There are plenty of unique places to dine in the Region. The Times' Eloise Valadez has visited a few. See what she has to say here.
La Fogata Taqueria offers much more than tacos
Hammond's La Fogata Taqueria serves up an assortment of Mexican dishes daily.
The restaurant, located on Calumet Avenue, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and stars an assortment of recipes that feature different touches from what's found at other Mexican eateries. Everything from traditional tacos to specialty seafood dishes, soups, combination plates, drinks and more star on the menu.
Colorful paintings/drawings and bright walls are part of the decor in the casual eatery. Guests will find a lunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, which features a variety of Mexican favorites.
The eatery's name La Fogata, translated as bonfire, features logs as part of the decor. The logs are placed around the restaurant. In addition, one of the corners of La Fogata features a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
During a recent Monday dinner, we ordered a Cecina Taco ($2.25) and Chicken Tostada ($3.25). The Cecina Taco featured thinly-sliced aged beef, which was flavorful and the chicken in the tostada proved tender. Included with the meal is a trip to the salsa and chips bar at the front of the eatery. At the salsa bar, guests will find assorted recipes, from pico de gallo and mild variations to carrot and cauliflower spicy mixtures and more.
Among other items on the menu are Mole Poblano ($12.09); Parrillada (a grilled platter) ($39.59); Torta Dinner ($7.99); Nopales Quesadillas ($4.19); Carne Asada ($15.99); Huevos Rancheros ($7.89); Camarones (Shrimp) a La Diabla ($16.49); Caldo 7 Mares or Seven Seas soup ($16.49); and more.
Among appetizers are Queso Fundido ($6.39); Buffalo or BBQ Wings ($5.49); and other items. On weekends, the restaurant features Menudo or Pozole ($7.99).
Drinks included on the menu are Horchata, Jamaica juice, the Agua of the day, Licuados or milk shakes and other beverages.
The restaurant also features karaoke from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Visit Canton House for Chinese fare
If you have a taste for a flavorful Asian dish, head to Canton House.
The eatery, located in Munster, is in a strip mall on Calumet Avenue. While the restaurant is small and does a big carry-out business, there are a few tables for dine-in customers to enjoy a quick meal.
Canton House's menu is extensive, inexpensive and includes a lot of the favorite Chinese fare customers have come to expect from local Asian eateries.
Offerings include categories such as Vegetarian Dishes, House Specials, Cantonese Style, Subgum Chop Suey, Fried Rice and more.
Canton House features a relaxed and very casual setting with Asian decorations and pictures hanging on the walls.
During a recent Monday dinner stop at the eatery, we had a taste for a meatless dish and opted for the Vegetable Egg Foo Young ($4.25 for two patties). Each patty was fairly hearty and filling. The sauce, which topped the Egg Foo Young, was flavorful and not salty. It's easy for cooks to go heavy on the salt with this dish but thankfully, Canton House's recipe didn't go overboard on the sodium. The Egg Foo Young was accompanied by a serving of white rice.
Among other items on Canton House's menu are Beef Satay ($6.5 for 6 appetizer portions); Hong Sal Shrimp ($7.15 for small); Moo Shu Shrimp ($9.85); Szechuan Pork ($5.75 for small); Seafood Delight ($14.55); Hot Pot for 2 ($16.95); Tangerine Chicken ($6.85 for small); Hong Kong Steak ($13.95); Hawaii Fried Rice ($4.80); and more.
The restaurant also serves a Super Value Lunch Box until 3 p.m. daily. The lunch special includes an egg roll and chicken fried rice with the main entree.
Also on the menu are Canton Deluxe Dinners for two, three, four or five people. A variety of Smoothies, including Watermelon, Banana, Kiwi and others, also are available for $3.25 each.
Catering and Party Trays are also featured at Canton House.
Hokkaido offers a taste of Japan
Diners with a taste for sushi, miso soup or tempura will find all of that and more at Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar.
The restaurant, located on quaint Franklin Street in Michigan City, features a menu starring Japanese favorites such as specialty rolls, teriyaki entrees, desserts and other dishes. Chinese BBQ items also are on the menu.
We visited Hokkaido on a recent Monday night for a late dinner. The eatery features colorful decor starring red and white hues, seating at both booths and tables and other Asian-inspired decorations.
Piped-in contemporary music played during our dinner. We also watched as two chefs crafted sushi rolls at the bar.
Our dinner choice that night was the Seafood Pineapple Fried Rice ($15.95). The entree came with a choice of soup or salad. We decided to try both and ordered the Miso Soup with the dinner and the Green Salad ($1.95) on the side.
The rice entree was indeed an out of the ordinary dish. Various seafood, including shrimp and scallops, were mixed with the rice and served in half a pineapple. Melted cheese was served on top, which made it quite the filling entree.
Hokkaido's Green Salad featured a fresh, flavorful ginger dressing while the Miso Soup was a soothing choice. For dessert, the Mochi ice cream ($1.50 for a scoop) proved a good choice. Our order featured green tea ice cream with a coating around it and then it was sprinkled with chocolate syrup.
Among other menu items at the restaurant are Flying Fish Roll ($5.95); Special Dragon ($10.95); Rainbow Roll ($10.95); Lava Roll ($11.95); Crazy Tuna Roll ($11.95); Shrimp Teriyaki ($15.95); Chicken Tempura ($12.95); Pork BBQ ($13.95); Banana Tempura Roll with Honey Sauce for dessert ($4.95); and Ice Cream Tempura ($3.50).
Various salads on the menu include Avocado ($3.95); Seaweed Salad ($4.95); and Squid Salad ($5.95).
Hokkaido also offers carry out service.
See previous Restaurant Scene stories here:
Marilyn's Bakery reopening for season
Marilyn's Bakery and Cafe in Hobart beckons diners with its quaint and unpretentious setting.
The eatery, which has a friendly atmosphere, is on the grounds of Johnson's Strawberry Farm in Hobart. It was established by Marilyn Johnson Pearson in 1986.
The bakery/cafe has been closed for the past season and will reopen March 1. It recently had special pop up hours for Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras.
Cake orders have been accepted, though, through the bakery's regular number.
Marilyn's Bakery is easily found on Ridge Road and isn't tucked away or hidden from view. Being right next to Johnson's Strawberry Farm, it's easily spotted.
Diners can enjoy a quiet, relaxing lunch at the eatery from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. From March 1 through Easter, Marilyn's is open from Mondays through Saturdays and after Easter, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch seven days a week. Call for more information.
The restaurant's menu regularly stars soups, sandwiches, teas, coffee and pastries of all types. Eatery personnel are friendly and always willing to answer questions about menu items.
Among lunch items on the eatery's menu are homemade soups, including beef vegetable and chicken. Soup flavors rotate on a regular basis. Sandwiches include favorites such as chicken salad, turkey and beef, while other meal choices include pot pies, quiche and specials on occasion.
While surveying the sweets in the pastry case, visitors will find everything from specialty cakes and pies to assorted other pastries.
Cake flavors include Mandarin Orange, Marble Fudge, German Chocolate, Banana Torte and more. Pies include everything from Apple, Banana Cream and Chocolate Cream to Cherry Crumb and more. Sugar-free pies also are available.
Marilyn's features fresh, from-scratch cooking and locally sourced ingredients. Diners looking for quality fare will find it here.
Rancho Grande offers a mix of Mexican specialties
Diners looking for authentic Mexican fare will find it at Rancho Grande Tacos & Burritos in Lansing.
The eatery, which is located on Ridge Road, has several locations in the Region. Among other locations are Dyer, East Chicago and another Lansing restaurant on 172nd Street.
Walking into Rancho Grande, diners will find a colorful setting and an aroma of delicious Latin flavors.
Guests order their meals at the counter and may then be seated to dine or simply carry out their food. The restaurant features an extensive menu with breakfast offerings, appetizers, Burritos/Bowls, Tortas, full dinners; Quesadillas and more.
During a recent Monday dinner visit to Rancho Grande, Mexican music played in the background making the setting comfortable and festive.
We sat at a booth in the back of the restaurant near the open kitchen and could watch while dishes were being prepared. The restaurant's decor is colorful and the walls are adorned with murals and other pictures.
Our dinner choices were fish tacos ($2.69 each) and guacamole with chips ($2.99 for medium). The tacos, which were flavorful but not spicy, were made with lightly breaded pollock. They also included onions, cilantro and lime. The guacamole was also a flavorful recipe and was well seasoned.
The restaurant also offers shrimp tacos.
Among items on the Rancho Grande menu are Nachos Rancho Grande ($8.49); Homemade Chorizo Tacos ($2.29); Vegetariano Tostadas ($3.29 each); Cubana Tortas ($6.09); Milanesa dinners (breaded steak or chicken) ($10.99); Enchiladas Suizas ($9.99); Chiles Rellenos ($10.99); Fajitas de Camaron (shrimp) ($11.99); and more.
The restaurant also stars assorted combo meals/dinners including a Taco, Tostada and Quesadilla for $8.89; Tamales for $6.89; Flautas for $8.89; and other dishes.
Specialty dishes, which are served on weekends only, include Barbacoa (steamed beef) ($8.99 a pound); and Carnitas (braised pork) (also $8.99 a pound). Menudo also is offered on weekends.
Catering also is available at Rancho Grande.
The Buffet offers Valentine's chocolate weekend
There are many meal options available during a visit to The Buffet at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.
The eatery, which is open daily, stars an assortment of food stations with international offerings in the spotlight.
Guests visiting the restaurant this weekend will be in for a treat. In honor of Valentine's Day, The Buffet will offer a Valentine's Chocolate Weekend from Friday through Sunday. Sweets lovers will find a chocolate fountain, assorted chocolate desserts and made to order chocolate beignets.
The Buffet regularly features an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of varied dishes. Stations include Italian, Asian, Mexican, Salad Bar, American fare, a separate Pasta station and more.
There's a spacious dining area at The Buffet and most seats are not far from the food area.
For those starting with the salad bar, selections include everything from tossed salad, pickled herring, kidney bean and seafood selections to noodle, vegetable and other creations.
Guests can choose everything from tacos, beans, chips and salsa at the Mexican station to sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, salt and pepper shrimp, sweet and sour soup and more at the Asian station.
If you want helpings of meat, visit the carving station which usually features turkey and beef with prime rib on certain days.
Have your fill of mashed potatoes, corn, ribs, pot roast and other items at the American side of the restaurant.
Breakfast dishes are available during both breakfast and lunch hours.
And desserts are plentiful at The Buffet. Included on the list are hand-dipped gelato, chocolate cake, specialty pastries, cookies and much more. Look for a surplus of chocolate sweets this weekend.
Other special days at the eatery include Signature Seafood Buffet from 4:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and Sunday Supper from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every Sunday.
Gather for breakfast or lunch at The Pancake Club
Diners looking for a place to have breakfast, won't go wrong choosing The Pancake Club in Schererville.
The eatery, located in a strip mall on busy U.S. 41, has a cozy small town atmosphere and friendly servers.
During a recent visit to the restaurant on a recent Sunday morning, the eatery was packed. The hostess asked if we wanted to be seated at a booth or table so we chose a booth near the eatery's counter and open kitchen.
The Pancake Club features a setting akin to an old-fashioned diner where families and groups of friends can easily gather to enjoy a meal and conversation. Many diners in the restaurant that day seemed to know one another as they shared conversation across the various tables.
The restaurant's menu is fairly extensive and includes everything from specialty pancakes and waffles to Gourmet Burgers, Gourmet Sandwiches and Greek specialties.
For our breakfast, we decided on Crepes, ($7.99) which is one of the restaurant's specialties, and the Golden Malt Waffle ($6.19).
The Strawberry Crepes are served either stuffed with fresh strawberries or have fresh strawberries sprinkled on top. For my crepes entree, I had the crepes stuffed with strawberries and a side of strawberries sprinkled atop. As a berry fan, it was a perfect combo.
The Pancake Club's menu also features French Crepes ($6.49), which are ultra-thin; Country Skillet ($8.59); the Gypsy Skillet ($8.99); Omelets such as The Works ($8.99); Tex-Mex ($8.29); Hawaiian Paradise ($8.29); Eggs Benedict ($7.99); Breakfast Sandwiches, Wraps and various Breakfast Combos.
There are also items for healthy eaters under the For The Healthy Enthusiasts category. Dishes include Bill's De-Lite ($7.99); Veggie Omelet ($7.99); and Wheat French Toast ($6.99).
On the A Little Touch of Greece side of the menu, guests will find dishes such as Spinach Pie ($9.99); and Chicken Kabobs ($9.99).
Among other menu items are Chicken Caesar Salad ($8.99); Ham & Cheese Club ($7.99); Tuna Avocado Wrap ($8.99); and more.
The restaurant also features a Kids' Menu.
Pizza, pasta reign supreme at Giordano's
In July, Schererville became home to Northwest Indiana's first Giordano's.
The restaurant, which specializes in stuffed deep dish pizza, also features a full menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, Italian entrees and more.
Joe Chojnowski, owner of Schererville's Giordano's, said the local restaurant offers the same quality of food offerings found at all other Giordano locations.
"Everything gets delivered daily from the Giordano's commissary," said Chojnowski, who also owns Giordano's restaurants in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood and the South Loop.
The Schererville restaurant also features a large bar area with attractive decor throughout the eatery.
"We have 16 tap handles with domestic, imports and craft beers," Chojnowski said, adding a full line of liquor also is sold.
A neon Giordano's sign is featured at the restaurant and the year 1974 is emblazoned on a wall near the bar — 1974 is the year the restaurant was established in Chicago. The kitchen also features a large window so diners may watch as cooks hand toss the pizza and prepare other items.
The restaurant seats 270 with room for nearly 300 people when the eatery's patio opens in late spring/early summer.
Chojnowski said he's happy that Region pizza fans have had an enthusiastic response to the opening of Giordano's in Northwest Indiana.
The most popular item on the menu is definitely the stuffed deep dish pizza with other entrees, such as lasagna and spaghetti, ranking as favorites.
"Seventy-five percent of our sales is the deep dish pizza," he said.
Around Valentine's Day, Giordano's offers a special rendition of its pizza. Heart-shaped pizzas will be available Feb. 9 through 18 at the eatery. Cost for the heart-shaped creation starts at $19.25 for a cheese pizza.
"They're a big hit," Chojnowski said, about the heart-shaped pizzas.
Schererville's Giordano's will also be starting a full-delivery service soon. Currently, delivery is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch. Chojnowski said delivery is available to locations within a four-mile radius of the restaurant. Online ordering is also available.
Chojnowski described how Giordano's deep dish pizza is made daily on the premises.
"We start out with a layer of dough followed by meat (whatever meat customers choose) then it's covered with mounds of cheese, then another layer of dough and then sauce," he said.
"It's a pie-style pizza and every one is made to order," the owner said, adding it can take from 45 minutes to an hour to cook.
Among pizzas starring on the menu at Giordano's are different variations of the Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza; Hand-Stretched Thin Crust Pizza; Crispy Extra Thin Crust Pizza; and Thin Crust Gluten Free.
Other items on the menu include Tomato Bruschetta ($7.95); Fried Mozzarella Triangles ($7.95); Chopped Salad ($5.95/$11.50/21.95); Chicken Parmesan Sandwich ($8.95); Spaghetti with meat sauce ($8.95/$16.95); Lasagna ($10.95/$20.95); and more. Diners may also order from the Create Your Own Lunch portion of the menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Guests may pick a main course and one side for $8.45.
Reservations are not accepted on weekends at Giordanos, and during the week reservations are only accepted for parties of 10 or more.
Visit Sophia's for breakfast and lunch favorites
Sophia's House of Pancakes beckons food fans with a large menu of comforting breakfast and lunch dishes.
The restaurant, located on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland, may be known as a place to get a great pancake but many other creations at the local eatery stand out for flavor and presentation.
Sophia's menu stars various categories of food from Eggs, Eggs Eggs, and Fluffy Omelettes to Sizzling Skillets, Cool and Refreshing items, Open Face Sandwiches and Wraps-N-Stuff.
Visitors won't leave this restaurant hungry. Most portions are huge and will fill you up.
When we visited Sophia's on a recent Saturday afternoon, the eatery was filled with diners. At Sophia's, guests may order breakfast all day, so there were plenty of tables with egg dishes, pancakes, skillets and more.
Our lunch that day was the Chuck Wagon Skillet and the Popeye Salad. Both entrees were extra large portions. The Chuck Wagon Skillet featured a choice of eggs, potatoes, ham, corn, red peppers and a choice of pancakes or toast.
The Popeye Salad starred spinach, mushrooms, chopped bacon, tomatoes, red onion and egg with a vinaigrette dressing. Guests may choose a different dressing if they'd like as well.
Among other menu items available at Sophia's are Multi-Grain French Toast; German Pancakes; Bananas Foster French Toast; Silver Dollar Pancakes; Sophia's Crepes; Belgian Waffles; Biscuits & Gravy; Ribeye Steak with Eggs; and more.
In the South of the Border section, guests may order Huevos Rancheros or the Rio Grande Breakfast. Benedicts include the Seafood Benedict; Country Benedict and others.
The Skillets category offers a variety of flavors including Italian, Greek, Rajun Cajun and more.
Diners also may order Black Angus Burgers; Open Face Sandwiches such as Hot Beef, Pork Tenderloin and Meatloaf; as well as Triple Decker Clubs; Paninis, Croissant Sandwiches and much more.
In addition to the Highland location, Sophia's also has restaurants in Orland Park and Bolingbrook.
Bohemian Joe's beckons with convivial setting
If you're looking for flavorful dishes in an unpretentious setting, stop by Bohemian Joe's.
The restaurant, located on Torrence Avenue in Lansing, offers a varied menu with sandwiches, salads, specialty pizza, assorted appetizers and more. Many of the dishes have a different spin to them and are not items you'd find everywhere.
Bohemian Joe's has interesting decor throughout as it features geometric shapes on the wall as well as some retro designs.
Booth, table and bar seating is available at the eatery, which is housed in the former Popolano's restaurant that was a longtime Lansing dining spot.
When entering Bohemian Joe's, guests walk through a foyer first before stepping into the actual restaurant. There's a convivial atmosphere within the eatery. A separate private/party room is located in the back of the restaurant and there are TVs located in the bar and even slot machines in one corner of the eatery.
The restaurant is an ideal locale for diners of all ages with varied appetites. A children's menu also is featured at the restaurant.
Among favorite dishes at Bohemian Joe's is BBQ Mac ($11), which is the eatery's specialty mac and cheese layered with pulled pork. A tasty Honey BBQ sauce accompanies the dish.
Other items include Small Plates such as Beer Nuggets ($9); Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocado ($9); Beef and Mushroom Poutine, ($10); and Buffalo Curds and Cauliflower ($9).
In the entrees category at Bohemian Joe's, diners will find dishes such as Angry Chop ($18), which is topped with an Angry Orchard Hard Cider reduction and includes fried onion straws; Joe's Catch, ($11); Blackened Ribeye ($23); burgers such as Portobello Burger ($10); and BBQ Burger ($11); salads such as Grilled Sweet Potato ($10); Apple Feta ($10); and Citrus, Chicken and Quinoa ($12); and more.
Specialty pizzas include Hawaiian; Margherita; and Oinker (which are $15.99 for 12-inch; and $21.99 for 16-inch); and sandwiches such as Avotacos ($10); Joe Mama ($10); and Beef Manhattan ($10).
The restaurant also features a good-sized bar menu and Carry-Out food service.
Miner-Dunn offers a bit of nostalgia in setting and food
Diners looking for a retro feel won't mind stepping into Miner-Dunn for a meal.
The restaurant, located on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland, is an old-fashioned eatery with stools, a counter, booths and retro decor.
Miner-Dunn opened its doors in 1932 when Harold Miner and Ralph Dunn established the eatery on Calumet Avenue in Hammond. It's been a popular Region joint for burgers, fries, hot dogs, shakes and more.
The restaurant's reputation was built on what's called "real hamburgers" as the eatery's outdoor sign proudly proclaims. The burgers are hand-crafted on the premises. Other popular items include fresh-cut French fries, sherbet made in-house and homemade onion rings.
While visiting Miner-Dunn for a recent weekend late lunch, it was easy to feel as though you were stepping into a retro soda shoppe. Canned music played in the background and restaurant personnel were extremely welcoming.
We enjoyed a Chili Dog ($4.49) as well as a Mushroom Burger ($7.99 for deluxe). Deluxe orders come with French fries and the eatery's signature soft serve sherbet.
Among other items available on Miner-Dunn's menu are dinners such as Homemade Meatloaf ($8.99); Cod Dinner ($8.99); roast beef meals including Italian Beef ($5.99); French Dip ($5.99); Hot Beef Dinner ($8.99); and salads such as Chef's Salad ($7.69); and Grilled Chicken Salad ($6.99).
There's also a Kiddie Size menu category at Miner-Dunn, featuring such items as Burgers, Hot Dogs and Chicken Tenders.
Hamburgers are a specialty at Miner-Dunn and the restaurant's burger category stars recipes such as The Miner-Dunn Hamburger ($4.29); Western Cheeseburger ($6.69); Salad Burger ($5.09) and other dishes. On the sandwich list are items such as Egg and Cheese Melt ($4.99); BLT ($4.69); Turkey Club ($5.99); and a Meatloaf Sandwich ($5.99).
With the variety available at the eatery, guests likely will find something on the menu they like.
Italian cuisine stars at Frankie V's
Diners looking for a casual place to enjoy a good, hearty meal will be more than satisfied with a visit to Frankie V's Bar & Grill.
Frankie V's, on Calumet Avenue in Whiting, is housed in what was formerly Up For Grabs. The intimate pub-style eatery specializes in Italian cuisine.
Upon entering the small restaurant, guests walk right into the bar area with booths located across from the bar. Diners may choose to sit at the bar or at one of the booths to enjoy a meal.
We visited Frankie V's on a recent Saturday afternoon for a late lunch. Our booth was located near the door and across from a large-screen TV. Three televisions, displaying different programs, are set up in the bar area.
Spending time in Frankie V's, it's easy to feel as though you're in an old-time saloon from the 1950s or '60s. The day we visited, the waitress was attentive and gladly answered our questions about the menu offerings.
Various menu categories at the eatery include sections for Appetizers; Soups & Salads; Cold Sandwiches; Hot Sandwiches; Steaks; Pasta; and more.
After checking out the menu, we decided on an old-fashioned meaty offering: the Pork Chop dinner. ($8.95).
Visitors to Frankie V's will, no doubt, be pleasantly surprised at the serving sizes as well as the prices at the restaurant. The $8.95 price tag was a deal for the portion served.
The tender, juicy Pork Chop dinner came with two good-sized chops, a side salad, bread, a side of green beans, choice of potato (we chose baked) and a side of applesauce. There was definitely plenty to enjoy later at home.
Among other menu choices at the restaurant are Fried Calamari ($8.50 for appetizer); Toasted Ravioli appetizer ($6.95); Chicken Caesar Salad ($7.95); Chicken Vesuvio sandwich ($9.95); Meatball Sandwich ($8.95); The Ultimate Grilled Cheese, ($8.95) which is a triple-decker sandwich; Ribeye Steak ($23.95) for a 14-ounce steak; Chicken Dinner ($9.95); Spaghetti Carbonara ($10.95); Homemade Lasagna ($10); and more.
There often are specials featured on a board at the back of the eatery as well. Frankie V's also offers carry-out and delivery.
Enjoy Mexican favorites at Taqueria La Soga
Authentic Mexican food is what husband-and-wife Gilberto Munoz and Martha De La Torre wanted to bring to diners when they opened Taqueria La Soga.
The small eatery, located in Lansing, was established in November 2016. Taqueria La Soga is largely a carry-out restaurant but there are two tables and a small counter with stools where diners can sit.
At the restaurant, Mexican food fans can order all the traditional favorites from Tacos and Burritos to Tortas (which are sandwiches) Combination Plates and even breakfast items.
We visited the Taqueria on a recent Monday morning for breakfast. The breakfast items as well as other items were available to order at 10 a.m. that morning.
