“I see it being made,” she said. “I know how it’s made, but I’ve never tried it.”
It’s easy to see why. The cooking process, which I watched unfold in Nellie’s kitchen, is pretty involved, with a lot of hand-mashing and frying. “It’s more of a Friday-night dinner type of thing,” Pablo said. “You might eat it once a month at home.”
Yet the final result—a dome of fried plantain that diners can moisten with a dip into housemade chicken broth—is worth the work. Here’s how Cindy and Pablo’s cook, Carmen, makes it.
Carmen first peels and chops green plantains, the same fruits used in the restaurant’s jibaritos and tostones. According to Pablo, the restaurant goes through a crate of about 50 green plantains every week.
Then Carmen tosses them into a deep-fryer with some chopped tocino, or pork lard. When the lard has cooked down to a salty, crispy crunch, she dumps it and the plantains into a type of mortar and pestle called a pilon. “Every Puerto Rican household should have one,” Cindy said. The pilon’s concave bottom is what gives a serving of mofongo its distinctive dome-like shape.
In Puerto Rico, you see “all types of sizes” of pilon, Pablo said. That includes some as large as a butter churn, which sit on the floor. Nellie’s is a tabletop model, about 6 inches tall, wooden, and covered in carvings. It makes only one portion of mofongo at a time, which can make things hectic for Carmen on a busy weekend day. (All that mashing “takes an arm,” Cindy said.)
Making mofongo to order gives the staff flexibility to tailor each serving. For instance, Carmen can leave out the tocino to make a vegetarian version of the dish. (Both Espinozas have been vegetarian for a year and a half.) Other versions on the menu include iterations with shrimp in place of tocino or with a mound of chicken, shrimp, or steak nestled inside the dome. Mofongo can also be a side order to fried chicken (chicharron de pollo) or fried pork.
I get to sample the classic, main-course version.
The mofongo dome appears next to a small silver tureen filled with housemade chicken broth for dipping. There is still a big chunk of meat and bone floating in it, as well as a big, soft carrot that I devour, savoring its umami flavors. Moistened with a little broth, the green plantains lose their fibrous dryness to become melt-in-your-mouth comfort food; the bits of tocino provide an occasional kick of salt.
I send a mental thank-you to Carmen’s arm for providing this food. I hope it was worth the work.
Photo credit: Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
To many Chicagoans, the neighborhoods south of Roosevelt Road seem to be a culinary wasteland. To Jimalita Tillman, Chicago native and executive director of the Harold Washington Cultural Center and Performing Arts Theatre (4701 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.), fine-dining opportunities definitely exist on the South Side—if you give them a chance.
Because many of these restaurants depend on word of mouth, Tillman said, the advertising budgets of their more northern competitors often trump their oral marketing, and so she often spends “all day” giving South Side restaurant recommendations to area visitors and theater-goers.
“There are many great places [to eat] throughout these areas,” she said. “It really depends on what you’re in the mood for.”
And if you're in the mood for a little musical and cultural Chicago history to pair with your meal, you don't have to travel far from the landmark arts center. The Harold Washington Cultural Center, in the former location of the historical Regal Theater where the likes of Ella Fitzgerald once performed, is right in the heart of the Black Metropolis—a region marked by the culture and Southern-inspired music scene that developed during the Great Migration. Today, Bronzeville is still flavored with leftovers from its swinging past.
To savor alongside your meal, we paired each of Tillman’s restaurant recommendations with a few musical, historical, and cultural tidbits.
4655 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Chicago, IL 60653
It’s the quick and personable service that makes this gourmet hot-dog eatery a standout, Tillman said. Of course, Chef Cliff Rome serves the usual Chicago-style hot dog, but it’s the varied wiener and burger options he creates that color H-Dogs’ menu with the fine-dining flair he perfected while studying in Paris. The Healthy Hound—a grilled veggie dog with sprouts, roasted peppers, red onions, and cucumbers—sits alongside salmon burgers, turducken sausages, and portobello-mushroom sandwiches without the least bit of tattletaling or fighting over who had the mustard first. Sweet-potato or truffle fries complete the gourmet-on-the-go experience.
