Mellow Mushroom is a local pizza gem for casual diners.
This pizzeria also operates a bar, so a round of drinks with dinner is not out of the question.
No need to splurge on a babysitter — tots will be right at home chowing down at this pizzeria.
Surf the web from your tablet or laptop on Mellow Mushroom's complimentary wifi.
For some fresh air during the non-winter months, dine outside on Mellow Mushroom's patio.
Mellow Mushroom is a fine restaurant for those with large and small parties.
The pizzeria's background buzz is a bit loud, so those seeking low-key conversation are advised to dine elsewhere.
Keep it casual at Mellow Mushroom, and save that little black dress for a different occasion.
For those in a hurry, the pizzeria lets you take your grub to go.
Throwing a big party? Count on Mellow Mushroom to provide top-notch catering with the same great dishes you love.
At Mellow Mushroom, you can park quickly and safely in a lot next door.
Mellow Mushroom is a prime location for cyclists to park their bikes and enjoy a bite to eat.
You'll typically spend about $30 per person to dine at Mellow Mushroom, so plan your budget accordingly.
Major credit cards — including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express — are accepted.
Mellow Mushroom has three square meals a day on the menu, so swing by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Come spend a casual night out over a delicious pizza at Mellow Mushroom.
So grab a slice of pizza or two from Mellow Mushroom and enjoy a great lunch or dinner.
If Thai cuisine is your not-so-guilty pleasure, sample some (or all) of the delicious dishes diners can't stop raving about at Mai Thai Restaurant.
Drinks here are readily available, so you can enjoy a glass of red or try something new.
Take the kids along too — this restaurant is a great spot for families with food that even little ones will love.
Score quick and easy seating for your large group at Mai Thai Restaurant.
Enjoy the vibe here with a business casual dress code.
What's that you hear? It's carryout at this restaurant.
For the tastes of Mai Thai Restaurant from the comfort of your next party, the restaurant also offers catering services.
The parking lot near Mai Thai Restaurant will have you in and out in a jiffy.
Cyclists will also appreciate the plentiful space to lock up their bikes outside the restaurant.
At Mai Thai Restaurant, you have the option of paying by major credit card.
Featuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant's evening menu is rated top-of-the-line.
When you want to experience the very best in Thai cuisine, pay a visit to Mai Thai Restaurant.
Your hunt for the best Thai in town is over. A no-frills vibe and sky-high ratings make Mai Thai Restaurant the spot to try.
Thai cuisine is a great option for large groups and Mai Thai Restaurant makes it easy.
Order up your favorite Thai creation at Mai Thai Restaurant. You won't be disappointed.
Fresh fare can be found at Rhinehart's Oyster Bar, where guests seek to sample every seafood dish on the menu.
Low-fat fare is not available here, so leave some room in your diet.
Rhinehart's Oyster Bar also provides alcohol, so diners don't have to worry about bringing their own bottle.
Rhinehart's Oyster Bar is great for families with kids.
Weather permitting, come enjoy a wonderful meal outside at Rhinehart's Oyster Bar.
Those with sensitive ears may want to stay away from this restaurant, though, as it can get quite loud.
Spruce up your look...but not too much! Rhinehart's Oyster Bar's style is business casual, so formal wear should be left on the hanger.
Need to get out of the house? Order and pick up from Rhinehart's Oyster Bar.
Feed the gang at your next get-together with catering from Rhinehart's Oyster Bar as well.
Rhinehart's Oyster Bar's diners can park in a neighboring lot just seconds away.
Rhinehart's Oyster Bar offers outdoor bike racks for cyclists.
At Rhinehart's Oyster Bar, you can ease your appetite and please your pocketbook
the menu offers a selection of mid-priced, budget-friendly meals.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all on Rhinehart's Oyster Bar's menu — you can stop by whenever the moment's right for you.
Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen in Evans brings culinary creativity to a new level with its unique Asian-fusion menu.
Little ones are just as welcome as their parents at this restaurant.
For comfortable outdoor service, Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen sets up a seasonal patio.
Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen's dress code is casual — diners are welcome to dress up (or down) to their comfort level.
If you're hoping to make a smashing impression at your next soiree, you can also have Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen cater for you.
The food is prepared and packaged, just waiting for your pickup.
