What's nice about O'Connor's sausages is that nothing is too out there; he calls his food "blue collar gourmet food," which pretty much sums up an approach of quality with lack of pretension.
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When craving an Italian sub, there are three main things I'm looking for: a flaky, tough bread, a big stack of quality meats, and giardiniera that just barely sets my mouth on fire. The Berto's Sub ($4.50 for 6") gave me all of those. At least almost.
The food at The Choo-Choo Restaurant is delivered on HO train cars that run the circuit from the kitchen to the counter. You might expect, as a result, that the hamburgers would be, at best, edible. But surprisingly, it's one of the best examples of a smashed griddle burger on the Illinois side of the Indiana border
Back Alley Burger in La Grange has a super lineup of creative burgers and sides with fab shakes and homemade pie.
Thai O'Cha in Darien is a hidden gem with all the greatest hits, well-prepared
Uncle Bub's BBQ in Westmont dishes up tasty smoked meats and superior sides.
Little Joe's in Countryside is a must for Italian beef and hot dogs, topped with shaved celery giardiniera.
Fred's in Burlington, Wisconsin, has one amazing burger and great Parmesan-covered, house-made potato chips, too.
Captain Porky's in Wadsworth goes to great pains to source and serve some of the area's best barbecue and seafood, all under one wood-trimmed roof.
Mrs. T's Pizza in Downers Grove is easily overlooked, but standout mushroom pizza makes it destination-worthy.
Schmaltz is a Jewish deli in Naperville, serving great pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, potato pancakes, homemade soup, noodle kugel and cookies.
Riverside Restaurant is one of a handful of remaining Berwyn area Bohemian restaurants, serving destination-worthy bread dumplings and roast duck.
Chinese Kitchen in Westmont serves authentic fare in an unassuming setting, with standout dishes like fried tofu with jalapenos and salt.
Rand Red Hots is not a copy of Gene & Jude's, Redhot Ranch, or any other minimalist hot dog stand in the area. It's actually unique, which is about as big of a compliment as I could give it.
Mabenka Restaurant & Banquets in Burbank serves a hearty mix of Polish and Lithuanian fare.
Unusual and everyday breakfast items make for an interesting experience at Pulp Kitchen in west suburban Oak Brook Terrace.
Instead of eggs and bacon, consider Al Bawadi Grill, Al Mawal and Fattoush in the south suburbs of Bridgeview and Worth for a breakfast alternative.
Fasano's Pizza in suburban Justice serves an exemplary thin-crust sausage pie, along with a respectable Italian sub, chicken Parmesan sandwich, Italian beef and Italian sub salad.
Cross-Rhodes, a Greek diner in Evanston, serves lemon-bathed, feta-showered fries, plus other brightly flavored Mediterranean musts.
Maple Tree Inn doesn't make you feel like you are their guest for the evening; it makes you feel like more like a house guest, with a table always waiting for you.