AMORÉ RISTORANTE AND 109 SUSHI and MARTINI LOUNGE. 109 Joliet St, Crown Point. 219.663.7377. amore109.com. The ultimate two-for-one, this sleek restaurant features Italian cuisine on its first floor at Amoré Ristorante and Japanese cuisine, including sushi and sashimi, upstairs at the 109 Sushi and Martini Lounge. Save room for bananas foster, crème brûlée and a quadruple assortment of cupcakes-chocolate, vanilla bean, black and white (swirled chocolate and vanilla) and red velvet topped with cream cheese frosting.
BISTRO 157. 157 W Lincolnway, Valparaiso. 219.462.0992. bistro157.net. Trained in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu, chef and owner Nicole Bissonnette-Sanders has created a menu of classics-like a decadent sautéed veal and gulf shrimp, a pork rib chop with apple horseradish ham, and an herb-rubbed roasted half chicken-combined with her own creative takes on nouvelle cuisine with a number of fresh fish selections. There are some treasures on the extensive list of bottle wines, and many solid choices by the glass.
JELLY PANCAKE HOUSE. 399 E. 81st Avenue, Merrillville. 219.736.0100. The newest breakfast hotspot in Northwest Indiana starts early at 6am, with a menu that features eggs that can be accompanied by steaks or pork chops, large omelettes, freshly squeezed orange juice, crêpes, skillets, French toast, waffles and pancakes that take the old favorites to a whole new level. Homemade soups, burgers, salads, wraps, and varied entrees are among the choices for lunch.
MILLER BAKERY CAFE. 555 S Lake Street, Gary. 219.427.1446. millerbakerycafe.com. Veteran restaurant manager Jack Strode has brought the historic Miller Bakery Café back to life featuring creative small plates, fresh seafood and the finest grilled meats. Enjoy a fresh approach to New American Cuisine with beautiful food and creative cocktails in a fun atmosphere of artistic design, casual elegance and warm, attentive service in the newly renovated historic Miller Bakery.
TAPAS CAFÉ. 2486 W Lincoln Hwy, Merrillville. 219.769.7008. tapascafe.net. Tapas Café offers a fusion of always-fresh traditional artisan Spanish-Iberic meals. Tapas include a wide variety of appetizers of Spanish cuisine. They may be cold such as Salpicon de Mariscos or warm like the Calamari a la Plancha. Appetizers from the southwest such as the nachos or quesadillas are also available. Salads are guilt-less but flavorful.