Our meal choice was Huevos Rancheros ($6.25). It was a fairly large serving and was accompanied by rice and beans. The eggs were ordered over-easy and were placed on top of two corn tortillas. The Taqueria's sauce was flavorful and not overly spicy.
Among other breakfast items on the menu are Huevos con Chorizo ($6.25); Huevos a la Mexicana ($6.25); Chilaquiles ($6.50); and more.
On the lunch and dinner menu, guests will find assorted tacos, including Carne Asada, Carnitas, Veggie and Lengua (tongue); as well as various sizes of Burritos, from mini to jumbo.
Various plate specials include Fajitas de Pollo (chicken); $12.25; Enchiladas ($9); Flautas ($9); Chiles Rellenos ($9.10); and more.
Listed under the Home Specials are items such as Gorditas ($2.50); Tamales ($1.25 each); Double Cheeseburger ($4.99); Chicken Wings ($5.50); and the dessert Flan ($3).
The Taqueria features a daily soup and on weekends sells Menudo. Specialty Mexican drinks at the eatery include Horchata, Jamaica and other offerings.
Appetizers include Guacamole ($5, with chips); Super Nachos ($6.10); and the popular Mexican Corn in a Cup ($2.50).
Taqueria La Soga also offers catering. Call the restaurant for more information.
Porkchop brings on the barbecue
Visitors to Merrillville have been anticipating the opening of one of Chicago's popular eateries.
Porkchop has finally come to the Region. The restaurant, specializing in barbecue, opened a week and a half ago at Southlake Mall.
The eatery, which has locations throughout Chicagoland and its suburbs, features a casual setting and Southern comfort food.
"Porkchop is a restaurant and bar that dishes out an urban interpretation of a Southern backwoods experience," according to the eatery's website.
We decided to check out Porkchop last Sunday for a late lunch. Walking into the restaurant, one definitely gets the feeling of visiting a Southern dining haven.
Wood and barbecue-themed decor is featured throughout the restaurant. A drawing of the parts of a pig stars at the entrance to the eatery.
After reading the menu, we decided on a pork chop meal with two sides ($19). We chose mashed potatoes and baked beans to accompany the dish.
Our wait for the meal was longer than expected. Because the restaurant had only been open for a week at that point, everything was a bit slower than usual. Servers and the manager on duty that day cordially apologized for the delay, adding that in addition to having recently opened, there was a large rush of customers that Sunday afternoon.
All dishes are made to order at Porkchop so customers can expect to wait a bit for their meals. Although it took awhile to get our order, we weren't disappointed with the quality of food served at the restaurant.
Other dishes at nearby tables also looked appetizing.
The pork chop, which was served with the bone out, was flavorful and perfectly charred. The baked beans at Porkchop are also unique in that the serving features a mix of beans - not just one type.
The mashed potatoes received praise at our table as well. When meals are served at Porkchop, guests are also given four sauces. Starring in the sauce department at the eatery are Texas, Chicago-style, Chipotle Bourbon and Damn Good. Our favorite was the Texas rendition, which was on the sweet side.
Among menu items at Porkchop are Starters such as Smoked Wings ($11); Mac & Cheese ($10); and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp ($12); and Entrees such as Smoked Salmon ($16); Shrimp & Grits ($13); Brisket ($12 for half) Chicken & Waffles ($15); Slow Smoked Pork Ribs ($17 for half) and more. Sandwiches, Salads and Desserts are also featured.
Aunt Sally's features full menu, inviting atmosphere
Diners looking for a cozy spot to enjoy breakfast or lunch will find it at Aunt Sally's in Calumet City.
Aunt Sally's, which is owned by the Sidkey Family, has drawn food lovers for decades. Breakfast, which the menu states is "served anytime," is definitely a specialty at the eatery. Everything from egg dishes, pancakes and French toast to waffles and more is available.
Walking into Aunt Sally's, customers will find a casual atmosphere with a homey setting featuring country-style decor and an open kitchen.
We visited the restaurant early on a recent Saturday afternoon. Customers filled the eatery and were enjoying various breakfast and lunch entrees and daily specials.
While the restaurant was packed with customers, we didn't have to wait for a table.
After surveying the menu, we decided on traditional Biscuits and Gravy ($5.49) as well as Homemade Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy ($8.39) and the Hot Beef Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy ($8.09).
The biscuits and gravy proved to be a satisfying choice as were the lunch options we chose. Aunt Sally's meatloaf, which was a hefty helping, was a flavorful dish. The Hot Beef Sandwich was also a large offering and starred a brown gravy, which also was featured as a gravy on the meatloaf.
Most dishes at Aunt Sally's are ample offerings and most diners will have enough to cart home for seconds.
Among other dishes on the restaurant's breakfast portion of the menu are Pork Chops and Eggs ($9.59); Corned Beef Hash ($7.79); Eggs Florentine ($8.39); Denny's Benny, which is a turkey Benedict ($8.09); Neptune Benedict ($8.79); and South of the Border Omelet ($8.69).
Lunch options include Farm Raised Catfish Fillets ($8.29); Hot Wings ($7.59); Cobb Salad ($7.79); Chicken in a Basket ($9.29); Aunt Sally's Build Your Own Burger (various prices); Chili Dog ($4.19); and more.
Menu items at Aunt Sally's also can be ordered for carry-out. Various daily specials also are featured at the restaurant.
Holiday decor stars at Teibel's
When diners make plans for lunch or dinner at Teibel's in the next month, they'll be surrounded by holiday decorations.
Teibel's, located at the corner of U.S. 41 and U.S. 30 in Schererville, has been known not only for its perch and fried chicken through the years, but also its lavish holiday decor.
Toy soldiers, trains, lights and other colorful decorations have been the norm at the family restaurant for the Christmas season. This season's decor will be displayed through Jan. 1.
Teibel's, which is open for lunch and dinner, debuted on the dining scene in 1929. The family eatery also features a catering menu as well as carryout offerings. A Cafe also is on the premises. Teibel's is available for banquets and parties as well.
During past interviews with Teibel's owners, they said the eatery's holiday decorations are a big draw. Repeat customers annually pay a visit to dine among the bright, festive decor.
On Teibel's menu guests will find everything from the signature perch and chicken to various daily specials. Dinner entrees include Roast Turkey, Walleye Pike Filet, Pepper Steak, Honey Sriracha Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Garlic Shrimp and more.
Entrees at the restaurant regularly come with a tossed salad or relish plate, roll, potato or rice and ice cream.
Guests also may order various combinations of food — for example, perch and chicken together. A children's menu also stars at the restaurant. On the kid's menu, diners can order items such as Chicken Strips, Sirloin Steak, Lake Perch and other offerings.
If you're looking for a casual meal with family and friends amid festive surroundings this season, Teibel's delivers on not only flavor but features a nice environment to hang out for a couple of hours.
Dragon Bowl offers blend of Asian cuisines
Fans of Asian cuisine will find an extensive menu of diverse favorites at Dragon Bowl in Munster.
The restaurant stars a blend of cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese and Thai. Guests will find dishes from sushi combination platters, bento boxes, rice dishes and soups to seafood and chicken entrees, vegetarian selections and more.
Dragon Bowl, located in a strip mall at Ridge Road and Hohman Avenue, is a small eatery with a comfortable setting. During a recent Sunday dinner at the restaurant, almost every table was taken by diners enjoying everything from Sushi to Hot Pots and Snack Wraps.
The restaurant's menu is extensive and features something for everyone. It was difficult to choose what we'd have for our dinner since the options were definitely plentiful and diverse.
We decided on Triple Delight, which is an item from the Lunch and Dinner Specials section. Most dishes under the Lunch and Dinner Specials include an egg roll, fried rice, side salad and a fortune cookie. It proved to be an economical dinner entree at a cost of $8.99.
Triple Delight features a mixture of beef, shrimp and chicken with various vegetables and served with a slightly sweet, flavorful sauce. We also enjoyed a Honeydew Smoothie with Tapioca (2.99) for small.
Among other menu categories at Dragon Bowl are a "Weight Watch" Selection featuring steamed choices; a Noodle Soup section; Sashimi and more.
Other dishes on the menu include Tuna Tataki appetizers; Hot and Sour Noodle Soup; Tofu Plate; Singapore Rice Noodles; Roast Duck; Orange Chicken; Salt and Pepper Shrimp; Pad Thai; Green Curry Chicken; and more.
The restaurant offers a Kids Meal menu for $4.99. A large selection of Fried Rice dishes star on the menu as well and include various dishes such as Hong Kong Fried Rice, Garden Fried Rice, Ocean Fried Rice, Dragon Fried Rice, Hawaiian Fried Rice and Mexican Fried Rice among others.
Fresh Fruit Smoothies include Lychee, Avocado, Blueberry, Mango, Watermelon, Green Tea and others.
Give yourself time to survey the menu at this restaurant. You'll likely want to make a return visit to the eatery as well to try many other entrees.
Siam Marina still turning out winning dishes
For two decades, Siam Marina has been a revered place for diners to satisfy their cravings for Thai cuisine.
The restaurant, owned by Chef Tammy Pham and her husband, Sapion "Sam" Chung, originally debuted on Calumet City's Sibley Boulevard in the early '90s. It later moved to a location at River Oaks Mall, and in November 2015, relocated to its current home in Tinley Park. The Tinley Park restaurant is now the only Siam Marina in existence.
Pham and Chung also own Asparagus restaurant in Merrillville, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Last weekend, Pham and Chung held a special anniversary party and dinner to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Siam Marina's original opening and the third anniversary of the Tinley Park eatery.
"I'm so excited about Siam Marina still being here and we're strong, healthy and every day I'm still learning something," Pham said.
She said she's "humbled" by the continued customer attention to her cuisine and that diners really like what's offered there.
"It's been a great journey," Chung said about the history of their restaurant. "We're glad to have our customers," he said, adding they're now seeing generations of customers coming out to enjoy the restaurant.
"This is overwhelming and beautiful," said Saffion Chung, about the anniversary party. Saffion, the son of Pham and Chung, who regularly helps his parents at Siam Marina, acted in the role of a young maitre d' for the special occasion.
The menu at Siam Marina stars a variety of dishes with Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian touches. Offerings include assorted seafood recipes, chicken, vegetarian options, rice and noodle dishes and more.
Pham said she's always experimenting with new recipes and enjoys delivering creative presentations on her plates. She also makes it a priority to use fresh ingredients and enjoys pairing different flavors and textures.
On the special anniversary multicourse menu, the chef presented a diverse selection of dishes.
Recipes included an Asparagus Crispy Roll as an appetizer; Sea Scallop Salad as the first course; and Duck Confit Martini as the second course. Five Spice Lamb Chops starred as the third course, while Pot de Creme au Chocolate ended the meal for dessert.
Customers dining at the restaurant when the chef isn't offering a one-night only menu will find a number of dishes on Siam Marina's regular menu. Among items on the regular menu are Drunken Noodles, Shrimp Rolls, Nutty Chicken, Pad Thai, Pineapple Fried Rice, Ginger Chicken, Spicy Baked Salmon, Cilantro Lime Tilapia, Peppercorn Pork, Pepper Steak and more.
Guests also will find an extensive bar menu at Siam Marina. Martinis are a specialty at the bar. The restaurant will present a Martini Tasting on Dec. 13.
Siam Marina regularly features special events, wine tastings, martini tastings, Jazz Nights and other happenings. Visit the eatery's website or call for information on upcoming events.
C & G offers homemade specialties in cozy setting
Residents of the South Chicago neighborhood long have frequented C & G Restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The casual family eatery, which was established in 1945, is owned by Tony and Rosalba Rodriguez, of Chesterton.
"We focus on good quality and everything here is homemade," said Tony Rodriguez, who is also the restaurant's chef. Rodriguez said what he strives to offer at C & G is "home cooking."
Prior to taking on the ownership role at the restaurant in 1989, Rodriguez worked as a cook at C & G beginning in the 1970s. He said he honed his craft and learned about the culinary art at the eatery.
The restaurant features full breakfast meals, lunch entrees, sandwiches, salads and burgers as well as various full dinner options. Daily specials often are available.
"I always try to experiment with something new," Rodriguez said, adding those new items often will be tried out as a special and occasionally will be put on the menu permanently.
C & G is located on busy 92nd Street, just off Commercial Avenue, not far from the Hammond border. Rodriguez said he often gets customers coming back to the neighborhood to enjoy a meal.
During a recent Saturday dinner at C & G, we took about 10 minutes to survey the extensive menu. We decided on the Grilled Liver and Onions ($10.50); and Grilled Catfish Primavera ($11.99).
Both entrees received positive remarks at our table. The liver proved tender and flavorful. The catfish was prepared with a delicious egg wash breading and also was served with a butter garlic pasta. Entrees are served with a choice of soup or salad, a potato (unless you're ordering a pasta dish), vegetables and a roll.
Among other dishes on the menu are Breaded Pork Chops ($13.99); Fried Chicken ($10.99); Chopped Steak ($11.50); breakfast dishes such as Cinnamon Raisin French Toast ($6.99); Veggie Crepes ($9.50); C & G Skillet ($10.99); Waffle and Three Chicken Tenders ($10.50); and other recipes.
Also featured are sandwiches and burgers such as French Dip ($8.50); Chicken Philly Way ($8.99); the Royal Burger ($9.99); Deli Burger ($9.50); and more. Salads include Breast of Chicken Salad ($9.50); Stuffed Tomato ($8.99); and Talapia Salad ($10.50).
C & G has an open kitchen and counter seating in addition to booths and table seating.
Spike's Lakeside features seafood, hearty meals
If you're looking for an old-fashioned home-cooked meal, head to Spike's Lakeside 2 in Schererville.
The restaurant, located on Joliet Street across from the Schererville Town Hall, features a cozy environment. On one side of the building guests will find the main dining room, while on the other side, Spike's features a large bar area.
Spike's Lakeside was previously located on Ewing Avenue on Chicago's East Side. Diners regularly frequent the eatery for various seafood meals as well as dishes such as Chicken Parmesan, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Pork Chops and more.
During a recent Sunday dinner we chose to sit at a booth in the dining room not far from the salad bar. Our waitress cordially greeted us while presenting us with a menu.
Various specials were written on a chalkboard at the back of the dining room. But we chose our meal from the regular menu.
After hearing that Spike's was popular with seafood fans, we decided to check out the fish offerings.
The waitress said the restaurant's Frog Legs had sold out for the day. So, we decided on the Coconut Shrimp ($18.95) and the Chef's Whitefish ($15.95).
Both came with the all-you-can-eat Salad Bar, which featured everything from leaf lettuce to broccoli and cheddar salad, coleslaw, kidney bean salad, peaches, pudding and more. The salad bar with all its fixings and the various dinner menu items were reminiscent of what you might find on a supper-club-style menu.
Both the Coconut Shrimp and Whitefish were served with a slightly sweet orange sauce and also came with a choice of potato.
Among other dishes featured on the menu at Spike's are Breaded Pork Chops ($15.95); Boneless Lake Perch ($20.95); Catfish Strips ($13.95); Crab Cakes ($15.95); Chicken and Ribs Combo ($19.95); Grilled Chop and Seafood Combo ($20.95); and more.
Burgers and various sandwiches are also served at the restaurant. Among sandwiches are BLT Club ($12.95); Blue Gill Sandwich ($10.95); NY Strip Steak Sandwich ($10.95); and Smoked Turkey ($7.95).
An assortment of appetizers, soups and salads also are featured.
On Thursdays and Sundays, Spike's Lakeside 2 offers 25 percent off a diner's entire bill for lunch or dinner.
Sunday brunch stars at Center for Visual and Performing Arts
When it comes to Sunday brunch, diners appreciate variety.
At The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, the popular Sunday brunch stands out for variety, quality preparations as well as attractive food presentations.
The Sunday Champagne Brunch has been starring at the center since 1989.
Whether guests choose to enjoy their meal before a scheduled Sunday show at Theatre at the Center or just want to attend the regular Sunday Brunch there, diners will find much to choose from on the buffet menu there.
The weekly brunch, and other culinary-themed events at the center, are now presented by Trama Catering. Joe Trama is the executive chef of Trama Catering, while Hugo Perea stars in the role of the center's head chef.
Visitors to the center's brunch enjoy their meal in the main banquet room or on the Woodside Terrace, weather permitting. Live piano music is featured throughout the meal.
During a recent Sunday brunch we sat near the carving station. Trama was in attendance at the brunch and he oversaw the meat carving.
The brunch is an all-you-can eat meal. Chefs and servers quickly replenish the offerings throughout the event.
During our brunch, offerings included egg dishes, bacon, sausage, various salads, gelatin creations, cheese and fruit trays and much more.
On the lunch side of the table, guests this past Sunday found a special Chicken Coq au Vin recipe, which proved tender and flavorful. Lemon rice soup also was featured as well as mashed potatoes, a beef dish, rice pilaf and other recipes.
The dessert table was filled with assorted cakes, fruit, various mini sweets and Baked Alaska.
Trama said they regularly rotate dishes on the brunch menu and he likes to highlight assorted dishes that are classic recipes and those dishes you don't see too often. He said this past brunch featured two specialty recipes — the Coq au Vin and the Baked Alaska — which are not often seen on many Sunday brunches.
Besides the Sunday brunch, the center presents other meal events, including Culinary Nights and more.
Restaurant Scene: Build your own pizza at MOD
HIGHLAND — Pizza long has been considered a food conducive to creativity. Of course, there's the tried and true cheese version, cheese and sausage or pepperoni, which are all favorites with pizza fans.
But if you want to get a little more creative with your pizza order, pay a visit to MOD Pizza. The eatery, located in Highland Grove Shopping Center, opened this summer. It's the first MOD Pizza to be established in Northwest Indiana.
Known as a "fast-casual" chain, MOD stands for made on demand. The company is based in Seattle and specializes in custom artisan-style pizzas.
Think a Subway or Chipotle-style restaurant for pizza lovers. Diners can get as creative as they'd like when they order from MOD. Various specialty pizzas star on the menu. But, if you'd rather not choose from one of those, you can create your own meal by picking from more than 30 ingredients to top your pizza.
We visited MOD on a recent Sunday afternoon and ordered a few offerings. Pizzas come in the popular 11-inch MOD size; a 6-inch Mini or the Mega double 11-inch crust.
Our order consisted of the 11-inch Dominic, ($7.87), which is listed under the MOD Classic Pizzas category. It featured white sauce, fresh chopped basil, asiago, mild sausage, red onion and tomatoes. We also ordered a 6-inch Mini ($4.87), which was a Build-Your-Own creation and the MOD Garlic Strips ($2.97).
On the Build-Your-Own creation, we chose an assortment of ingredients including chicken, kale, pineapple, corn, onion, broccoli, red sauce and more. In addition, MOD's Garlic Strips were a perfect appetizer and we used red sauce and Ranch as dips for them.
MOD's pizza features a slightly crispy crust. The pizza is baked in a gas-fired 800-degree oven and orders are ready in minutes allowing MOD to advertise that pizza is ready "super-fast."
With the variety of ingredients available, it's obvious the possibilities of pizza creations are endless. During our visit, one of the workers said she's amazed at the possible combinations diners come up with.
At MOD, customers may add as many toppings as they'd like and still pay $7.87 for the 11-inch; and $4.87 for the Mini.
Among items on the MOD menu are Classic Pizzas called Mad Dog, Lucy Sunshine and Jasper as well as Salads, Cinnamon Strips and various drinks including assorted lemonades and a delicious Caramelized Pear Iced Tea.
Burgers, wings and more star at Jimmy's
Visit Jimmy's in Munster for any number of dishes from hearty burgers, Philly sandwiches and wings to salads, pizza and more.
The fast-food eatery, which is decorated like an old-fashioned diner, is situated on Ridge Road in a strip mall. Jimmy's interior is bright and fun and features booth, table and stool/countertop seating.
In the restaurant, diners will find sleek looking black and white tables which feature writing on the tabletops. Upon entering Jimmy's, diners can survey the large menus hanging on the walls and then order at the counter.
Jimmy's menu states that burgers are favorites with Jimmy's Burger Single ($4.99) and the Godfather Burger ($7.99) being among popular items. The Godfather Burger also stars Italian beef, cheddar cheese, American cheese and hot giardiniera.
During a recent dinner visit to the eatery, we ordered a Philly Steak sandwich ($6.99); the Jimmy's Original Burger Double ($6.99); and a Vanilla Milkshake ($4.99)
The Philly Steak sandwich proved to be a filling choice and featured grilled onions, green pepper, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese. The sandwich also comes with an order of French fries and a drink. Jimmy's Original Burger also features grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo ketchup and mustard.
While patrons can enjoy their meals at the restaurant, Jimmy's also does a large carry-out business.
Jimmy's menu is diverse and features a number of popular items including the Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($4.99); Buffalo Philly Chicken ($5.49); Turkey Burger ($4.99); Gyros Sandwich ($5.99); Grilled Chicken Salad ($5.99); Vienna Corned Beef Sandwich ($6.99); and much more.
The eatery also stars a Mexican menu with Tacos, Burritos and Doritos Nachos as well as various Pizzas from BBQ Chicken and Sausage to Philly Steak Pizza. Sweets include slices of cake, cheesecake or cookies in addition to shakes.
The restaurant also includes a number of daily specials.
Aurelio's in Munster still serving up favorites
A special anniversary was celebrated last week at Aurelio's in Munster.
The popular pizza chain, which got its start in Homewood, in 1959 is marking its 35th anniversary in Munster. Aurelio's has three family-owned locations in Chicagoland and 42 franchise locations in six states.
Munster's Aurelio's is a casual eatery featuring old-fashioned jukeboxes at many of the tables as well as a large jukebox in the middle of the main dining room. Tiffany-style, colorful lamps also are featured throughout the pizzeria.
We visited Munster's Aurelio's on a recent Sunday for a mid-afternoon lunch. The restaurant wasn't crowded at that time, but diners slowly began to fill up the eatery by 4:30 p.m.
As we surveyed the menu, we decided to have pizza, of course. In addition we opted for one of the Italian entrees on the menu.
Our pizza choice was the Thin Crust Lil' 6" with sausage and onion ($6.75). For the entree, we chose the Chicken Parmesan ($13.50).
Aurelio's thin crust pizza stands out for its crunchiness and its slightly sweet sauce. The Chicken Parmesan, which came with a choice of pasta (we picked spaghetti), was a hefty helping featuring a boneless breast of chicken, baked mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.
The eatery's menu stars various pizza styles, including the Thin-Crust, Signature Pizzas and Stuffed Pizzas. Among Signature Pizzas at the restaurant are Spinach, Taco, Chicken, Hawaiian and others.
Diners also may order Mama Aurelio's Spinach Calabrese, which is crust stuffed with spinach and mozzarella cheese.
Among salads on the menu are Buffalo Chicken Salad, Aurelio's Cobb Salad, Fresh Spinach Salad, Caesar Salad and more. Appetizers include Poppers, Onion Rings, Toasted Ravioli, Tomato Bread, Loaded French Fries and other dishes.
Customers also may order sandwiches, including the Italian Combo, Ham Sandwich, Homemade Meatball Sandwich or Italian Beef.
Aurelio's also offers catering, a Take-N-Bake uncooked pizza for home and the option to mail a pizza to a friend or family across the country.
Johnel's offers diverse menu in Hammond
Whether visiting Johnel's restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner, diners won't be disappointed with the culinary selections offered on the large menu.
Johnel's, located off Calumet Avenue in the complex that also features Dynasty Banquets and the Ramada Hotel, features a menu with everything from traditional breakfast fare to specialty burgers, sandwiches, dinner combination plates and assorted desserts made in house.
The decor in Johnel's is warm and inviting and features American-themed decorations. There's even a small replica of the Statue of Liberty standing outside the restaurant and a few American flags decorating the exterior of the building.
Once indoors, guests will feel as though they've stepped into the warm atmosphere of someone's home. Servers are friendly and often visit the tables to check on diners.
