Blue 82 covers all the sports-bar bases by keeping its patrons well-fed and up to speed on their favorite teams' scores. As diners dig into heaping piles of nachos dotted with chicken or pork, servers move between tables, clearing empty plates that once bore burgers stuffed with cheeses and peppers. In the evenings, on-screen sports entertainment competes with music from live bands and DJs as bartenders pour out drink specials and crack open beers.
The legacy of Zuni’s House of Pizza's signature-pizza recipe dates back to 1954. On each pie, gooey cheese melts over robust lochs of sauce atop a thin- or stuffed-crust foundation, which is then peppered with a panoply of fresh pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, or other toppings. At the Cedar Lake location, chefs cycle between a variety of 20 appetizers, 20 entrees, and 13 sandwiches—such as a southwest roll-up drizzled in mexi-ranch dressing. The Dyer location focuses on classic-pizzeria fare, with five specialty pies complementing fragrant farfalle pastas and piping hot calzones. Frothy suds sidle up to slices at both locations for a pairing as classic as muscle cars and drive-ins or drag racing while reading Archie’s comics.
An oversize photograph of a rhinoceros hangs on one of the walls at White Rhino Bar & Grill, serenely surveying a kingdom accented by natural stone and brightened by the glow of 21 flat-screen televisions. With the noble beast’s blessing, diners can tear into savory American food ranging from griddled steaks and slow-cooked ribs to pizzas layered with andouille sausage, shrimp, and gouda. Bartenders mix cocktails, host wine tastings, and serve more than 110 beers, and DJs spin music that often leads to nighttime dancing and spontaneous daytime jazzercise sessions.
Zodiac Cafe and Lounge balances a constellation of themed martinis with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of sandwiches, salads, and small plates. Diners design flights of cheese and olives, and chefs stuff grass-fed burger patties with a rotating selection of ingredients. Pints from the craft-beer menu complement edibles, as do 12 martinis that re-imagine each astrological sign as a concoction of colorful spirits. Muted earth tones and wood accents anchor both dining room and lounge to terra firma, and starburst light fixtures and an astrological chart grant insight into Zeus's interior-decorating scheme. After the sun sets on the patio, wander inside to check out the schedule of karaoke, open-mic performances, and sets from local house DJs.
The instructors of Origins Dance Academy have traveled far and wide to learn and practice their craft, from choreographing in Los Angeles to dancing in prestigious European and Canadian ballet companies to appearing in area musicals. That wide range of experience allows them to teach youngsters in a wide variety of classes, including tap, ballet, and hip-hop. Origins also occasionally presents its students in performances and sends them to competitions judged by technique, difficulty, and how well the dancers perform sequences from Swan Lake while partnered with real swans.
Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.