Keller's Farmstand was established only 21 years ago, but its roots run all the way back to the 19th century. Since emigrating from Bavaria in the mid-1800s, the Kellers have produced four generations of green-thumbed farmers, most of whom answered to the name Frank. It was during the reign of Franks I and II that the Kellers' first roadside produce stand opened, and the family's crop of grapes, raspberries, and potatoes helped their homestead survive the Great Depression. In the 1960s, brothers Frank III and Ray took over their father's farm and expanded the scope with corn, soybeans, oats, and hay grown on fields in Plainfield and Oswego. In 1991, Frank IV opened his first vegetable kiosk, and Kellers Farmstand was officially inaugurated.
These days, the three farmstands are open during the spring, summer, and fall, welcoming guests with fresh-picked seasonal offerings and annual harvest festivals. Depending on the location and the time of year, guests might find heirloom-tomato plants and flowers in finely wrought hanging baskets, ears of the family's specialty sweet corn, or homegrown pumpkins, gourds, and winter squashes. Their news page keeps shoppers up-to-date on the latest goings-on, with regular updates on flower sales, rain delays, and the farm?s ongoing battle with the mole men.
Inside the historic, 145-year-old building, dozens of teapots and accessories collected by current owner Mary Ann Waldorf line curtain-swathed shelves. Whether joining friends for a luncheon, purchasing some specialty foods and gift baskets, or savoring high tea in the Angel Room, visitors of the tin-ceilinged teahouse find themselves transported to what seems like another time and place. Teapots, purchasable jewelry, and seasonal tea blends may not be the only Gourmet Junction dwellers; local mediums say the ghosts of Plainfield's first inhabitants tread the hardwood floors.
Route 59 Grill owner George Tsakanikas and his staff of grub gurus char traditional, Chicago-centric plates of burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and fish in a drive-in themed setting replete with antique road signs, car memorabilia, and a drive-thru window. Windy City hot dogs arrive at tables decorated with a collage of classic condiments, including mustard, relish, pickles, and disdain for ketchup ($2.45), while gyros sandwiches ($4.90) and dinners ($7.95) pair up with piles of onions and pots of homemade tzatziki sauce. Temporarily unhinge jaws before sinking teeth into an overstuffed burger ($3.95+) or treat tongues to a savory, smoky symphony with a slab of baby back ribs ($10.95+). Plentiful piles of perch ($7.65) swim amid sides of fries, bread, and slaw, while a selection of kids' menu items and value meals, padded with fries and a soft drink, cater to appetites of all sizes.
When childhood pals Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher bought Elmwood Park's Victory Tap in 1956, one of their first orders of business was determining whom their new establishment would be named after. In the end Michael won the deciding coin toss and, to dodge any complaints that might arise, slyly chose to dub their eatery Armand’s Victory Tap. With Armand’s original artwork gracing the walls and Michael’s decadent thin-crust pizza flying from the oven, the restaurant received far more compliments than criticisms; and although Armand sold his portion to Mike in the 1960s, the eatery—since renamed Armand's Pizzeria—still thrives today.
City dwellers and suburbanites alike can taste a slice of the original thin-crust pie at any of Armand's 10 locations. Though menus differ slightly at each eatery, all contain thin- or pan-crust pizzas crowned with an array of fresh toppings, ranging from ham, bacon, and pineapple to feta and kalamata olives to italian beef and spicy giardiniera. Beyond pizza, the chefs pull fresh-baked mozzarella mostaccioli from the oven, glaze baby back ribs with tangy barbecue sauce, and assemble hearty sandwiches from italian beef, italian sausage, and genuine italian leather.
Luigi's Pizza & Pasta's owner, Michael Maretick, was featured on Chicago's Best for his popular deep dish pies, which have been a local favorite for nearly 40 years. Each one starts with made-from-scratch pizza dough, then cheese, followed by a generous serving of Luigi's secret house-made sauce. Additional toppings include green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and giardiniera, plus a pie-sized sausage patty that ensures a bite of sausage in every bite. To complement their renowned deep dish pies, Michael and his team also craft thin crust ones, too, and, upon request, they can even make an extra-thin crust pizza for fans of that style or anyone trapped inside an outgoing mail box.
This cozy eatery isn’t really a diner, a drive-in, or a dive, but that didn’t stop its celebrated italian-beef pizza pie from being featured on the Food Network show of the same name. Cooks craft that superstar’s mozzarella and pepper-topped crust to order alongside other thin, deep-dish, or double-dough pizzas, and they form round meatballs and shape-shifting alfredo sauces in-house. Servers descend upon red-checkered tabletops with plates of juicy half-pound burgers or classic spaghetti, and they proffer glasses of wine and other liquid libations from the full bar.