Come to Buck's Pit Stop for a sandwich and side — this eatery serves American cuisine everyone will love.
Unwind with a glass of wine or cocktail with your meal — this restaurant has a wonderful selection of drinks to accompany your dinner.
Load up the mini-van and bring the kids to this restaurant — they'll love the menu and scene here as much as mom and dad.
Have a large group? No problem. Head to Buck's Pit Stop for easy seating.
The restaurant accepts reservations, so you can get around the busy crowd.
If you're hoping to make a smashing impression at your next soiree, you can also have Buck's Pit Stop cater for you.
You can also grab your food to go.
Complimentary parking is provided in the lot next to Buck's Pit Stop.
Buck's Pit Stop offers safe bike parking outside.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all on Buck's Pit Stop's menu — you can stop by whenever the moment's right for you.
When you're feeling hungry, head on over to Buck's Pit Stop and indulge in a tasty and innovative American dish.
When you're in need of a casual night out, head to Buck's Pit Stop and enjoy some great American classics.
Warm up with a better coffeehouse brew at Ashbary Coffee House, a cool, off-the-beaten-path coffee shop in Willow Springs' Willow Springs neighborhood.
Fear not you gluten-free or low-fat eaters, you'll have plenty of choices here.
The drink list at this coffee shop has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Dine under the sun (or stars) at Ashbary Coffee House with their charming outdoor seating.
Wifi is on the house at Ashbary Coffee House, so you can stay connected on your mobile device.
Be sure to call for a reservation if the coffee shop is part of your weekend plans — it can get crowded on Fridays and Saturdays.
We're not like any other place. We've prepared parking onsite for you.
Cyclists are in luck. Ashbary Coffee House provides bike parking.
Ashbary Coffee House serves up meals for the prices you deserve. All under $15.
If you're looking for great tasting coffee, Ashbary Coffee House serves it up best.
When you need that little extra push to get you moving, grab a cup of coffee from Ashbary Coffee House.
Restaurateur Ted first fed the Willow Springs community with his intimate establishment, My Way Café, whose popularity inspired him to expand his reach into fine Italian cuisine paired with delicately balanced wines at My Way Ristorante. Through the evolution of his businesses, though, Ted has never lost sight of doing things, as he puts it, his way. He focuses first on cultivating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in his restaurants, striving to make guests feel free to sit, eat, chat, and return.
Of course, delicious food comes in at a close second. He crafts an extensive menu of Italian dishes, calling out signature favorites with the addition of My Way to the dish’s name. My Way polenta pairs sautéed italian sausage with a white wine sauce, and My Way ravioli douses tomato crab-stuffed ravioli in a garlic cream sauce. Some recipes, however, Ted leaves just the way they are, relying on the time-tested ability of a simple grill to draw flavors from his 12-ounce rib eyes, 8-ounce filet mignons, and 2-ounce charcoal briskets.
Fasano's Pizza does not just make pizza. They serve decadent slices of heaven that anyone who sinks their teeth into rate high on their list.
If gluten is something you try to avoid, check out the G-free menu at Fasano's Pizza. Low-fat fare is also available for those keeping an eye on their diet.
Delivery and carryout are easy options for those interested in staying home.
It's time to gather up the party people. Serve them great food from Fasano's Pizza.
Drivers will embrace the parking lot located next door to Fasano's Pizza.
Meals at Fasano's Pizza are affordable, with the average tab amounting to about $30 per person.
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 Fasano's Pizza.
When you are in the mood for a delicious, mouthwatering pizza, pay Fasano's Pizza a visit.
For a fast bite with tons of flavor, try Justice's Jimmy's Drive-In.
Parents, bring your kids along to this restaurant, where you'll find a family-friendly menu and ambience.
Patio tables and chairs are ready for Jimmy's Drive-In diners who prefer their meals al fresco.
Can't find your khakis? No problem! Throw on a pair of your most comfortable jeans and you'll blend right in at Jimmy's Drive-In.
You can also serve food from Jimmy's Drive-In at your next party — the restaurant offers catering.
If you need to get somewhere fast, the restaurant also serves up grub to go.
Don't spend time searching for parking — patrons are welcome to use the adjoining lot.
Cyclists will also appreciate the plentiful space to lock up their bikes outside the restaurant.
If you're hunting for a quick and easy lunch option, check out the highly-rated Jimmy's Drive-In.
Visit Bonnie's Dining and Banquets for some true American comfort food smack dab in the middle of Willow Springs' Willow Springs.
Don't leave the kids at home — youngsters will love the family-friendly cuisine at this restaurant just as much as mom and dad.
Weather permitting, come enjoy a wonderful meal outside at Bonnie's Dining and Banquets.
The restaurant's "rush" is all weekend long, so diners should be prepared to wait for a table.
There is parking close to the restaurant.
A typical meal at Bonnie's Dining and Banquets will set you back less than $30.
When you're craving a true American classic, such as a burger and fries, make your way over to Bonnie's Dining and Banquets.
When you're in need of a casual night out, head to Bonnie's Dining and Banquets and enjoy some great American classics.
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.