Mystery Diner

Mystery Diner: Standard Market Grill an uncommon find at grocery

We've always been told it's a bad idea to go grocery shopping when hungry, but at Standard Market, that's precisely the right time.


Mystery Diner: DMK Burger Bar delivers pure temptation

I'm the kind of person who receives a whole wheel of cheese for Christmas, and it's gone before the new year. The kind of person you can't leave unsupervised in a gourmet cheese section for longer than five minutes without having to go back for the full-sized cart.


Mystery Diner: Enjoy game and meal at StoneHouse Pub

I made a terrible mistake when I ordered my meal at StoneHouse Pub in Lemont. Don't get me wrong – the dish I ordered tasted fantastic. I really enjoyed every bite, the flavor, texture, quality of ingredients. It was all perfect.


Mystery Diner: Pinstripes scores with 'sophisticated fun' in Oak Brook

A luxurious reimagining of restaurant and bowling alley is at the playful heart of Pinstripes. On a recent Sunday evening, we discovered it to be home to three B's: a tempting bistro, indoor and outdoor bocce ball courts, and upscale bowling lanes.


Mystery Diner: Chama Gaucha steakhouse carves out delicious niche

Never having eaten at a Brazilian steakhouse, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I walked into Chama Gaucha, but the entire evening was impressive from beginning to end.


Mystery Diner: Blackberry Market also an appealing eatery in Glen Ellyn

With its organic, down-to-earth ambiance, Blackberry Market provides a relaxing and satisfying dining experience.


Mystery Diner: Kama Indian Bistro forges fusion fare in La Grange

While my years in the Chicago area have opened me up to a wide range of ethnic cuisines, the joy of a quality Indian restaurant lights my fire in a very special way – and not just because of the occasional burning-hot spiciness.


Mystery Diner: Cooper's Corner in Winfield stakes claim on big flavor

When friends recommended Cooper's Corner, we decided to pay a visit to the restaurant that opened earlier this year in the spot that once housed the venerable Viking.


Mystery Diner: 37 Bar & Grill takes swing at appetites in Bensenville

On a recent evening, I visited White Pines Golf Club with my appetite in tow instead of a nine iron.


Mystery Diner: Get a delightful experience at Irish Times in Brookfield

About five minutes after we'd been served our entrees, my dining companion indicated her plate with her fork, making a loose circle to include everything in front of her.


Mystery Diner: Wheaton's Il Sogno promises dream dinner out

During a sunny afternoon girls day out, my friend and I made our way to Il Sogno Ristorante, perched on a second floor in downtown Wheaton. Summoned to refuel by our growling stomachs, we gladly took the hostess' invitation to sit near one of the attractive dining room's plum spots – along a large window looking out over Front Street.


Mystery Diner: Sweet & Savory hits the spot in Westmont

Buddy Holly's older lookalike takes his place at the microphone, ukulele in hand, the waiter in a Frank Zappa T-shirt greets us with a smile, and the woman next to me, also with a ukulele, says, “I bet this isn't what you were expecting for a first date.”


Mystery Diner: Q-BBQ fires up big flavor in La Grange

As we approached the black awnings of the corner restaurant, it was no surprise our mouths began watering when Q-BBQ's old-fashioned smokehouse aroma wafted our way.


Mystery Diner: Sushi House's dishes on a roll

Good sushi restaurants can be hard to find in the Midwest. It’s usually not a matter of technique, but freshness. Even the best restaurants can sometimes fall short because they don’t have access to high quality fish, obviously the key component in a dish that often consists of only raw protein, rice and seaweed.


Mystery Diner: Make it a date night at Adelle's in Wheaton

In the mood for a romantic dining destination? Think Adelle's in Wheaton, which promises "fine American fare," and seasons it with sophistication, a mix of price points and superb service.


Mystery Diner: Paisans pleases with more than pizza

Walking past a colorful case of freshly made gelato on my way to the host stand at Paisans in Berwyn, I contemplated skipping lunch completely and ordering the largest bowl of Oreo cheesecake flavor I could dig a spoon into.


Mystery Diner: Adventure beckons at HB Jones in Elmhurst

As I approached HB Jones, I only had one goal in mind: to climb Mount Everest. Let me explain.


Mystery Diner: Hokkai lends spicy kick to the art of sushi

Whether you're a sushi connoisseur or still struggling to master your chopsticks, Hokkai has a dish for just about everyone. Tucked away in a Glen Ellyn shopping plaza, the restaurant is a hidden gem among the stores.


Mystery Diner: Pizzeria da Nella imports big flavor of Naples

(Note to readers dated July 22, 2014: The restaurant has closed.)


Mystery Diner: La Dolce Vita caters to 'the sweet life'

An avid short story writer could probably enter La Dolce Vita, spin a nice tale about the interminglings in a popular restaurant, and invent back-stories for the large family at one table, the priest getting up from his seat, the singles and young professionals eating at the bar.


Mystery Diner: Mago conjures lively setting for Mexican dining

When dining out, sometimes it's nice to get hit with some degree of spectacle – bright colors, live music and big tastes. For those times, Mago Grill & Cantina in Bolingbrook is a fine place to indulge in elevated Mexican fare.


