If a visit to one of Southern Belle's restaurants feels a lot like coming home, it might have something to do with the hearty family traditions behind the kitchen's down-home breakfast and lunch dishes. “My father was in pancake houses all his life,” says owner Steve Fotos. Today, many of the same recipes used by Steve's father help populate a menu of hearty comfort foods that includes a poached-egg and sausage benedict smothered in country gravy and french toast stuffed with cinnamon apples, strawberries and pecans, or blueberries and bananas. But while the country-fried-steak or smoked-sausage skillets are tempting, the expansive menu offers options for diets of all kind, pairing fluffy egg whites with strawberries, granola, and multigrain toast and swapping out regular maple syrup for bottles that are low-calorie, sugar-free, or simply sealed shut. Photos of farms and pastoral images smile down upon diners as they dig in and gently remind them to inquire about the restaurant's seasonal specials, which range from summertime salads with sun-ripened veggies to bowls of homemade wintertime chili.
Inside Biscuits' cozy and casual dining room, servers drift between tables and booths carrying plates heaped with country fried steak, biscuits and gravy, and stacks of sweet turtle pancakes stuffed with chocolate and butterscotch. Burgers, quesadillas, and a variety of sandwiches served with fries or tots encourage diners to eat with their hands, helping lower the appendages’ risk of being naturally selected against. Before meals, patrons can perk up with yogurt smoothies, specialty espresso drinks, and bottomless cups of java.
Open since 1945, Elmer's Doghouse has been a haven for generations of diners looking for cold brews, hot meals, and a set of familiar faces to enjoy them with. At this casual neighborhood spot, the kitchen staff still dishes out burgers, pizzas, and steak dinners lit by the neon glow of beer signs. On Monday nights, these meals emerge amid the tuneful clatter of the bar’s acoustic open mic, refueling audiences and musicians alike. Other musical entertainments include karaoke nights and live bands, who often coax diners into dancing or just giving them a bite of their food.
The menu at Mother’s Pancake House can sate breakfast cravings both sweet and savory. Plates such as the homemade banana-bread french toast and the banana split pancakes—topped with strawberries, bananas, and, of course, ice cream—awaken diners with an early-morning sugar rush. Meanwhile, chefs bake veggies, cheese, and breakfast meats such as ham, bacon, and sausage into hearty omelets. As time ticks into the afternoon, the staff begins serving sandwiches, burgers, pastas, and country-fried steaks.
When Hounds Blue Moon began serving up inventive pub fare in 2008, the menu included a modest selection of eight signature stuffed burgers. That list has since expanded to offer diners 26 varieties of burger, each bedecked with elaborate ingredient combinations such as avocado and jalapeno jack cheese, chili and cheese sauce, bacon and cheddar, or roasted jalapeños and pico de gallo. During dinner hours, palates can further expand with Italian dinner specialties such as the chicken vesuvio roasted with potato wedges and peas. And on Sundays, staffers at a brunch buffet customize comfort fare by sizzling made-to order omelets and carving off slices of meat in the shape of each patron's favorite Aleutian Island.
Today, Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream may have seven full-service family-friendly restaurants, but when it started in 1901, it was only a single small ice cream and dairy store. Now guests can settle into breakfast, lunch, and dinner at each of the eateries –and still enjoy the ice cream that put them on the map. They have garnered particular attention for their signature dish, the Kitchen Sink Sundae, which features two whole bananas, six scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), whipped cream, chocolate, and chopped almonds with a cherry topper. It’s served in a large dish shaped like a kitchen sink with a S-pipe as the handle. And when diners finish it, they receive a bumper sticker that reads, “I Ate a Colonial Kitchen Sink.”
While ice cream reigns supreme, their breakfasts have also earned praise. They were voted “Best Breakfast” by the Elgin Courier News, Aurora Beacon News, and Naperville Sun. Favorites among the regulars include the stuffed very berry French toast and cinnamon roll French toast. Come dinnertime, they continue serving comfort foods including fresh baked meatloaf and a mac and cheese bacon melt, as well as sandwiches such as the pot roast French dip. The restaurant has also earned plaudits for its popularity with its littlest diners, grabbing the "Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant" designation in the Kane County Chronicle Reader's Choice awards.