Traveling to Chicago: Restaurants

April 7, 2019

Paul Kay

Here are reviews of some of the restaurants we’ve eaten at in Chicago recently. Chicago is one of the best food cities in the world.

And check out my history of Illinois and Chicago for some fun facts and insight.

Bon Appétit!

Wildfire Oakbrook

Consistently excellent food and service

We had been to other Wildfire restaurants but not this one. We were in Oakbrook and were pleased to see three Lettuce Entertain You restaurants adjacent to each other.

Wildfire feels like an old-world supper club. You have pictures of the 1950s and 1960s all over the place. The restaurant has a very nice menu that can please any palate.

Madeline loves the filet medallion trio, which is on the special menu. I like all the fish entrees, all the steak selections, particularly the Char Crust bone-in rib eye. They have many choices for sides, all of which are good.

We were lucky enough to have Paula as our server. She was very experienced and knew the menu inside and out. It is so pleasant to have a knowledgeable and friendly server. It makes the meal so much more enjoyable. Paula was great!

Desserts are also very good. They have several seasonal dishes, like Door County cherry pie. Their key lime pie is excellent, too.

They have a very nice selection of wines and a full bar.

This is a great restaurant. This Oak Brook property is a bit larger than what we were used to but was just as comfortable.

We will be back.

Maggiano’s Little Italy Oakbrook

Excellent restaurant; try the Lighter Take

Magianno's, Oakbrook, Illinois

Maggiano’s Little Italy is a very popular restaurant in Oakbrook Terrace alongside two other Lettuce Entertain You restaurants: Wildfire and Mon Ami Gabi.

We had MaryAnne as our server, and she was great. Something we discussed is what the Lighter Take option meant for certain dishes. She explained that all the flavor and ingredients are the same, but they put the pasta on the bottom of the meat, so about half of the calories are reduced with a smaller pasta portion (same meat portion) and a bit less of the sauce. I had the lemon chicken and it was delicious and plenty to eat.

We were glad we had MaryAnne and will go back.

Mon Ami Gabi Oakbrook

Excellent steak frites

Mon Ami Gabi, Oakbrook, Illinois

Mon Ami Gabi is between Wildfire and Maggiano’s. All three are Lettuce Entertain You restaurants.

We were lucky to have Tammy as our waitress. She helped us with our selections and was very attentive. She also was very knowledgeable about all the items on the menu.

This place has great food, and you can try lots of different things. We always come back to the steak frites. You can get it with different toppings, and the combination of the steak and the French-style fries is excellent. Bon Appétit!

Hackney’s on Lake

Home of the Hackneyburger, Original French Fried Onions and friendly service

Madeline and I went to Hackney’s on Lake on Father’s Day, and it was very busy. But it’s a busy place most days. We used to frequent Hackney’s when we lived in the area.

Both of us remembered the Hackneyburger and the Hackney’s Original French Fried Onions. They are not onion rings per se. They put sliced onions in a breading and deep fry them in a wire mesh cage. The result is a wonderful fried onion loaf, and you can get a quarter, half or whole order. The burgers are great and come in plenty of varieties.

They have a full bar and plenty of other choices. We see plenty of families come here for birthdays or celebrations. It’s a very nice spot. It’s been around for quite a few years, and we were very glad to see that nothing has changed.

Flat Top Grill

Lots of variety and outdoor sidewalk seating

The Flat Top Grill was jumping when we visited. We saw all sorts of people, inside and outside, enjoying the day and the food.

We stuck with their version of a quesadilla, made with roti bread. It was great. We saw plenty of people with the make-your-own stir fry. The rules are simple: They give you a bowl to fill with your nonprotein favorites. Next you select your protein items. Then they stir fry something amazing.

We liked it because it was different than many of the standard chain restaurants you find in all cities.

Jay’s Beef Harwood Heights

Great, authentic Italian Beef

Jay's Beef, Harwood Heights, Illinois

We went to Jay’s Beef for authentic Italian beef sandwiches. I had a combo (beef with Italian sausage) with hot peppers. You can get your beef in a variety of styles, including sweet or hot peppers, with cheese, wet or dry. No matter how you order, it’ll be great.

You can tell it’s a family business. You feel like you’ve come to the family home and are invited for a great meal. We ate in the restaurant, and there were plenty of tables for the casual diner. This is one of several locations around the Chicago area. Kudos to the family members, who make a great sandwich with friendly service.

Kroll’s South Loop

Great food, great service, great beer

Kroll's South Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Okay, Kroll’s South Loop is a sports bar, but it has much better food than the average sports bar.

We learned it’s a Wisconsin bar, well known up near Lambeau field in Packers Country. However, we didn’t know any of this until we arrived.

We found the service to be very friendly and professional. The food was very good, and they had a wide selection of Chicago beers.

The Parthenon Restaurant

Opa for saganaki!

Parthenon Restaurant Matchbook, Chicago, Illinois

This is a review for a restaurant that is now closed. Chicago will not be the same without the Parthenon!

The Parthenon is one of the original restaurants in Chicago’s Greek Town. There are lots of choices in the old Greek neighborhood, but we keep coming back to the Parthenon. If you get there and have to wait in line, they serve you free Ouzo. If it’s cold and you are waiting outside, you’ll get a little warmer.

Saganaki is their flaming cheese appetizer, and the waiters serve it with flourish. Look up and you’ll see singe marks on the ceiling. Everyone says, “Opa!” when the flames erupt. The cheese is great and shareable. The Parthenon claims to have invented the dish. I’m not sure it’s true, but it’s a great legend and great entertainment.

We usually get a bottle of the house Roditis, a rose wine which goes quite well with Greek food. We like the gyros, the Greek salad, the Souvlaki (meat and vegetables on skewers), Pastitsio (sort of a Greek lasagna) and Dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with rice and ground meat).

The waiters are very attentive, and they are always watching out for you to see if you need more wine or bread (delicious and I think homemade).

My daughter was determined to dislike Greek food but wound up eating three or four rolls of bread before the Saganaki came. And then she discovered Greek food was pretty tasty.

We’ve been to this restaurant a dozen times over the years and have never disappointed. Enjoy!

Sadly, this restaurant closed its doors in 2016, a little while after we ate here for the last time. It was open for 48 years.

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