In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in Rolling Meadows, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Take your Thai cuisine with a fill of first-rate reviews when you dine at Thai Spice Restaurant.
Thai Spice Restaurant is serving up healthy meals packed with flavor.
With its kid-friendly vibe, this restaurant is a great spot for families to chow down.
Keep it casual at Thai Spice Restaurant — the restaurant is laid-back and patrons dress accordingly.
Thai Spice Restaurant is known for serving great food, and they are able to serve it at your next event with their excellent catering.
You can also grab your grub to go.
Don't waste time searching for parking, we've done all the work for you. Spaces available here.
Cyclists will also appreciate the plentiful space to lock up their bikes outside the restaurant.
Hitting the mid-range mark, Thai Spice Restaurant s prices are perfectly reasonable for food that goes above and beyond.
Spend your morning, afternoon, or evening at Thai Spice Restaurant, where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So if curry and peanut sauce is what makes you happy, make sure to try the much-talked-about Thai fare at Thai Spice Restaurant.
When pad thai is on the mind, get comfortable with the highly-rated fare at casual Thai Spice Restaurant.
Make it easy with Thai food at Thai Spice Restaurant.
If you're looking for an authentic Thai restaurant in the area, make your way over to Thai Spice Restaurant and enjoy some good eats.
At Outback Steakhouse in Selma, you can enjoy a well-seasoned, juicy steak.
Give your stomach a break and try some of Outback Steakhouse's gluten-free or low-fat items.
Drinks all around! Pair your dinner with a beverage from this restaurant's full bar.
Little ones are just as welcome as their parents at this restaurant.
If dining outdoors is your idea of a good time, you'll love the gorgeous patio seating at Outback Steakhouse.
Seating is readily available at Outback Steakhouse for those with large parties.
No need to gussy up for a trip to Outback Steakhouse, where patrons dress for comfort and fun.
For those in a rush, the restaurant lets you take your food to go.
Can't get enough of Outback Steakhouse's tasty dishes? They also offer a catering service for parties and events.
Driving is all about convenience, and we get that. With spaces available, we'll help speed up your night.
Cyclists will also appreciate the plentiful space to lock up their bikes outside the restaurant.
For a decently-priced meal that s not too fancy, Outback Steakhouse hits the nail on the head.
AM, midday, and PM meals are served at the restaurant, but supper takes the cake for best in show.
When you are ready to treat yourself to a nice meal, head on over to Outback Steakhouse and enjoy a juicy steak.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
Personal Chefs aren't just for the rich and famous. Savor provides convenience by preparing fresh meals in your home or by pre-packaging meals and delivering them to your home. All meals are prepared with local and fresh ingredients. Menus can be tailored for your tastes or dietary needs.
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Savor's specialty dish is the Chicken Florentine. Homemade basil scented pasta is married with marinated grilled chicken breast and spinach in an asiago, fontina, and parmesan cream sauce.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
While living in a college town I first started providing my services for fraternities and eventually word got out that I made "real" home-cooked meals and the students came in groves to buy meals like their mother's would make. Soon professors were hiring my services for them as well.
What do you love most about your job?
Preparing great food for people and watching the enjoyment on their faces as they partake of a great culinary experience.
Enjoy finger-licking barbecue year-round at Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q in Selma.
Cautious diners will appreciate the low-fat and gluten-free fare at Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q.
Ready for a drink to unwind? At this restaurant, you can pair your meal with something from their full bar.
Little guys and gals will also love dining at this restaurant, which offers a family-friendly environment (and menu).
Enjoy the beautiful weather while you chow down — with outdoor seating, Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q is a great summer destination.
Be prepared to raise your voice, though — the restaurant can get noisy.
If dinner and a movie are on the agenda, reservations are recommended for a timely night out.
Or, take your food to go.
Hosting a swanky shindig? Call up Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q for their catering services.
Parking is accessible and not far from the restaurant.
If cycling is more your speed, you'll find plenty of space to stash your bike outside the restaurant.
The best barbecue innovations await you when you pay a visit to Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q.
Next time you're craving some ribs, brisket, or pulled pork, think about stopping by Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q for a quick bite of barbecue.
For casual cuisine that everyone will enjoy, stop by Chipotle Mexican Grill for a Mexican-style menu in Selma's Judson neighborhood.
Gluten-sensitive diners can still find plenty of options on Chipotle Mexican Grill's menu, as can vegans.
The drink list at this restaurant has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Bring the whole family to this restaurant, where kiddos are welcomed with open arms.
During the summer months, don't miss out on Chipotle Mexican Grill's outdoor patio seating.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is known for serving great food, and they are able to serve it at your next event with their excellent catering.
Can't stay at this restaurant long? Pick up and go home.
Drive to Chipotle Mexican Grill and find parking in the area.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is home to many cyclists who appreciate the parking racks outside.
With perfect food under $15, less is more at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Chipotle Mexican Grill provides morning, afternoon, and evening service, so you can easily find time to dine.
So kick back and enjoy some delicious Mexican food at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
So gather up your friends and family and head to Chipotle Mexican Grill for a tasty and flavorful Mexican meal.
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