Who invented the caramel apple? While the ubiquitous treat's true creator may never be known, William Morkes, Sr. can make a case that his own hand-dipped caramel apples were among the country's very first. Morkes, who opened his confection shop on 26th and Trumbull in 1920, spent long nights testing out new recipes in his apartment above the store, yielding more than a few tasty innovations.
More than 90 years and one move to Palatine later, the staff at Morkes Chocolates still hand-dips its treats, from still-popular caramel apples and rum-ball truffles to chocolate-enrobed pretzels and strawberries. Confections are made from scratch with fresh ingredients such as pure butter, eggs freshly lain by rabbits, and store-specialty cream centers ranging from vanilla and maple to orange and raspberry.
Now guided by the steady dipping hand of Morkes Sr.'s granddaughter Rhonda, the shop’s staff keeps up the tinkering ways of their founder by constantly testing new treats. In addition to ready-to-purchase delights, they stand ready with hundreds of specialty molds to help customers add a personal touch to happy events from graduation to Christmas to baby's first sweet tooth.
Today, Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream may have seven full-service family-friendly restaurants, but when it started in 1901, it was only a single small ice cream and dairy store. Now guests can settle into breakfast, lunch, and dinner at each of the eateries –and still enjoy the ice cream that put them on the map. They have garnered particular attention for their signature dish, the Kitchen Sink Sundae, which features two whole bananas, six scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), whipped cream, chocolate, and chopped almonds with a cherry topper. It’s served in a large dish shaped like a kitchen sink with a S-pipe as the handle. And when diners finish it, they receive a bumper sticker that reads, “I Ate a Colonial Kitchen Sink.”
While ice cream reigns supreme, their breakfasts have also earned praise. They were voted “Best Breakfast” by the Elgin Courier News, Aurora Beacon News, and Naperville Sun. Favorites among the regulars include the stuffed very berry French toast and cinnamon roll French toast. Come dinnertime, they continue serving comfort foods including fresh baked meatloaf and a mac and cheese bacon melt, as well as sandwiches such as the pot roast French dip. The restaurant has also earned plaudits for its popularity with its littlest diners, grabbing the "Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant" designation in the Kane County Chronicle Reader's Choice awards.
Village Vintner Winery & Brewery poses a gastronomic triple threat, operating as not just a restaurant and winery, but also a fully functioning brewery. A battalion of stainless-steel machinery ferments the hand-selected wheat and barley that make up the vanilla-cream ale, the German-style hefeweizen, and the Vintner Hop Rocket, an 8.2% ABV varietal culminating from six types of hops and mad, mad science. At the tasting bar, guests can sample these brewery end products, along with Village Vintner’s expansive selection of homemade red, white, and fruit wines. The main restaurant area houses a wood-fired pizza oven, which bakes the pesto pizzas and smoldering baby back ribs that complement potables.
A spirit of good-natured fun permeates the copper-hued premises, as evidenced by a free monthly wine and mug club. Live music is a common occurrence on Friday nights, and Wednesdays star Chef Rob’s pork special.
For more than two decades, American Mattress has promoted peaceful slumber in bedchambers throughout the Midwest with their vast selection of mattresses, headboards, and linens. The sleep experts strive to stay abreast of the latest bedding technology: their Serta mattresses are made with gel foam that supports curves, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses repel allergens, mites, and poltergeists looking to spoon. This devotion to a good night’s sleep has helped them earn the title of Best Mattress Store from suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald five years in a row. Additionally, American Mattress doubles down on each of its beds with a 30-day comfort guarantee and a 60-day best-price guarantee.
Though the communal plates of Italian food at Mandile's Italian Ristorante may look like exactly those served in the country homes of Catanzaro, Italy—looks can be deceiving. That's because the restaurant's chefs have not only mastered the traditional sauces and pastas of the region, they have found ways to seamlessly modify them to accommodate dietary requests. They can swap in whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta into most of their pasta dishes or pasta pinatas, such as the ravioli filled with four cheeses and topped with tomato cream and curls of parmigiano reggiano. Every day, they make their noodles fresh in house so that each dish bursts with natural flavors instead of preservatives. To pair with these pastas, they cook up anitpasti options such as the fried calamari and brick-oven pizzettes layered with traditional Italian toppings. No Italian meal is complete without a glass of wine, so the staff pour glasses of red and white varietals from throughout Italy and California.
Yogen Fr?z has an interesting answer for yogurt shops that simply top their swirls with fruit?they mix whole mangos, bananas, watermelon, and kiwis right in with the yogurt. These colorful, fresh creations boast low or no fat as well as a heaping helping of digestion-friendly probiotics and gluten-free goodness. Each flavor is crafted sans artificial flavorings, colors, gelatins, high-fructose corn syrups, or preservatives?all while maintaining gluten-free, kosher-certified status. Of course, customers of the shop?which has more than 1,300 locations in more than 35 countries?can still opt for a traditionally topped cup of yogurt or a fr?zion smoothie. The body bettering doesn?t stop there, as certain topping combinations from its signature fr?zion bar can even support cell membranes and veins, provide antacid and anti-inflammatory relief, or help prevent body aging, especially if bathed in.