Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
In a homey diner setting with stained glass and a large mural that depicts a small town, patrons perk up for the day with PC's menu of European and American breakfast and lunch fare. True to its name, PC’s offers a diverse roster of classic pancakes, which can come flecked with bacon or chocolate chips; baked with fillings such as spiced apples and peaches; or spread thin as crepes and sewn onto the elbows of sports jackets.
Not content to let pancakes hoard all the oven territory, thick-baked omelets jostle for space with hearty fillings such as portabella mushrooms, red peppers, and cheese. Fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice make for a refreshing quaff, and cups of Kona coffee—specially blended for the café—send toasty aromas steaming into the air alongside carafes of real whipping cream.
Sandwiches and salads populate a lunchier section of the menu, alongside burgers such as the towering Lemont-ster burger: dual half-pound patties draped in cheddar, toasted onion strings, and thousand-island dressing.
Falafel is so hearty and warm, it can be easy to forget that it is made from a simple blend of chickpeas and spices. It emerges from oil, crackling and golden brown to nestle among veggies and sauces in pita bread at Maoz Vegetarian. Patrons can choose from coleslaw, broccoli, tabouli salad, chickpea salad, and a wide variety of other salad bar items to top off their dishes. However, the falafel, which also happens to be gluten free, is merely the centerpiece of a much larger menu of other dishes including Belgian fries, a thick-cut and lightly battered version of standard french fries. Eggplants roast, ready to be served on their own or blended into garlic-laden babaganoush, and rice steeps up sweetness in bowls of vegan rice pudding. There are other vegan options as well, and Maoz provides a complete guide to all their ingredients, which also cater to kosher diners.
The kitchen wizards at Slammers Pub and Grill plate hearty pub fare with homemade sauces in a family-friendly establishment marked by tableside TVs and sports memorabilia. More than 20 sandwiches and a lengthy list of half-pound Black Angus steak burgers prevent rumbling tummies from bellowing at referees on the eatery's 22 screens, and custom pizzas encourage culinary exploration. The friendly staff stands ready to cheer on patrons brave enough to tackle the 3-pound Slammer burger, rewarding victorious diners with a half-pound burger every week for a year, or a one-time prize of 26 pounds of ground beef. A robust events calendar keeps the bar bustling with karaoke, live music, and buffets during Bears games.
When he lived on the South Side of Chicago, James “Jimbo” Mandra had his pick of pizza joints––until tragedy struck. His family relocated to the burbs, suddenly leaving James deprived of the quality thin-crust slices he’d enjoyed all his life. Never one to turn down a challenge, he rolled up his sleeves and began baking his own pies. From that endeavor came a line of pizzas that fit his passionate standards as well as his original creation, the Lemontster: a 19-inch pizza that claims to be the biggest available in Lemont. Today, Jimbo’s cartoon likeness stands as a proud emblem on the tomato-hued walls of his own pizzeria, which recently added a full dining room. Natural light pours through large front windows as thin- and thick-crust pizzas arrive laden with pepperoni, spinach, and spicy hot giardiniera. After finishing off one of Jimbo’s beef pockets, diners may also surprise a date with a Chicago-style hot dog or impress the kitchen staff by getting the pizza oven to play fetch.