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Carnivale is the best Central American food I've had to date. The atmosphere is fun and flamboyant, from the vibrant decor to the music being played. The drinks are bright & potent. I've had an array of food choices here & none have disappointed.
*Some days you can catch live music, samba dancers & aerial performances.
The Capital Grille is a dimly lit, quiet atmosphere adorned with equestrian and stallion pieces mounted on the wall. The food is expensive but it's worth every penny. My personal favorites were the seared tenderloins with lobster, paired with Parmesan truffle fries, Lobster Mac & Cheese.
Geja's Cafe is a ritzy yet low-key version of The Melting Pot. Disclaimer: You prepare your own food! The atmosphere is very intimate with it's candle-lit centerpieces & low lighting. My favorite choice here is the Geja's Prince Premier dinner that includes: beef tenderloin, lobster, shrimp, gulf shrimp, sea scallops & chicken breasts. All Premier dinners include assorted vegetables and fondue based desserts. I've been here several times, and it's a wonderful experience each time.
Located in the heart of downtown, Grand Luxe Cafe has an urban lavish decorum with a laidback atmosphere. Imagine, a high end TGIF or Chilis. Their food is somewhat similar to those aforementioned except it's well prepared, fresh and extremely appetizing. My favorite here is the Parmesan crusted Pork Chop.
14 Parish is a BYOB modern chic Caribbean restaurant located in the south loop. The restaurant is a very bright open space, with plenty of seating to accommodate large groups. The walls are embellished with afrocentric art which actually compliments the lime colored accent walls. I had the “14 Parish Platter” that came with jerk wings, beef sliders, Jamaican Beef and Veggie Patty, Cajun island shrimp skewers, and plantains. This was hands down the best Jamaican food I’ve ever tasted & I’ve had my fair share.
Lokal is a hidden gem in Lincoln Park. The decor has a modern rustic feel to it but the atmosphere can get lit due to the contemporary hip hop music being played. There are two seating areas, one with bar seating & the other section offers a casual dining experience in a small cafesque area. With that being said, Lokal is compact, but there’s plenty of elbow room. Though they are open regular dining hours, I’ve only attended their brunch where they offer your choice of bottomless mimosas, bloody mary’s or champagne. In my recent visit, I chose the chorizo skillet but I’m extremely fond of their NY steak and eggs.* Brunch is served Saturdays & Sundays from 10 am to 3pm
Parlor Pizza in Wicker Park has a very lax atmosphere complimented by their timbered modern charm. Their restaurant-bar combo serves up gourmet neapolitan pizza made right in an open kitchen in the back of the restaurant. They have different assortments of pizza, creative cocktails and raved-about desserts. I had the Sgt. Pepper pizza which is made with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, Molinari pepperoni, and white truffle oil. It was delicious. The Prickly Pear Margarita was pleasing too, with the perfect balance of tequila and prickly pear juice.* Disclaimer * If you’re looking for deep dish pizza, you won’t find it here; Neapolitan pizza is extremely thin.
If you blink too fast, you might miss this gem. Tucked away on a bustling intersection, about 7 minutes way from O’Hare International airport sits this diner, that makes you feel like home. A friend and I lucked up on this spot looking for a quick bite to eat before she flew back east. And the word luck, was very much so intentional. Mac’s Restaurant has the ambiance of a small town diner , where locals frequent, and everybody knows everybody. For two city girls, we were received like old friends with speedy service and food that reminds you of something granny would make. I had the Country Skillet which was amazing down to the last forkful. If you’re in the Park Ridge area, or just looking for a super friendly atmosphere and filling food, I recommend this place. Be advised, their hours range from 5:30am to 2:30p and varies depending on the day of the week.