A nearby parking lot is readily available for Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen's diners.
At Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen, you can pay with Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or any other major credit card.
Morning, noon, or night, you can head on over to Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen since they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen is serving all that is loved about Asian food with a twist of other cultures. You have to taste it!
So don't let the casual atmosphere fool you. When you dine at Sho Chin's Asian Kitchen, prepare your tummy for an unbelievable mix of delicious Asian-style cuisine.
Swing by Evans' Chick-Fil-A for a quick chicken lunch or dinner.
Calling all gluten-free and low-fat diners! Chick-Fil-A has a multitude of dishes right up your alley that are freshly-prepared and taste amazing.
For some fresh air during the non-winter months, dine outside on Chick-Fil-A's patio.
Whether you have a group of five or a group of 20, Chick-Fil-A can seat both large and small groups.
Chick-Fil-A is a casual spot to dine, so don't worry about being underdressed.
Short on time? Don't wait for a driver — pick it up yourself.
Chick-Fil-A is known for serving great food, and they are able to serve it at your next event with their excellent catering.
If you're driving, be sure to take advantage of the nearby lot.
Chick-Fil-A happily accepts all major credit cards as a form of payment.
Chick-Fil-A offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by whenever is most convenient for you.
Can't decide if you want great food or you want it fast? With Chick-Fil-A's chicken you can have both!
Chick-Fil-A serves up delicious eats in a matter of minutes, so head on over today and enjoy a quick bite.
Burger-enthusiasts will love biting into a beef patty at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
The cooks at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers know how to get creative with gluten-free ingredients.
Toast your evening out at this burger joint with a glass of beer or wine from their lengthy drink list.
Got kids? No problem at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers! This burger joint is a fantastic spot for families to dine together.
You'll find most people wearing their favorite T-shirt and pair of jeans, as casual dining is Red Robin Gourmet Burgers' style.
Meeting the gang for a movie? Pick up some food from this burger joint.
Make use of the ample parking near Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
At Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, diners can make use of the safe bike rack.
At Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, you can ease your appetite and please your pocketbook
the menu offers a selection of mid-priced, budget-friendly meals.
When you need a quick meal that will keep you full for hours, head on over to Red Robin Gourmet Burgers for a big and juicy burger.
Stop by Red Robin Gourmet Burgers today and enjoy a great burger in a casual setting.
Siu mai: small pork dumplings. Each has a thin wrapper that needs to be delicately pleated by hand. Easily, they’re one of the most labor-intensive items at Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago, where each weekend this Chinese restaurant serves 80 different varieties of classic dim sum snacks.
This little fact about the siu mai is one of many surprising stories I learn from Eddy, the chef at Phoenix, where he also handles a million other tasks to keep the restaurant running smoothly. When I first came in, he was waving at a group of regulars while on the phone haggling with a seafood vendor.
“What we are serving in this restaurant is what we are eating in Hong Kong. ... It’s very typical,” Eddy says.
In 1996, Phoenix was one of the first restaurants to introduce dim sum to Chicago. Its customer base has grown over the years, and today, even with other dim sum restaurants up and down the block, you’ll find long lines winding out the door on any given Sunday.
Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be.
Here's our guide to dim-sum dining, with a few tips from Eddy.
On the weekend: order dim sum off a cart
On weekends and special holidays, the wait staff winds traditional dim sum carts around tables, lifting lids off stacked steamer baskets to reveal the enticing contents. Should you see something you like, they leave the basket on your table and put a checkmark on your bill (it’s tallied at the end).
Phoenix is one of the only dim-sum restaurants in Chicago that still uses these carts. When I ask Eddy why they keep them, he says “tradition.” Not only to impress the tourists who come in, but also to let Chinese-American customers share this bit of culture with their kids.
Hot tip: if you want to experience the pushcarts without the crowds, head over on a Saturday, which tends to be less busy than Sundays, Eddy says.
On a weekday: order dim sum off the menu
Cartless weekdays offer a quiet, more peaceful atmosphere for ordering off the paper menu, which you can find near the hostess stand. Don't be intimidated—the menu has pictures; it has numbers; it has names written in both Chinese and English. And best of all, you need only point to what you want to have it brought out from the kitchen.
So what should you get?