Mystery Diner: Clara's Pasta keeps family traditions fresh

Walking into Clara's Pasta, I was greeted by friendly smiles and a palette of rich, warm colors giving the large restaurant a cozy feel.


Mystery Diner: Kick up your appetite at Al's Char-House

They say everything's bigger in Texas, and if that's the case, then Al's Char-House not only embodies the stereotype, but celebrates it with platters built for a state-size appetite and portions larger than my forearm.


Mystery Diner: Changarro adds bright notes to Mexican fusion

Celebrating Mexican dishes on its own food pyramid with unexpected fusion twists is Changarro Cocina, a hidden gem in West Chicago well worth seeking out.


Mystery Diner: Omega Restaurant prepares favorites to the letter in Downers Grove

Everyone knows the best dinner food is breakfast food; there's just something about eggs Benedict or juicy blueberry pancakes that hits the spot, especially late night.


Mystery Diner: Get a homestyle meal at Bulldog Ale House

Sometimes you just want a homestyle meal, a plethora of beer options, and a classy atmosphere to possibly take in a game. Bulldog Ale House takes the concept of a neighborhood sports pub and combines it with a full-service dining room.


Mystery Diner: Wishbone pop-up venue spreads Southern charm

Several months before visiting Wishbone last week, I went to a market and bought everything I needed to make shrimp and grits. Unfortunately, after that grocery stop and each subsequent trip, I've managed to eat all the bacon before I actually get around to making the dish, and the shrimp are still waiting in the freezer.


Mystery Diner: Thai Pot stirs affection for traditional cuisine

Thai fare has become more commonplace over the years, and, like many other adopted cuisines, often more Americanized. Breading, cream, sugary sauces and less traditional spices frequently are incorporated. Thai Pot seems to resist that temptation, offering authentic flavors and food, to good result.


Mystery Diner: Made in Italy conjures flavorful getaway

As usual this winter, it was snowing as we neared downtown Glen Ellyn and our destination, a 9-month-old trattoria called Made in Italy. But then the magic happened.


Mystery Diner: Bakersfield gives fresh spin to American cuisine

With its open floor plan and California-style setting, Bakersfield gives west suburban diners a fresh experience, and some good food, too.


Mystery Diner: Hokkaido turns cuisine into performance art

As we walked into Hokkaido Sushi Hibachi Steak House & Lounge in Oakbrook Terrace, I was struck by the beauty of a mural that seemed 3D. Inside the restaurant that bears the name of Japan's second largest island, we instantly were greeted by a hostess who asked whether we preferred to sit at the bar or hibachi.


Mystery Diner: Antonino's Ristorante serves Italian hometown favorites

My family and I have been dining at Antonino's Ristorante in La Grange for as long as I can remember. In fact, there's a good chance my first bite of restaurant Italian food – likely spaghetti – was consumed there.


Mystery Diner: Glen Oak Restaurant unveils new menu

We made a happy discovery when we stepped inside Glen Oak Restaurant on a recent Sunday, finding ourselves hungry but not sure what we were in the mood for foodwise.


Mystery Diner: Spend an evening in South America at Rio's

One of the joys of living in this melting pot of a nation is that everyone comes here, and they bring their delicacies with them.


Mystery Diner: Old Town Pour House comes to Oak Brook

Old Town Pour House proclaims beer a staple of life. The restaurant-bar backs that up once you step inside the new Oak Brook eatery.


Mystery Diner: The Chew Chew tracks all the right notes

There are restaurants and then there are neighborhood institutions. The Chew Chew in Riverside is the latter.


Mystery Diner: Barone's builds buzz on pizza prowess

A serious craving for pizza one recent Sunday afternoon prompted us to try someplace new, Barone's of Glen Ellyn, which turns out to be a community institution steeped in the village's history and in the noble art of the American pie.


Mystery Diner: Sample some 1960s style at Kitchen Eatery

Imagine an upscale 1960s diner, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Then add locally sourced, freshly prepared food. Combine with some good friends, and what you've got is a terrific meal at Kitchen Eatery.


Mystery Diner: Scarletti's delivers on cozy atmosphere, comfort food

(Note to readers July 24, 2014: The restaurant has closed.)


Mystery Diner: WOOW's Japanese cuisine wows in La Grange

At WOOW Japanese Restaurant in La Grange, the food is only half the experience. Located downtown, WOOW looks inconspicuous enough from the outside. A single overhead sign and dark windows do little to hint at what awaits beyond the restaurant's doors.


Mystery Diner: TL's Four Seasons explores flavors of Asia

For a change of pace on a recent Sunday afternoon, we stepped inside TL's Four Seasons in downtown Bartlett, across the street from the rail line. The restaurant celebrates a culinary split personality, offering separate menus for Chinese and Japanese cuisines.


Mystery Diner: Experience ’50s-style dining at 100 South

Even if you can't tell Hepburn and Tracy from Cagney and Lacey, you'll almost certainly enjoy a night of dining out at 100 South Chop House and Grill. Thanks to its prominent spot at York Street and Park Avenue in downtown Elmhurst, just about anyone who's been through town has seen the stylish exterior.



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