We visited Johnel's on a recent Sunday morning. The restaurant was filled with the after-church crowd who gathered with families and groups of friends to enjoy one of the eatery's hearty breakfasts.
Diners also may order non-breakfast items all day at the restaurant.
After perusing the menu, we decided to try a few items. We chose the Cheese Omelet ($5.35) and the Athenian Chicken entree ($12.95).
Both received praise at our table. The omelet was a hearty helping served with hash browns. The Athenian Chicken (which takes about 20 minutes to prepare) proved to be a flavorful Greek-inspired recipe featuring half of a chicken cooked in lemon, olive oil and Greek herbs. Diners have a choice of potato with an order of Athenian Chicken. We chose the Greek potatoes, which were prepared with Greek seasonings as well.
A salad with homemade Creamy Garlic dressing and a dessert (our choice of Coconut Cream pie) accompanied the chicken entree.
Among other dishes featured on the menu at Johnel's are various breakfast items from eggs, waffles and skillets to pancakes and French toast. Lunch and dinner items include Julienne Salad ($9.25); Cold Salmon Plate ($8.95); Beef and Swiss Club ($8.25); a Bacon Bleu Burger ($9.85); Turkey Bacon Wrap ($9.95); New Zealand Orange Roughy ($17.95); Chicken Piccatta ($13.95); Shrimp Stir Fry ($12.95); Vineyard Chicken $13.95); Greek Steak ($19.95); Baby Back Ribs ($20.95 for a full slab); and much more.
Johnel's also features daily specials. Call the restaurant to inquire about the specials menu.
Blue Chip's buffet offers 'Options'
Visitors to Blue Chip Casino's Options Buffet will regularly find an array of dishes, food stations and special dining themes.
Blue Chip Casino is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. During its two decades of operation, the casino has presented a variety of food offerings at assorted restaurants on the property.
At Options Buffet, diners surely will quell those hunger pangs as the restaurant features everything from good old American fare, seafood offerings, Latin-themed dishes and Asian recipes to various salads, side dishes and desserts.
During a recent Saturday visit to Options for the restaurant's weekly Prime Rib and Crab Legs Night, the buffet was packed with diners. Every Saturday, the eatery offers all-you-can-eat prime rib and crab legs for $34.99 per person.
The Prime Rib and Crab Legs Night begins at 3 p.m. every Saturday and a great number of diners begin start in line about a half hour before it opens. So there's usually a good sized line to enter Options. The wait isn't too long, though, and the line continues to move swiftly immediately after the doors open.
Our dinner began with Crab Legs, which were served with freshly drawn butter. We later enjoyed a slice of prime rib and also tested various side dishes such as potatoes au gratin, corn, broccoli and more.
Also enjoyed were tastings of Asian dishes, strip steak, a made-to-order salad from the chef-manned salad station and assorted desserts.
At the dessert bar, guests may also get ice cream and Root Beer Floats or Orange Dreamsicle Floats.
Among other specially themed dinners at the buffet are the Chuck Wagon BBQ on Thursdays ($24.99), which features items such as BBQ ribs, chicken, pork brisket and more from 3 to 9 p.m.
Other options include the Blue Chip Brunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays ($18.99); the 777 Sunrise Special Breakfast ($7.77); and the Butcher's Block Buffet Special ($24.99) starring pork, chicken, beef, kabobs and other dishes. Visit the casino's website at bluechipcasino.com to get information on other themed meals and additional restaurant specials.
Island cuisine stars at cafe
If you're looking for a taste of the islands, visit Cool Runnings in Michigan City.
The cafe, located on Center Street, features a cozy Caribbean-style setting, which easily makes one feel like you're on vacation.
Cool Runnings specializes in Jamaican cuisine with Jerk Dishes, Curry Dishes, Stewed and Fish Dishes among other offerings on its menu.
We visited the restaurant on a recent Sunday afternoon. The weather was pleasant with a slight cool breeze and we almost chose a seat on the back patio to enjoy our lunch. But we decided to sit at the "Montego Bay" booth near the open door. (All of the tables are named for places in Jamaica, which is a nice touch).
Hues of green, other bright colors and various plants decorate the eatery. The window view looks out toward the tower of the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa while on the other side, diners can see a woodsy area across the street.
The day of our visit, the TV at the bar featured the Chicago Bears football game. Piped-in music played in the background as well.
After surveying the menu, we decided on a traditional Stewed Dish. Our choice of Stewed Chicken ($12) received praise at our table for its tender meat and slightly spicy flavor. The dish was served with red beans and rice and a choice of a side. Our side of Candied Yams was sweet and filling.
Among highlighted dishes on the menu at Cool Runnings are Reggae Wings ($8 for the appetizer); Salmon Salad ($14); Jerk Burger ($10); Jerk Taco ($9); Vegetable Stir Fry ($15); Rib Tips - Jerk Style ($16); Goat Curry Dish ($18) Oxtail Stewed Dish ($20); and more.
Fish dishes include Whole Red Snapper ($22); King Fish ($18); Shrimp Stir Fry ($18); and others.
On the Sides menu, guests will find everything from Steamed Cabbage ($4/$7) to Mac & Cheese ($4/$7); and Fried Plantains ($4/$7).
Cool Runnings offers a pleasant culinary getaway in the Region so don't hesitate to plan a visit to the eatery.
Seafood and more stars at World Famous Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant
Diners who have a taste for seafood and much more won't go wrong visiting the World Famous Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant in Portage.
The restaurant, which is located in Bass Pro Shop, features a full menu with everything from seafood, steak and pasta to burgers, salads and sandwiches.
Islamorada is translated to "Purple Isle." As guests enter the eatery, they'll find a nautical/beach theme featuring a 13,000-gallon salt water fish tank and fish decor on the walls.
The restaurant's menu features a good selection of dishes and surely has something for everyone - even if you're not a seafood fan.
During a recent visit the Uncle Buck's Fish and Chips ($13) proved a winner at our table. The fish was flaky and the breading was flavorful and not greasy. On Fridays, guests may order all-you-can-eat Fish and Chips for the same price.
The Smoked Fish Dip at the restaurant is always a welcome addition to any table. It's served chilled, with crackers and cucumbers. Different fish are often featured in the dip.
Burgers are popular at the restaurant as well. Among highlighted burgers are The Tournament Burger ($10); Wild Boar Burger ($15); Quinoa Black Bean Burger ($11); Build Your Own Burger ($11) and others.
Among other dishes available at Islamorada are Pecan Smoked Barbecue Pork Sandwich; Cajun Catfish; Honey Sriracha Salmon; Venison Stuffed Mushrooms; Fish Tacos; Alligator Mac & Cheese; Shrimp Alfredo; Fried Pickle Fries; Tropical Salad and more.
If you're a sandwich fan, you'll also find selections such as a Cuban, Caprese Chicken and Shrimp Po' Boy.
Sunrise stars varied menu of favorites
Residents of the Region regularly gather for a meal at Sunrise.
The family restaurant, located on 119th Street in Whiting, has a full house of diners for breakfast, lunch or dinner daily. During mid-morning breakfast hours on Sundays, the eatery is particularly busy with after-church diners and others looking for a substantial meal.
At Sunrise, guests may enjoy breakfast all day as well as assorted dishes from egg recipes, burgers and sandwiches to full meals, seafood, steaks and chops, Greek specialties, Mexican fare and more.
We visited Sunrise on a recent Sunday for breakfast. There was a line of people waiting to get tables that morning, but we only waited 10 minutes to be seated.
Service is usually quick at Sunrise and waiters/waitresses are always pleasant — a welcome nicety, especially in the morning.
After checking out the menu, we decided on the Cheese Omelet ($4.79), The Melting Pot Skillet ($7.39);and a side of Oatmeal ($2.09).
The Melting Pot is one of the popular skillets at Sunrise and rightfully so. It's a delicious blending of ham, bacon and sausage topped with rich American, Swiss and Cheddar Cheese. It also features two eggs, cooked any style, hash browns and onions. On the side, guests may have either toast, two pancakes or French toast.
Sunrise's oatmeal is also a winner for its tasty flavor and a chewy consistency. It's served with sides of brown sugar and cinnamon.
There are many choices on the menu at Sunrise. Among categories of food are sections for croissant sandwiches; Hot 'n Hearty sandwiches such as Hot Roast Beef; Hot Turkey and Hot Hamburger; Skillets, including the Farmers, Greek, Italian, Country and Veggie; Wraps; Pasta; Salads; and more.
On the Greek Town portion of the menu, diners will find dishes such as Beef Shish-Ka-Bob and Broiled Athenian Pork Chops while the Viva Mexico menu category stars Chicken or Beef Fajitas, Tacos and Fajita Wraps.
Various specials appear daily on the menu, including special discounts for senior meals.
Other items featured at Sunrise include Bar-B-Que Ribs; Chicken Marsala; Cowboy Chicken Breast; Roast Loin of Pork; Stir-Frys and other items.
Sunrise also offers carry-out service and has gift certificates available.
Town Club celebrates 70th anniversary
Care to enjoy a classic steak and old-fashioned cocktail in a comfortable setting with a retro feel? Visit The Town Club Steak and Seafood Restaurant in Highland for your next leisurely dinner.
The restaurant, owned by Mark Hines, was originally established in 1947. Hines and his wife have owned the eatery since 1988. Town Club is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary with meal specials through Sept. 15.
Diners who enjoy a supper club atmosphere will find it here. Town Club's menu features a variety of steaks, chops, seafood, poultry and more.
Anyone visiting the restaurant through Sept. 15 will find a diverse selection of favorite menu items available for the anniversary price of $19.47. Nineteen dinners star at that price, which is reflective of the year the eatery opened.
"I picked out the things most people like the most," said Hines, about the special menu items.
On the $19.47 special menu are dishes such as Famous Frog Legs; Indiana Farm Raised Duck; 10-ounce Ribeye Steak; the new 14-ounce Prime Cut Bone-In-Chop; Grilled Orange Roughy; Famous Donut Shrimp; 1/2 Rack Baby Back Ribs and Shrimp; Canadian Lake Perch; and more.
Upon entering The Town Club, guests easily feel right at home as owner Hines is usually the person that greets and seats you. The servers are always welcoming too and nicely engage in small talk if you're so willing.
Guests may choose to sit in the bar area or the dining room.
In a past interview, Hines called The Town Club "the oldest restaurant under one name, under one roof in Northwest Indiana."
Hines said he's grateful for the loyal customers he's welcomed to the eatery through the years.
"If (people) don't support the mom and pop restaurants, they're not going to be here," he said.
In addition to the 70th anniversary specials, there are also occasional and regular specials. Every Wednesday is Taco Wednesday and Hines highlights a taco recipe that has been served since 1959.
It's a custom for The Town Club to offer a special Lobster Night every year. The event Live Maine Lobsta Night is scheduled for Sept. 9. For $49.95 a person, guests will get a full meal. Call the restaurant for more details.
All dinners at the restaurant are served with the signature relish tray. And a children's menu, featuring items such as Mac & Cheese, Hot Diggity Dog, Chicken Morsels and other dishes, can be found at Town Club.
Among other items on the restaurant's menu are Sandwiches, such as The Town Club Steak Sandwich ($11.95); Big Bertha ($8.95), which is a beef sandwich; Lake Perch Sandwich ($8.95); and others.
Prime Rib, a selection of appetizers, soups, salads and other meals are in the spotlight daily. A fully stocked bar with martinis, bourbons and more also is featured.
Plan a couple of hours for your dinner here. You'll want to linger a bit to enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere.
Healthy fare is in the spotlight at Third Coast Spice Cafe
Third Coast Spice Cafe in Chesterton stars an assortment of flavorful creations on its menu.
The eatery's menu has breakfast specialties as well as lunch recipes, from soups to salads and hot entrees and other items.
Owners of Third Coast Spice Cafe, which has been around for eight years, are Lisa and David Wodrich. The couple has made it a point to serve healthful foods at the restaurant. Many items are conducive to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
According to the restaurant's website, one of the Wodrich' mottos is "Eat well, feel great." They consider Third Coast a "New American Diner" and cater to all types of eaters including "Vegans, Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, Tree Huggers, Gluten sensitive people, people with allergies and hungry kids."
Third Coast's menu is an interesting read itself as dishes have creative names. You may want to order recipes such as Gravy Train Bowl, Sunrise Commuter Sandwich or Mayflower Madness.
Diners who like omelets can choose from renditions such as the Southwest, Florentine, Garden and others. If those don't strike your fancy, try a Build Your Own Specialty Omelet ($10.45).
When ordering the Build Your Own Omelet, you're allowed to pick as many ingredients as you want in creating the breakfast goodie.
Among ingredients are Caramelized Onions, Lemon Garlic Broccoli, La Mesa Mushrooms, Kalamata Olive Relish, Assorted Fresh Vegetables, Artichoke Hearts, Poblano Pepper Sauce, and much more.
Other menu items diners will find at the eatery are Corned Beef Hash egg dish ($10.45); Morning Glory Flapjacks ($9.45); Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast ($10.25); Mom's Grilled Cheese ($8.95); Build Your Own Buffalo Burger ($11.25); and more.
Griddle Sandwiches, Salads, Soup and Sandwich Combos and other dishes are also available.
On the beverage list are drinks such as Homemade Lemonade; South Shore Punch; Acai Plus Smoothies; Maine Root Sodas; and others.
Restaurant Scene: Gorditas in the spotlight at Mexican eatery
Diners with a penchant for a gordita should make plans to visit Loli's on Chicago's Southeast Side.
Loli's, located on 106th Street, not far from the Hammond border, specializes in gorditas, which is a Mexican treat made from masa. A gordita, a thick, tortilla-like pastry, can be stuffed with various ingredients from meat and veggies to beans and grains.
Gorditas actually can be made in various sizes. At Loli's, they are medium-sized and come with an assortment of creative fillings.
We visited Loli's recently for an early Wednesday dinner. At the eatery, customers may order at the counter and carry out their food or take a seat at one of a half-dozen tables to enjoy a meal.
The small eatery's decor features rich colors and a few Mexican-inspired wall hangings.
While the majority of the menu stars gorditas of all types, Loli's also serves burritos; menudo (on Sundays); barbacoa (on Saturdays and Sundays); quesadillas; steak and brisket tacos; aguas frescas (fresh fruit juices); and other beverages.
For our dinner, which we ordered to take home, we chose an assortment of gorditas, including the Deshebrada En Salsa Roja (Shredded Beef in Red Sauce); Asada Con Queso (Steak with Cheese); Discada (Meat Lover); and Papas Con Queso (potatoes with cheese). Most of the gorditas are $1.95 with some on the vegetarian side of the menu running $2.30.
The Meat Lover gordita featured a good amount of pork, beef and sausage. What ranked as our favorite for flavor was the potato and cheese rendition. All of the gorditas are served with a choice of green or red sauce or a combination of both sauces.
Among other gorditas on the menu are Steak with Poblano Peppers; Ground Pork Meat; Cactus with Egg in Red Sauce; Beans with Cheese; Pork Meat with Red Sauce; Ricotta Cheese; and Mushroom.
Aguas Frescas on the menu are Horchata; Guayaba (Guava); and Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower).
Stop in for an out-of-the-ordinary treat.
Restaurant Scene: Gayety's a haven for sweets
Summer is always prime time for ice cream. But, in the Region, sweets lovers can stop in for their ice cream and candy fill at Gayety's year-round.
Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream, located in Lansing and Schererville, has been serving up sweet treats for the past nine decades.
The shop was established in the South Chicago neighborhood in 1920. It later moved to Lansing and also now has a location in Schererville.
Gayety's offers all sorts of sweet delights, including hand-dipped chocolates, ice cream sundaes, an assortment of candy, shakes, malts, ice cream cones and more.
Guests may order items to carry out or dine in at the ice cream joint. When weather permits, there also are tables outdoors to enjoy. Gayety's customers must order at the counter and then sit down to eat or take the treats home.
Items included on the sundae menu at Gayety's are the popular Hot Fudge; The Lover's Delight, which features a fruit salad topping; Banana Split; The Muddle Sundae; Pecan Sundae; Hot Fudge Brownie; The Gayety's Special with three scoops of ice cream, fruit salad, whipped cream and other ingredients; and more.
During a recent visit to Gayety's in Lansing, we ordered the Lover's Delight, which was a hit at our table for its addition of fruit salad and fresh whipped cream.
Many of Gayety's sundaes come in both full and half portions. The ice cream orders are always fairly large portions and many customers often have enough to enjoy at home if they're dining in. Simply take your leftovers up to the counter and you're given a container to cart the goodies home.
Other items found in Gayety's cases include Truffles, Coconut Candies, Muddle Pecan Caramel Candy, Gourmet Popcorn, Caramel Apples and more. There are also sugar-free candies available.
Restaurant Scene: Outstanding burgers and more featured at Octave Grill
Whether you'd like a hefty burger, creative sandwich or another interesting dish, Octave Grill is the restaurant for you.
The small eatery, established by Casey and Sylvia Petro, is located in Chesterton on quaint S. Calumet Road in the town's downtown.
Burger lovers will find that the menu stars an impressive selection of the popular food item. Sandwiches, salads, creative appetizers and desserts also star on the menu.
We visited Octave Grill on a recent Saturday afternoon. The small eatery was pretty full but there were a few empty tables. Many times customers have to wait awhile for a table but we didn't that day. We were seated promptly in the middle of the room.
From where I was sitting, I had a perfect view of the chalk board which featured specials such as the Burger of the Day, drink specials and a trio of decadent-sounding desserts.
We ordered the Sloppy Joe ($8.50), which proved to be a tasty sandwich featuring Tallgrass beef with cheddar, grilled onions and housemade sauce on a brioche bun. For dessert we enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Brownie ($5) with Cookies and Cream Gelato and Stout Hot Fudge.
The restaurant also offers a good selection of appetizers including Goat Cheese Fondue ($8.50); Blistered Edamame ( $4.50); and Taco Tots ($5).
Also featured on the menu at Octave Grill are The Figgy Piggy ($10.50); Fried Cheese burger ($11); Hamburguesa ($10.75); Cuban sandwich ($9); Southern Fried Chicken sandwich ($9); Beer Mac and Cheese ($9); Perch Cake Dinner ($13); and more.
The eatery has a lively atmosphere with conversation and piped-in music filling the air.
All burgers at Octave Grill are made with Tallgrass Beef, which is a grass-fed, grass-finished beef company owned by newscaster Bill Kurtis.
Casual menu, attractive scenery star at The View
Whether you're looking for a place for a quick luncheon or an eatery to sit and linger for awhile, you'll find it at The View.
The View, off Calumet Avenue, at the Clubhouse at Munster's Centennial Park, is open daily for lunch and dinner. Visitors to The View will find the restaurant has a type of off-the-beaten-track atmosphere.
Patrons who have been golfing at the course at Centennial Park or employees of nearby businesses will find it's a perfect spot for a substantial meal.
Whether one chooses to sit inside or at the outdoor tables, diners will have a beautiful view of the park's Maynard Lake and its fountain from the restaurant. Also in view are Centennial Park's entertainment stage, boardwalk and gardens.
We visited The View on a recent Friday for lunch. Orders are taken at the walk-up counter and guests can then choose a table. We chose a table outdoors and waited about five minutes for our food.
Our meal began with French onion soup. Though the soup was a bit on the salty side, it featured a nice amount of cheese. The entree was a Chicken Salad Sandwich ($6.99 for full, $4.99 for half), which one of the servers recommended as a favorite. The View's chicken salad received a thumbs up at our table and was served with house-made potato chips.
On The View's menu are items such as a Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($6.99); Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6.99); assorted Sliders, $3 each; Centennial House Salad ($6.99 or $4.99 for half; and different daily specials.
Among daily specials, available for dine-in only, are $1 hot dogs and $2 light (beer) cans on Mondays; and 50-cent wings and 50 percent off craft (beer) cans on Thursdays.
The restaurant also offers special weekly items. Items included in that category are Sandwich of the Week; Pizza of the Week; and Taco of the Week. A Soup of the Week is always available for $3 a cup.
Mexican flavors star at Casa Vieja
The aroma of fresh Mexican cuisine easily beckons diners while walking into Casa Vieja Mexican Grille.
The restaurant, owned by Pedro Mendez, opened last year on Joliet Street in Dyer.
Casa Vieja, which translates to old house, features a variety of dishes starring everything from tableside guacamole and queso fundido to burritos, flautas, various enchilada preparations and much more. The owner's family hails from the state of Jalisco in Mexico and many of the dishes sport names representing that Mexican region.
We visited Casa Vieja on a recent Wednesday evening. The restaurant's decor was pleasant with various Mexican pictures, knick knacks and other decorations featured throughout. Piped-in Latin music played that night which made the visit pretty festive.
After looking at the extensive menu, we chose the Enchiladas Suizas ($10.49). We also ordered the Horchata ($2.59), a rice milk drink. The enchilada dish came with rice, lettuce, sour cream and tomato.
Three enchiladas were featured in the order and included a beef tips, shredded chicken and cheese enchilada. Instead of a traditional red sauce, Casa Vieja Enchiladas Suizas are topped with a green tomatillo sauce. The sauce wasn't too spicy. The shredded chicken enchilada preparation stood out for its slightly sweet flavor, which was a favorite at our table. The Horchata drink was fairly large but didn't have enough of a sweet rice taste.
Among other menu offerings at Casa Vieja are Tilapia San Juan ($13.99); Camarones Rancheros ($15.99); Veggie Fajitas ($12.49); Spinach Enchiladas ($11.49); Guadalajara Especial ($10.49); Del Mar Bowl ($15.99); Birria Jalisco ($13.99); Flan ($3.99); Fried Ice Cream ($4.19); 3 Leches Cake ($5.99); and more.
The restaurant also offers various food and drink specials. Specialty Margaritas star daily at the eatery. Casa Vieja also features a three-course meal daily for $14.99. A special children's menu also is available at the restaurant.
Restaurant Scene: Region Ale stars Taco Tuesdays
Diners looking for tasty dishes and a selection of brews will want to plan a visit to Region Ale.
Region Ale Tap House and Eatery, located in Schererville's Boulevard Square Shopping Center, opened in 2016. The restaurant/tap room boasts a casual and inviting atmosphere with a menu starring a good collection of dishes and 50 taps, which are rotated daily.
On the eatery's website, owner Steve Martinez states "Region Ale is a vibrant place where young meets not so young, affluent meets modest, sophisticated palate meets novice and all are welcomed through a unique craft bar experience."
We decided to check out Region Ale on a Tuesday evening. We'd heard it was a hopping place for tacos on a Tuesday. Many restaurants now feature Taco Tuesdays where they come up with special prices and promotions for the Mexican specialty. Region Ale has a popular Taco Tuesday, especially since its offerings are pretty creative.
For our dinner, we decided on the Fried Pork Belly and Chicken tacos. Both were served on a soft flour tortilla, as all the tacos are. The Fried Pork Belly was a crispy offering which was embellished with a slightly spicy Korean style Slaw. The Chicken taco starred Cotija cheese, which is a hard cow's milk Mexican cheese. Tacos are $7 for two and $10 for a serving of three. Add a side to the two-serving taco dinner and the cost is $10. If you add a side to the three-taco offering, the cost is $13.
Our side choice during that visit was the Sweet Potato Fries, which paired nicely with the slightly spicy Fried Pork Belly taco.
Other tacos available are the Steak, Seared Tuna, Veggie, Short Rib and Carnitas.
Among other menu offerings are Craft Your Own Mac and Cheese ($14); Rabbit and Dumpling Pot Pie ($16); IPA Cheese Fondue, as a starter ($6); Chiles of the World, ($9), which is a flight of salsas; Piggy Burger ($14); Korean Short Rib Sandwich ($12); assorted Soups, Salads, Flatbreads; and more.
In addition to 50 daily taps, Region Ale also offers a selection of wines. Call the restaurant for more information, specials and events.
Freddy's Steakhouse still a popular local haunt
Care to dine in a supper club-like setting?
In the Region, Freddy's Steakhouse in Hammond remains a favorite for steaks, chops, seafood and other dishes.
