A new take on the old salad bar, Diced Fresh’s produce cornucopia allows customers to create their own salads from more than 50 fresh toppings and 22 regular, low-fat, and fat-free dressings. Customers outline every detail of their salad on the streamlined order sheets, ticking off a host of fixings, such as feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken, or signifying everything they don’t want with crudely drawn frowny faces. The behind-the-counter staff takes over from there to swiftly assemble the completely customized meal, optionally pairing it with a bowl of lobster bisque or nonfat vegetable chili. Indecisive eaters can simplify the decision-making process by ordering one of 18 predesigned salads, such as turkey cobb or fajita chicken, which can alternatively be turned into a wrap.
Soft light floats in through the shoji-style windows at Bangkok Thai & Sushi, where the menu lists a diversity of Thai curry and noodle dishes such as garlic pepper chicken or roast duck in Thai chili sauce. Sushi chefs prepare rainbow rolls, which wrap the traditional California roll in red tuna, salmon, and avocado, as well as black dragon rolls, which contain spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, and eel.
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.
At Buffalo Wings & Rings, the staff has had a serious love affair with wings since 1984, the year they served the establishment’s first one. Today, they toss their specialty wings in signature sauces—ranging from classic buffalo to tangy sweet Thai chili—and serve them in orders of 5, 10, 15, 25, or 50. The team prepares the wings boneless, drenched in sauce, grilled, or as hot as possible without necessitating a fire hydrant on top of each table. Creamy homemade bleu cheese or ranch dips also help douse the mouth fires, along with other menu options such as the famous onion rings, natural-cut fries, and plenty of burgers and sandwiches.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
The cooks at Galloway's Chicago Subs layer freshly baked Turano bread with turkey, crisp bacon, and lean roast beef each day. They also serve piping-hot meatball subs, Italian subs packed with capicola, pepperoni, salami, and ham, and traditional tuna subs made from a family recipe. Shakes made fresh with peanut butter, banana, strawberry, or candy and Caribou blended-coffee freezes round out meals.