Bite of History: The gourmet hot-dog diner sits in a historical building that was once known as 47th Street Marketplace. Before a 2010 fire destroyed the building, it was considered a symbol of the revitalization of Bronzeville and housed Tillman’s Spoken Word Cafe—one of the original hosts of HBO’s Def Poetry series hosted by hip-hop artist and actor Mos Def.
2. Pearl’s Place
3901 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653
“I’m a breakfast head,” said Tillman—as are many in the crowd of diners waiting to get inside for brunch on any given Sunday. The kitchen cooks up a mix of Southern and soul food—yes, there’s a difference—but Pearl’s Place sprinkles it with the right amount of creole flavor. After sampling Pearl’s juicy yet crispy fried chicken, sautéed salmon croquettes, or all-day breakfasts of vegetable omelets or homestyle pancakes, it seems only right to finish with a bite or two of peach cobbler or sweet-potato pie.
Bite of History: The interior decor, with album jackets and vinyl records lining the walls, features a photo story of the neighborhood’s jazz and blues history with jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Lena Horne—all of whom graced the stage at the Regal Theater during Bronzeville’s musical heyday.
3. Norman’s Bistro
1001 E. 43rd St., Chicago, IL, 60653
The bistro’s entrees—including vegetable confetti ravioli, smoked cranberry salmon, and the Great Duck burger—offer an upscale taste-bud experience at “South Side prices,” Tillman said. From the food to the decor, presentation is an art in this sleek and classy spot featuring creole-inspired American food with a Brazilian flair. In the exposed-brick, art-filled wine bar, sommeliers pour from an extensive list of wines. Separate from the dining room, the intimate setting of the bar creates an ideal spot for the happy-hour crowd.
Bite of Culture: On Sundays at 9 p.m., the bistro hosts a live jazz jam session. Or make an appointment and walk over to Gallery Guichard—housed in a turn-of-the-20th-century Italiante row house—to peruse its African-diaspora art and blown glass, sculptures, and photography by local as well as international artists.
Photography by Andrew Nawrocki.
Clockwise from top: Birria in action—rich, briny consommé and tender goat meat, stewed for hours with bay leaves, cinnamon, and other spices. // Ceramic bowls absorb the birria's heat, keeping the broth warm throughout meals. // When Rick Bayless recommended Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan to "Esquire" magazine, he described the eatery’s birria as "full of flavor, incredibly homey and satisfying."
In Ocotlán in Jalisco, Mexico, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees. That's mild by Chicago standards; however, when the Reyes family immigrated 2,000 miles from Ocotlán to Chicago, they brought with them a recipe that would prove thoroughly compatible with the colder weather. That recipe is birria—a savory stew made by simmering goat meat for hours with herbs and spices. On a cold day in mid-March, I made a trek across town to the family's Pilsen restaurant, Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, to taste it myself.
As soon as I entered the eatery, I smelled the warm, rich aroma of simmering goat meat. Goats were also present in the decor: miniature replicas decorated shelves and cupboards, and a mounted goat head kept watch over the booths, a toothpick dangling humorously from its lips.
After I ordered birria at the counter, a server presented me with three dishes. The smallest held pickled onions and lime wedges, which are traditional birria condiments, and an oblong basket cradled warm, fresh tortillas. The largest bowl brimmed with rich, briny consommé, chopped onions and cilantro, and hunks of tender goat meat.
The first spoonful of broth tasted bright and smoky with hints of ancho peppers and cinnamon. I separated a piece of goat meat with light pressure from my spoon. Leaner than beef, the meat still had pieces of bone inside, which infused the meat with the flavor of their marrow. The crisp onions and fragrant cilantro stood out against the birria's savory elements to create a harmony of flavors that was especially comforting on a cold day.