The restaurant, which has been a staple in the Region for more than four decades, features a diverse menu for lunch and dinner.
Located on Kennedy Avenue, Freddy's Steakhouse sports a classic retro-style atmosphere that also is comfortable for family dining.
Walking into Freddy's, you'll immediately feel as though you're walking into a supper club-type of eatery with its dim lighting, combination of booth and table seating and quaint decor.
We visited Freddy's on a recent Wednesday for an early dinner. Our hostess asked if we'd like to sit in the regular dining room or the section across from the bar. We chose the bar area because it had a few TVs. Several people sat at the bar while a few tables in the bar area and several in the back dining room also were occupied.
It took awhile to survey Freddy's menu because there's a nice selection of dishes. While the steaks are the highlight here, many other entrees sound quite appetizing.
We decided on the Butcher Cut Sirloin Steak ($22.95). The steak was 11 ounces and proved juicy and flavorful. All dinner entrees come with a relish tray, salad, soup, choice of potato and bread basket.
Freddy's creamy garlic dressing for the dinner salad was a slightly sweet creation. The bread was served with a honey butter, which also paired well with the baked potato.
Among steaks featured at Freddy's are the Freddy's Signature Steak, which is a Black Angus Bone-In Cowboy Ribeye ($38.95); Filet Medallions ($23.95); Porterhouse ($29.95); and more.
Other menu items include Greek-style Red Snapper ($22.95); Frog Legs ($18.95); Chicken Kabob with Rice Pilaf ($15.95); Baby Back Ribs ($15.95 for a half slab); and other dishes.
The restaurant also features daily specials as well as bar food specials. Freddy's also highlights an extensive bar menu featuring wine, beer and specialty cocktails. Call the restaurant for more information.
Restaurant Scene: Create your own picnic meal at Charcuterie
GRIFFITH — Foodies interested in creating a lunch or dinner meal for a casual setting or a picnic need only visit Charcuterie for ideas.
Charcuterie, located on Broad Street in downtown Griffith, offers a variety of gourmet products, fresh deli meats, imported and domestic cheeses, jams, wines, specialty snacks, candy and other assorted items.
The gourmet business was established last year by Valerie Gonzalez and Skip Jones. The couple's goal was to offer a variety of upscale and out-of-the-ordinary products that consumers couldn't easily find in the area.
Shoppers also will find that Charcuterie carries items and specialty products from local manufacturers such as Crown Brewing, Mother Wilma's Marshmallow Factory, Sprigati Spaghetti Sauce from Munster, Bnutty peanut butter and others.
While Charcuterie is not a restaurant, sandwiches are made on the premises for customers to carry out. We visited the specialty shop on a recent Friday afternoon and purchased an assortment of items for a casual picnic-type lunch.
The offerings for our casual picnic were a Pastrami and Swiss Sandwich on Marbled Rye ($7.99); Pineapple Coleslaw ($2.84 for a container); and a container of House Made Bruschetta ($4.55). We also bought a package of Life of Provence Cocktail Party Toast ($1.99) for the bruschetta.
To drink, we purchased Crown Brewing's Orange Dream soda ($1.99); and Craft Root Beer ($1.50), which is made in Rosemont.
The sandwich was a delicious combination of quality meat and cheese with all the usual fixings such as lettuce, tomato, onions and mayo — other additions also are available. The bruschetta was a standout for its slighty sweet flavor. The balsamic wasn't too sharp or tangy.
Crown Brewing's orange beverage is similar to the nostalgic Dreamsicle ice cream treat in flavor.
Among other sandwiches available at Charcuterie are Ham and Muenster on a Rustic Hero Roll; Roast Beef and Cheddar on a Rustic Hero Roll; and Roast Beef and Cheddar Sauce on an Onion Roll. All sandwiches are $7.99.
Charcuterie also offers sandwich platters and meat and cheese boards that can be ordered in advance for parties and gatherings.
It's easy to get creative in putting together a meal from products available at the specialty shop.
Steel City Grill delivers a mix of offerings
Steel City Grill has been serving up an assortment of entrees, sandwiches, salads and other dishes for a little more than a year in Gary.
The restaurant, which is on the second floor of Majestic Star Casino, is a small, casual eatery where guests can either dine on the premises or carry out their meals.
Diners will find most dishes are made to order at the eatery. Items such as cakes, pies and other snack-type offerings are already prepared and guests can quickly "grab and go" if they'd like any of those dishes.
Steel City Grill patrons may simply walk up to the counter, place an order and then wait anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes for the meal to be prepared depending on the food choice.
Once the meal is ready, the patron's number is called and diners must then pick up their orders at the counter. There are about a dozen or so tables located in the grill if casino visitors prefer to dine inside the restaurant.
During a recent Sunday dinner visit to Steel City, we ordered the 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs along with Sweet Potato Pie.
The ribs were tender and served with a slightly sweet/slightly spicy sauce. The entree came with a medium-sized helping of French fries. All of Steel City's entrees come with fries, except for Pizzas. Diners will find that many of the food items have clever names that evoke the steel industry.
Among items on the menu are Cline Avenue Sandwich ($7.95); Blast Furnace Philly ($8.50); Cold Rolled Steel Club ($8.25); and Steel Worker Steak Sandwich ($9.95).
Other dishes include Catfish dinner ($14.50) Breaded Shrimp ($7.95); Whole Pizza ($19.95); Beef Cheddar Melt ($7.95); and Chopped or Greek Salad ($8.95 each).
The restaurant's decor highlights photographs of the area's steel mills and mechanical "work shop" designs from the mills. The photos are from the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest Library.
Many of the servings at Steel City Grill are decent when it comes to size. So guests will probably not leave the restaurant hungry.
Seafood offerings plentiful at Harbor Point
Food lovers with a craving for seafood may want to visit a local fish house for a sample of its fare.
Harbor Point Shrimp House & Seafood, located in Burnham, Illinois, features a varied menu starring everything from shrimp, lobster and jambalaya to chicken wings, red beans and rice and assorted desserts.
The restaurant, which features only carry-out, is housed in a small building. After surveying the menu on the wall, customers walk up to the counter to place their orders. Most orders are prepared in a timely fashion.
During a recent visit to Harbor Point, we didn't have to wait very long for the food to be prepared. For our early dinner on a recent Sunday afternoon, we ordered the Shrimp Dinner ($8.65) and a Tilapia Dinner ($6).
Both preparations were fried and served with French fries, a roll and a side. As our side, we chose coleslaw, but potato salad was also available.
Both the shrimp and tilapia had a medium batter, nothing too heavy or greasy. The meals were flavorful and were served in ample portions.
Harbor Point is located on normally busy Torrence Avenue. It's not far from the recently opened Torrence Avenue bridge, which has been closed for nearly two years. Seafood fans and the operators of the business, I'm sure, are pleased to have the bridge back in working order making the eatery more accessible to people.
Among menu items at Harbor Point are Orange Roughy Dinners ($9); Jumbo Chicken Wing Dinners ( $5.75); Crab Chips Dinners ($9.15); Catfish Dinners ($7); and more.
Also featured are Lobster Mac and Cheese, ($5.95); Fried Lobster Tails ($28.50); Seafood Gumbo ($5.50 and $10.50); Fried Alligator ($8.20 for small); as well as assorted desserts and sides.
Various cakes for $3.95 a slice and Key Lime Pie, Cheesecake and more are available.
Additional items to accompany a dinner include fried okra, fried mushrooms and fried clam strips among other dishes.
Seafood fans may easily get hooked on the menu here.
Jodi's Italian Ice expands menu
Creative Italian ice concoctions have been in the spotlight for a few years now at a small shop in Hammond.
Jodi's Italian Ice, owned by Brian and Jodi Tillman, debuted in the summer of 2014. The couple wanted to offer the "water ice" treat that Brian enjoyed while growing up in Philadelphia.
With Jodi's love for blending flavors and coming up with creative recipes, the couple's "ice" shop began to draw fans. Jodi, who still always experiments with new recipes has created everything from mango, strawberry and coconut flavors to more unusual Swedish Fish, Nerds and Sour Patch Kids renditions. (Many of the flavors are rotated at different times and for different seasons, so customers may want to call to see what's currently on the list.)
At the Hammond shop, a variety of ices and gelatos are served as well as various food items. The couple also own a Munster location of Jodi's Italian Ice. (No food is available at the Munster location.)
Among various flavors of ices often on the menu are Pina Colada, Horchata, patterned after the popular Mexican rice water drink, Green Apple, Mangonada, which combines sweet and spicy, Banana, Mint Chocolate and more.
During a past interview, Jodi said her motto revolved around trying to "combine flavors until I find a combination that matches." Two of the newer flavors are Rainbow, combining 3 to 4 flavors, and Key Lime Gelato.
Currently, popular food items on the menu are Hoagies and Philadelphia Cheese Steaks, which are fairly new on the menu. There are no preservatives or stabilizers in Jodi's Italian ice. The product is also lactose-free.
"Our original idea was to offer a taste of Philly," said Brian. So, it was only natural that Hoagies and Philly Cheese Steaks made it onto the menu.
Brian and Jodi said they want to offer the authentic Philly-style sandwiches but also want to accommodate what Region customers want in their sandwiches. So, if people want more of one ingredient or want to leave out some items, they need only ask.
More than a House of Pizza
While pizza put House of Pizza on the food map, much more than the popular pie stars at the restaurant.
House of Pizza, located on Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond, was established in 1954. The eatery features not only a variety of pizza recipes, including Gluten-Free Cheese Pizza, but an assortment of other goodies such as wraps, salads, sandwiches, paninis, ribs, broasted chicken and other specialty dinners.
It was Dante Zunica who originally opened the restaurant in Northwest Indiana. Zunica had a standout recipe for homemade sausage. The pizza also featured what was called a pressed crust, making the crust thin and crispy.
We visited House of Pizza on a recent Wednesday for dinner. There were plenty of customers in the house that night, with some diners sitting in the bar area, others in the main dining room as well as some in the back party room.
There was a real family atmosphere during our visit as there were diners of all ages enjoying pizza and other entrees. The restaurant sports TV sets in various rooms so diners don't have to miss an important sporting event they may be interested in.
Our waitress requested beverage orders while she promptly delivered menus to the table. Anytime you're in House of Pizza, it's difficult to bypass the flavorful pie. So, we tested a few different entrees as well as a pizza.
The pizza choice ($13.50 for a large) during our visit was what some may think of as a Hawaiian style with pineapple, green pepper and the addition of shrimp. The shrimp added a slightly different but flavorful touch to it.
To start the meal, we ordered Fried Green Beans ($7), which came with Ranch dressing as well as a slightly sweet marinara. Also ordered was the Chicken Vesuvio ($12.95). The Vesuvio entree also came with a choice of soup or salad. The dinner salad proved to be a large portion. House of Pizza's house dressing, a ranch with bacon in it, received praise at our table. While the restaurant's creamy garlic, which is also homemade, was delicious, their ranch/bacon combo was a standout.
The restaurant's Chicken Vesuvio featured a chicken breast, rather than pieces of chicken, served with roasted potatoes and an olive oil/ garlic-based sauce.
Among other dishes in the spotlight at the eatery are Breaded Cauliflower Bites; Chicken Waffle appetizers; Potato Skins; Mesquite Chicken Salad; Black and Bleu Salad; Meatball Sandwich; Pot Roast Sandwich; Jerk Pear Wrap; House of Pizza Lasagna; Angel Hair with Tomato Wine Sauce; Vegetable Panini; BBQ Burger; Lake Perch; and more.
Go back in time at Schoop's
Retro is the operative word for the scene diners will find at Schoop's in Munster.
The restaurant, located on Ridge Road, features '50s-inspired decor and a fun, whimsical atmosphere. Old-fashioned jukeboxes at each table, booths, counter-seating and an ice cream shop are featured at the eatery.
Patrons will definitely feel like they're stepping back in time while walking into the eatery.
During a recent Thursday dinner visit to Schoop's, the restaurant, which has three rooms for seating, was bustling with diners of all ages.
A variety of tunes played on the jukeboxes during our visit. Everything from Elvis songs, to Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Beatles were heard.
Schoop's features a menu which stars burgers, salads, soup, sandwiches, ice cream, milk shakes and more.
For our dinner we chose the Schoop's Mickey, ($6.89) which is one of the signature burgers with two slices of melted American cheese with all the fixings. We also tried a bowl of homemade chili ($3.79) and a side of French fries ($1.99 for a small portion).
All Schoop's burgers are unique in that they're extremely flat. In the Mickey, the burger spilled over the sides of the bun and was well flavored. The chili had a good serving of meat included and was delivered to the table with steam coming from it. The French fries weren't greasy and were also piping hot. We had to wait awhile before everything cooled down to begin eating.
Among dishes on the menu at Schoop's are Grilled Chicken Salad ($6.99); Irish Nachos ($5.69), which are French fries topped with melted cheddar cheese, bacon bits, scallions and ranch dressing; the Special Hamburger ($8.69), loaded with "twice the meat."; Bacon Double Cheeseburger ($11.78); Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich ($5.69); B.L.T. ($5.59); Tuna Melt ($5.59); Polish Sausage ($2.99); and more.
On Schoop's Soda Shop menu, diners will find various Milk Shakes (assorted prices); Banana Splits; Sundaes and other sweets.
Kid's Meals are also featured at the restaurant.
In addition to the Munster location, there are also Schoop's restaurants in Portage, Lowell, Hammond, Merrillville, Hobart, Crown Point, St. John, Highland, Whiting, Michigan City, Valparaiso, Schererville and Calumet City among others.
Jalapenos offers variety on popular menu
Diners will easily enjoy a taste of Mexico at Jalapenos in Schererville. There are assorted creative dishes to test at the eatery.
The restaurant, sporting the full name of Jalapenos The Hottest Mexican Restaurant, is located on Indianapolis Boulevard. With its varied menu and colorful decor, Jalapenos always seems to have a party atmosphere.
Even visiting the restaurant between lunch and dinner will find it bustling at times. We dined at Jalapenos on a recent Wednesday for a late lunch. Our table was located in the bar area. At Jalapenos, diners also can be seated in the main dining room away from the bar. In warmer weather, the restaurant also has outdoor seating.
It can take a bit of time to check out the menu if you're not familiar with it. There are many offerings on the menu and it can be difficult to narrow down what you'd like to enjoy here.
Lunch choices at our table were the Taco Salad ($9.99) and the Spicy Buffalo Wings ($7.99). Both were perfect dishes for a late lunch/early dinner. The Taco Salad featured braised chicken, beans, lettuce and tomato. The seasonings on the chicken were high in the flavor and weren't very spicy. Diners who want more heat can add Jalapenos' salsa to the dish.
The Spicy Buffalo Wings were definitely spicy, extremely flavorful and tender.
Jalapeno's menu also features Guanajuato Steak ($19.99); Seafood Burrito ($14.99); Lobster and Steak Platter ($24.99); Spinach Enchiladas ($11.99); Citrus Steak Tacos ($12.99); Queso Fundido ($9.49); Fajita Quesadilla ($10.99); Mario's Garden Tacos ($10.99) and more. Breakfast items also are available at the restaurant.
Margarita fans will find plenty of flavors to try at Jalapenos. Among Margaritas are Very Berry, Cherry Pop, Green Iguana and Coco Loco.
The restaurant also celebrates special event nights at the eatery, including Trivia Night on Mondays; Karaoke Night on Tuesdays; and occasional live entertainment. Call the restaurant for more details.
Variety stars on Sheffield's menu
Sheffield's Restaurant in Dyer features something for all appetites.
The restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is conducive to dining with family members of varying ages. There's also a sports bar on the premises, which has a separate entry.
Diners can enjoy breakfast items through 4 p.m. at the restaurant. But lunch and dinner items are available all day.
Sheffield's has a fairly local clientele who visit the restaurant regularly. During a recent Thursday lunch, our friendly waitress addressed a table of customers who had obviously dined frequently before as they commented about what they liked about a previous meal.
The waitress said breakfast was a popular time at Sheffield's. The eatery features assorted egg dishes, six different omelets, breakfast burritos, pancakes. waffles, French toast, crepes and more for breakfast.
For our lunch visit, we ordered the Fried Chicken Dinner ($9.95) and the lunch special Tilapia ($7.95). The Tilapia proved a healthy choice as it was broiled and also sprinkled with various seasonings, including paprika. We chose a side of Sweet Potato Fries to accompany the dish.
The Fried Chicken was a large portion and came with one side. Garlic Mashed Potatoes was the side enjoyed with the chicken meal. We also ordered dinner salads, which were large enough to be entree salads. A flavorful creamed onion soup preceded the chicken dinner and was a hit at the table.
For lunch and dinner, diners will find assorted meals on the menu, including Lake Perch ($16.95); Chicken Parmesan ($12.95); Hot Turkey ($8.50); 12-ounce Ribeye Steak ($18.50); and more.
Sandwiches and Burgers include Breaded Chicken ($7.50); 4 Cheese Grilled Cheese ($4.95); Pork Tenderloin ($7.50); Monster Burger ($11.95); Hot Texan ($7.95); Batter Stuffed Burger; and other choices.
You won't go away hungry consuming a meal at Sheffield's. In fact, you'll probably cart leftovers home.
A unique spin on tacos
If you're looking for creative taco recipes, make plans to visit El Hefe De Tacos in Highland.
The taco restaurant, located in what was the former Brown's Chicken building on Indianapolis Boulevard, opened a few months ago. Its name, El Hefe, translates to "The Boss" of tacos. On the menu at the eatery, people will find an assortment of not only tacos but burritos, soup and salad, appetizers and sides.
Though the menu isn't huge, the taco offerings are surely creative and feature out of the ordinary ingredients as it relates to crafting tacos.
We visited El Hefe De Tacos for lunch on a recent Wednesday. The restaurant had a steady stream of business. There were patrons visiting to dine in, while others were taking orders to carry out. There's also a drive-thru window, which that day also had a steady stream of business.
The only draw back to our dining experience at the taco eatery was that we had to wait awhile for our order. Once our food was delivered to the table, though, we were satisfied with the variety of flavors and creativity of our meal.
Our lunch that day consisted of the Taco Dinner (which offered a choice of two tacos) ($8.95) and was served with rice and beans. The tacos chosen were Charbroiled Steak and Pulled Honey Brined Chicken. Rice and beans (served in refried fashion) received positive comments at our table for their flavor.
We also tried the Crispy Veggie Taco ($3.50); Loaded Elote ($2); and Steak Taco Salad ($9). The Crispy Veggie Taco was a hands-down winner for flavor as it had tempura zucchini and cauliflower, avocado and roasted corn relish, garlic aioli and radishes on a corn tortilla. The Loaded Elote or corn was served in a bowl with all the garnishes, including a blend of mayo, a sprinkling of red chili and other ingredients.
Among other items on the menu at El Hefe are Asian Steak Tacos ($3.50); Hangover Helper Aka Chilaquiles ($3.50); Bloody Mary Tacos ($4); and a Chile Relleno Taco ($3.25). Appetizers on the menu include Beer Battered Cheese Curds ($7); and Loaded Guacamole ($9).
When it comes to tacos, the Mexican specialty is definitely in a category all its own here.
Tandoor offers taste of India
The culinary offerings of India feature a varied and delicate blend of seasonings, spices and flavors.
Local diners will find a good mixture of traditional dishes at Tandoor Cuisine of India in Schererville.
The restaurant, which has indoor and outdoor dining, weather permitting, plus banquet, party and catering services, has a welcoming, relaxing environment.
Tandoor's decor is attractive with oranges, purples and rusts throughout and assorted Indian decorations featured as well.
Two years ago, Tandoor Cuisine of India underwent a renovation and diners now have an expanded area to enjoy their meals. The eatery is much bigger than it was and the decor was updated extensively.
During a recent Sunday afternoon at Tandoor, we leisurely enjoyed a late afternoon meal. After checking out the menu offerings, we decided on one of the specialties of the house.
We ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala ($14) along with basmati rice. Other items we chose were Naan bread ($3); Vegetable Samosas ($5); and Masala Tea ($2).
The Chicken Tikka Masala, which is a chicken breast cooked in a tandoor oven and served in a slightly spicy cream sauce, proved flavorful and filling. The Vegetable Samosa also received positive remarks at our table. Three samosas were served in the order.
Tandoor's Masala Tea was a unique drink featuring black tea with aromatic spices and cream.
Among other items starring on the menu are Tandoor Chicken ($18 for a full order); Ginger Chicken ($14); Fish Tikka ($18); Lamb Bhuna ($15); Goat Curry ($15); Shrimp Vindaloo ($18); Bengal Fish Curry ($19); Peas Pulao ($8); and more.
Desserts include Gulab Jamun ($4), which is a light pastry dipped in sweet sauce; Mango Ice Cream ($4); and Kheer ($4), which is Indian pudding with mixed nuts.
Diners interested in visiting Tandoor in the middle of the day should take note that the restaurant is closed from 3 to 5 p.m. daily. In addition to its regular menu, the restaurant also offers a buffet. Call for more information on the buffet.
Traditional Polish food offered at Hammond deli
Eastern European fare takes a starring role at a local Hammond deli.
MJ Polish Deli features Polish dishes and other Eastern European specialties. Owner Mariola Magana and her husband purchased the business a decade ago in Hammond.
The business actually has been in existence for 20 years under other owners. It's been important for Magana to celebrate and promote the cuisine and assorted food specialties of Poland through her shop.
At the deli, Magana offers a variety of food stuffs including fresh sausages, sandwiches, pierogi, soups and stews, salad and more. Polish pastries and sweets, such as specialty candy and poppy seed bread, also are featured.
For Magana, keeping the Polish traditions alive when it comes to the food arena is of utmost importance.
With Easter less than a week away, Magana is selling holiday-related items at the shop. They include Easter tablecloths, runners and place mats as well as painted eggs and Easter baskets, which were made in Poland.
During a recent visit to MJ, we tried one of the sandwiches, which featured Polish ham, Muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It was a simple yet flavorful sandwich and was a good size. The Polish word for sandwich was recently written on the chalk board of the deli encouraging patrons to "Try a Kanapka." The pierogi at MJ is also a favorite and extremely tasty.
Magana said she's now carrying panini sandwiches. Among new sandwiches are the Hot Reuben; Ham Melt; and Turkey Melt.
Carry-out orders are popular at MJ, but those wanting to dine in can sit at a table in a corner room of the business. The dining area has Polish decor on the walls and on shelves, including dolls and other decorations.
Besides food, customers also can purchase everything from trinkets to greeting cards at the store.
Step into MJ Polish Deli for a little taste of Poland. Spending even 15 minutes in the shop offers a delightful little tour and a bit of an ethnic history lesson.
Get a taste of Mexico at La Fogata
Diners who have a taste for authentic Mexican food should pay a visit to La Fogata Taqueria in Hammond.
The restaurant, which was established four years ago on Calumet Avenue, features flavorful dishes and a colorful atmosphere.
Recipes featured at the restaurant include a mix of traditional Mexican fare such as fajitas, tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas and an assortment of other delicious dishes.
Diner guests will find unique items such as the Quesadilla La Fogata, which stars cheese, steak, cabbage and tomato; and the Alambre, a dinner plate starring bacon, steak, ham, green peppers, green onion and cheese.
A lunch buffet is also in the spotlight at La Fogata and features foods such as rice and beans, ribs with green sauce, chicken and mole and other dishes.
Walking into the restaurant, guests will see a rustic atmosphere featuring bright colors. La Fogata is translated as bonfire in Spanish. Logs are placed around the eatery as decorations and there's even a statue of the Virgin Mary situated in the corner of the restaurant.
During a recent Sunday morning breakfast at La Fogata, we enjoyed Juevos con Nopales (cactus), and Chicken and Mole.
Among items on the menu are Juevos con Nopales, which is cactus; Chicken and Mole; Huevos Rancheros; Queso Fundido; Carne a La Tampiquena, which is broiled skirt steak; Burrito Dinners; Shrimp Cocktail; Seven Seas Soup, featuring assorted seafood; and much more.
Plan to visit La Fogata for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You won't be disappointed with the quality or variety of items on the menu.
