Craving spicy huevos rancheros, a heaping plate of Korean barbecue or a pitcher of cool sangria? You don’t have to go far to taste food from around the world. In fact, you don’t even have to leave town.
The next time you find yourself reaching for the phone to dial your favorite pizza delivery service, why not step outside the box? We’ve rounded up a list of local restaurants that will fire up your taste buds and make you feel like you’ve taken a trip around the world.
If Mexican food is on your mind, check out Los Huaraches at 3482 Milwaukee Avenue in Northbrook, where nothing on the menu is more than ten bucks. Beyond the usual burritos, tacos and tostadas, this restaurant offers plenty of authentic and delicious Mexican specialties. For lunch or dinner, try the restaurant’s namesake huaraches, which are home made oval corn tortillas stuffed with beans, fried and topped with your choice of chicken, steak or chorizo, green or red sauce, cheese and lettuce and onion. Huevos rancheros are served for breakfast, with rice, beans and sour cream, and on Sundays the restaurant makes its special Polzole Oaxaqueno. As chef Adriana Aburto explains, it’s a white Mexican soup with chicken topped with spicy sauce. 847-827-8653
Korean barbeque is just a few steps away at Seoul Garden Inc., 3416 Milwaukee Avenue. Serving truly authentic Korean food, this restaurant is a gem apparently little known outside the Korean community. You can choose beef to barbecue at small grills in the center of your table, which you can tend yourself or the wait staff will be happy to take care of for you. The restaurant also offers a fabulous selection of “jigaes,” or spicy Korean stews. Either way, diners will be treated to a sampling of side dishes, including kimchi (spicy and piquant pickled vegetables), fried zucchini, Korean coleslaw and the traditional sticky white rice. Prices are moderate to high for the barbecue, but a trip to Seoul Garden is definitely an adventure. 847 390-8629
Kegon Japanese Restaurant, 569 Waugekan Road in Brookside Plaza, is a great place for groups and lots of fun for young and old alike — think dinner and a show! Groups of diners are seated around a huge grill manned by their own personal chef, who prepares the meals and shows off a few tricks. Diners ooh and aah as the chef makes onion ring volcanoes, sends eggs spinning and juggles cooking utensils before getting down to business. For adults, a full bar is on site, while kids will love the Japanese soda, which comes with a marble in the bottle. Sushi and tempura are also available, and the “Teppanyaki Entrees” include soup, salad, vegetable and rice as well as your choice of steak, chicken or seafood. If it’s a birthday party, the wait staff will gather around your table to sing while the birthday guest rings a special gong. Finish the meal with green tea ice cream! www.kegonNorthbrook.com, 847-498-1109
For a little taste of Barcelona, head to Tapas Gitana at 310 Happ Road in Northfield. Northern Spanish tapas is the specialty here, where guests can sample and share a selection of small plates over a glass of wine from the restaurant’s great selection of imported Spanish varietals. Try crepes filled with apples, goat cheese and spinach, griddle cooked squid, grilled duck breast or bacon wrapped dates. You could also opt for the traditional Paella (allow 40 minutes for preparation – have another glass of wine!) “It takes a while because we bake it fresh, and not all places do,” explains owner Andy Novak, whose personal tapas favorite is the Nido de Cordero, a confit of lamb with fresh herb aioli atop a crisp potato nest. With a cozy atmosphere in winter and great outdoor seating in the summertime (think pitchers of sangria), it’s no surprise that Tapas Gitana has been thriving here for 14 years. www.tapasgitana.com, 847-784-9300
Northbrook resident Levon Kirakosyan recently opened the Siunik Armenian Grill at 1707 Chestnut Avenue in Glenview and is happy to be sharing a bit of his culture and its amazing food. Kabobs are the main offering at this casual dining spot, served alongside a variety of Armenian salads and pilaf. All of the sauces are made in-house and the traditional homemade lavash bread is baked daily. The fare here is fresh and healthy and comes with reasonable price tags. “Our meat is grilled on stainless steel skewers and never touches the greasy grill,” explains Kirakosyan, whose restaurant was recently reviewed by Steve Dolinsky of The Hungry Hound on Channel 7. www.siunikarmeniangrill.com, 847-724-7800