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Thornton Park Area's Best Restaurants: It's eclectic, it's romantic, it's musical, it's fun, it's "neighborhood-y." Maxine's is lots of things, not the lease of which is a good restaurant that kinda feels like it's in the middle of a good friend's house. Just a couple of blocks outside Thornton Park proper, Maxine's on Shine actually does sit in the middle of a largely residential area, which adds to its appeal. Twinkly lights, outdoor tables, nights filled with live music are the side dishes to entrees such as fish tacos, skillet lasagna and a hearty brisket burger. Check them out for Sunday brunch, too. Festive and delish!

Brunch: One of the beauties of brunch is that it's something of a "Vulcan Meal Meld," giving foodies the option of cobbling together goodies they love for breakfast with fare they generally eat at lunch or dinner. Maxine's is no different – offering seasonal salads and seafood in the same breath as decadent, creative omelets and waffles. Though Maxine's on Shine is a delightful place for date night cocktails and dinner and live music, it retains its cozy, eclectic, neighborhood vibe – not to mention gracious hosts and staff – in broad daylight, as well. That's why they call their brunch a "Rejucination."

Romantic Dining: We can't deny that grand hotels, with their opulence and elegance and servers wearing ties, can be romantic. But we're also fans of small neighborhood joints where live music and an oft-convivial vibe can make a pair on a date feel simultaneously a part of something, yet wonderfully invisible amid the good-natured revelry. Maxine's is a cozy, lively place that may inspire a couple to move in for close talking over a bottle of wine and a bowl of buttery, garlicky drunken mussels (just make sure you both have it!). Regular "Parlour Nights" with live jazz (and classical, Latin and classic rock) piano and a twinkly-lit patio don't hurt, either.

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Local Expert A.D. Thompson Says:

Thornton Park Area's Best Restaurants: "Maxine's patio is pooch-friendly. Bring Rover if you're so inclined!"

Brunch: "Lovers of the brunch-time Bloody will want to sample their spicy take, which comes not merely with a beer floater and bacon, but a smoked shrimp-and-olive skewer. Viva la decadence!"

Romantic Dining: "Are you a couple whose preferred romantic outings include a pooch? Maxine's patio is dog-friendly."

Best for Thornton Park Area's Best Restaurants Because: Quirky and quaint with good food and and a festive vibe, Maxine's is an easy, worth it walk-to from Thornton Park.

Best for Brunch Because: Vibe, location, food: Maxine's has it all and gives considerable due to brunch's wonderful tradition of day drinking. Belly up!

Best for Romantic Dining Because: Fancy-schmancy isn't the only game in town for romance. Maxine's offers up a friendly, quirky, local version you might want to try out.

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