“Everyone has their favorites,” Eddy says. The most popular dishes with Westerners are ha gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings mentioned above). Kids gravitate toward the crunchy, easy-to-grip shrimp rolls and sweeter fare, from mango pudding (pictured above) to custard rolls.
Foreign travelers, especially those from Latin America, and adventurous eaters alike seem to love the chicken feet (pictured at bottom-right of top photo), a more exotic dish consisting of skin and tendons. While all these dishes are traditional, the chefs can tweak the recipes to accommodate for special diets or food allergies.
When diners are new to dim sum, Eddy encourages them to experiment. He’ll point out a few of the more popular dishes; if there’s something they don’t end up liking, it can easily be swapped out for something else. This way, by the second or third visit, diners will have a better idea of what they like.
And don't forget the tea
At dim sum, the tea is equally important to the food. Phoenix serves three different types: green tea, white tea, and brown tea. “Each one has its own usage,” Eddy says. While we talk, we drink jasmine tea, which is good for getting rid of toxins.
You can show your dim sum know-how by obeying proper tea etiquette. When your teapot is out of water, prop the lid off to the side. This signals to the wait staff that you need more hot water.
Eddy pours more tea and tells me to tap my fingers lightly against the table when the cup is nearly full. “When your friend or host fills your tea, this means ‘thank you’,” he says. “It’s part of the custom.”
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Elizabeth, the Michelin Star winner from Chef Iliana Regan. But an unmarked, unremarkable storefront between a tire shop and a sporting-goods store certainly wasn’t it. With few exceptions (Schwa, most notably), Chicago’s upper-echelon restaurants boast exteriors that match their illustrious River North and Restaurant Row addresses.
But as it turns out, Regan has no taste for that sort of superficial flash. She dons no chef’s whites. She displays no awards. She does not raise her voice to the Gordon Ramsay–level roar or even the Rachael Ray-ish rollick that TV cameras eat up.
Instead, this northwest Indiana native quietly built her reputation as someone who hunts for frogs and spears them herself. Someone who has suffered tick bites and poison-ivy rashes foraging for wild flora. Someone who has penned an essay on intensity for Lucky Peach and once themed an Elizabeth tasting menu after those violent and visceral A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
So yeah, I was kinda terrified to eat her food.
I’d never done a tasting menu before. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a picky eater, but I’m not a particularly adventurous one either, particularly when it comes to meat. (I can barely look at plated octopus without shivering.) I’d heard that Regan once served edible ants. Which are, like, bugs.
My nerves were calmed upon walking into Elizabeth, though. Austere yet charming, the whitewashed space was accented by light fixtures made from bare tree branches; dining chairs draped with faux-fur slipcovers; a chef’s counter armed with Elder Scrolls and Vikings Funko Pop! dolls. It was all in support of the season’s menu theme: vikings.
There were two options: land or sea. Or, as the first in a delightful succession of servers explained it, “Imagine a viking ship has reached the shore. One group goes on land to look for food, the other into the sea.” My friend Erin and I opted to order one of each to share and, despite my trepidation of certain meats, placed no restrictions on what we would eat. (You can arrange for some allergies and dietary needs in advance.) We wanted to go all in.
After the amuse-bouche—a surprisingly complex roasted whey carrot dressed with goat’s-milk cheese and edible flowers—came our first courses. The land dish was … a bowl of rocks. The server assured me the top “rock” was actually a baked potato coated in edible clay. But it was very convincing as a rock, so I bit in with trepidation. As Erin ate the rest, dipping it into the cheese and butter puddings it was served with, I forked into her langoustine with lingonberries. (Pro tip: don’t try to tear off the claw without looking. You will stab your finger on a spine.) So far, so very good.
As the servers continued to weave their culinary narrative, I realized there was an unmentioned character in their tale—Elizabeth itself. The restaurant is small, seating about 16 or so, and the kitchen is wide open. It was impossible not to get caught up in what was happening back there, particularly when sous chefs were wielding brûlée torches and “plating” on gorgeous pieces of handmade pottery. And the line between front and back of house was practically nonexistent. One moment, you’d see someone in the kitchen stirring and slicing; the next they’d be presenting your next course or clearing your table. (Chef Regan included.)