International buffet in spotlight at Four Winds
Diners who'd like to take a culinary tour around the world will enjoy a meal at The Buffet at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.
The restaurant, featuring a spacious dining area and various food stations, is a comfortable destination. Simply named The Buffet, the eatery offers lunch and dinner daily and brunch options on the weekends.
During a recent luncheon visit to The Buffet, we made it a point to pace ourselves while enjoying the unlimited, all-you-can eat feast. We were seated in an area that wasn't too far from the Italian station featured at The Buffet. So, we started our lunch there.
A vegetarian slice of pizza was a good start and proved to be an ideal appetizer. A selection of salads followed, including a kidney bean creation, pickled herring, smoked whitefish, tossed salad, fresh beets and roasted mushrooms, which were quite meaty and filling.
Diners visiting the Mexican station at the eatery will find everything from make-your-own tacos to burritos, beans, chips and salsa and more.
While passing the carving station, it's difficult to choose from the hefty pieces of turkey, beef and prime rib on display.
The American station features items such as old-fashioned mashed potatoes, baked beans, pork ribs, chicken pot pie, pot roast and more.
If you have a taste for Asian fare, you'll find everything from egg drop and hot and sour soup to salt and pepper fish, egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken and more.
There's also a pasta station where diners can request what they'd like put in their pasta dish.
During lunch hours, guests can also enjoy breakfast items such as biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and other dishes.
Desserts run the gamut at The Buffet. There's everything from Four Winds chocolate cake to delicate looking pastries, Rice Krispies treats and hand-dipped gelato. One of the specialty gelatos featured during our meal was a sweet blood orange creation.
Diners won't go hungry at this restaurant.
John's menu stars much more than pizza
Whether you have a taste for pizza or other Italian fare, the Original John's Pizzeria is definitely worth a visit.
The restaurant, located in Munster, has a history that goes back seven decades. Region natives will remember the eatery when it was located in downtown Calumet City.
The Original John's Pizza had its start in 1943 and was established by Phil Bacino. John's was a popular dining haunt beginning in its Calumet City days. It was well known for its unique brand of pizza as well as pasta dinners, Chicken Vesuvio and other entrees.
John's sausage pizza is still one of the top sellers at the restaurant. When making the sausage for pizza, John's cooks put the meat through a grinder and then they crumble the meat and sprinkle it over the pizza along with seasonings, cheese and sauce.
At John's, patrons can dine in beginning at 4 p.m. daily. Those customers who'd like to order lunch from John's may do so earlier in the day as the eatery opens its carry-out section for lunch at 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays; at 3 p.m. Saturdays; and at noon on Sundays.
Among the variety guests will find on John's menu are Sausage Pizza ($14.75 for a small); Broasted Chicken Dinner ($9.50); Sauteed Shrimp ($17.95); Marinara Pasta ($9.95); Baked Penne ($11.95); Pasta with White or Red Clam Sauce ($18.95); Hot Stuffed Banana Peppers ($9.50); and Zeppole ($5.25). One of the specialties at the restaurant is a delicious Chicken Vesuvio ($17.95), which has long been known as a Calumet City favorite.
John's Chicken Vesuvio is always a hit for its tender serving of chicken, an olive oil/white wine and garlic sauce blend and potatoes.
Diners will also find various sandwiches, salads, appetizers and assorted pastas on the menu.
John's features various weekly specials. The restaurant also offers a delivery service.
Marilyn's Bakery a quaint, cozy cafe
Walking into Marilyn's Bakery and Cafe is like entering the home of a friend.
The small bakery/cafe is located on the premises of Johnson's Strawberry Farm in Hobart. The business got its start in 1986 by Marilyn (Johnson) Pearson.
Today, guests can order everything from cakes and baked goods to savory items at the popular bakery.
During a drive down Ridge Road, the bakery is easily seen as it stands right next to Johnson's Strawberry Farm.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon we visited Marilyn's for a relaxing lunch. While the actual cafe menu isn't massive, it does feature a variety of sandwiches, soups and various other items, including pastries, teas and coffee.
Immediately upon walking in, the waitress asked if we wanted a sample of one of the soups of the day. We chose the beef vegetable, which was homemade and had a rich, flavorful broth.
That taste helped to cinch my soup choice for lunch. I chose the lunch special ($9.95), which included the vegetable soup, a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant and a chocolate mousse pastry for dessert.
Marilyn's chicken salad proved to be one of the best around. The mixture was flavored with a variety of seasonings and also featured a slightly sweet taste as well.
The mousse was a favorite at our table, too.
While visiting the bakery, it's a pleasure to view the sweets in the display case. Everything from pies and gourmet cakes to other pastries are featured.
Cake flavors include Devil's Food Chocolate, Carrot, Banana, Mandarin Orange, Coconut and more. Among fillings customers may order are Lemon Curd, French Silk Mousse, Raspberry Jam, Banana and others. Frostings include everything from Salted Caramel and Swiss Buttercream to Dark Chocolate Ganache, Lemon and more.
On the pie menu are flavors such as Caramel Apple, Blueberry, Strawberry Rhubarb, Blackberry, Cherry Crumb and others.
Sugar-free pies are also available.
At Marilyn's, fresh and local ingredients are of great importance to the bakers and cooks. Stop in at the bakery/cafe for a pleasant and tasty meal.
H. Dog still offers Wednesday deal
With all the talk of fish fries in the Region lately, why not think about visiting a good old-fashioned hot dog joint?
Scherville's H. Dog features a variety of fast food treats including everything from hot dogs, hamburgers and specialty sandwiches to salads.
The eatery is located in Town Square Shopping Center. A special feature at the restaurant is the mid-week special called Weenie Wednesday. Diners may order hot dogs for 99 cents all day every Wednesday. The 99 cent special is also offered from 3 to 4 p.m. every day.
The Weenie Wednesday has been a popular promotion for years at H. Dog.
H. Dog originally debuted in Valparaiso more than 10 years ago. The hot dog shop is known for using fresh ingredients. Cooks also hand cut beef and make their own seasoned Italian beef recipe.
Those dining at the restaurant will find a casual setting with decor that's stamped with a Chicago theme, including special posters on the wall. While visiting the eatery, guests will find many families dining on everything from burgers and fries to appetizing salads. During a recent visit to the restaurant, service was prompt and the employee taking our order was pleasant.
Among items on the menu at H. Dog are a Triple Decker Burger; Jumbo Chili Cheese Dog; Italian Sausage with Peppers; Gyros; Chicken Sandwiches; and Fish Sandwiches.
Salads include Chopped, Greek and Caesar. Among other items found on the menu are Chili Nachos and much more.
Dante's House of Pizza offers appetizing lunch buffet
Whether you have a craving for pizza, pasta, or a meat entree, pop into Dante's House of Pizza for lunch.
The eatery, located on 45h Avenue in Munster, has pizza in the spotlight but everything from ribs, pasta, broasted chicken, homemade soups and more are available at the popular restaurant.
Food fans who want to enjoy a luncheon buffet will find a good one at the pizza haven. Guests can sample a bit of what's popular at Dante's by frequenting the buffet. Dante's luncheon buffet is presented from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Guests may also order from the regular menu at that time.
During a recent Monday visit to Dante's for the buffet, we found an assortment of fare included in the spread. There was, of course, pizza. That day the pizza was sausage and also pepperoni. And, it's an all you can eat buffet, so it's easy to keep coming up for more.
Two soups - creamy mushroom and baked potato - were also featured. Pizza, soup, salad, an entree and dessert are alwaysavailable during the lunch buffet. Throughout the time we dined, servers continued to replenish the buffet and they do so up until the time the buffet closes.
Also included that day was a tasty meatloaf as well as assorted salads and luscious desserts. Every Monday, meatloaf is the starring entree on the buffet. Call the restaurant for what's available on other days.
Cost for the buffet, which also includes a drink, is $9.95 per person.
Guests will find a variety of offerings on Dante's menu. Offerings include assorted pizzas, from thin crust to specialty pizzas such as Steak and Cheese, Margherita and Bake Macaroni and Cheese Pizzas; entrees such as Broasted Chicken; Ribs; Lake Perch; Baked Lasagna; and Chicken Marsala ($12.95).
Also available at the restaurant is gluten-free pizza crust and gluten-free pasta.
Shrimp Shack a haven for assorted seafood
The Shrimp Shack in Munster is swimming with offerings for seafood fans as well as diners who will begin observing Lent next week.
The eatery, which was originally in Dolton, has been around for five years.
"I've been in the restaurant business 20 years this year," said Richard Whatley, owner of The Shrimp Shack.
Whatley said he enjoys presenting variety to customers with his menu. He added it's important to offer "friendly service" to guests.
During a recent visit to The Shrimp Shack, the atmosphere proved relaxing and the service by our friendly waitress was prompt and attentive.
Our order included the Chicken Wings Lunch Special ($5.99) and we also tried the 1 pound Shrimp Dinner order ($15.99). The batter for both the wings and the shrimp isn't greasy. The food is well-seasoned without being overly spicy.
Shrimp dinners come in large, jumbo and Cajun styles. In addition to shrimp and wings, among other items on the menu are Grilled Tilapia, in regular or Cajun ($11.99); Chicken Tenders Meals, with fries and bread ($5.99); and Fish Meals including fries and bread that star Tilapia, Perch, Whiting and Catfish Fillets (all range from $6.99 to $10.49.)
Appetizers available at The Shrimp Shack include Mushrooms ($2.99); Okra ($2.99); Hush Puppies ($2.99); and more.
For those diners with a sweet tooth, there are also servings of Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding, and Sweet Potato Pie (all $2.99).
Whatley, a fan of New Orleans style food and decor, has decorated the eatery in a Crescent City theme. There's a map of the French Quarter hanging on the wall along with other New Orleans decor.
The Shrimp Shack does a large carry-out business, but customers may also dine in the restaurant as there are a few tables set up.
Seafood is a specialty at Siam Marina
With Lent right around the corner, one of the restaurants seafood fans should make a point of visiting is Siam Marina in Tinley Park.
The restaurant, which is owned by husband and wife team Chef Tammy Pham and Sapion "Sam" Chung, opened in 2015 in downtown Tinley Park. The Phams also own Asparagus restaurant in Merrillville.
The cuisine at Siam Marina is a blend of Thai, Vietnamese with other Asian touches. At the restaurant, food fans will find a diverse selection of fish and seafood, rice dishes, noodle creations and other meat and vegetable selections.
Siam Marina first made its appearance on the restaurant scene a little over two decades ago when Pham opened the first Siam Marina on Sibley Boulevard in Calumet City. She then opened another location at Calumet City's River Oaks Mall. Now, the Tinley Park eatery is the sole location for the popular restaurant.
The decor at Siam Marina features Asian statues and attractive, modern looking tables, chairs and other furniture.
Chef Pham regularly offers culinary specials and enjoys experimenting with different ingredients, flavors and spices.
Seafood dishes starring on the menu, which are perfect to fit into a meatless diet, include Sugar Cane Salmon; Luxury Seafood Clay Pot; Cilantro Lime Tilapia; Calamari Tempura; Pineapple Curry Shrimp; Asparagus and Crab Meat Soup; and more.
Other dishes include the Roll Me Out Crispy Platter featuring various crispy rolls; assorted Satays, Curries; Soups and Salads.
Siam Marina also offers diverse cocktails, martinis and other spirits. Live entertainment is frequently featured at the restaurant.
Call or visit the restaurant's website to learn more about special events, wine tastings, Jazz nights and more held at Siam Marina.
Breakfast is the specialty at Mr. Zorba's
Whether you have a taste for breakfast in the morning or afternoon, pay a visit to Mr. Zorba's Breakfast House Restaurant in Hammond.
The eatery, located on bustling Calumet Avenue, features a menu starring various breakfast meals from pancakes, omelettes, skillets and breakfast burritos to breakfast sandwiches such as the BLT Fried Egg Sandwich.
The restaurant, which was under a previous name, has been Mr. Zorba's for the past four months. In addition to breakfast items, the restaurant features a limited lunch menu. In the near future, more offerings will be added to the lunch menu.
During a recent Sunday morning visit to Mr. Zorba's, we tried an entree from the omelet section of the menu. Our choice was the Philly Steak Omelet, which featured steak, grilled onions, grilled green peppers, and Monterey Jack cheese.
The omelet was a massive helping and proved to be enough for another meal. For fans of green peppers, there were plenty of diced peppers in the egg dish. Those who aren't fond of green peppers, would do well to order another entree. The hash browns served with the omelet were seasoned very well and had a buttery taste.
Other items featured on the Mr. Zorba's menu were the Healthy Vegetable Omelet; Three Meat Omelet; Strawberry Pancakes; Ground Beef Breakfast Burrito; Denver Breakfast Burrito; Turkey Patty Omelet with American Cheese; and more.
The restaurant's lunch menu features a Taco Dinner; Salads; Fried Talapia; Grilled Chicken Sandwich; Burritos and Burrito Bowls; Cheeseburgers; Quesadillas Dinners; and other items.
Mr. Zorba's decor is bright and features seating at tables and booths. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Customers may call ahead to place orders for pick-up.
Whiting Cafe and Cantina features a mixed menu
If you visit Whiting Cafe and Cantina with friends or family members with varying tastes, you're in luck.
The restaurant, located on Whiting's 119th Street, offers both American-style dishes as well as Mexican-inspired recipes.
Whiting Cafe and Cantina, owned by Elena Bustos, opened in March of 2016. On the menu at the quaint restaurant, diners will find items such as omelets, skillets, Mexican egg dishes, sandwiches, salads and more.
During a recent Sunday morning visit to the eatery, we decided to try a few different items, including something from the breakfast category and a Mexican specialty.
Servers in the restaurant were cordial and promptly brought orders to diners. The manager that morning was also pleasant and offered a bit of background on the restaurant. She also said the chef/owner was very open to experimenting. If diners were interested in adding something special to their dishes, or substituting ingredients, she said they're always open to that as well.
Our meal choices that day were the Sticky French Toast ($7.99); the Morning Wake Up ($4.99), featuring two eggs with country potatoes and pancakes; and Pozole ($6.99).
The Sticky French Toast proved to be a creative recipe starring a "secret" sauce that was indeed sticky and sweet. The consistency was a bit thicker than regular syrup.
The eggs in the Morning Wake Up were well seasoned as was the country potatoes. The Pozole, which is a hominy-based pork stew, wasn't very spicy but was extremely flavorful. A plate filled with diced onion, radishes, lime and cilantro was served alongside the stew. It was a hefty helping and we carted leftovers home for another meal.
Other menu items in the spotlight at the cantina are Skirt Steak and Eggs ($14.95); Rumchata French Toast ($7.99); Country Fried Steak ($9.99); Lime Chicken Chopped Salad ($8.99); Burrito Grande ($6.99); Meat Lover's Skillet ($9.99); and Chilaquiles ($7.99) and more.
Enjoy breakfast and lunch at Skillets
Diners looking for a filling morning or afternoon meal may want to visit Skillets Bistro in Highland.
The cozy eatery, which has a retro-diner type of feel, is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Guests may order breakfast items and lunch all day at the restaurant.
"We want to bring a menu with more fresh and natural products and international breakfasts to people," said George Armando, who owns Skillets with his wife Shelly Ann.
Armando said it's important for them to offer various specials, discounts and special menu items to community diners. Senior citizens receive a 10 percent discount on breakfast and lunch items Mondays through Fridays.
Children with disabilities who are under the age of 7 receive free pancakes every day. "We focus on the community," Armando said.
Skillets Bistro will soon expand their hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays to offer dinner. Armando said they've applied for a license for beer, wine and champagne and expect to start serving the beverages soon. Call the restaurant for more information.
We visited Skillets Bistro on a recent Saturday for lunch. Our meal choices were the Malted Belgian Waffle ($6.39) and Hot Beef Sandwich ($8.59). Both were flavorful choices. The open-faced Hot Beef was served with mashed potatoes and gravy and a bowl of soup.
Other items on the menu include the Homestyle Cinnamon French Toast Combo ($7.99) with two eggs, two sausage links and two bacon strips; Breakfast Burrito Combo ($6.99); Country Benedict ($8.69); various skillets including the California Dreaming Skillet (S8.49); the Parisian Skillet ($9.49); and more.
Sandwiches include Malibu Chicken ($7.99); Tuna Melt ($7.99); and others. A variety of pancakes, French toast and crepes are also featured.
Lunch entrees include Chicken Stirfry ($8.69); Spaghetti ( $9.79); Grilled Pork Chops ($9.59;) and more.
Skillets Bistro also offers an international buffet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Armando said the food spread on the buffet is a blend of Italian, Mexican, American and European dishes. Cost for the buffet is $10.75 for adults and $5.75 for children 10 and younger.
A winning combo of foods at The Eatery
Food halls are the latest concepts to hit the dining scene.
Enter Horseshoe Casino's latest restaurant model. The Eatery, a state of the art food hall, debuted recently on the first level of Hammond's Horseshoe Casino.
The Eatery, which essentially features four different restaurant/cafes, is a comfortable dining space located amidst the hustle bustle of the gaming floor.
Starring at the food hall is 360 Pizza; H Burger; Fresh; and Cafe, which all have their own menu options.
After deciding which dining concept you'll enjoy, guests line up to place their orders. After ordering, you're given a pager that will buzz once your food is ready.
During a recent visit to The Eatery, we decided to try an offering from 360 Pizza, the food hall's modern looking station with a brick oven. Horseshoe Casino's Regional President and General Manager Dan Nita called the oven the "crown jewel" of The Eatery.
The oven is actually adorned with 22,000 gold tiles. During the opening event at The Eatery in December, Nita said eighteen thousand pounds of marble was used throughout the food hall.
Our pizza choice that day was the Chicken Alfredo, ($10) which regularly features Alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, spinach and mushrooms. We opted to leave the mushrooms off and added pineapple for something a little different. There's also a Build Your Own option at 360 Pizza.
The Chicken Alfredo pizza proved a winner with its flavorful white sauce and slightly crunchy crust.
Other pizzas on the menu include Spicy Hawaiian, Garlic Chicken, Veggie and more.
We also visited the Fresh station and ordered The Strip salad ($8). The salad starred turkey, bacon, ranch mayo, cheddar, lettuce and tomato. The ranch mayo proved a flavorful addition to the entree salad. Any of the offerings from the Fresh station can be ordered as either a sandwich, salad or wrap. Among menu items at Fresh are the Stacked Deck, Meatball Masterpiece, Million-Dollar Dip, This Little Piggy and others.
At The Eatery's H Burger, guests will find selections such as The Prime Burger with certified Angus beef, shaved prime rib, horsesradish mayonnaise, sweet onions and provolone cheese, among other offerings.
Cafe sells Lavazza Italian roast coffee, other beverages, pastries and assorted desserts.
Service is quick at the food hall and the offerings are varied enough that there will be something for everyone in your party.
A taste of Mexico featured at Casa Blanca
During the last four decades, Casa Blanca, in East Chicago, has been serving up flavorful Mexican dishes.
The restaurant, which was established in the 1970s, has long been a favorite spot for diners seeking a pleasant atmosphere and a good authentic meal.
Customers have also long frequented the restaurant for parties and banquets.
A highlight at Casa Blanca is its Spanish courtyard stye decor. It easily makes one feel as though they're walking the marketplace in old Mexico. Cheery pink and white are the color scheme featured throughout the restaurant. Pictures and other decor are also hanging at the eatery.
The eatery, which is located on busy Indianapolis Boulevard, seats 200 people with an additional 300 people in the banquet area.
Whether you visit Casa Blanca for breakfast, lunch or dinner, there'll be an assortment of recipes to choose from.
Diners can order any of the restaurant's offerings at any time of day as all dishes are available all day. Among dishes featured at the restaurant are chilaquiles, translated as strips of corn tortillas served in a cheese/sauce blend; carne con chile; chicken and mole; fajitas; enchiladas; queso fundido; chiles rellenos; tostadas; quesadillas; shrimp cocktail; and more.
For breakfast, the popular huevos Rancheros, which is a traditional egg dish, are among popular menu items. The restaurant's chicken and mole is also a favorite. It has a slightly sweet sauce which isn't too spicy. The chicken and mole, and various other entrees are served with rice and beans.
The restaurant also serves Mexican hot chocolate. In addition, Casa Blanca has a full bar featuring an assortment of Margaritas, various cocktails, wine, and beer.
Pizza and more in spotlight at Bullpen
If you're looking for a casual dining experience featuring an assortment of items from pizza and sandwiches to pastas and an array of appetizers, stop in at Bullpen in Highland.
Bullpen Luxury Bar and Grill and Gelsosomo's Pizzeria beckons customers with a lively bar setting featuring televisions, an appetizing menu with inexpensive offerings and a friendly staff.
The small eatery stars the popular Region pizza Gelsosomo's, and offers a variety of daily specials.
We visited Bullpen on a recent Saturday, which happened to be New Year's Eve afternoon, and the eatery was filled with an equal number of people at the bar and in the dining room.
Diners watched the various televisions in the restaurant. All of them featured different programs from sporting events to sitcoms.
Having heard so much about Gelsosomo's Pizza through the years, this writer was anxious to try the enticing pie.
We began the meal with Cheese Curds ($5), which were served with a slightly spicy marinara sauce. Our pizza choice that day was a Medium Sausage and Onion thin crust ($16).
Gelsosomo's Pizza proved a winner at our table. The crust was ideally crunchy and the sauce had a sweet flavor that blended well with the sausage and onion. The ingredients featured to top the pizzas are plentiful and include everything from Canadian Bacon and Mushrooms to Anchovy and Hot Peppers.
Specialty pizzas are also highlighted at the restaurant. They include the Popeye Pizza ($11, $14 and $17), which stars fresh spinach, Popeye seasoning, a blend of cheeses and a flaky homemade crust; and the Taco Pizza ( $14, $17, and $20), which features seasoned beef, cheese and onions, crisp lettuce, black olives and tomatoes.
Other pizzas include BLT ( $13, $19 and $25); Buffalo Chicken ($11, $16 and $21); and Seven Cheese ( $13, $18 and $23).
Among other menu options at Bullpen are The Baja Shrimp Wrap ($10); Bullpen Filet Sliders ($12); California Avocado Salad ($10); Pretzel Bites ($5); Fried Green Beans ($5); Bacon Mac ($11) and Grecian Salad ($9). A children's menu is also featured at the eatery.
Create your own pasta at Ciao Bella
Diners looking for interesting, flavorful Italian cuisine, will enjoy exploring the menu at Ciao Bella in Schererville.
Owner Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo, who debuted the restaurant in 2009, continues to offer guests an authentic culinary experience starring the best of the flavors of Italy.
Scalzo's cozy ristorante/pizzeria/wine bar features a warm setting and servers who are attentive and personable.
When Scalzo opened his eatery, he told this reporter that his focus was to warmly welcome his guests to a restaurant that sported an atmosphere where they'd feel like they were dining in the quaint cafes in Italy.
At Ciao Bella, which translated means "Hello Beautiful," a variety of pasta, pizza, meat dishes and seafood recipes are in the spotlight.
We visited Ciao Bella on a recent Thursday afternoon for the Create Your Own Pasta promotion. Create Your Own Pasta is available for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once seated, guests are given the regular menu. Tucked inside the menu is a sheet which features the Create Your Own Pasta directions. If diners would like that option, one must fill out the form, which features a choice of pasta, sauce and three ingredients. Simply hand that to your server and he or she will deliver it to the kitchen staff.
Among pastas featured are rigatoni, spaghetti, linguine, farfalle and others. Sauces include spicy tomato, four cheese, Bolognese, Alfredo and more. Choice of ingredients include mushrooms, chicken, peas, onions, zucchini and much more.
Diners visiting the eatery on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays may order the All You Can Eat Express Buffet, available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Ciao Bella's lunch menu also features a variety of dishes such as gourmet pizzas, including Pizza ai Fichi ($13) and Pizza Margherita ($12); Insalata di Melanzana ($10), which has breaded eggplant, tomatoes and other ingredients; Bruschetta Burger ($9); Pollo alle Romana ($14) and Costolette di Agnello ($25), which are baby lamb chops.
