IHG Travel Blog

Dining worth the drive just outside Chicago

Chicago draws in tourists from all over the world, and one thing reeling them in is the food. We know you’ve heard of Chicago dogs and Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, but there are even tastier foods served up in the cities right outside of Chicago.

When you travel to Chicago, take an afternoon or evening drive just outside the city and stop by any of these 10 food spots to satisfy your stomach with some sweet treats.

1. Cacao Sweets & Treats

122 Center St., Grayslake, IL 60030
Hours: 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. — 7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 8 a.m. — 4 p.m. Saturdays

Walking into Cacao Sweets & Treats might be the highlight of your trip to Chicago. It’s a cute shop filled with the heavenly aroma of every kind of baked good you could want. They stay equipped with the three baking C’s: cupcakes, cookies and cakes, but they also have the three tasty B’s: brownies, bars and bread. The bread is such a big deal at Cacao Sweets & Treats that they have a bread schedule for every day they’re open. Walk into this shop, and you may never walk out.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 55 minutes

2. Edzo’s Burger Shop

1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL 60201
Hours: 10:30 a.m. — 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. — 4 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.

If you’re craving a classic burger, fries and a shake, Edzo’s Burger Shop is where you go. Their patties are never frozen. They cut and grind the beef and make their own patties every morning. You have about 10 different options when it comes to how you want your fries cooked, and while their milkshakes aren’t anything elaborate, each one is deliciously smooth and full of flavor.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 30 minutes

3. Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen

4905 Dempster St., Skokie, IL 60077
Hours: 7 a.m. — 7 p.m. Monday-Sunday

The deli counter and bakery at Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen never disappoint. Salads, sandwiches, soups and various sides are served morning, noon and night. And for those wanting a carb overload, grab one of their famous bagels or a loaf of bread (baked fresh daily) from their bakery. They always have seasonal foods and treats available so make sure you ask for a sample.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 25 minutes

4. Pita Inn

3910 Dempster St., Skokie, IL 60076
Hours: 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. — 12 a.m. Friday-Saturday

Photo by David Dames

Pita Inn has four different locations in Illinois, but the Skokie location is their most popular. It’s been serving Mediterranean food in the Chicago area for more than 30 years, and even after all this time the restaurant remains filled with customers wanting a taste of their falafel, famous hot sauce and other delectable, healthy meals.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 30 minutes

5. Francesco’s Hole in the Wall

254 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062
Lunch Hours: 11:30 a.m. — 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. — 2:15 p.m. Fridays

Dinner Hours: 5 p.m. — 9:15 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday-Thursday; 5 p.m. — 10:15 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4 p.m. — 8:45 p.m. Sundays

A hole-in-the-wall restaurant doesn’t pull in people off the street with its looks. It’s usually a smaller, lesser-known place with fantastic food, and Francesco’s Hole in the Wall is that kind of restaurant. They serve a traditional Italian menu made with the fresh ingredients they receive every morning. Order a glass of wine to drink along with your meal and a tasty cannoli for dessert.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 30 minutes

6. Spunky Dunkers

3441 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Hours: 5 a.m. — 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5 a.m. — 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Started by a trio of sisters, Spunky Dunkers is all about family and baking their donuts from scratch for your family. They also keep to the small-town family appeal by buying a lot of their ingredients from locals. Whether you order a hot cinnamon roll, a French twist or an apple fritter, your sweet tooth is going to meet its match here.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 35 minutes

7. Pilot Pete’s Restaurant & Bar

905 W. Irving Park Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60193
Kitchen Hours: 11 a.m. — 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sundays, 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Bar Area Hours: 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sundays, 11 a.m. — “Late” Friday-Saturday

Your experience dining at Pilot Pete’s Restaurant & Bar will be a first for you, as you eat a casual dinner while watching airplanes and helicopters take off and land on the runway near the restaurant (hence the name Pilot Pete’s). Your food choices are endless with their daily specials and a menu of options ranging from nachos to grilled tilapia to BBQ baby back ribs to a Caesar salad. Come ready for dinner and a show.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 40 minutes

8. Wildberry Pancakes and Café

1383 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173
Hours: 6:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday

Start your morning off right with some Banana Bread French Toast and a tall glass of freshly squeeze orange juice at Wildberry Pancakes and Café. And if French toast isn’t your first choice, take your pick from the other amazing breakfast combinations offered. Wildberry’s knows how sought after their breakfast is so they serve it all day, but they also give customers the option for a Panini, wrap, sandwich or salad for lunch. Try and go during the week since they’re normally packed with locals on the weekends.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 40 minutes

9. Tina’s Italian Café & Bake Shop

5101 Washington St., Gurnee, IL 60031
Hours: 10:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Anyone wanting to try authentic Sicilian food has to go to Tina’s Italian Café & Bake Shop. Owner Tina Tortorici came to the U.S. from Sicily at the age of 20. She learned many of her recipes and cooking techniques from her mother and grandmother, and with each bite into one of her dishes — we recommend her penne pasta and homemade meatball or eggplant parmigiana — you find out just how wonderful true Sicilian food can be.

Driving distance from Chicago: About 50 minutes

10. Bulldogs Grill

217 Center St., Grayslake, IL 60030
Hours: 11 a.m. — 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sundays, 11 a.m. — 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Sample a gourmet burger, homemade sandwich, fresh salad, spicy wings or sweet ice cream at Bulldogs Grill. Mainly known for their burgers, they can make you a classic one, like a bacon cheeseburger, or entice you to try one you’ve never heard of before, like their Zombie Apocalypse. And if you think you’re a burger master, take the Bulldogs Challenge for a chance to have your face on their WALL OF FAME and win a free t-shirt (or be put on their WALL OF SHAME if you fail the challenge).

Driving distance from Chicago: About 55 minutes

Chicago is a sweet place to visit, and the food in the area makes it even sweeter. Choose the perfect Chicago hotel to enjoy your stay and go home happy after your trip to the Windy City.

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