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.
At Plainfield Lanes, players send balls thundering down 24 glossy lanes, scattering pins for strikes or spares. Autoscorers track the game, keeping pencils free to sketch pictures of bowling balls playing poker. In the bar and grill, guests can take a turn on the pool tables and sip from their choice of 10 on-tap brews. Those who want to keep the action going away from the lanes step into the arcade, where they can try their hand at video bowling and skeeball.
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.
All the classics appear on Delicia Mexican Grill's massive menu: chorizo tacos, sizzling carnitas fajitas, chicken chimichangas, quesadillas chock-full of shrimp that's been marinated in lime and garlic. With its specialties, however, the culinary team dives deeper into Mexican flavors, yielding creative, mouthwatering mains such as pineapple stuffed with seafood and deep-fried poblano peppers filled with chihuahua cheese. The expansive menu even includes some American favorites?grill-masters sear 8-ounce burgers rubbed with Cajun spices and topped with avocado, grilled jalape?o peppers, and a fried egg. To complement the zesty cuisine, bartenders craft seven different margaritas, including a frozen mango version and an on-the-rocks drink topped with a bottle of Corona. Diners enjoy these meals in a festive environment, complete with Mexian artwork and guitars hanging on the walls.
To make really good barbecue, you have to take your time. For the grillmasters at Baby Back Blues, that means slow smoking slabs on ribs over hickory food for four hours, at which point, they emerge juicy, smoky, and fall-off-the-bone tender. But that's a blink-of-an-eye compared to the time it takes to make the shop's pulled pork. The dry-rubbed pork butts get a dry rub before luxuriating in the smoker for 16 hours before being pulled apart, slathered with sauce, piled onto pillowy buns, and paired with sides such as mac n cheese or the house fresh-cut fries.
Baby Back Blues can also package up its juicy barbecued meats by the pound, or create family packs that pair the chosen meats with home-style sides. For big celebrations, they can even bring the smoker to guests' homes for a backyard pig roast that can feed 50 to 100 guests or two dinosaurs meeting for a light lunch.