Mystery Diner

Mystery Diner: Bien Trucha treats Glen Ellyn to a toda madre

Newcomer a toda madre is a testament to the importance of culinary balance. The Mexican eatery, transplanted to Glen Ellyn by Geneva's Bien Trucha, opened late in 2014, with equal parts sophistication and comfort.

Mystery Diner: Two Brothers brewpub worth the hunt

Two Brothers Tap House in Warrenville isn't as showy a dining venue as its landmark Roundhouse digs in Aurora, but gives patrons a ringside seat at the actual brewery. The tasty fare complements not only Two Brothers' extensive creations and sampling opportunities, but more than 50 additional bottled craft brews from the U.S. and around the world.

Mystery Diner: La Buona Vita brings Italy to La Grange

When you're craving the taste of Italy, there's no need to empty your savings account on plane tickets and hotel stays. Just head to downtown La Grange and visit La Buona Vita to experience delicious, homemade Italian fare.

Mystery Diner: Union House serves big flavor on small plates

It was a sunny and chilly December day when my companion and I decided to head to Union House American Kitchen in Winfield for lunch.

Mystery Diner: Prairie Café shines as hidden gem

In the world of foodie indulgence, brunch has become king. Stacks of fluffy pancakes with farmer's market berries and house-made creme fraiche fill up Instagram profiles. Breakfast foods with a dozen different kinds of artisanal ingredients dot menus across the country.

Mystery Diner: Sage Kitchen + Bar brunch a perfect weekend treat

It was a crisp autumn morning when my friend and I walked into Sage Kitchen + Bar in Bolingbrook.

Mystery Diner: Armand's Pizzeria flavors artful space in Elmhurst

Having heard the restaurant's roots go back to 1956, and that a family recipe for thin-crust pizza is behind the longevity, we decided to visit Armand's Pizzeria in downtown Elmhurst.

Mystery Diner: Wild Monk elevates gastropub offerings

When eating out, it is a rare find that strikes the perfect balance between upscale cuisine and casual comfort, but downtown La Grange gastropub Wild Monk does just that.

Mystery Diner: John & Tony's an inviting Italian-American steakhouse

Discovering an abundance of delicious options on a menu is particularly pleasing, given my dining companion's finicky nature when it comes to food choices. John & Tony's Ristorante in West Chicago ably meets the challenge with offerings of steak and seafood to pasta, pizza and burgers.

Mystery Diner: Citrus Diner squeezes full flavor into breakfast and luncheon menus

Gracing the corner of a brick shopping center, just off Ogden Avenue and Pasquinelli Drive, sits Citrus Diner, where a fresh and filling feast awaits.

Mystery Diner: Japanese cuisine is on a roll at Sushi Mono in Wheaton

Food cravings have a way of burrowing down into the absolute pit of my stomach and staying there until satiated. Like a troll under a bridge controlling the action, my stomach often waves a hand at the trifles of a salad and instead demands a giant slice of pizza.

Mystery Diner: Bella Bacino's fires up passion for Italian

As we approached Bella Bacino's in downtown La Grange, diners sat outside enjoying their Italian fare on a mild fall evening.

Mystery Diner: Weber Grill elevates backyard barbecue

As the season turns and separation anxieties mount at the thought of backyard grills decommissioned until spring, one restaurant always provides a comforting phalanx of professional Weber grills and charcoal at the ready.

Mystery Diner: Vistro serves Paul Virant take on family dining

I first attempted to stroll into Vistro on a Wednesday evening without a reservation.

Mystery Diner: The Bank Restaurant capitalizes on fresh fare

When dining at a fine restaurant, the thoughtful pairing of wine and entree may be a given, but patrons at The Bank Restaurant in Wheaton reap added dividends with delicious fare sourced in a socially responsible manner.

Mystery Diner: Good things come on small plates at Emilio's Tapas

Whether it's a romantic date for two or a meal with friends and family, it's all about sharing when it comes to dining on tapas, the "small plates" that originated in Spain and went on to deliciously infiltrate other cuisines.

Mystery Diner: Old Vilnius Cafe imports taste of Lithuania to Darien

Although I knew nothing about Lithuanian food, my companion was thrilled when I asked him to join me for dinner at Old Vilnius Cafe.

Mystery Diner: Salseria Grill & Cantina moves to salsa beat

Salsas can seem like an afterthought in some Mexican restaurants, only there to placate hungry patrons munching on chips before the meal proper arrives.

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.

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