At the restaurant, occasional cooking demonstrations by the chef, wine dinners and other culinary events are often featured.
Ciao Bella will present its New Year's Eve celebration from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31. A four-course meal stars along with a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight. Cost is $99 per person plus tax and gratuity.
Hard Rock Cafe sports varied menu
If you like to consume your food to a rockin' soundtrack, stop in at Hard Rock Cafe at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.
Four Winds' Hard Rock eatery opened in 2012. It was Sheryl Crow and Detroit's Uncle Kracker who officially christened the restaurant during the traditional Hard Rock guitar-smashing ceremony.
The interior of Hard Rock Cafe pays tribute to, as its name implies, the rock world. Various costumes and clothing worn by famous musical artists as well as instruments and other memorabilia are featured at the restaurant.
Wherever one sits in the restaurant, you'll get a view of the stage area where it's customary for live bands to rock the night away while people enjoy a meal on the premises.
Seating is available on two floors of the eatery. A gift shop is also located at the front of the restaurant.
During a recent pre-concert Saturday dinner at the restaurant, we were seated in the center of the room directly overlooking the stage. It was about 50 minutes until showtime and our server guaranteed we'd be out in plenty of time. And we were.
Our dinner choices that night were the Original Legendary Burger ($13.95) and Clam Chowder ($4.50). The Angus burger, which was a massive serving, featured bacon and an onion ring, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato.
The clam chowder had a smooth broth consistency and was packed with a generous helping of clams.
Among other food offerings on the menu were Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork ($11.95); Twisted Mac, Chicken & Cheese ($15.95); Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad ($12.95); Filet Mignon ($28); and Chocolate Molten Cake ($7.95).
During a walk around the eatery to view some of the interesting items on display, we saw clothing worn by Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Johnny Cash and others.
Upcoming performances at Hard Rock Cafe will be Libido Funk Circus on Dec. 23 and PS Dump Your Boyfriend on Dec. 30.
Newly renovated Quest still serving favorites
If you haven't been to The Quest in awhile, it's time to plan another visit.
The restaurant, on U.S. 30 in Schererville, was recently renovated. The interior boasts a warm, cozy feeling beckoning diners to stay awhile to enjoy a meal.
Craig Carnagey, The Quest's general manager, said the entire restaurant was redone.
"We closed in mid-June and opened at the end of October," he said. Carnagey said they took everything out and redid the whole eatery, from the bar and kitchen equipment to the tables and chairs and even the parking lot.
The Quest Eatery and Spirits, which opened two decades ago as the brainchild of Sabena Poore, has offered homemade recipes through the years. Personnel at the restaurant have recently added a few new items on the menu, including a Pizza Pot Pie, and will feature other new additions in 2017.
During a recent visit to the eatery on a Saturday afternoon, we were seated in the cozy main dining room near the fireplace. After surveying the menu, which had a variety of choices, we decided on the unique Ramanna's Pizza Pot Pie. ($11.99 for the meat version). A cup of warm beef vegetable soup preceded the main selection.
The pot pie featured a delicious mix of sausage and pepperoni with a hefty helping of cheese and other ingredients starring in the dish. What was particularly interesting about this entree was its presentation. When the pie was brought to the table, it looked like a small traditional pie with a slightly high, round top. With the flip of her hand, the waitress turned it over on the dish and it then became what appeared to be a deep-dish pizza. Then, digging into the pie revealed a rich looking red, marinara sauce. It was definitely a filling meal.
Among other menu items at The Quest are Loaded Tater Tots ($6.99); the Cheese Wheel appetizer ($9.99); Ahi Tuna salad ($12.99); The Monster Stuffed Burger ($12.99); Stuffed Meatball Sandwich ($9.99); Veggie Wrap ($7.99); Baby Back Ribs ($23.99 for a full slab); Chicken & Waffles ($14.99); Fish & Chips ($11.99); and more.
In addition to the food offerings, The Quest has live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. On Tuesdays, there are acoustic performances in the lounge beginning at 6 p.m.
"Our goal is to continue to bring good food and live music for people to listen to and that they enjoy dining here with their families," said Carnagey.
Family meals star at Little Italy
For unique presentations and preparations, diners will be happy to visit Little Italy in Dyer.
The restaurant debuted in Dyer in 2013. Chef/owner Andrew Easterday is at the helm of the cozy, casual eatery.
Easterday is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. At Little Italy, Easterday presents a diner-friendly menu of various favorites including a good selection of appetizers, pizza, pasta, main entrees and desserts.
In a past interview, the chef stressed his cooking philosophy is rooted in the classics and the use of fresh, quality ingredients.
During a recent Monday evening visit to Little Italy, we found the restaurant already decorated festively for the holidays. The holiday lights created an extra warm atmosphere in the restaurant.
After surveying the menu, we decided on the Panko Crusted Calamari appetizer ($8) and the Fireside Gnocchi ($8.95)
Both items received raves as the calamari was well seasoned and was served with a marinara sauce. The gnocchi proved a good choice as well. It was served with crispy Prosciutto, Brussels sprouts and a Brown Butter Sauce.
The pasta dishes on Monday evenings were priced at $8.95 for the Little Italy order, which is the half order. On other days, the Little Italy order is $14 and the Big Italy order, which is family-style is $25.
Meals at Little Italy are conducive to sharing as most entrees come in Little Italy and Big Italy portions.
Other items on Little Italy's menu are rigatoni ($12 and $21); Atlantic Salmon ($18 and $35); Filet Medallions ($24 and $45); Eggplant Parmesan ($14 and $26) and more.
Desserts include Butterscotch Budino ($8) and Tiramisu ($8).
Game day fare stars at Stadium
Sports fans who want to enjoy a meal or drinks while watching their favorite game, can do so comfortably at Stadium.
Since May 2015, Stadium at Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, has been offering a menu of lunch and dinner selections. The sports-themed restaurant regularly features appearances by sports celebrities and team players. Guests can meet various sports players, get autographs and photos at many of the special events starring at the restaurant.
With football, hockey and basketball season in full swing now, Stadium also offers some specials corresponding with various games. During NFL games, the restaurant is currently featuring $10 14-inch pizzas; Domestic Brew Buckets for $12 and Imported Buckets for $15.
The decor in the eatery stars memorabilia and photos and pennants from the Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls and Indiana collegiate teams. A display case at the front of the restaurant now showcases various World Championship Cubs items. (Those items are also offered in the gift shop of the casino as well).
While diners eat, they can watch games on 40 HDTVs and a Jumbotron.
Starring on the menu at Stadium are various dishes including Colossal Wings ($9 for 6 wings, $15.25 for 12 and $20.50 for 18); St. Louis Ribs, ($17 for a half rack); Potato Chip Crusted Cheese Curds ($8.75); Loaded Baked Potato Soup ($5.75); Artisan Pizza in Cheese, Pepperoni or Meat Lovers flavors (various prices); and more.
Craft and draft beers as well as wine, cocktails and other beverages are featured.
Guests may ask about chef's specials and drink specials of the day. There's also a 6-pound sandwich challenge at the eatery. Current drink specials include half off drafts Mondays through Thursdays and $4 for domestic drafts. Visit stadiumsportsbar.com for more information.
Munster Gyros offers melting pot of flavors
Whether you have a taste for a sandwich, salad, old fashioned hot dog or a slab of ribs, you'll find it all at Munster Gyros.
The casual eatery on Calumet Avenue has long been a mainstay for area residents. Munster Gyros has a large carry-out business, but a good amount of guests regularly sit in the restaurant to enjoy lunch or dinner.
During a recent Saturday afternoon visit to the restaurant, a steady stream of customers visited the eatery for both carry-out meals or to enjoy a dine-in dinner.
Gyros are definitely a specialty at the restaurant, and the meat rotating on the spit looked appetizing. We decided on the Gyros Sandwich Special ($5.99) and the Grilled Chicken Salad ($7.99) for our early dinner.
The sandwich special included French fries and a choice of beverage. The Gyros meat proved extremely tender. With the addition of the Tzatziki sauce, the sandwich was flavorful. It was also delicately seasoned.
Munster Gyros' Grilled Chicken Salad received winning marks at our table for starring fairly large pieces of chicken.
The menu at the fast food restaurant also highlights dishes such as Combination Half Chicken/Half Ribs ($15.95); Rotisseries Chicken, available in various preparations including BBQ, Plain and Greek ($9.99); Shrimp Basket ($5.95); and Fried Chicken ($8.45).
Among sandwiches are Rib Eye Steak ($5.75); BBQ Beef ($5.20); Beef and Sausage Combo ($5.70); Big Baby, which is a double cheeseburger ($3.45); and Chili Burger ($2.80).
A hot dog special is available for $4.99 which includes two hot dogs with fries.
Munster Gyros also serves chili tamales ($3.65) Fried Zucchini ($3.15); Pizza Puffs ( $3.15); and King Size Submarine Sandwiches ($5.99). The Greek pastry Baklava ($1.60) is also sold on the premises.
Mexican staples a hit at Shirley's
There's nothing pretentious about Shirley's Tacos.
The Lynwood eatery is a small establishment with a comfortable atmosphere and a menu of Mexican favorites.
Shirley's Tacos has been on Torrence Avenue in Lynwood for the past nine years. Its menu features everything from full Mexican dinners to Tortas, Tamales, Menudo, Sopes, Burritos, Gorditas and Sides.
The restaurant is housed in a casual storefront in a small strip mall. Guests may sit at tables, a counter facing the open kitchen or at booths. The interior is decorated with bright colors and a few Latin-inspired pictures on the walls.
During a recent Saturday afternoon meal at Shirley's, we sat facing the open kitchen as the cook prepared our entrees. A number of guests came in to place carry-out orders while we dined. Signs on the wall in the restaurant promote a variety of specials that are conducive to carrying out. For example, one of the specials features a package including 10 tacos and assorted sides, including guacamole.
For lunch that day we ordered the 3 Tacos Dorado (hard shell) Dinner ($6.99) as well as another dish featuring a Taco ($1.85) and a Tamale (99 cents). The dinner was served with the traditional rice and beans.
Our mix of tacos included chicken, pastor, which is roast pork, and Carnitas (fried pork). The seasonings on the pastor were flavorful and slightly spicy while the chicken and carnitas were tender. The tamale featured a red sauce and proved flavorful as well.
Among taco filling selections at Shirley's are Asada (steak); Chorizo, Puerco en Salsa (pork in sauce); and Milanesa (breaded steak).
On weekends only, Shirley's offers Menudo and Tamales.
Tortas and Burrito fillings also include the same variety as the taco fillings.
Among dinners are Flautas ($6.99); Tostadas ($6.99); Bistec a la Mexicana ($8.25); and Quesadillas with Meat ($8.50).
Enjoy a taste of Greece in Hammond
Diners interested in Mediterranean flavors will definitely enjoy spending meal time at The Stuffed Pepper in Hammond.
The restaurant, which debuted less than a year ago, occupies the building that housed the former Woodmar Cafe.
Walking into the bright restaurant, featuring various paintings on the wall, one is immediately struck by the delicious aromas of authentic Greek cuisine.
The Stuffed Pepper features a varied menu of traditional Greek entrees, assorted sandwiches, salads, burgers, kabobs and gyros.
We visited The Stuffed Pepper on a recent Saturday for an early lunch. We were seated at a comfortable table in the center of the room. After being presented with the menu, we mulled over it for nearly 10 minutes. All the selections sounded appetizing, so deciding what to order turned into a bit of a chore.
Our knowledgeable, friendly waiter, who was very patient, answered all our questions and gave us a wealth of information on the dishes. He talked about how certain dishes were cooked and spoke about the care the proprietors take in making sure everything's authentic.
We decided on a few selections including the traditional Pastitsio ($13.99 for a full dinner); the Shrimp Kabob dinner ($15.99) as well as Lemon Rice soup ($2.99).
The Pastitsio, which is a Greek lasagna, proved to be a hearty dish. The spices in the noodles and meat mixture had a bit of a sweet flavor, and a soft breading topped the layered dish. The Shrimp Kabob, which featured two kabobs, was also an excellent choice, and was served with rice and our choice of green beans.
Among other menu items at The Stuffed Pepper are Spartan Gyros ($6.99); Hades Chicken Sandwich ($8.99); Fresh Salmon Sandwich ($7.99), served with Tzatziki Sauce and Veggies; Burger of the Gods ($12.99), featuring a double burger stuffed with Feta cheese and topped with shrimp, Kefalotiri cheese plus veggies and pickles; Athenian Salad ($5.99) and various items on the Vegetarian portion of the menu.
In the Traditional Favorites category, guests can order items such as Yemista ($8.99 for a la carte), which is a stuffed pepper; Spanakopita ($8.99 for a la carte), which is spinach and Feta pie or Dolmades, (also $8.99), which are stuffed grape leaves, among other dishes.
Steaks, chops and fresh fish are also available. A variety of appetizers are among the offerings as well. There's no need to plan a trip to Greek Town in Chicago if you have a taste for authentic Mediterranean fare. Just head to The Stuffed Pepper.
Restaurant Scene: Q-BBQ debuts brunch
Some new, distinct and smoky flavors are heating up the kitchen once again at Q-BBQ in Schererville.
The restaurant, which opened its doors in Northwest Indiana in November 2015, recently introduced its new brunch menu. Known for rich, smoked flavors, interesting and tasty side dishes and various sauces, Q-BBQ debuted brunch at its Naperville location a couple of weeks ago. Schererville's brunch was available beginning Oct. 15. Within a month, all of the restaurant's locations will have brunch.
Q-BBQ Brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only.
"We want to keep innovating with good food and different ingredients. It keeps people coming back," said Michael LaPidus, owner of Q-BBQ. The Schererville location of the eatery was the fourth Q-BBQ on the scene. In addition to Schererville and Naperville, other locations are in LaGrange and Oak Park. A Q-BBQ pop-up restaurant also will be featured in Willis Tower in Chicago from Oct. 24 to 28.
Q-BBQ is the brainchild of LaPidus, who, in creating the eatery, wanted to pay tribute to classic roadside barbecue joints he visited while traveling around the country.
LaPidus has described the food customers get at Q-BBQ as "authentic barbecue." He said he wanted to bring brunch to the masses because he's always loved "food, breakfast and barbecue," and wanted to include breakfast items on his menu.
Q-BBQ features styles of barbecue from different regions of the country including everything from "dry rubbed meats of Memphis, the pulled pork from the Carolinas and the smoked briskets from Texas" LaPidus has said.
Customers will find that same diversity in the brunch items. Restaurant Scene recently visited Q-BBQ to check out the new brunch offerings.
The eatery's BBQ Brunch features Cornbread French Toast ($7.99); Alabama Benedict ($9.99); Chicken & Waffle ($10.99); Burnt End Hash ($13.99); Chicken Biscuit Sandwich ($9.99); and Portobello Hash ($12.99).
For those who like a fresh take on an old favorite, definitely try the Cornbread French Toast. The dish is moist and has a savory/sweet flavor. The Burnt End Hash is also a must try as it features a mix of the smoked burnt ends, crispy Brussels sprouts, roasted corn, black beans and potatoes. It's served with two eggs on top.
Besides the brunch items, diners also may order from the regular menu during brunch hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Restaurant Scene: Lee's Chicken stars at Avia
Diners who are fans of Lee's Chicken, formerly of Calumet City and Chicago's Southeast Side, will want to know that the popular poultry is available now in Munster.
Avia Catering, near the intersection of Ridge Road and Hohman Avenue, has been carrying Lee's since July. Carry-out service and a few tables for dine-in service are featured at Avia.
In addition to Lee's, the menu at Avia stars various Italian Pasta Dinners; Seafood Dinners; Italian Meat Dinners; Italian Sandwiches; Salads; and a la carte items from the salad bar.
During a recent Wednesday afternoon visit to Avia for a late lunch, we enjoyed the meal on the premises. There are a few tables located in the casual eatery for those who don't want to order carry-out items.
Meal choices included items from both Avia and Lee's. We opted for Lee's 3-Piece Chicken Dinner ($5.99) as well as the Italian Combo Sandwich ($6.75) from the Avia side of the menu.
The pan-fried chicken had a crispy batter and also was served with fries, coleslaw, rolls and sauce. The coleslaw featured a creamy base and had a slightly peppery flavor.
The large sandwich starred both beef and sausage. A substantial amount of meat was packed into the sandwich. Diners surely will have enough to carry out for another meal.
Among other items on the menu are Baked Mostaccioli ($9.50); Parmesan-style Chicken Cutlets ($8.95); Fried Lake Perch ($12.49); Pecan Tortilla Crusted Tilapia ($12.95); Meatball Sandwich ($5.75); Veggie Sandwich ($5.95); The Perfect Pia Sandwich ($6.95), featuring smoked turkey breast; Antipasto Salad ($8.95); Chicken Caesar Salad ($8.95); and more. Homemade soups are also featured.
Also on the Lee's side are Jumbo Shrimp Dinners ($11.49); Frog Legs ($9.99 for dinner); meals that come in half baskets and baskets; as well as Lee's Chicken By The Bucket. An 8-piece bucket costs $9.99 while a 12-piece bucket is $15.49.
Customers will also find specialty desserts; party packs/family trays and various side orders at Avia. On the salad bar, guests can order items such as Tomato Cucumber Salad, Roasted Red Peppers; Kidney Bean Salad; Fresh Calamari Salad; and more, which are available by the 1/2 Pint, Pint or Quart.
Keith's offers fine recipes in a friendly setting
Diners walking into Keith's Bar and Grill will immediately feel comfortable in the intimate, quaint restaurant.
The Whiting eatery, on Indianapolis Boulevard, near the corner of 119th St., is a friendly place to enjoy a meal. At first glance, while entering the eatery, you feel as though you're walking into a retro supper club.
Quite often, guests will find owner Scott Keith on the premises welcoming guests to his culinary home.
When we visited Keith's on a recent Saturday night, the restaurant was filled with customers. Though reservations are recommended and we didn't have a reservation that night, we were still seated promptly.
Keith was also in attendance that day, sitting behind the bar at the front of the eatery. He cordially greeted us as we entered.
Our table was located in the middle of the restaurant, near the kitchen, so we were able to view the many appetizing and creative dishes being served to customers.
Keith opened his restaurant in 1990 and at the time, he said, he wanted to bring something different to customers in the neighborhood. And Keith is still doing that with a charming eatery that offers a variety of dishes from pastas and classic meat dishes to seafood and assorted appetizers.
After taking about 5 minutes to look at the menu, we decided on the Chicken Saltimbocca ($14). The recipe, which was sauteed in butter and wine, had a delicate flavor and received high marks at our table. We also enjoyed the Fried Calamari ($8). The sauce for the calamari had a slightly spicy flavor and worked well with the tender dish.
Among other dishes on Keith's menu are Ravioli, Pumpkin ($15); Pasta Pomodoro ($14); Mahi Mahi ($19); Mussels ($20); Pork Chops ($24); Rack of Pork ($22); Baby Back Ribs ($30); the Keith Burger ($10) and more.
What customers will also find interesting at Keith's is the entranceway. There are actually two doors to enter the restaurant. One boasts it's the Men's Entrance and another the Women's Entrance, a throwback to a bygone time. It's just another interesting thing to enjoy and see at Keith's place.
Enjoy an autumn visit to Glenwood Oaks
With the chilly fall temperatures rolling into the area, many diners look for hearty cuisine.
The popular eatery Glenwood Oaks in suburban Glenwood is the perfect spot for a meal during any season but when fall and winter come around, one can't help but think of substantial steaks and chops.
The restaurant, which features a supper club-like setting stars steaks, seafood, chops, ribs, pasta dishes and more on its extensive menu.
Glenwood Oaks, now celebrating its 42nd anniversary, is operated by various members of the Jarosky/LeRose families.
If you plan to dine at the eatery, make sure you leave enough time to enjoy your meal in a laid back atmosphere that sports a casual elegance.
The history of Glenwood Oaks is interesting as it's changed hands through the years but has always remained a popular dining spot. It's long been at the corner of Main Street in Glenwood and was originally named Glenwood Gardens by William and Hilda D'Amico. It was owned by others after that but it was in 1974 that the Jarosky family acquired the eatery.
Hungry diners will find many appetizing items on the menu including Shrimp Cocktail ($11.95); Baked French Onion Soup ($5.50); John's Famous Full Slab ($24.45) ; Roast Prime Rib of Beef ($27.25 for regular cut); Honey Glazed Salmon ($21.95); Sauteed Lake Perch ($26.95); and more.
Diners will also find specials every month on various days. For instance, in September, there is an all you can eat special on Fridays for Fried Shrimp 9$26.95); and Sauteed Frog Legs ($21.95). A Kids Menu is also available.
Catering also is featured at the restaurant and a to-go shop with a drive-thru window is also available. A banquet facility is also on the premises. Customers who enjoy playing slots at the casinos can do a bit of gaming on the premises as well. Slot machines are located in the bar area.
Sunday champagne brunches are also offered at Glenwood Oaks. Hours for brunch are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $18.45 for adults.
Diverse Mexican dishes star at El Salto
The flavors of Mexico beckon diners daily at El Salto in Munster.
The restaurant, located at the busy corner of Ridge Road and Calumet Avenue, features a good selection of items to tempt almost any palate.
While the restaurant is not large in size, the dining room is comfortable and appealing to look at. The decor is colorful and features various art works on the walls.
We visited El Salto for lunch recently. The restaurant was filled with guests enjoying a quick meal during the work day. A section of the restaurant’s menu features lunch specials that are served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to the Munster location, El Salto has a variety of other locations including Merrillville, Chesterton and Valparaiso. Last fall, the Mexican restaurant chain also got into the fast food market. El Salto Express is located in Schererville.
After spending a few minutes looking at the menu, my choice for lunch was the Flautas dish, which came with rice and beans. The chicken in the flautas proved tender and El Salto’s slightly sweet and spicy salsa proved a flavorful accompaniment to the recipe.
Among other dishes starring on El Salto’s lunch menu are Fajitas ($7.95 for chicken); Speedy Gonzales, ($6.95) which included a taco and enchilada; Huevos con Chorizo ($6.95); and favorites such as Carne Asada ($15.95) Burritos Mexicanos ($9.95 for chicken) and more on the regular menu.
Guests will also find a section for Tortas; Healthy Choice and Vegetarian. Cheeseburgers, Chicken Tenders and Shrimp Baskets are also featured at El Salto.
Pizza, pasta and more at Beggar's Pizza
Whether you like thin crust, gourmet deep dish or specialty pizzas, Beggars Pizza has something for you.
Beggars Pizza has been delivering its signature savory pies and other favorites for the past four decades. Locations are featured throughout Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
The pizza restaurant, founded in 1976 by Angelo Garetto, has 22 locations. The Whiting location opened three years ago on 119th Street.
Whiting’s eatery, which is a franchise, is owned by the Eder family. Guests will find the traditional Beggars menu at the restaurant, which is in a 100-year-old building.
Beggars offers a casual atmosphere for dining making one feel as though they’re in a retro eatery. The evening we dined, there were a number of tables occupied with diners enjoying an assortment of recipes from specialty pizzas to sandwiches.
Beggars advertising logo states “We Lay It On Thick.” Such was the case with our pizza, a half sausage/half onion creation, which was indeed thick and had a good amount of cheese, sausage and onion on it.
In addition to a large dining area, Beggars has a party room and bar. Customers may also use a catering service, which is available at the eatery.
Surveying the menu at Beggars, diners will find Stuffed and Personal Pizzas; Deep Dish; Specialty Pizzas; Spaghetti; Lasagna; Shrimp Dinners; Italian Meatball Sandwiches; The Big Cheese Sandwich; The Godfather Sandwich and more. Burgers, Wings, Desserts and other items also star.
In the Signature Pizza category, creative concoctions are in abundance here. Recipes include The Hawaiian; The Meaty; Taco and Cheeseburger pizzas.
