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Family Friendly Eats in Buffalo Grove

My husband, 7 year old daughter, 2 year old twins and I will be staying in Buffalo Grove in early July for a week. I searched the board, but just found two recommendations--Wiener Takes All (and I see that I'm NEVER supposed to ask for ketchup...this will be my first Chicago hot dog experience) and Lou's. We'll be in the city most of the time, but will probably eat dinner around our hotel (Wyndham Garden Hotel). Any recommendations for dishes from Wiener Takes All or Lou's? Are there any additional restaurants/ice cream shops/bakeries we should try (both on our way back to our hotel from the city and around the hotel)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. >> Any recommendations for dishes from Wiener Takes All or Lou's?

    Lou's is Lou Malnati's, and the thing to get there is deep-dish pizza. This is the real deal, one of the best places for this delicious local specialty. Added ingredients (toppings), it's up to you; they have all the usual ones you're accustomed to at other pizza places. I would recommend not getting more than three added ingredients, though, to keep the proper balance between those and the crust, cheese, and sauce. They offer a butter crust option but I prefer the regular crust (even though I generally like butter flavored items). You can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake. www.loumalnatis.com

    I haven't been to Wiener Takes All but I assume from the name that they feature Chicago-style hot dogs, which are basically hot dogs with everything on them. Except ketchup, of course. :)

    >> Are there any additional restaurants/ice cream shops/bakeries we should try (both on our way back to our hotel from the city and around the hotel)?

    If you go three miles east from the Wyndham Garden and turn right (south) at Milwaukee Avenue, you'll see the Westin hotel on the left, and right in front of it is Cooper's Hawk. Cooper's Hawk has a winery in Orland Park and four locations with restaurants and tasting rooms; this is one of the latter. You can taste all their wines for free, and many of them are actually quite good (they do an excellent malbec and also a nice ice wine for dessert). After tasting, you can then eat dinner there. The food is very good too; I particularly recommend the calamari appetizer. What's also nice about dining there is that they have their wines available with markups much less than typical in the industry (a wine they sell for $20 might go for $28 on the dinner menu). www.coopershawkwinery.com

    About half a mile south of the Westin, on the opposite side of Milwaukee Avenue, is Pete Miller's, an excellent steak and seafood restaurant. Check their website at www.petemillers.com for details on their "twilight supper club" - be seated by 6:00 pm, seven nights a week, and they give you free soup/salad and dessert with the purchase of an entree.

    There's a great place for breakfast in the area, called Walker Brothers. (It also works if you're looking for some great sweeter dishes at night.) It's a local franchisee of the Original Pancake House chain, one that has extremely high quality standards, which is why it's the only franchisee allowed to put its own name on the restaurant. They have six locations in the north and northwest suburbs; the one closest to the Wyndham Garden is in Arlington Heights on Dundee Road. From the hotel, go west 1/4 mile, turn left onto Arlington Heights Road and go south one mile, then turn right onto Dundee Road and go 3/4 mile, and you'll see it on the left. Don't miss the huge, puffed-up, cinnamony apple pancake! Warning, they get busy on Sunday mornings and they don't take reservations. www.walkerbrosoph.com

    As I noted above, I haven't been to Wiener Takes All. But one of the very best places to get Chicago-style hot dogs, as well as Italian beef sandwiches, which are another local specialty, is Portillo's. The Arlington Heights location of Portillo's is closer to your hotel than Wiener Takes All is, too. It's on Dundee Road, right across the street from Walker Brothers, so follow the directions above for Walker Brothers and look for it on the right (on the north side of Dundee). www.portillos.com

    Downtown Arlington Heights is not too far from the Wyndham Garden; from the hotel, it's about five miles south on Arlington Heights Road. There, you'll find an excellent Mexican restaurant called Salsa 17 ( www.salsa17.com ) and an excellent Thai restaurant called altThai ( www.altthai.com ).

    1. On Dundee Road, not very far away at all, you'll have Dengeo's and Portillos. It also looks like there's an Oberweis for ice cream treats too. Dengeo's and Portillos are just about identical in menu offerings and quality. Both very decent places for a Chicago Dog or Beef sandwich. Other places that you might wanna look into:

      Cooker's Red Hots

      Wolfy's on Sanders Road in Northbrook

      Both are decent hot dog joints that might fit into your plans - not very far off of 294 and Lake Cook Road.

