How the Schaumburg Food Scene Defines Traditions and Trends
- Jacqueline Raposo
- 5 Min Read
Not all stretches of suburb are created equally. One suburb started as a dreamy hamlet thirty miles away from downtown Chicago. It’s nestled between three nature preserves with golf courses, biking trails, and boating lakes. It offers raucous family fun at Medieval Times and grownup laughs at the Improv Comedy Club.
This is Schaumburg, Illinois. Welcome, from the Schaumburg food scene, which stands ready to feed you.
Officially incorporated as its own village in 1956, this urban offshoot became a major Illinois retail center with the creation of the Woodfield Mall in 1971. The Chicago Tribune‘s beautiful photo collection recalls bouffanted shoppers in the 1970s, denim-clad loafers of the 1980s, and packed parking lots of the 1990s. These built up the surrounding Village of Schaumburg into a ready host for residents and businesses. In turn, restaurants and catering chefs leading the Schaumburg food scene know they need to please traditional palates and keep food-focused young diners on their toes.
Only the Best Barbecue
“Barbecue has been popular in the Chicago area for as long as I can remember,” says Toasty Que director of catering, Rachel Barnhart. With a deep and long winter hitting the Schaumburg food scene annually, pit masters know you need loads of smoke and heavy dishes. And then, when summer nights call, nothing satisfies better than the sweet smoke of a backyard grill.
Rather than create one Chicago-style of barbecue, “every restaurant does a little style of everything,” Barnhart says. Her Toasty Que team creates all the sauces in-house for the traditional pulled pork and chicken, adding zing with pomegranate or apple cider.
The Toasty team is also behind the company Best Truckin BBQ, which brings delicious eats wherever the Schaumburg food scene has a need. Best Truckin BBQ is known for its innovations in the barbecue scene. “The guys on the truck wanted barbecue but were tired of the bun, so they put pulled pork and coleslaw on mac and cheese and called it a day.” Hence, the Mac Attack was born and is now available as a build-your-own buffet option. Barnhart says it was an instant bestseller and only continues to grow in popularity.
Delivered straight from the Woodfield Mall, Kinfork BBQ & Tap also dishes up “reinvented BBQ” in styles from around the country. Its barbecue chicken, brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and sweet maple-glazed salmon come together to please all palates. To really go whole hog, add smoked sausage links, mac and cheese, and plenty of sauce. You’ll have your choice ahead of you, as the sauces range from Carolina sweet to bourbon strong.
Meanwhile, Relish Catering Kitchen sets up a mean barbecue buffet complete with slow-cooked pulled pork and beef brisket, sandwich buns, and sweet sauce. The sides include cheddar mac and cheese and honey cornbread.
Are you looking for a bite that satisfies without weighing you down? The Schaumburg food scene offers sandwiches that stack filling portions alongside flavorful, fresh eats.
For classics, Which Wich delivers “superior sandwiches.” Mix and match filling main dishes like spicy buffalo, classic club, or vegetarian avocado with a serious assortment of cheeses, side veggies, and chips. Granite City Food & Brewery kicks the flavor profile up a notch, with a roasted-turkey and bacon sandwich, and a grilled-chicken and avocado sandwich, too. Pair these sandwiches with sides of bruschetta, or northern cheddar or ale soup. Toasty Cheese makes sure that everyone in your crew gets American, Pepper Jack, cheddar, mozzarella, and more on toasted panini bread. Plus, applewood smoked bacon, grass-fed ribeye, and even duck bacon are all options, too.
When you’re looking for even more adventure, Meatheads answers the call. The char of the outdoor grill comes indoors with its menu featuring crispy chicken, hamburger, and turkey burgers. The all-natural burgers are assembled without any fillers or scraps and served up on locally made bread. And to balance the meal, add fresh spinach or wedge salad, and sides of Cajun chips. It’s definitely drool-worthy stuff. The chefs of the Schaumburg food scene make sure classics always evolve.
Trends and Forward Thinkers
The New Mediterranean
As noted by the Atlantic, the quality and variety of food in the United States has never been better. The Schaumburg food scene lives up to that high bar, with choices from all over the world. You can sample trending new Asian dishes like bibimbap at Bibibop Asian Grill or filling vegan eats from Planti Meals. But if you’re really looking to taste the best Schaumburg-area chefs have to offer, look to the Mediterranean. The dishes and sweet rewards pack a little something rarely seen anywhere else.
Pita House offers plenty of food for a hungry crowd. Bright salads with fresh tomatoes, herbs, and grains. Succulent spit-roasted proteins grace the buffet alongside an all-vegetarian spread of stuffed grape leaves, creamy baba ghannouj, and tabouleh. At Roti Modern Mediterranean, feast on the specially marinated chicken and steak, and a kicked up hummus spread served in three different styles. Order the classic version, laced with tahini. It also comes blended with spicy feta, or dotted with onions and kalamata olives. Your pita chips and crunchy veggies have never dipped into this kind of deliciousness.
“People like to eat out, feel healthy, and enjoy their time,” says Nausheen Fatima, whose OrganiSoul is a short drive south of Schaumburg city limits. “But there are people who have dietary restrictions, and so can’t enjoy the way others can.” She crafts Mediterranean-inspired dishes with caloric values and healthy and allergy-friendly ingredients in mind—as well as full flavor.
To please all palates, Fatima’s team packs fresh herbs and spices into dishes. The grass-fed beef in the kofta pita sliders packs a wallop from the sofrito, a concentrated blend of cooked down onions, peppers, garlic, and fresh herbs. To make the tabbouleh salad gluten-free and packed with protein, they substitute the traditional bulgur wheat grain with quinoa.
Super Smart Sweets
When it’s finally time for something sweet, the Schaumburg food scene delivers the best in next-generation pastries.
“Every company looks out for three important things: quality, variety, and fair price,” says Manan Joshi, owner of Country Donuts. His menu is filled with over two dozen flavors of donuts and fillings made in-house twice daily. Those creative options include apple and spice, double chocolate cake, chocolate cream, and chocolate-iced Long Johns, along with cinnamon rolls, and apple fritters.
“If you use high-quality ingredients and serve them hot, fresh donuts are the best things to eat in the world,” Joshi promises. Delivered with piping-hot coffee, Country Donuts hits the corporate trifecta (quality, variety, price) every time.
To satisfy your traditional- or trendy-cookie fix, all the oatmeal, chocolate chip, and red-velvet sweets of your dreams await at Cookies by Design. And while you may overlook the phenomenal dessert menu at Maggiano’s Little Italy while perusing the pasta bar and baked Italian entrée menus, you really shouldn’t. You could make a meal out of the creamy New York-style cheesecake, mini crème brûlées, or Vera’s bright lemon cookies. Or, to bring some childlike nostalgia into any situation, try Auntie Anne’s Pennsylvania-style soft pretzels. They’re rolled by hand, just as they have been for thirty years. Flavors include sweet almond or cinnamon sugar, and each pretzel comes with sweet glaze or caramel dip for a carnival-like detail any day of the week. What a sweet ending to a Schaumburg food scene that’s only getting better and better.
Are you ready for more, Schaumburg peeps? Here are your top-ten caterers,