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Palate Pleaser: Chicago Northwest

Check out—and dine out in—this surprising foodie paradise

I’ll be the first to admit I have a bit of an obsession with food, and it doesn’t matter if it’s simple or fancy, an appetizer or dessert, from a food cart or at a five-star restaurant. I love savoring a mix of flavors, and I love the atmosphere that comes from a night out with friends at a great restaurant. One of my favorite places to indulge my diverse palate is Chicago Northwest. When it comes to delicious food that is easily accessible from local hotels, the area is a sure bet. Here are some favorite places I’ve discovered.

Fox & Turtle in Itasca - Chicagoland restaurantsFox & Turtle
With more than 30 craft beers on tap and everything from burgers to spinach alfredo, all six members of the group I dined with found something they loved. I started with the fresh guacamole and homemade tortilla chips, went Southern-style with the jambalaya and added some grilled asparagus to round it out. Finally, I savored my dessert of bread pudding. Perfection.

Church St. Brewing in Itasca - Chicagoland craft beerChurch Street Brewery
Tucked away like a buried treasure in a group of industrial buildings, the Church Street Brewery is a not-to-be-missed hidden gem. After taking an educational tour of the facility and learning about the process of making beer, we sampled everything from doppelbocks to ales to German pilsners and dunkels.

Grilled pork chop from Chicago Prime Steakhouse Schaumburg - Chicagoland steakhouseChicago Prime Steakhouse
I have a weak spot for appetizers so I started with the to-die-for bruschetta. I kept it simple with a mixed green salad before my meal and splurged on a 10-ounce, perfectly cooked filet mignon. Paired with a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, I was pleasantly full and sated after my meal.

Wine tasting at Lynfred Winery Roselle - Chicagoland winesLynfred Winery
There’s nothing that is both as stimulating and relaxing as a good wine tasting in an elegant setting. Combine the best wine in Chicago Northwest with cheese and bread that complements the flavor, and your taste buds will never be the same. Lynfred Winery fills their wine tasting menu with eight to nine different mixes, including a wine of the month and a premium selection. From pomegranate to apricot to a classic Merlot, there’s something for every palate.

Punch Bowl Social Schaumburg - Chicagoland bar and arcade gamesPunch Bowl Social
You can’t beat a good scratch kitchen with crafted beverages when you want an outing with friends, and the casual nature of the evening doesn’t mean you must give up quality. The Punch Bowl Social offers a vintage arcade, bowling, karaoke and a scratch kitchen. The cocoa-dusted pork carnitas in the Lil Street Tacos had my eye from the beginning, particularly at such a low price, and I washed them down with the malted maple royale milkshake. The next time I was in town, I couldn’t help but stop for the standard breakfast of crisp potatoes, eggs, toast and bacon, because sometimes you just need comfort food.

Chicago Prime Italian Schaumburg - Chicagoland restaurantsChicago Prime Italian
I decided on an Italian antipasto plate with cheeses, pepper, olives, fried eggplant and assorted meat for my appetizer. Skipping over the salad to make room for the entrée, I opted for the classic cheese ravioli, stuffed with rich ricotta cheese and covered in a thick marinara sauce. I took the advice of my waiter and chose Chianti from the extensive wine menu to complement my meal. Everything was immensely satisfying.

Level 257 Schaumburg - bowling in ChicagolandLevel 257
Another one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago Northwest is the Pac-Man inspired Level 257. The food is mouthwatering, the atmosphere is retro and the mood is always upbeat. After bowling and playing board games, dinner takes the experience to a whole other level. The classic Philly cheese steak with fries and $3 draft beer during happy hour makes the meal affordable and unforgettable. Top it all off with the pumpkin spice cheesecake for dessert.

Promenade of Art Arlington Heights - Chicagoland art festivalsDowntown Arlington Heights
There are more delicious places to eat in the area than I could possibly describe, but here are a few that are sure to please. Peggy Kinnane’s Irish Restaurant & Pub lived up to the name with an authentic Irish feel and a menu that included everything from fish and chips to Irish smoked salmon. I practically had to unhinge my jaw to enjoy a burger at Cortland’s Garage. Salsa 17 gave me an outlet to indulge my need for spicy with crab cakes and pork tenderloin. The Quattro stagioni pizza from Francesca’s will always be present in my dreams.

When I travel for work or pleasure, food is always at the top of my priority list. That’s why my heart skips a beat every time I travel to the Chicago Northwest area, and get to partake of the diverse, delicious, authentic dishes on virtually every corner.

Dive into the unique and delicious local food scene in Chicago Northwest.

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