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.
With its organic, down-to-earth ambiance, Blackberry Market provides a relaxing and satisfying dining experience.
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.
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.
On a recent evening, I visited White Pines Golf Club with my appetite in tow instead of a nine iron.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I approached HB Jones, I only had one goal in mind: to climb Mount Everest. Let me explain.
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.
(Note to readers dated July 22, 2014: The restaurant has closed.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With its open floor plan and California-style setting, Bakersfield gives west suburban diners a fresh experience, and some good food, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are restaurants and then there are neighborhood institutions. The Chew Chew in Riverside is the latter.
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.
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.
(Note to readers July 24, 2014: The restaurant has closed.)
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.
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.
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.
With its modern Latin, tapas-style menu and dazzling interior, Barbakoa is a worthy entry into the line of upscale restaurant-bar combos in northern Downers Grove.
To say that Chef Shangri-La takes diners to another world is no exaggeration. When my dining companion and I stepped inside the Asian fusion restaurant in North Riverside, we knew immediately the meal would be far from average.
Don't let the community college campus setting fool you. On a recent Saturday night, we stepped into Waterleaf and discovered a visual treat before even seeing the menu. Part of the school's culinary center, the stunning space is used by students Mondays and Tuesdays, but morphs into a professional operation Wednesday through Sunday.
My first reaction upon entering the Greek Islands restaurant on a recent rainy, chilly evening was, "Wow, this place is popular."
A restaurant labeling itself a "fusion" experience often means: "We have sushi, General Tso's Chicken and Pad Thai." Instead of marrying tastes for a different twist on a dish or cuisine, it's more about mixing menus to attract a wider variety of patrons. Not so for Taste – Indian Chinese Cuisine in Downers Grove. It takes Chinese dishes and ingredients and tumbles them together with traditional Indian spices and flavors.