The ice-cream engineers at Cold Stone Creamery spread frosty concoctions over cold marble slabs and fold in candies, brownies, and fruit to form deftly blended ice-cream treats. Signature creations, such as the Birthday Cake Remix—cake-batter ice cream mixed with chewy brownie bits—and the Oreo Overload, which is packed with chocolate cookie crumbles, make excellent piñata filling. Custom creations allow patrons to build towers of sprinkles, pecans, and cake bits atop mounds of frozen cream in flavors including chocolate, french vanilla, and mint. Shakes slowly surge through straws carrying fudge, caramel-latte, and cherry-cheesecake flavors, and smoothies dole out healthy sips of real fruit and vitamin boosts. Ice-cream cakes packed with candy and favorite mix-ins adorn the tables of birthday parties, anniversary bashes, and 10-year preschool-class reunions.
Diamond Fresh Seafood Market & Cafe is a gathering place for fresh-caught seafood from the far reaches of the world's oceans. As daily hauls of imported and domestically snagged premium seafood arrive, the knowledgeable staff doles out creative café-style meals that include shrimp alfredo and hearty salmon burgers. Customers who prefer to cart home their catches pick up home cooking tips at cooking demonstrations by pro seafood chef Carol Mackey, who reveals the culinary secrets behind potato-encrusted sea bass and other recipes. At the monthly demos, attendees can also bring their own spirits to sip during the presentation and the resident singing trout's lounge act that follows.
Inside Gianni’s Cafe, guests can don chef caps and create their own dish. They start the culinary adventure with a selection of nine pastas, and build their creation with the addition of one of 14 sauces such as spicy arrabiata with crushed red peppers. Finally, they top off their creations with their choice from a slew of ingredients, including peas, crabmeat, and ricotta cheese. Diners who’d rather let the house chefs take the wheel, dinner-wise, can dine on delicious recipes including chicken marsala, baked shrimp, and eggplant parmigiana. No matte which path they choose, diners enjoy their meals on the restaurant’s linen-topped tables while tucked away in horseshoe-shaped booths. The faux-marble walls and ceiling along with statues of muscled men evoke an Italian air that befits the dishes’ Italian roots.
Dan Beelow culls his Mundelein-raised cuts of beef and pork from his brother Duane's prized stock, ensuring that the meat that takes center stage at Beelow's Steakhouse's best USDA-graded quality. The succulent cuts of slow-roasted prime rib and steaks are aged a minimum of 45 days and fired over mesquite wood or a single match before joining fresh seafood and locally sourced produce atop white-cloth-covered tables. The passion for all things local extends to the bar, where mixologists assemble Snowshoe martinis with locally crafted Few white whiskey and regional musicians strum away until the late hours of Friday night.
Though it’s been open for the past 90 or so years, Scoreboard has seen few changes beyond its name. Once known as Schweda’s Barbecue, the Lake Zurich bar and grill is still owned and operated by the same family, and present proprietor Joe Schweda has maintained much of the eatery’s original charm, including its quaint, white-washed building situated near the lake on Old Rand Road. The grill does its part to maintain a neighborhood feel, acquiring all of its meats from Orchard Prime Meats, conveniently located next door for the past 20 years. While watching a game, patrons can wash down juicy half-pound burgers, thin-crust pizzas, or one of a dozen types of sandwiches with a frothy Budweiser, Guinness, or 312 draft.
Aside from supplying eats and drinks, the Scoreboard staff also reaps karma points by hosting philanthropic events such as “Golfing for the Cure,” and by always letting women and children onto lifeboats first.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.