      Benihana and Bob Chinn's: Family friendly, not sure if you've been to a Benihana-the chefs there put on a little show while cooking, food is decent. Good place for lunch, imo, if the two year olds cooperate and enjoy the show. Bob Chinn's is decent food, family friendly, decent fish. I think their claim to fame is that they serve the most steaks in the u.s. each year?

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      Benihana
      150 N Milwaukee Ave, Wheeling, IL 60090

      2 Replies
      1. re: gordeaux

        >> Dengeo's and Portillos are just about identical in menu offerings and quality. Both very decent places for a Chicago Dog or Beef sandwich.

        They are, indeed. But both also offer more than just dogs and Italian beef. Portillo's also has burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Dengeo's is far more varied, with not only burgers, sandwiches, and salads, but also ribs and Greek specialties (gyros, Greek salads, baklava). If you're just looking for the best Chicago dogs and/or Italian beef, I'd choose Portillo's, as I stated in my previous post, above. However, if you're looking for more variety (including darn good gyros), go to Dengeo's. (I eat at Dengeo's frequently; it's one of those great places that's very good and not very expensive.)

        >> Bob Chinn's

        Bob Chinn's specializes in seafood. I don't care for it. The seafood is always fresh, but I find their preparations not very appealing (either overly bland, or swimming in garlic butter).

        When I want really delicious, fresh seafood, I go to Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview. Their preparations are far superior. I especially recommend their kung pao calamari, and anything "Shang hai style" (steamed with soy, ginger, and green onion). It's not that far from the Wyndham Garden, either; from the hotel, go east on Lake-Cook three miles to Milwaukee Avenue, turn right, go south on Milwaukee three miles to Willow Road, turn left, go east on Willow three miles to Patriot Blvd, turn right, go south on Patriot one mile and you'll see it on the right. www.mitchellsfishmarket.com

        >> I think their claim to fame is that they serve the most steaks in the u.s. each year?

        Not exactly. Bob Chinn's claim to fame is that it's one of the highest-grossing independent restaurants in the country, as you can see from the list at www.eatinglv.com/2010/04/the-top-100-... It's been around a long time. It's okay, but there are better places for good seafood.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          I definitely agree about Chinn's. I'm not a fan, it's decent, but I know a few ppl who really, really, like it.

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          Chinn's Restaurant
          610 E 142nd St, Dolton, IL 60419

      2. 100% go to Lou Malnati's. Very family friendly. Also, if you have picky eaters, this place works. I did not even like pizza as a kid, and I would totally eat Lou's deep dish cheese (although I did pick the tomatoes off the top).

        As Nxstasy mentioned... definitely phone ahead. And/or get some garlic bread or something to hold you over.

        1. Also... if you wanted a bit more of a 'fine-dining' albeit 'family' restaurant then try Carson's ribs. Their coleslaw is excellent. Your kids will ADORE the cheesy potatoes, and (not to be disturbing) but I could probably drink their BBQ sauce, it is that good.

          It is on Waukegan Road in Deerfield.

          Also--sorry Nxstasy (who always disagrees with me on this, I am sorry!)-- but Deerfield's bakery is near there. It is excellent for hand-decorated cookies, pastries, and cupcakes. Their coffee is also excellent--even though it is not Intelligentsia.

          Deerfield Bakery is right down the street from Carson's Ribs.
          There is another one in Buffalo Grove not far from Lou Malnati's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GraceW

            I agree with the recommendation of Carson's, whose ribs and cole slaw are my favorites anywhere. They also have very good steaks and prime rib. If you go, don't miss the small buffet of chopped liver and cheese spread they have set up near the host stand for folks who are waiting. www.ribs.com

            If you want great pastry and breads, there are two excellent bakeries east of Buffalo Grove and not all that far away. Three Tarts Bakery is just off Willow Road in Northfield. I especially recommend their eclairs, chocolate-dipped cookies, whoopies, etc, and they also do nice sandwiches and salads at lunchtime (they have seating if you prefer to eat there rather than just get stuff to go). www.threetartsbakery.com And Gourmet Frog in Highwood is the carry-out store for Froggy's French restaurant next door. I especially recommend all their breads (various French breads), eclairs, various individual slices of fancy cakes, and cookies, as well as wonderful soups (their smoked chicken soup is amazing) and quiches. www.froggysbakery.com These are two of the very best bakeries in the entire Chicago area (and I still think Deerfield Bakery is one of the very worst, with quality only about as good as mass-produced items you find in the supermarket - sorry Grace).

