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Apr 2, 2008 06:55 PM

Culinary Wasteland of Cary, Il?

Hello Chowhounders...
I'm heading to Cary, Il next week on business. As usual, my schedule will be pretty tight so driving to Chicago for dinner will (probably) be out of the question.
That said, the posts I have read so far seem to point to Cary being mostly chain heaven and many of the posts are quite dated so I'm looking to you guys to help me out. I'm hoping my choices have improved..
I'm looking for good:
2. Pizza
3. Brew Pubs/Gastro Pubs/good ol' beer joints that serve decent fare
4. Thai
5. Indian (it seems that Indian food, like Mexican, differs greatly across the country)
6. Anything worthy of mention (call that a wild card)
Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated.

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  1. Cary is a small suburban town. It's surrounded by larger towns with more food options.

    It's right next to Crystal Lake. There's quite a comprehensive discussion of dining options throughout McHenry County, including Crystal Lake, in the recent topic at

    Only slightly further, and in the opposite direction (to the east), you might also want to consider places in Barrington and Lake Zurich, which have lots of restaurants. Among them are two excellent independent bistros - Barrington Country Bistro and Bistro 22.

    For BEEF, several of Chicagoland's best steakhouses (Pete Miller's, Morton's, Wildfire) have locations in Schaumburg, which is a bit further still but not all *that* far, nothing like going into the city.

    For pizza, you can get our delicious deep-dish pizza in the area. Two of our very best have locations nearby. Giordano's has double-crust "stuffed" pizza and has a location in Algonquin. For single-crust "pan" pizza, Gino's East is in Lake Zurich.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks for the reply. I'll check out the Crystal Lake thread too. I was in north Tampa a few weeks ago and I really had to dig to find decent eats.

      1. re: cymbaline65

        Actually, Tampa has some great food too. However, your chances of finding great food in any city are more difficult when you're in the furthest, newly-developing suburbs, because chains tend to move in first and it takes a while for entrepreneurial independent restaurants to start establishing themselves. Of course the older downtown areas typically have the most established and often the most varied restaurant scene.

        One more suggestion for you - it's not really near Cary, but it's about halfway between Cary and downtown Chicago, in Mount Prospect before you get to O'Hare. We have a Mexican seafood restaurant called Flamingo's Seafood that is spectacular, IMHO the very best Mexican restaurant in the area (which is saying a LOT). It's not at all conventional Mexican. Take a look at the menu on their website at and you'll see what I mean. If you're looking for something distinctive and memorable without going into the city, that's a great choice.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Excellent feedback, thanks again. I'll check on that Mexican place.
          I hope I have enough time to hit these places.
          I did find some good places in Tampa (mostly thanks to Chowhound and asking the locals) but it just took more effort. Ybor City has a quite a good selection of places too.
          If I worked a 9-5p job, I could take the time to explore - unfortunately time is always at a premium.
          Thanks again.

    2. There are three Thai places in Arlington Heights, about 10 miles east on Rt 14. The best is AltThai at US-14 and Arlington Heights Rd.

      Most of the good Indian places in the area are along E. Schaumburg Rd in Schaumburg. Udupi Palace and the India Palace are pretty good.

      Chessie's in Barrington in the Ice House Mall serves very reliable food along the train tracks.

      I would not call Cary a "culinary wasteland" full of chains since it has few restaurants period. It is a bedroom community with limited commercial activity.

      14 Replies
      1. re: jlawrence01

        Thanks for the info jlawrence01. You know, there must be a Udipi Palace in every state - I just visited on outside of Boston recently.
        I certainly meant no offense re: the wateland comment. In reading many of the posts, that was the impression I got. Suffice it to say that I live in a bedroom town and our eating choices stink...

        1. re: cymbaline65

          Many people make the mistake of thinking the towns along the Fox River are "bedroom" towns when in fact some were towns before Chicago was little more than a fort and trading post. Cary became a town in 1841. There are a number of great small pubs, some hidden along the River and serve the boating crowds. A drive along the Northwest Highway ( US Rte 14), which follows the Metra Northwest line yields some pretty good independant places like 1776 in Crystal Lake, Cary Family Restaurant for good breakfasts and lunch, Generoso Pizza which has pizza plus a good range of pastas and sandwich, Kelsey Roadhouse on Kelsey Road just off of 14, Five O'Clock Steakhouse in Cary and Barrington Country Bistro. Sure, you'll see the sprawl and all the chains that come with but there are many solid indies in the area. Report back to us afterwards!

          1. re: LikestoEatout

            Thanks Likestoeat...
            I just looked at my hotel address and it's in Crystal Lake so hopefully these places you mention are close by. I especially like a good pub.
            I will most certainly report back when I start my journey next week.

            1. re: cymbaline65

              There are many places I mentioned along US Rte 14 also called the Northwest Highway, that whole stretch from 1776 in Crystal Lake to Barrington Country Bistro in Barrington is maybe 10 miles. Just driving along that route you should come up with many indie options. On the Crystal Lake part of 14 is John Evans Steakhouse, Village Squire which is American casual and Round the Clock which is family diner fare besides what I have already mentioned above.

              1. re: LikestoEatout

                Cool..thanks again.
                I'll report my findings starting Tuesday.

                1. re: cymbaline65

                  Not to jump in here, because I agree with all of the above, including checking out that thread--we had a lengthy discussion not that long ago. But I've never heard of 5 oclocks Steak House, in Cary, mentioned above. Can anyone shed some more light on that??

                  1. re: aviva1

                    It's in Fox River Grove along the Rte. 14 corridor. Sorry, everything blends together in that area!


                2. re: LikestoEatout

                  Well, after reading the Crystal Lake threads, I settled on Taqueria Las Cumbres. A hole-in-the-wall in the historic district. I was the only person in there which was troublesome. I ordered the Alpastor Burrito (pork in red sauce) and a Chorizo Tostada. The food, along with the red and green chile sauces were great. The green sauce had a lot of hidden heat that crept up on you. All very tasty.
                  There's a place I saw called The Claddagh Irish Pub. Do you know anything about it? Maybe some Shepards Pie and Guiness tomorrow?

                  1. re: cymbaline65

                    The Claddagh is a chain, we have one here too in Geneva. The food is decent with generous portions.

                    1. re: LikestoEatout

                      The Claddagh is clesed in Algonquin Commons.

                      1. re: jan

                        ah..thanks for the update. Guess I'll have to pick something else out. My client may be taking me out..we'll see

                        1. re: cymbaline65

                          Went to Bonefish Grill in Algonquin and it wasn't too bad. At least this Outback chain's Algonquin location is better than the other's I've visited around the country. The Ahi Tuna was cooked to my desire and was quite fresh..Even better when it's on someone else's tab :-)
                          And yes, the Claddagh is closed.
                          Not sure what is in store tonight, we'll see

                          1. re: cymbaline65

                            I hope you try something local tonight and not a chain! There are so many good places.

                            1. re: LikestoEatout

                              I ended up at a brewhouse near the Algonquin Commins. Name esacpes me and the client picked up the bill (so it was their choice.) Seems the Swiss dig beer so I was not complaining. I wish I had the name but the Shepard's Pie was average. I HOPE to hit the Barrington Co Bistro tomorrow as it's my last night and I can dine alone (ie. my choice).
                              Stay tuned.