Beggars also features a lunch buffet featuring unlimited salad bar, soup, assorted pizzas, dessert pizza and beverage with free refills. The restaurant offers delivery and carry-out service as well.
Asparagus recipes star perfect Asian blend
Elegant and flavorful recipe preparations are in abundance at Asparagus Restaurant in Merrillville.
The restaurant, which stars Asian fusion cuisine, features chef/owner Tammy Pham at the helm of the creative kitchen. At Asparagus, guests will find a variety of dishes. A combination of Vietnamese, Thai and flavors of other cuisines come into play when Pham creates her culinary magic.
Pham, who co-owns Asparagus with her husband Sapion “Sam” Chung, is also at the helm of Siam Marina in downtown Tinley Park. As a chef, Pham regularly turns her focus on detail (derived from her past study of engineering) on the preparation and presentation of her food.
Asparagus’ menu stars a variety of dishes including noodle and rice recipes, curries, seafood, tofu-based dishes, special soups, salads and more.
During a recent visit to Asparagus, we surveyed the menu and took about five minutes or more to choose a dish. So many of the offerings on the menu sound delicious and often include a special sauce as well.
We decided on the Thai Egg Rolls ($6); Pad Thai with shrimp ($22); Pineapple Cashew Chicken ($14); Thai Fried Rice with shrimp ($16); and Asparagus and Crabmeat Soup ($8).
The dishes we ordered were all substantial portions and rated high in the flavor department. The Pineapple Cashew Chicken featured mushrooms, asparagus, pineapple, red pepper, carrots, pea pods and cashews in a spicy/sweet sauce. The Pad Thai was also a standout with a mix of peanuts, stir-fried rice noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, scrambled eggs and shrimp. Asparagus’ Thai Egg Rolls are the perfect beginning to a meal and a sweet and sour sauce accompanies the appetizer.
Among other items on the restaurant menu are Shrimp Rolls, Green Mango Salad, Drunken Noodles, Mussaman Curry, Seafood Panang Curry, Ginger Chicken, Curry Fried Rice, Nutty Chicken, New Zealand Lamb Shank, Garlic Shrimp, Cilantro Lime Tilapia and Grilled Ahi Tuna.
Special cocktails, martinis and more star on Asparagus’ bar menu.
Call or visit the restaurant’s website to learn more about special events, wine tastings and musical events held at the eatery.
Restaurant Scene: Enjoy a meal at Pool Bar
You can really feel like you're on a mini vacation when dining at the new Pool Bar at Four Winds Casino.
The Pool Bar, which recently opened at the casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, is adjacent to the new pool, which also recently debuted. The Pool Bar features a full menu of drinks and a good selection of food items from appetizers and salads to wraps, hot dogs, sandwiches and more.
At the eatery, guests may sit at tables that are situated steps from the pool or enjoy their beverages and food right at the bar. In addition, individuals who are using the pool may have their food and drink served up poolside. All guests of the casino may dine at The Pool Bar, although the pool itself is only open to hotel guests.
During a recent Saturday visit to the eatery, we sat at a table overlooking the pool where families were enjoying the water. It was a relaxing time as music played in the background and the sounds of children's laughs filled the air.
Our lunch that day starred Vegetable Dumplings ($6) and The Cali Salad ($11). It proved a light meal with a lot of flavor. The Vegetable Dumplings dish was an Asian-style appetizer served with dipping sauce. The Cali featured mixed greens, grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, red onions, Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese and bacon. The Cali also can be served as a wrap.
Among other items on the menu are Hummus and Vegetables ($6); Tempura Sushi ($6); Shrimp Po' Boy Wrap ($12); Bacon and Cheddar Burger Sliders ($12); and more. Specialty beverages include Banana Daiquiri, Rum Runner and Raspberry Floradora.
The Pool Bar is also available to rent for private parties.
Restaurant Scene: Stop for a Sip in Highland
If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat, visit The Sip Coffee House and Artisan Cafe in Highland.
The Sip, on quaint Jewett Avenue, is an unpretentious cafe. The offerings here include coffee, tea, additional beverages and a blend of salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and other selections. Customers will also find a few breakfast selections on the menu.
The first Sip to hit the area is located on the square in Crown Point. The Highland Sip opened this year. At first glance, as you walk into the restaurant, one will notice that the decor is artsy, whimsical and very much steeped in pop culture. There are different sized tables as well as couches and easy chairs throughout the eatery.
Guests may choose to sit in the main dining room, on the upper level or outside. Paintings, sculptures and other drawings hang on the walls. Bright colors are featured throughout the restaurant. (Art work is for sale here).
During a recent Monday visit to The Sip, guests were enjoying various drinks and other meals in every corner of the place as well as outdoors.
Our choice for dinner was Tim’s Twisted Chicken sandwich ($7.95) along with Iced Tea with a Strawberry flavor shot ($2.50).
The sandwich featured a chicken breast served on rustic bread with Swiss cheese, avocado, bacon and Dijon mayo. The chicken was tender while the mix of bacon, avocado and Dijon mayo provided a slightly spicy flavor. The tea wasn’t too sweet and proved the perfect thirst quencher.
Among other menu selections at The Sip are Signature Lattes ($3.25, for 16-ounce and $3.65 for 20-ounce). Lattes come in flavors such as Almond Joy; Smore; and Mexican Mocha. Other selections on the menu include the Pot Roast Sandwich ($8.50) and Griddle Melts ($4.95), which come in Bacon Twist, The Artisan and other varieties. Assorted salads and sandwiches are also featured.
There are many things to try at The Sip. It’s worth making the eatery a regular stop for a beverage and a meal.
Restaurant Scene: Grocer's cafe offers variety
Shoppers visiting Schererville's Strack & Van Til near lunch or dinner time can enjoy a meal in the supermarket's Cafe.
The Cafe, located at the front of the store, is a small eatery featuring a mix of seating arrangements. There are a couple of easy chairs and tables in the center of the cafe as well as seats at a counter-type table near the windows.
Decor includes writing on the walls and whimsical plaques throughout. Guests of Strack and Van Til's Cafe may order from a selection of stations at the supermarket and then bring their food to the Cafe to eat.
During a recent Monday lunch at the eatery, we surveyed the offerings at the pasta bar, BBQ section and the Sandwich station. Our lunch choice was the daily deal from the pasta section which included a Pasta Bowl ($5) with choice of noodle, sauce, veggies and meat. There's also a build your own pasta option.
Every day at the Cafe, guests will find a special deal, which includes everything from the pasta deal to Burger Days; Pizza dinners and a Sandwich Special. A convenient board displays the specials.
Strack's cafe also features baked beans, ribs, brisket and pulled pork at the BBQ station; Chicken Caesar Wraps at the Sandwich Bar; take and bake Pizzas; and Build Your Own Pizzas among other items.
The Pasta Bowl proved a good luncheon choice. The marina sauce featured in our pasta dish had a slightly spicy flavor and the serving was pretty ample. Employees behind the counter heated up the dish and served it to us.
But, customers who order items from the case such as slices of meatloaf or other dishes which must be heated, can use a microwave that's in the cafe if they want to eat the items there.
Coffee, smoothies, cakes and pastries, various salads and more are also available at the Cafe. There's something for everyone here.
Restaurant Scene: Town Club offers cozy atmosphere, retro menu
As diners walk into The Town Club Steak and Seafood Restaurant in Highland, it's almost like a trek back in time.
The eatery, owned by Mark Hines, features a supper-club type atmosphere and a menu that stars a variety of dishes one would find in steak houses of the past.
Servers and owner Mark Hines are always cordial and guests are welcomed into the restaurant immediately after entering.
Guests may sit in the bar area or the dining room. Once seated, it easily takes awhile to survey the menu since it has a great variety of offerings.
Town Club's specialties include seafood and steaks but assorted dishes from ribs and burgers to fried chicken and various appetizers are also in the spotlight.
The Town Club was established in 1947, under different ownership. Hines, who is Town Club's fourth owner, has said the eatery is "the oldest restaurant under one name, under one roof in Northwest Indiana."
On the menu, guests will find favorites such as Shrimp Cocktail ($10); The Town Club Steak Sandwich ($11.95); Fresh Lake Perch ($22.95); Frog Legs ($19.95); and Dry Rub BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($24.95).
There are various specials which run daily or on select dates including prime rib offered every night; Taco Wednesdays, featuring the same taco recipe served at the restaurant since 1959; Donut Shrimp, which is fried shrimp literally shaped like a doughnut; and specialty martinis.
All dinners at the restaurant come with the signature relish tray. A children's menu is also offered at the eatery.
Town Club also features occasional Live Lobster Nights. Diners should call for information on the special and about the next dates it will be featured.
The restaurant, which was remodeled in the last few years, has a warm decor featuring tans, gold, browns and reds throughout the interior.
Restaurant Scene: Delight in taste of Mexico at Casa Del Mar
South of the border flavors star at Casa Del Mar in Munster.
The eatery, on Ridge Road, specializes in a variety of Mexican fare. Everything from the traditional tacos, enchiladas and tostadas star alongside items such as grilled salmon, shrimp recipes, various steaks and other recipes.
During a recent late Friday night dinner at the eatery, we surveyed the menu for dishes that veered away from the usual Mexican fare.
It was difficult to choose since so many of the dishes sounded quite appetizing. We decided on the Milanesa, ($11) which was a tender Ribeye cut thin that was breaded and fried. We ordered the version that included melted Chihuahua Cheese and Ranchero Sauce. The meal was served with rice, beans and guacamole. Most of the dinners come with servings of rice and beans.
Waiting for dinner to arrive at our table, we enjoyed chips and salsa, which was brought to our table when we were seated. We also ordered horchata, ($2.50) which is a rice water drink. It’s a beverage that’s on the sweet side and mild in flavor.
The Milanesa proved a good choice and was a large helping. The ribeye was indeed tender and the ranchero sauce with the addition of the cheese added extra flavor to the dish.
Among dishes on the eatery’s restaurant are Sopes ($7.75); Tacos Al Pastor ($9); Flautas ($8.50); Ribeye Ranchero ($16); Grilled Salmon ($13); Coctel de Camarones, which is a shrimp cocktail ($14.50); and more.
Casa del Mar regularly features live music on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. That night the music of Mary Mystica was in the spotlight and featured light classic rock tunes by the likes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other ‘60s and ‘70s groups.
The restaurant’s interior features colorful lighting, paintings and other Mexican decor and wall hangings making it a comfortable place to enjoy a meal and the company of friends.
Restaurant Scene: Sweet and savory goodies star at Butterfingers
Care for something decadent? What about a healthy salad or hearty sandwich? Butterfingers offers a variety of sandwiches, desserts, salads and more to satisfy one's appetite for sweet or savory fare.
Munster's Butterfingers, known as a favorite "dessert and delicatessen shop," for Region fans, is located in Market Square, off Ridge Road. There's also a Highland location.
The eatery, offering both a small area where customers may sit or carry-out fare, has a quaint cafe atmosphere where the aroma of freshly baked sweets immediately attracts customers.
During a recent lunch stop at Butterfingers, the choice was a difficult one. Staring at the cases filled with colorful salads and entrees as well as lavish looking cakes, cookies and cupcakes, it took more than a few minutes to decide what to order.
That afternoon, one of the cases starred a Stuffed Red Pepper ($7.75 per pound) as well as assorted salads. The stuffed pepper looked too good to pass up so that was the entree of choice.
Various entrees and salads are charged by the pound whereas other items such as sandwiches and cupcakes are charged by the piece.
Among items featured at Butterfingers are the popular Chicken Almond Salad ($9.75 per pound); Fresh Fruit Salad ($7.25 per pound); Napa Cabbage Slaw ($6.50 per pound); Spinach Pasta Salad ($6.50 per pound); Cranberry Orange Couscous ($7.95 per pound) and more.
Cupcake flavors include everything from cherry and lemon to red velvet, banana and chocolate cream-filled to other creations. On the Butterfingers website, customers will also find a specific menu for any given day since items often rotate at the shop. Prices will also vary from season to season so it's advised that customers call for more specific information.
Party trays for salads and sweets are also available at Butterfingers.
Restaurant Scene: Get your pierogi fix at Dan's Pierogies
Food lovers don't have to be at Pierogi Fest to enjoy a good Polish filled dumpling treat.
Visit Dan's Pierogies in Highland for a pierogi fix or if you have a taste for delicious European fare. Dan's Pierogies is located in downtown Highland, on quaint Jewett Avenue.
The family-run business features assorted flavors of pierogi, available frozen or cooked, as well as various other items, including Stuffed Cabbage or Pepper dinners, Cabbage and Noodles and more.
Dan's Pierogies, which is popular as a carry-out eatery, also has a few tables for those wishing to dine in. During a recent early dinner at the restaurant, we chose to dine in to enjoy our meal.
Surveying the menu, we decided on a variety of pierogi to sample. Our order featured meat, potato and cheddar cheese, sweet cheese, cabbage, plum and blueberry. Pierogi are $6 per dozen for frozen or 60 cents each if they're cooked. The dessert or fruit flavored varieties are $7 per dozen for frozen or 70 cents each for cooked.
Attendees of Pierogi Fest will remember the eatery for its participation in the popular festival in Whiting. The Dan's Pierogies' stand at Pierogi Fest always has many people waiting to order from their menu.
While dining at the Highland eatery, the young workers manning the counter told us they were already gearing up for Pierogi Fest, which will be held July 29, 30 and 31 this year.
In addition to the pierogi, we also enjoyed the Stuffed Cabbage Dinner ($6). The meat used to stuff the cabbage was a flavorful mixture with a bit of a spicy blend. The dinner also featured mashed potatoes and green beans.
Stuffed Cabbage and Stuffed Peppers are also sold individually ($2.50 each). The menu also features Loaded Potato Pierogi ($3); Polish Sausage on Bun ( $4); Potato Cake ($1) Cheese Blintz ($1.25) and more.
If you have kids visiting the eatery, you can let them take a selfie with the pierogi character decorating the wall.
Restaurant Scene: Jodi's Italian Ice Factory opens in Munster
Fans of Jodi's Italian Ice Factory in Hammond and Whiting now have another locale to visit for the popular sweet treat.
Jodi's Italian Ice Factory recently opened on busy Calumet Avenue in Munster. The business is offering the same "water ice" treat featured at the other store locations. The business, which originally debuted on Calumet Avenue in Hammond in 2014, is owned by Jodi and Brian Tillman.
"We opened the Munster store on June 3," said Jodi Tillman, adding that more customers are starting to frequent the walk-up shop, now in its second week.
Tillman said she's enjoyed experimenting with different flavors through the years and has a variety of specialty ices, including Mangonada, Swedish Fish, Strawberry and Blue Raspberry.
It was after the Tillmans opened their Hammond store that Jodi started to add candy to the concoctions making ices that taste similar to favorite candy treats. She not only mixes in candy but creates flavors that taste like certain ones, including the Swedish Fish concoction.
At Jodi's Munster shop, customers may sit at outdoor tables to enjoy their Italian ice.
During a recent visit to the new shop, we tried a Cantaloupe ice, which was flavored with fresh melon. Tillman said, among other popular flavors at the shop are Horchata, Strawberry, Lemon, Wild Berry Skittles, Candy Watermelon, Real Watermelon, Coconut and Cherry.
Other flavors starring on the menu are Candy Lime, Green Apple, Grape, Strawberry Apple Pie, Sour Blue Raspberry and more.
Ices come in small, medium and large. Prices are $2.50, $3.50 and $4.50.
There are no preservatives or stabilizers in Jodi's Italian ice. The product is also lactose-free.
Restaurant Scene: Catch 22 features eclectic menu
Diners looking for a convivial atmosphere, a fun menu and assorted brews will enjoy a visit to Catch 22 Bar and Grill in Merrillville.
The spacious eatery, featuring TVs, a large bar, a mix of tables and booths, games on the premises and outdoor seating, is a good choice for food fans interested in catching a favorite game on television.
During a recent Sunday visit to the sports bar, the Chicago Cubs game was among the sporting events being broadcast at the eatery. We were given a choice on whether we wanted to dine indoors or outdoors.
We picked a booth in the bar area right across from one of the big screen televisions on the premises. It was mid-afternoon and the crowd featured a mix of ages enjoying meals inside as well as on the patio.
For our late lunch/early dinner meal we chose the Guinness Braised Beef ($15), which our server said was a popular dish at the restaurant. A Caesar Salad ($4 for small) was more than a substantial serving and proved to be a good meal on its own.
The Guinness Braised Beef, with carrots, green beans, mashed potatoes and fresh cheese curds, was a huge, family-style helping. It could have easily served a few people at the table if they wanted to share. The beef was tender and flavorful with the addition of Guinness gravy.
Among other menu items at Catch 22 are Indiana Smoked Candied Bacon ($8.50 for an appetizer); Crispy Shrimp $11 (for an appetizer); Jalapeno Shrimp Mac & Cheese ($15); Ponzu Sesame Salmon ($17) and Roasted Polenta Goat Cheese ($14).
On the burger/sandwich side of the menu titled Between the Buns, diners will find the Swiss & Shroom Burger ($11.75); Hot Mess Burger ($11.75); Adult Grilled Cheese ($9) and Cali Turkey Burger ($10).
Other items featured at the eatery are Flatbread Pizza; Chili and Salads; and Tacos. Catch 22 also stars an extensive brew and spirits menu.
Restaurant Scene: Capri's Pizza offers variety of favorites
Diners looking for a selection of Italian dishes will find great variety at Capri's Pizza in Whiting.
Capri's, which features a majority of carry-out and delivered items, also has a table and a few stools for those wishing to dine at the tiny eatery.
Two other Capri restaurants in the area - the original in the South Chicago neighborhood and one in Schererville - are owned by a different restaurateur than the Whiting location, which is owned and operated by Bill, Phil and Joe Savarino. The Whiting Capri's opened in 1991. Bill, Phil and Joe also own Savarino's in Shorewood.
During a recent Sunday afternoon visit to Capri's, we decided to try a few selections. Pizza, of course, was a definite choice as well as a pasta dish and chicken.
Capri's pizza comes in extra thin, regular crust and double dough renditions. There are also deep dish pizzas available.
We had the regular crust, which also featured a good amount of cheese on top. The Meat Cannelloni Dinner also got praise at our table for a flavorful seasoning and a rich, red sauce. The Junior Chicken Dinner featured two pieces of broasted chicken with a side of French fries and coleslaw.
The eatery offers different specials on certain days. For instance on Mondays, customers can buy one pizza and get the second one half off. On Tuesdays, guests may buy one pasta dinner and get one free.
Among items on Capri's menu are Spaghetti, Ravioli, Tortellini, Seafood dinners and Rib selections, including Rib Tips and Rib Slabs. Calzones are also popular in addition to various sandwiches such as Italian Beef, Meatball and Italian Sausage.
Customers wanting to order catering items may do so at the eatery. Catered menu items include everything from Sliced Italian Beef, Italian Sausage and Peppers to Broasted Chicken, Baked Mostaccioli and various vegetables and salads.
The original Capri's Restaurant in South Chicago dates from 1955 and Phil Savarino said they are still offering the same pizza recipe from the eatery's beginning.
Restaurant Scene: Coffee, tea, good food star at Grindhouse Cafe
Diners looking for a place to relax and enjoy a good beverage and creative dish, should make plans to spend some time in downtown Griffith.
Grindhouse Cafe, located on Broad Street, is a cozy eatery specializing in coffee, tea, assorted pastries and creative sandwiches and salads.
The restaurant, celebrating its 4th anniversary this week, features a casual homey setting with cafe-style tables and chairs, colorful couches and a large blackboard menu at the entrance.
During a recent Monday evening visit to the restaurant, there were a few tables occupied with diners enjoying a mix of coffee and tea beverages as well as pastries and sandwiches.
Although there was about an hour before closing time, customers were still trickling into the eatery to order carry-out items in addition to those choosing to be seated to enjoy a late dinner.
After surveying the blackboard menu, we decided on a tea drink and a sandwich for our meal.
The Bleu Cheese Beef Bomb ($6.95) attracted our attention from its tasty description on the menu and The Cinnamon Girl ($3.66) tea drink was also a selection that was out of the ordinary.
Grindhouse Cafe fills a ciabatta roll with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, spring mix, aged horseradish cheddar and roast beef for the Beef Bomb. It proved to be a filling choice and we even saved a portion of the sandwich for leftovers the next day.
The Cinnamon Girl tea beverage featured a flavorful blend of cinnamon plum tea with caramel. Customers can order it hot or iced. For that warm Monday night, iced was definitely the way to go.
Other items on Grindhouse Cafe's menu include various coffees from Lattes and Americano to Cappuccino, Cafe Au Lait and Mocha to other beverages such as Italian Soda, Hot Chocolate and Smoothies.
Various food items include Pulled Pork, Croque Grindhouse and Chicken Salad Sandwiches to breakfast items such as the Bikin Eggs Burrito and Jammin' Ham.
Diners won't go wrong stopping in to the cafe for a quick carry-out or spending time for a meal there.
Restaurant Scene: Celebrate reopening of Sanfratello's
Pizza fans who visited Sanfratello's Pizza on Wednesday in Highland were given an extra treat.
The restaurant celebrated its grand reopening, with visitors on Wednesday the recipient of a free small thin-crust cheese pizza.
Joe Sanfratello said they've remodeled the eatery but customers can expect the same traditional menu the pizzeria is known for.
"We've actually been open the entire time throughout the renovation," owner Sanfratello said. The Highland restaurant, he explained, had previously been a franchise. The Sanfratello family owns it once again.
Sanfratello's was originally established in 1969 and was founded in a small home in Glenwood by Sanfratello's father, Joe Sr.
With the renovation, Sanfratello said they've updated the kitchen and other aspects of the eatery.
"We've brought back the stone deck ovens, which are our original ovens," he said. Those ovens, he explained, can cook at 600 degrees and offer a more consistent form of baking.
Ingredients used at Sanfratello's are fresh and of the utmost quality, he said. Nothing is frozen or processed and they don't use additives or preservatives. "It's all top of the line," he said.
In addition to thin crust and pan pizza, other items on Sanfratello's menu are Antipasto Salad, Cheese Sticks, Zucchini Sticks, various sandwiches, Ravioli, Baked Rigatoni, Homemade Lasagna, Baby Back Ribs and more. Specialty pizzas include Meat Lovers, Hawaii and Buffalo Chicken.
Sanfratello said there are five locations of the pizza restaurant, with two in Northwest Indiana, one in Naperville, one in Tinley Park and one in Gilbert, Arizona.
Restaurant Scene: The View stars fresh offerings, picturesque scenery
Diners looking for a relaxing environment, quick but substantial meals and pretty views, should make plans for lunch or dinner at The View.
The View is located in the Clubhouse at Centennial Park, off Calumet Avenue, in Munster. It's a cozy place to dine and a perfect place to congregate for those fresh off the golf course, any one looking for a spot for a work lunch or for a casual dinner choice.
As the name indicates, there is a picturesque view of the park's Maynard Lake, from the restaurant. Guests may look out toward the gardens, the entertainment stage or the park's boardwalk.
We visited The View on a recent Monday for a late afternoon meal. Since the lunch crowd had already left, it was quiet in the restaurant and we had our pick of tables. After choosing a table right next to the window with a view of the fountain situated in the center of the lake, we took a look at the menu.
While the eatery's menu isn't extensive, it does include a mix of selections in the categories of soups, salads and sandwiches.
Our choices that afternoon were the Cheddar Broccoli Soup ($2.99) and Chopped Salad ($7.95). The soup had a good consistency and was neither too thick or too thin. The soup's flavor featured a balanced blend of seasonings as well.
The Chopped Salad, featuring a hefty helping of greens, vegetables and grilled strips of chicken, was presented nicely. The salad featured bacon, onions, blue cheese, green peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. There was more than enough food to cart home for dinner that day.
