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.
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.
Carole Childers, the founder of All Ways Healthy, is something of a modern day Odysseus. When her two daughters were younger, only alternative therapies could address their childhood health problems—which sent Carole on an epic quest across the city, seeking out specialty stores with her desired products in stock. Nowadays, she strives to make healthy living a little less time-consuming with her natural-food store.
The groceries, organized by dietary lifestyle for speedy shopping, range from gluten-free cupcakes to USDA-certified organic produce. None of the food contains preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, or a hidden side of fries—and for additional information on any food item, shoppers can consult with Carole, who is a licensed dietary nutritionist. To complement the healthy food, the shop also carries skincare and beauty products, none of which were tested on animals.
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.
Voted Best Indoor Playspace by Nickelodeon's Parents Connect, Chelsea TreeHouse has since flowered into a 2,000-square-foot, three-level play palace where children frolic and tumble on a host of pint-size attractions. At the new location, kids can learn about gravity on five exciting slides and on swinging bridges, or gather to construct a miniature particle accelerator in a separate toddler area. Parents can view their tots from afar while perched on leather couches and comfy chairs. The fresh-faced facility also boasts its own basketball court where kids showcase sweet, tube-socked moves. Though not included in today's Groupon, the TreeHouse crafts a wide assortment of healthy snacks, ranging from guilt-free fruit and homemade baked goods to hearty soups and stacked sandwiches alongside a gourmet coffee bar. A generous admission policy grants children all-day access to the play land, foregoing the need to switch disguises after every restroom break.
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.
Family recipes from across Italy make every spoonful of sauce and melty morsel of mozzarella at Gianni's Cafe remind you of a happy home. Start your evening with ricotta-stuffed baked eggplant rolls ($9.95). Then, trail teasers with a trinity of customizable pasta: Choose your own noodle, sauce, and ingredients with a Romanesque thumbs up or down. Options include pesto and spicy diablo sauce ($13.95 each), with add-ons such as pine nuts ($2.50) and meatballs ($3.50). For those who would rather not choose what they chews, a house specialty eliminates decision-making. Garlic, white wine, herbs, peas, and potatoes erupt from unpredictable veal vesuvio ($21.95); pollo (most dishes are $17.95) and pesce ($18.95–$31.95) are other protein-packed options. In addition to its post-meridian menu, Gianni's also serves lunch at the Kildeer location (open seven days a week), and Sunday brunch in Palatine (open Tuesday through Sunday).