Before they were moms with six children between them, Simply Homemade owners Cindy and Stephanie were food-industry professionals, studying nutrition and food-product development. Now, they've combined both experiences to create a company that supplies healthy, handcrafted meals to busy families. Working off of a monthly menu of 22 entrees, the duo whips up mouthwatering pastas, burgers, and kebabs chock-full of whole grains, hand-trimmed chicken, and natural beef from Heartland Meats. Then, they either preassemble meals for customers to pick up or set up ingredients for customers to assemble themselves onsite. The latter option, which takes about two hours, makes it easier for customers to tailor dinners to a child's love of mushrooms or a dog's disdain for cilantro.
Serene Teaz’s herbal outfitters dress up waiting cups in international teas, rooibos, infusions, and matés. Toast sunrise over a breakfast campfire with a mug of smoky lapsang souchong black tea ($10 for 4 oz.) or train crosshairs at midafternoon fatigue with a restorative shot of gunpowder green tea ($10.50 for 4 oz.). Steeped like tea, South African rooibos transforms into a drinkable dessert when paired with fruit or chocolate. One of Serene Teaz’s most popular rooibos brew, Sweet Sin ($10 for 4 oz.) sifts together vanilla, rose petals, and freeze-dried raspberries to elicit a decadent aroma capable of transporting drinkers toward serene moments or back to their days as a chocolate-rabbit breeder. Herbal infusions dance across nose buds with scents blended from fruits, herbs, and flowers such as hibiscus ($10 for 4 oz.) and peppermint ($9 for 4 oz.).
Owned and operated by longtime Carol Stream entrepreneur Sindy Rogers, Manhattan's gives customers a place to relax and enjoy classic American specialties. The menu includes classics of the American kitchen such as beef stew ($10.99, $8.99 for seniors), as well as inventive takes on old standbys such as the Flaming burger—8-ounces of angus beef steak burger topped with saganaki cheese and lit on fire table-side, much to the delight of carnivorous pyromaniacs ($11.99). The restaurant itself is handsomely outfitted with wood paneling, featuring a large dining room and full bar with several flat-screen TVs hanging majestically above it like so many twinkling stars in the depths of the firmament.
Eggstacy fills its breakfast and lunch menu with omelets, sandwiches, and traditional midmorning favorites made with fresh ingredients and prepared from scratch whenever possible. Homemade sauces such as strawberry compotes ooze over fresh pancakes and crêpes or slices of French-toast bread, baked daily in the Eggstacy kitchen next to edible copies of Le Petit Prince.
When putting together the decor at C U Latte Cafe, it would seem that its designers started with a white box and went from there. But, this blank basis makes the colors within it stand out in sharp contrast. The red of a woman's dress in a local artist's painting. The brown of the leather sofa. The pink of a cup of frozen lemonade. The menu is similarly simple, focusing on the necessities of a café visit: a cup of steaming coffee, a light sandwich, and a laptop to spill it all on. Patrons may choose to take their drinks indoors, surrounded by artwork and decorative reeds, or nestle around the patio's intimate table.
At Safari Café, people sip coffee and espresso beverages made from local Arbor Vitae roasts and munch fresh paninis, salads, and pizzas that populate a menu of café fare. Caffeinate for a morning commute or late night of tracing new constellations with a double-shot of espresso cloaked in Ghirardelli Chocolate sauce and steamed milk ($4.99). Hot drinks such as mocha ($3.35–$4.25) percolate alongside their chilled brethren, while the hearty Lion Appetite breakfast includes a trio of pancakes fortified with turkey bacon or sausage and two eggs ($4.99). Lunchtime snacks and sandwiches include The Beast ($5.99+), a baked helping of steak and mozzarella cheese as tender and gooey as a love note from a jellyfish.