Renowned chef Tim Canning and co-owner Shaun Black lead a team of skilled butchers, cheesemongers and culinary specialists at their Downer’s Grove grocery store Lemon Tree Grocer Direct Organics, which specializes in natural and organic foods. The cheerful food purveyors greet shoppers with smiles, calling locals by name and newcomers by spirit animal and making recommendations on the best wines, cheeses, and produce. In addition to traditional grocery items, the modern store stocks vegan, gluten-free, and kosher products, as well as responsibly raised and sustainable fish and meat selections from growers such as Niman Ranch.
Driven by the idea that good food pairs best with good conversation, Zest Café features a communal table for dining and socializing, as well as private tables for sipping wine and whispering nutrition facts. The lunch and dinner menus are casual but gourmet, replete with rich ingredients such as Maine lobster and croissants. Special events such as live music, wine tastings, and occasional synchronized grocery-cart frolics make the shopping experience unique and spirited.
From behind their blonde wood bar, the sushi chefs set solemnly to work. Grasping rice in their well-seasoned hands, they blend the staple with ocean-caught fish, verdant seaweed, and a roster of international ingredients to produce morsels as delicate as a chrysanthemum blossom or as hearty as a stalwart oak. While these chefs embrace Japanese tastes and aesthetics, you don't have to have a passport to meet them; they ply their trade at Kyoto, where Asian flavors intersect with a decidedly American address. Not to be outdone by the bar's signature sushi and sashimi, the chefs of Kyoto's kitchen turn in faithful reproductions of dishes generally associated with Tokyo, Beijing, or Korea's moon base. Shrimp and vegetables don a dusting of tempura flakes before a trip to the flash-fryer leaves them crisp and golden, and tender cuts of beef mingle with green onions amid spicy mongolian sauce. No matter the meal, glasses of sake or Japanese beers from brewers including Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi help wash down bites or power toasts to the chef's good health.
Buns abound on Cozzi Corner's menu, which coddles taste buds with hearty sandwiches, gyros, and classic Vienna Beef hot dogs. Chili-drenched super dogs—served in a tamale—stand out among their Chicago-style counterparts, each of which dons a vivid ensemble of onions, relish, tomatoes, and pickles. Several of Cozzi's signature sandwiches, such as the italian beef or meatball sub, short-sell their mouthwatering stock at $4.99 thanks to a rotating slate of daily specials, which include a small order of fries and signed headshot of the chef. Catering shuttles the gustatory party to homes or events, and diners with a cause can host fundraising events at the eatery, filling their nonprofit's coffers with 25% of the day's sales.
Grotto Oak Brook offers a meat-centric approach to fine dining. The dinner menu features prime steaks and chops, seafood, and pastas trimmed from the willow-like foliage of Tuscan semolina trees. Commence consumption with an appetizer of baked clams ($8 for a half-dozen, $15 for a dozen) or bruschetta, heaped with juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil ($9). Oxymoron-lovers can sink teeth into a nine-ounce petite filet mignon ($33), while Manhattanite meatheads can slice into their hometown with the generous 14-ounce New York strip-steak ($37). Specialties such as the half-chicken Vesuvio ($21 for boneless, $20 for bone-in), as well as seafood dishes, including the jumbo-shrimp scampi ($26), cater to animal-haters, while vegetarians can find plant-based sustenance in eggplant parmigiana ($17) and customizable pasta dishes ($16+). Pair your meal with a selection from the list of more than 60 wines imported from Italy, France, California, and the recently discovered lunar grape arbor.
Another Round Bar & Grill slings bodacious beers and a full menu of robust American fare in a sporty atmosphere outfitted with two bars and a host of flat-screen TVs. A bounty of boneless wings huddles in 6-piece ($5.49) to 50-piece ($38.99) bundles, spanning flavors such as zesty garlic, chili lime, and extra-hot three alarm. Ample appetites meet their match with the bagel burger ($8.49), a half-pound patty topped with american and cream cheese and forged in an aerodynamic shape that flies deliciously down gullets. Tacos, chili, and pizza also make appearances on Another Round's all-star roster, while 20 draft beers wash down delectable dishes, saving the trouble of ripping a fire extinguisher off the wall. An outdoor patio enables summertime sun soaking, while inside, a roped-off lounge area provides privacy for unveiling secret teleporter blueprints.