I’ve come to realize a growing popular opinion: The suburbs have nothing to offer.
Excuse you. Check yourself.
So I’m going to do a mini series of suburban highlights. I’ve had to reiterate how often we do date nights within a 10-30 minute drive and not have to get on a highway. It’s so nice to NOT have to pay for parking or walk a couple blocks from our car to get to the front door of the restaurant. I’m starting with my hometown of Schaumburg. Because trust me, you’re going to enjoy this as much as I do.
For those who aren’t familiar with exactly where Schaumburg is, you may be more familiar with the ever so popular Woodfield Mall. So yes, that means we’ve got Cheesecake Factory, Uncle Julio’s, and an Olive Garden on the list of options. Don’t get me wrong, I love those choices (Louisiana pasta, swirl margaritas, and unlimited breadsticks – respectively). But I’m here to emphasize the (not-so) hidden gems of Schaumburg. And yes, there are chains on here. And yes, some aren’t officially in Schaumburg – they’re within a couple minutes. Because this is MY list of favorites. 😉
- Address: 1701 E Golf Rd, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex… well, Texas-New Mexican-Mexican
- My thoughts: I wrote a feature on Chuy’s when it first came to the Chicagoland area (Warrenville), but since the time I’ve been introduced to Chuy’s, I’ve become a regular at the Schaumburg location. What can I say, the happy hour is my favorite! Beyond just good deals though, I love supporting a place that 1) serves homemade tortillas (get the blue ones!) and 2) has amazing sauce options. Yeah I know. But trust me – get the boom boom sauce or green chile hatch sauce!
- Richard Walker’s Pancake House
- Address: 1300 N Roselle Rd, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: American breakfast/brunch
- My Thoughts: There’s so many breakfast/brunch places in the Schaumburg area that it’s hard to pick a favorite. But somehow, everyone has their go-to, and typically it’s one within a few minutes from their homes. Mine is not. My favorite breakfast place is RW’s PH and it takes me 15 minutes to get there. Sure that may not seem like much but I pass at least 7 different options to get there. Why do I come back? The service is always good here – it’s not fast-paced but I don’t want it to be. Breakfast is meant to be family time for me so I don’t mind some time to hang out with my husband and kids (or whomever I invite to my hidden gem) between ordering and getting my food. And the FOOD – there’s another reason I don’t mind the wait. The quality in my food orders has never let me down. I love their Dutch baby pancake. It’s smaller than the regular but it’s the perfect size to share! Since this takes longer to prepare than the rest of the menu, we usually have this for dessert after our savory options. SO. PERFECT.
- Address: 1320 N Meacham Rd, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: Chicken Tenders & variations of the guilty pleasure most adults seem to deny
- My Thoughts: My kids are all about chicken nuggets. So yes, I eat them too. Yes, I am such a child! But okay so I’m an adult, so I get the more mature, refined version of chicken nuggets – tenders & chicken sandwiches. And PDQ serves one of my favorite chicken sandwiches because their crispy patty is topped (and bottomed) with pimento cheese and POTATO CHIPS. But they have several difference sauces that make me happy just ordering some tenders and tots (spoiler alert: tots & queso is the bomb dot com).
- Toasty Cheese
- Address: 951 W Wise Rd, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: Grilled Cheese (yes this is a cuisine category now.)
- My Thoughts: What started out as a food truck, Toasty Cheese is a favorite stop for my kids and myself. Sometimes we get it to go and have a picnic at a playground. Other times we dine in so we can get messy at someone else’s table without being judged 😉
- Gabutto Burger
- Address: 1410 Golf Rd, Rolling Meadows
- Cuisine: Japanese burgers (seafood patties too!)
- My Thoughts: This used to be inside Mitsuwa, but then it closed and then months (maybe even a year?) later, it popped up on its own along Golf Road. You have no idea how happy I was. Their burgers may be small, but hey, why are you trying to order and consume a whole 1 lb burger anyway?! The highlights of Gabutto for me are the non-traditional (do you know my style by now?) options. I loooveeeee their shrimp burger & their soft shell crab burger. They’re both pretty unique and so so tasty. There’s minimal fillers too; you’re definitely getting mostly seafood between those buns. You can order your burger between rice patties instead of bread as well – something I’ve only had at a family party once and if you haven’t tried this you need to! I prefer the pork belly burger on the rice patties.
- So Gong Dong
- Address: 687 E Golf Rd, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: Korean
- My thoughts: I’ve ordered bibimbap many times in the past. So will someone please tell me why this is the first time I’ve had a server come and mix the ingredients for me?! Why have I never realized that I can turn the very colorful, IG-worthy bowl of ingredients into, well, basically a Korean-style fried rice?! But I digress. The food here is AMAZING. I’ve come in a few times as it is an easy distance from the office. My favorite is the beef bibimbap, naturally on the hot stone plate. Why is this a requirement? Because as the plate continues to stay hot, it is creating a special treat for you: crunchy rice. Turn your spoon upside down and scrape that bad boy up! The menu is actually not that big which I appreciate. My husband has ordered the spicy seafood soondubu jjigae with kaguksu (noodles). Can I just say how HUGE these two orders were?! When I come in for lunch, I have plenty for dinner at home. We also tried the seafood pancake and they do not skimp out on the filling! Both lunch & dinner service is outstanding as well. If you have any questions about what to order, the servers are very eager about what they offer.
- Asian Noodle House
- Address: 844 N Roselle Rd, Hoffman Estates
- Cuisine: Asian (duh) – Malaysian, Chinese, and some Vietnamese
- My Thoughts: Asian Noodle House is the definition of “no-frills”, “hole-in-the-wall”, “divey” and other similar descriptive categories of restaurants. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. The focus is on good Asian food, served quickly. They offer classic Chinese dishes like Mapo Tofu (get it spicy if you like heat!) to rare Malaysian dishes such as Nasi Lemak (it’s not on the menu; just ask!). There is a crowd on the weekends but trust me, this is another one worth the wait!
- La Unica
- Address: 1083 N Salem, Schaumburg
- Cuisine: Latin (Peruvian, Colombian, Cuban, and some Puerto Rican)
- My Thoughts: Another unassuming strip mall hidden gem, La Unica was my gateway to Latin food. I became addicted to Ropa Vieja, platanos/tostones, and pupusas since my first visit here. And yes, I did order all of those (and more!) on my first visit. It truly feels like I’m in someone’s home, eating food at a family party. I love bringing people here for the first time – they walk in and wonder where I’ve brought them, but then when the food comes, they seem to be in the same blissful state that I enter every time. Comfort food has a special special place in my heart. Probably the same place where the heartburn and clogged arteries are, but it’s special nonetheless.
Welp, there you have it. Some of my favorite restaurants in the Schaumburg area. No, it’s not a COMPLETE list, but this already took up a lot of your time. What are YOUR favorites that I didn’t review? Let’s share more favorite hidden gems! =)