Among other items on The View menu are Southwestern Salad ($5.95); Chefs Salad ($7.95); Buffalo Chicken Salad ($7.95); The Region's Best Beef Sandwich ($7.95); Tasty Fore Tuna ($6.95); Turkey Club ($8.65); the signature Bunker Burger ($7.75); Bacon Cheeseburger ($8.75); The Grilled Birdie, which is a chicken sandwich ($7.45); Hot Reuben ($7.95); and Mushroom Bacon Burger ($8.95). A children's menu is also featured.
Restaurant Scene: Head to Jimmy's for a hearty burger
If you're planning to go out to eat a casual meal with a group of friends or family members who all have quite different tastes, don't hesitate to stop in at Jimmy's for a bite to eat.
Jimmy's in Munster features a mix of menu items. Everything from old fashioned burgers to pizza, fish, Mexican items, ice cream treats and shakes are available at the fast food diner-style restaurant.
The eatery is located in a strip mall on Ridge Road. Besides offering varied dishes, the atmosphere is welcoming with bright lights and attractive decor. Black and white tables boast bold writing on the table top. There are also booths, tables and stool seating at the eatery.
Jimmy's specialty is Jimmy's Original Burger, which is a hearty offering. Diners may order the sandwich alone or opt for the meal, which includes a large helping of French fries and a drink. During a recent visit to Jimmy's, we ordered the (Double) Jimmy's Original Burger ($7.99) and were pleasantly surprised. It was a hearty enough helping to share with co-workers who were tempted to try the burger which was ordered as a carry-out.
At Jimmy's, carry-out orders are a large part of the business but that afternoon, many dining parties occupied the seats at the restaurant proving its popularity with the lunch crowd.
Among items on Jimmy's menu are the Philly Steak, Super Philly Foot Long, Philly Chicken, Gyro Plate, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Chicken & Waffles. There are also various burgers.
Guests may also choose from Catfish Nuggets, Shrimp, Tacos, Burritos, Italian Beef, Vienna Cornbeef Sandwich, various desserts, milkshakes and ice cream.
If you're looking for a quick bite to eat but definitely something to fill you up, visit Jimmy's.
Relax, sip a beverage, share a meal in Crown Point
As you walk into The Sip Coffee House and Artisan Cafe in Crown Point, you immediately realize it's a place you might want to explore. Especially, if pop culture is your thing.
The Sip, located across from the Crown Point Court House, is a relaxing eatery featuring coffee, tea and other beverages as well as a selection of sandwiches, salads and other dishes. Limited breakfast items are even on the menu.
The decor in the restaurant features a mix and match feel. There are two rooms for dining and also the eatery features seating in little nooks and corners. Couches, easy chairs and other furniture fill the restaurant.
There's a psychedelic look to the place. The walls are bright-colored and mixed media, from paintings, sculptures and other art line the walls and several tables in the eatery.
Assorted piped-in music plays throughout the restaurant. During a recent Saturday afternoon visit to The Sip, all the tables were filled. Customers enjoyed a mix of goodies, from coffee drinks and hot tea to salads, sandwiches and even breakfast.
After surveying the menu, we decided to try a breakfast item as well as something from the Favorites section of the menu. And we couldn't pass up a few beverages.
Our order featured The Classic ($3.95) from The Bagel Head category. The Classic was essentially a bagel sandwich starring bacon, eggs and cheese and it proved filling and flavorful. The popular Pot Roast Melt ($8.50) also was a good choice. The meat was stewed in Onion Soup and the sandwich contained a mix of Swiss and Cheddar cheese.
Our drink choices were Thai Iced Tea (with tapioca) ($4, and 25 cents extra for the tapioca) as well as Green Tea Latte ($4).
Among other menu selections at The Sip are Signature Lattes ($3.25, for 16-ounce and $3.65 for 20-ounce). Lattes come in flavors such as Almond Joy; Smore; and Mexican Mocha. Other selections on the menu include Griddle Melts ($4.95), which come in Bacon Twist, The Artisan and other varieties. Assorted salads and sandwiches are also featured.
One can easily enjoy time at The Sip with friends or family members. There are even a few board games to pass the time while you're there.
Restaurant Scene: Eat a meal at the market
There's more than a good drink at Brewhouse 41 in Schererville.
Brewhouse 41 Taphouse and Grill, located in Whole Foods Market, features an assortment of dishes as well as beer, wine and other beverages.
Diners may enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at the market's eatery. There's a separate menu for Brewhouse but customers may also purchase items from the grocery store to eat inside the restaurant.
At Brewhouse, guests will find everything from appetizers, burgers and sandwiches to desserts. On weekends, breakfast is also offered. The menu isn't large but it offers a bit of every category.
During a recent visit to Brewhouse 41, we opted to have dinner there after a late afternoon shopping trip to Whole Foods Market. Guests simply order at the counter and wait at a table of your choice for servers to bring your dish to you.
Even if one dines there after shopping, there's plenty of room to store your bags at the eatery's tables.
Our meal included the Buffalo Chicken Wings ($6 for an appetizer portion); Loaded Tater Tot Nachos ($5 for an appetizer portion); and an order of Dough-Nuts ($4).
The Chicken Wings featured a flavorful sauce with a kick and the Loaded Tater Tot Nachos were a hit at our table. The nachos were a cheese-topped, seasoned taco meat creation also topped with green onions, black olives and sour cream. Jalapeno peppers are also added to the creative dish but we opted to leave them out.
Brewhouse 41's Dough-Nuts (cleverly spelled that way) were sweet treats with a chocolate filling and were served with a raspberry mascarpone dipping sauce.
Among other dishes available at Brewhouse 41 are the Up In Smoke Burger ($6); 3 Egg Omelet ($6); Stack of Pancakes ($6); Beef Brisket Chili ($3 for a cup, $5 for a bowl); Beer Battered Pickles ($4); Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6); and Portabella Sandwich ($6).
The brews available also include local beers from places such as 3 Floyds and Founders.
Whether you want to visit Brewhouse 41 as a separate dining destination or as part of your shopping adventure, the eatery is a casual, relaxing place to enjoy a meal.
Restaurant Scene: Burger Brothers debuts at Ameristar
Ameristar East Chicago had the burger fan in mind with its newest eatery.
The casino recently debuted its latest restaurant Burger Brothers. The menu features various burgers along with other sandwiches, including an Italian Beef and Sausage Combo and Maxwell Street Polish.
Burger Brothers is in the area that housed Ameristar's previous casual eatery Double Down Diner. It's situated on the first floor of the casino, just before you enter the gaming area.
While the previous eatery was rather small, Burger Brothers occupies a much larger space and features a sleek-looking interior with a checkerboard-style floor pattern.
Guests will find everything from classic burgers to chicken sandwiches, soups, desserts and milkshakes on the menu at the restaurant. Burger Brothers features hand-crafted burgers made to order. Written material about the menu states that shredded lettuce used on the burgers is tossed in pickle juice and is what sets the flavor apart on the burgers.
During a recent Sunday night visit to Burger Brothers, we ordered The Big Brother ($8.95) and a Vanilla Milkshake ($3.95). The restaurant regularly runs a special shake on any given day as well. In addition to the Vanilla Shake, an Apple-Cinnamon was available that day.
The Big Brother, a 1/2 pound burger with American cheese on a buttery bun with other fixings, won praise at our table for its hearty flavor.
Guests at Burger Brothers order their food at the counter and then sit wherever they'd like. Servers then bring items to customers. At the entrance to the diner, customers will also see a case filled with pastries, juice and other treats, which was the same concept at Double Down Diner.
Among various items guests will find on the menu are The Twin Brothers ($9.95); Spicy Chicken Sandwich ($5.95); Classic Italian Beef ( $9.95); Chicago Dog ( $4.95) Loaded Brothers Chili ($5.95); Onion Rings ($2.95) and more.
Third Coast Spice Cafe promotes tasty, healthy fare
Diners are offered a variety of options at Third Coast Spice Cafe.
The Chesterton restaurant features everything from breakfast specialties such as omelets and egg dishes to lunch selections, including soups, salads and more.
Third Coast Spice Cafe was established seven years ago by Lisa and David Wodrich. Through the years the couple have put the spotlight on whole, healthy foods, made without artificial ingredients. A great deal of items on the menu fit into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
As stated on the restaurant's website, "There is something for Vegans, Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, Tree Huggers, Gluten sensitive people, people with allergies and hungry kids."
The owners also make it a point to promote organic and locally sourced food by using those healthy ingredients in their dishes. Also featured at the eatery are cage-free local eggs and gluten-free bread.
Diners visiting the cozy eatery will enjoy perusing the menu. Some of the menu items have clever names such as The Happy Scramble; It's Easy Over Easy; and Morning Glory.
Omelet fans won't go wrong with the Build Your Own Specialty Omelet ($10.45).
Guests may pick as many ingredients as they'd like to stuff an omelet. Ingredients include La Mesa Mushrooms, Kalamata Olive Relish, Caramelized Onions, Artichoke Hearts, Poblano Pepper Sauce, Lemon Garlic Broccoli, Assorted Fresh Vegetables, Meat, Cheese and other items.
Among Third Coast Specials are Madras Coconut Curry ($10.25), which is tofu and seasonal veggies in a smooth and savory curried coconut sauce over organic brown rice; and Fusion Burrito ($7.50), which is Spanish spiced black beans, organic brown rice, roasted Poblano Pepper sauce and soy cheese wrapped in Lavash.
Other items diners will find on the menu include Salmon Salad ($11.25); Organic Chickpea Power Slam Salad ($8.25) and Mayflower Madness ($10.25) griddle sandwich.
Various beverages are also on the list, including the unique Sweeticicles, which is fresh squeezed orange juice and blended flavors. They include Mango Colata, with coconut and mango; and the Hang Ten, with white chocolate, almond and coconut flavors.
Cheers to healthy fare at Third Coast.
Restaurant Scene: Lynethe's offers a mix of Polish and Mexican fare
There's a flavorful array of dishes coming out of the kitchen of Lynethe's Deli and Pierogis.
The eatery, located on Whiting's quaint 119th Street, features a varied menu of Polish specialties as well as authentic Mexican favorites.
Jesus Alvarez, proprietor and chef of Lynethe's, has been serving up flavorful ethnic comfort foods for the last 12 years at the deli. The eatery is actually located in a storefront that was formerly the Condes building, referencing the Conde family of Northwest Indiana food fame.
Alvarez stresses he wants to continue to offer high quality culinary selections at the restaurant. In addition to the eatery, Alvarez operates a catering business at St. Mary's Hall in Whiting. The chef sharpened his skills in the culinary business by working for various employees who were experts in diverse ethnic cuisines.
While Polish fare has been the specialty at Lynethe's through the years, Alvarez also offers Mexican favorites and soon will add more Mexican dishes to the menu.
Customers visiting Lynethe's will find everything from Pierogi, Stuffed Cabbage, BBQ Ribs, Fried Chicken, Baked Ham, Baked Chicken and Roast Beef to Tacos, Tostadas, Burritos and other Latin recipes.
Diners visiting Lynethe's order at the counter and may sit at one of a few tables to dine or carry out their meal. (Meals are served in carryout containers).
We visited Lynethe's, which is named after Alvarez' wife, on a recent Monday. We ordered the Stuffed Cabbage meal as well as a variety of Pierogi. We also enjoyed an order of tacos.
Everything is made from scratch at Lynethe's and our meal received high marks in the flavor department. Alvarez definitely has a talent for preparing winning meals.
The pierogi at Lynethe's is offered in various flavors including kraut; potato and cheddar; and sweet cheese; to cabbage; spinach; and meat. The cost for pierogi is $8.45 for a dozen (cooked) or 6 for $5.
Average cost for the other dishes are $7.50 for a meal (which includes mashed potatoes and a vegetable); and $8.29 for the Mexican meal selections.
In addition to what Alvarez offers on his a la carte and daily special menu, there's also a full-service catering menu available.
Restaurant Scene: Steel City Grill open for business
A new eatery recently debuted at Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary.
Steel City Grill, located on the second floor of the casino lobby, offers a menu with various entrees, sandwiches, salads and a selection of desserts and sides.
The restaurant was the site of the former Wings N Things. The transformation of Wings N Things to Steel City Grill was under the direction of HDW Commercial Interiors in collaboration with Pete Smith of US Steel and the management team of Majestic Star Casino.
Steel City Grill is a casual eatery allowing guests to step up to the counter to order. Diners are then given a number and must wait for their food to be prepared. Most items, except for pies, cakes and other goodies, are made to order. So all food is fresh and hot off the grill. Depending on what one orders, the wait can be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.
During a recent late Monday lunch, we ordered the Steel Worker Steak Sandwich ($9.95) with a side order of French fries ($2).
The sandwich was a hearty offering featuring a flavorful thin steak packed with various items including cheese and mushrooms. Many of the menu items have names corresponding to the steel industry.
Items include Blast Furnace Philly ($8.50); Cline Avenue Sub ($7.95); Iron Worker Sub ($7.95) and Cold Rolled Steel Club ($8.25).
Other dishes include Fish N Chips ($13.95); Lunch Box Rib Tips ($11.95); Chopped Salad ($8.95); and Greek Salad ($8.95). Pizza, burgers and wings are also featured.
The decor in the restaurant is themed to correspond with the steel industry as well. There are photographs lining the walls taken from the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest Library.
In addition, other decor features "work shop" designs including mechanical designs from some of the local steel mills.
Diners may eat in the restaurant or carry out their food.
Bohemian Joe's serves up varied American fare
A new eatery recently debuted at the site of the former Popolano's in Lansing.
Bohemian Joe's had a soft opening in January on busy Torrence Avenue. Watch for the restaurant to celebrate a grand opening soon.
Although the restaurant's name may suggest the menu would be filled with Eastern European and Czech fare, its slogan advertises "good ol' American food."
Sandwiches, pizza, chicken dinners, various salads and appetizers, ribeye dinners and more are among selections.
The restaurant features sleek looking decor with some nostalgic and geometric looking designs on the wall.
During a recent Thursday evening meal at Bohemian Joe's, we couldn't decide whether to order from the entree or sandwich segment of the menu or choose one of various pizzas.
We chose from the entrees and selected Joe's Catch ($11) and BBQ Mac ($11). Two sides accompanied the entrees and we went with the smashed potato, coleslaw, soup and the vegetable kabob.
Joe's Catch was a flavorful dish featuring three pieces of ale battered pollock with a honey jalapeno tartar sauce. The BBQ Mac also received positive comments at our table. It was layered with pulled pork and starred a sweet honey BBQ sauce.
Other menu items at Bohemian Joe's include Pickle Chips ($9) and Beef and Mushroom Poutine ($10) as appetizers; Seared Salmon entree ($15); Apple Feta ($10) and Grilled Sweet Potato $10) salads; and assorted pizzas.
On the pizza menu are renditions such as White Pizza; Margherita; Buffalo; Hawaiian; Veggie; Oinker and Build Your Own Pizza. Various drizzles such as Buffalo, Balsamic and BBQ Sauce are available for topping pizzas.
If you're bringing your family to dine at Bohemian Joe's, the restaurant also offers a kids menu. Chicken Strips ($6); Grilled Cheese ($6); and Pizza Bites ($6) are among choices for children.
Restaurant Scene: Pizza, Pasta and more at Pucci's
Pucci's Restaurant and Pizzeria has been offering diners a mix of authentic Italian fare for three decades.
The restaurant, owned by Frank Pucci and Eugene and Carmela Fiore, was established in 1986 at the corner of Indianapolis Boulevard and Ewing Avenue on Chicago's Southeast Side. It's only a few blocks from the Indiana border.
"All of our recipes are made from scratch," said Frank Pucci, who still regularly works at the restaurant with his fellow co-owners. Pucci said the hearty Italian fare served at the eatery is inspired by popular family recipes.
Pucci's is located on the site of the former Salvino's, which was a restaurant started by Pucci's brother. There was also a Pucci's Pizzeria, largely a carry-out, in Hegewisch, which is now closed.
During a recent Sunday visit to Pucci's, we ordered the eatery's Chicken Vesuvio as well as the Braciola. Both are favored dishes at the restaurant and both were large portions.
The Chicken Vesuvio, ($13.95) was truly an authentic dish with the garlic, oil and seasoning blend served in a bowl on the side. The Braciola ($12.95) proved to be a winner in flavor as well. The recipe is seasoned pork rolled in a slice of beef. It was served with spaghetti and covered with a rich, red sauce.
Both entrees came with a choice of soup or salad.
Top sellers at Pucci's include Pizza, Lasagna and the Italian Breaded Steak Sandwich.
Among other menu items are Meatball Sandwich; Veal Parmesan Sandwich ; Pizza Burger; Veal Parmesan entree; Pan Fried Chicken; Baby Back Ribs; Boneless Lake Perch; Manicotti; Homemade Ravioli and more.
Pucci's also offers carry-out service as well as delivery and catering.
If you're looking for authentic fare that's very much the old style country cooking, visit Pucci's for a meal.
Umi Sushi a hot spot in Crown Point
Seafood is a star on menus year-round. But, with Lent being a big season for fish and other forms of seafood, diners often are looking for different ways to enjoy the fare.
Of course, fish fries are the ever popular Region favorite at this time of year. Diners not interested in fried fare, though, will delight in consuming a selection of sushi.
Umi Sushi and Lounge in Crown Point offers a selection of creative menu items. The restaurant, located on Courthouse Square, was established by The Klideris family last April and sits above Prime Steakhouse.
Sushi specialties, featuring maki, assorted chef's special rolls and sashimi along with salads, soups and various drinks, including flights of martinis and saki are on the menu here.
The Klideris family also owns and operates Theo's Steaks and Seafood in Highland and the family-style Ted's Restaurant in Calumet City.
Peter Klideris, co-owner of Umi, said they've added a variety of new items to the menu since they opened. He said the eatery's Chef Ben has been creating some interesting recipes on the Japanese-style menu.
"We run weekly special," Klideris said. On the menu are various chef's highlights, which blend assorted ingredients in a creative sushi presentation. Chef's specials are half off on Wednesdays.
Klideris said his family wants to continue to bring a unique dining experience to Region food fans with Umi.
"All of our fish is top quality and is rolled to order," he said. In addition, all sauces are made in house.
Chef's specials include the Mamacita roll ($16.50), which features yellowtail, asparagus, cilantro, jalapeno, mango, cucumber, honey sauce, spicy mayo and eel sauce.
Among other items on the menu are Hamachi Sashimi ($4.50); Unagi, which is eel ($3.50); Vegetarian rolls such as Asparagus ($5.50) and Sweet Potato ($7.50); Miso Soup ($2.50); Seaweed Salad ($5.50); the Angry Wife chef's specialty roll ($17.50); and Sushi for 2 ($55.50), featuring 10 pieces of nigiri, 1 California roll and 1 chef's special roll.
Polish cuisine a standout at Cavalier Inn
Diners who have a taste for authentic Polish cuisine won't go wrong planning a visit to Cavalier Inn in Hammond.
Cavalier Inn, located at 735 Gostlin, has been in existence since 1955. In 1955, however, it was located only a few blocks down from its current location. (The eatery moved to the current locale in 1963).
"My mom and dad started the business," said Wally Kasprzycki, who serves as manager now. He said his late father actually began another restaurant/bar business in the area in 1949.
At the Cavalier Inn, which is akin to a banquet/hall setting for dining, guests will find an assortment of Polish specialties as well as other American-style entrees. The eatery also has a bar area, with seating. In the bar, guests will even find a juke box which plays old 45s.
Kasprzycki's mother Mary still takes the helm in the kitchen as she produces homemade, old-style Polish dishes with a few other cooks who've worked at the Cavalier Inn for 20 plus years.
"It's all homemade stuff," Kasprzycki stressed, adding his mother and the other cooks work hard in the kitchen as they produce the high quality, authentic fare.
On a recent Saturday, we visited Cavalier Inn for an early lunch. Kasprzycki was our friendly server that day and let us know what soups were featured. He also talked a bit about how various entrees were prepared and what they included.
We ordered Golabki (stuffed cabbage, $9.75) and also Pork Chops ($10.75). Both were served with a relish plate featuring coleslaw, which was a sweet concoction made on the premises, as well as bean salad and cottage cheese. We also tried the cheese and sauerkraut pierogi ($1.75 each).
All entrees are hearty portions. The stuffed cabbage was well seasoned and was served with a choice of potato, which in our case was a baked potato. Cavalier Inn's pork chops, Kasprzycki said, are one of the popular items and we quickly learned why. The chops were lightly breaded, extremely tender and flavorful. Mashed potatoes and a serving of green beans went well with the dish.
Other dishes on the menu include Roast Loin of Pork ($8.50); Chicken Liver and Onions ($7.75); Polish Potato Pancakes ($7); Polish Sausage with Sauerkraut ($9.50); and Pierogi ($7.50 for 5). Homemade soup is featured daily. Selections rotate but often include potato, chicken noodle, pickle, Czarnina; and others.
Breakfast dishes, including eggs, omelets and French toast, are available all day at the restaurant.
Kasprzycki said diners order a great amount of seafood. Available at Cavalier Inn are Lake Perch ($12.25); Frog Legs ($10.75); Salmon Patties ($8.25); Walleye ($13.50) and more. Burgers and Sandwich Specials are also featured.
Cavalier Inn is popular with clientele who have been visiting the restaurant for decades but Kasprzycki said they often see new faces.
"We're getting more and more new ones. Word travels," he said.
Through the years, the restaurant's prices haven't changed drastically. "As a neighborhood place, we can't raise our prices much," Kasprzycki said.
Restaurant Scene: Retro feel, comfort food in spotlight at Old Style Inn
Walking into Old Style Inn in Valparaiso, it's easy to feel as though you've stepped back in time.
From the wood and stained glass-inspired decor in the bar to the menu starring classic, comfort foods, diners may feel like they're inside a retro supper club from the '40s, '50s or '60s.
"We've had the restaurant for going on 16 years," said Mary Grcich, owner of Old Style Inn with her husband Kenneth.
"I worked for three other owners as a waitress," said Grcich, of the eatery that was established in the early 1930s in downtown Valparaiso. "I've had a real passion for the Old Style, its history and its traditions."
The eatery definitely has a warm atmosphere. During our recent visit to the restaurant on a Monday night, the bartender and waitresses readily conversed with diners.
We sat in the bar area for dinner and surveyed the menu for about 10 minutes before deciding on our entrees. On the eatery's menu are dishes that aren't too common on restaurant menus nowadays.
Retro big sellers such as Frog Legs, Roast Duck, Prime Rib, Perch, Shrimp DeJonge and more star.
"I keep the duck on the menu because I don't know of anywhere else where you can get duck," Grcich said.
Our entree choices were Roasted Long Island Duck ($20) and Honey Glazed Breaded Fried Chicken ($15; and $12 for the Early Bird Special).
The duck recipe featured a delicious orange sauce with just the right sweetness to complement the seasonings in the poultry. It came with a choice of potato.
The chicken dish featured a thick breading with a mild honey flavoring. Diners who don't prefer a great deal of crispy, thick skin on their poultry, though, may want to choose another option. The chicken also came with a choice of potato, which at our table was baked.
Grcich said she and her husband have always been fond of comfort food and want to continue to bring that style of menu to diners. Every so often, the restaurant features various specials. She said, through the years, they've also added all-you-can eat specials, including ayce perch and ayce frog legs.
Among top sellers at the restaurant, Grcich said, are Prime Rib, Perch and Filet.
Other menu items included at Old Style are Coconut Shrimp appetizers ($9); Shrimp Cocktail for Two ($12); Smothered Rib Eye ($16.95); Scallop Bake ( $20) and more.
The holidays are always a big deal at the eatery as Grcich said she decorates special for every season. Currently, Valentine's Day decorations are lighting up The Old Style Inn.
And fans of the Fab Four will be in their glory at the restaurant.
"I'm a big Beatles fan," Grcich said, adding she and her husband present two Beatles nights a year at Old Style Inn. The events feature dinner and music by Chris and Lou and annually sell out. Various Beatles photos and other memorabilia are featured as decorations throughout the restaurant.
Grcich wants diners to feel at home when they're eating at her establishment.
"I just want them to have a comfortable feeling. This is a place where you can get good food and good customer service," she said.