          2. Thank you so much for all the great recommendations so far! It looks like there are quite a few options in the area. Lou Malnati's sounds great, as well as the other suggested good eats. The bakeries sounds delicious. I guess I'll have to do a taste test of the pastries from all of them to see how Deerfield measures up. The sacrifices I make for baked goods...lol.

            Quick question about Carson's...do you think it's a good environment for two year olds? I'm not looking for a McPlayspace, but I don't want to worry about the kids knocking over glasses and snooty looks. Will there probably be other families with young children there?

            Any additional suggestions would be great! Thanks again!

            2 Replies
            1. re: applesauce23

              >> I guess I'll have to do a taste test of the pastries from all of them to see how Deerfield measures up. The sacrifices I make for baked goods...lol.

              :) Note that Three Tarts is closed Sundays, and Gourmet Frog is closed Sundays and Mondays.

              >> Quick question about Carson's...do you think it's a good environment for two year olds? I'm not looking for a McPlayspace, but I don't want to worry about the kids knocking over glasses and snooty looks. Will there probably be other families with young children there?

              Yes, probably; it's a place whose clientele includes families (with children of all ages) as well as couples and larger groups of adults. More so if you eat on the early side (they're open all afternoon so you can go as early as you like)...

              1. re: applesauce23

                Yes, I agree with Nsxtasy: go on the early side and you will be fine.

                They do also have a carry-out option (worse comes to worse), but I would ask for extra sauce. And to be honest, when you do carry-out (as with any establishment), you 'get' less coleslaw. Usually that would not matter to me--since I don't like coleslaw--but theirs is exceptional. (I know vegetarians that go there just to carry-out slaw and put the slaw on meatless burgers...)

              2. Not far from Buffalo Grove there is a very family-friendly Greek Restaurant, called "Opa," that has good food. It is located in the town of Vernon Hills. Here is a link to their website:
                http://www.oparestaurant.com/index.asp

                1. I just wanted to say thank you for all of the wonderful recommendations. We actually got a last minute hotel deal and switched from Buffalo Grove to Oak Brook. We did get a chance to enjoy some deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's. I was surprised that I enjoyed their salad dressing so much. I did takeout, so I didn't realize how good the salad dressing was until I got back to the hotel, so I didn't get a chance to buy a bottle (or three). The pizza was very good. I did get the butter crust, but I enjoyed it. My husband got the buttercrust pizza with sausage and onion, but he didn't really like the pizza that much. It looked a little watery to me, so I didn't taste it.

                  Since we were driving around Chicago constantly, we did mostly takeout. The Bongo Room had a delicious avocado and chicken club sandwich. It has a slightly spicy kick from the salsa...highly enjoyable. I also got a chance to try their red velvet pancake special. Delicious. It was not as sweet as I thought it would be.

                  We also had a chance to enjoy Molly's Cupcakes. The Boston Cream cupcake and the Red Velvet cupcake were the best. The other cupcakes had a slight cornbread taste which was a little distracting. The frosting was pretty sweet, but I liked it.

                  We also ordered noodles with black bean sauce and chicken wings (kampungee) from Great Sea on our NY friend's strong recommendation. The food was fantastic. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the chicken was phenomenal. Perfect amount of crunch and flavor in each bite. I liked how the chicken wings were lollipops...made for easy eating. I enjoyed the mild version and my husband raved about the spicy drumsticks.

                  We went to Nazareth Sweets for some baklava for dessert. The woman at the counter was very friendly and explained all of the different types of sweets to me. The pistachio baklava was flaky and tasted fantastic. Not too gooey, not cloyingly sweet.

                  Pretty much everything we ate was great. Thank you for all of your advice and I'll be sure to try even more restaurants and bakeries the next time we make the 12 hour trip out to Chicago!

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                  Bongo Room
                  1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                  Molly's Cupcakes
                  2536 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

                  1. Winberie's is very family friendly. You will have many resturants and ice cream places in Buffalo Grove - I lived there many years. The Buffalo Resturant, just down the street from hotel) is known for their ice cream and their matzo ball soup also great. You will not starve in Buffalo Grove.

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                    Winberie's Restaurant Bar
                    800 W Lake Cook Rd, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089