If you’re in the mood for a quiet brunch, don’t come here. Since 1965, the crowds have piled into this diner, where the kitchen bustles with cooks who can prepare sandwiches in less than three minutes. The most popular item is the Loretta sandwich—grilled bacon, onions, and peppers encased in fresh french bread—which pairs well with cheesy hash browns.
The Junction Diner was born from a child's imagination. Kate and Brad Wahl's son Connor had just turned 1 and received a wooden train set. He played for well over an hour, delighting his parents, who had been searching for something that could keep their son's attention. The next step seemed as natural as a locomotive's forward momentum: they opened a train-themed restaurant to cater to parents and their kids.
Inside The Junction Diner, a long counter wraps around the room's center like a winding train track. Diners sit on either side, and servers move up and down the middle, carrying plates of food with playful, train-inspired names. Customers at the counter itself can even get their meals delivered by an actual train. The aptly titled "Lil Conductor's Menu" delights kids with mini burgers and cheese quesadillas, while older diners peruse "Box Car Burgers" made with certified Black Angus beef and "Junction Wraps" including the buffalo chicken, topped in buffalo sauce, veggies, and a choice of ranch dressing or blue cheese. Near the dining area, a large table with interactive model trains keeps kids busy while their parents finish meals.
Ham is the star of the kitchen at Mr. Allison's Restaurant, where it’s been slowly smoked, hand-trimmed, and slathered in a signature sugar glaze since 1971. Slices of ham top sub sandwiches and julienne salads, or sidle up to hearty breakfasts of eggs and strips of crispy bacon. These throwback dishes are mimicked by the dining room's décor, which features retro-styled booths and a mural of vintage cars.
Even the latest of risers should have no trouble making it to Kevin’s Place in time for breakfast or brunch. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, serving a dependable spread of breakfast dishes that includes omelets, waffles, and pancakes. The chefs are known to sometimes stray from the traditional playbook, as they do with the honey-nut granola-encrusted Deerfield french toast. Much to the delight of children, they can mold pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse or use maple syrup to draw hopscotch lines on the diner’s floor.
If you're all dressed up in chainmail with no place to go, today's deal is an excuse to wear grandma's mail hood and mittens out of the house. Today's Groupon to Medieval Times gets you a sensuous four-course feast and live show, featuring horse-mounted combat, falconry, and mace-wielding professionals, for $39, a $64.75 value for adults, including tax. Call Medieval Times to schedule your outing soon, as this Groupon expires on January 31, 2010, the centennial of the Blue Knight's battle against Chaucer's time-travelling sword. An expansive stone castle bedecked in flags awaits you in Shaumburg, where you can satisfy your New Year's resolution to spend more time with the other family you've secretly been keeping in Shaumburg.