This created an unexpected intimacy, one that removed any hesitation when asking about a particular dish. It’s clear the teammates take a deep yet quiet pride in their collective work. They spoke warmly about where ingredients came from, excitedly about the preparation techniques used. They always used “we” or “our,” never “me” or “Chef Regan.” (Again, Chef Regan included.)
Over the next few courses, there were so many charms. An herb-rolled, soft-boiled quail egg served in an actual nest; impossibly chewy seaweed bread darkened by squid ink; a cauliflower-mushroom soup that Erin about died over. I was particularly fond of a course called Barnyard: headcheese dusted with beet powder, paired with a collage of root vegetables and flavored puddings reminiscent of something out of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.
And that’s the thing. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be fond of headcheese. I would have probably never eaten it if it weren’t for this meal. But it was fun to break out of my culinary comfort zone.
The other surprising thing? How full we were, considering it was a tasting menu. By the time we were served the entree courses—rare lamb medallions wrapped in swiss chard and pickled fish in a sauce of its own bones—we were taking deep breaths between bites. I’m pretty sure they were the only two plates we didn’t completely clean.
We managed to buck up for our “one-and-a-half” dessert courses, as the server put it. (The “half” was a palate-cleansing sorbet.) Our favorite was Under the Sea, a spongy coral-seaweed cake so realistic looking it prompted me to ask the server just how much of it we could eat. “All of it,” she said. We complied.
Maybe, as a writer, I’m just a sucker for a good story. But I was enchanted by Elizabeth, both in backstory and in not knowing what was coming next throughout the culinary adventure. And while I probably won’t be buying headcheese any time soon, I’m excited to see what Chef Regan has up her non-chef’s-whites sleeves next season.
Shop Chef Iliana Regan's tasting-menu experience at Elizabeth Restaurant:
Watch her explain her approach to fine dining:
As useful as WD40 and much more edible, coconut oil is a powerhouse. In fact, just one jar of the stuff can replace several household staples, from kitchen ingredients to baby wipes. Here’s how to substitute it for 16 total items in 3 rooms of the home:
1. Coffee: Coconut oil is a reputed energy booster. Swallowing a spoonful or two in the afternoon can be a healthful alternative to a cuppa.2. Coffee creamer: Emulsified and poured into coffee, it’s much tastier than (and probably just as nutritious as) that bulletproof stuff.3. Butter or oil (when sautéing): Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for cooking on the stovetop, especially at high heat. Try swapping it in when making stir-fries, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, especially if you like a very mild coconut flavor.4. Oil (when baking): The oil imparts a delicious je ne sais quoi to baked goods—even boxed ones. Use it to give from-the-box brownies an upgrade, and you’ll dream about them for days.5. Condiments: Drop it into quinoa or oatmeal for added nutrients and healthy fats. You can also put it on top of sweet potatoes instead of butter!
6. Moisturizer: It works on your body and your face. It’s naturally SPF 4, so it offers a bit of protection from UV rays, too.7. Leave-in conditioner and anti-static agent: Rub a small amount between your hands and smooth them over your hair to control flyaways.8. Lip balm: It soothes sore, chapped lips, and other skin irritations.9. Eye-makeup remover: Rub it between your fingers until it liquefies, smear it on your lids, and wipe it off with a cotton pad.10. Face wash: Add a little water and rub it in your hands until it foams.11. Hand and foot cream: Massage it into cracked knuckles, or slather it onto your soles and stick them into socks for an overnight soak.12. Shaving cream: It’ll give you a smooth shave, plus additional moisture for your skin.
13. Ouchie ointment: Dab it on cuts and scrapes, which will benefit from its antimicrobial properties.14. Anti-itch cream: Coconut oil reduces itching from bug bites, and helps to calm sunburn, eczema, and cradle cap.15. Diaper cream: A layer on baby’s bottom guards against (and soothes) diaper rash flare-ups.16. Baby wipes: Simply mix it with hot water and pour it over a stack of paper towels that you’ve cut in half. Keep the towels in an airtight container so they stay moist.
Check out more coconut-oil coverage:
Oil Pulling Whitens Your Teeth and (Maybe) Makes You Invincible
The Five Best Uses for Coconut Oil You’ve Never Heard Of