Waterfront Dining Destinations

28 July 2014
Published in Food & Spirits

Summertime dining in the McHenry County region means great grub and outdoor seating with spectacular views of the river and lakes, plus fireworks, Venetian nights, boat races and more. Get there by boat, car, even train! 


Port Edward Restaurant (main photo)

Location: Lower Fox, 20 W. Algonquin Road, Algonquin, 847-658-5441. 

Go for: Seafood; dockside dining in the summer. 


Kief’s Reef

Location: Lower Fox, 3505 S. Wright Road, McHenry, 815-455-1444. 

Go for: Bar food, sand volleyball and music. 



Broken Oar (above)

Location: Lower Fox, 614 Rawson Bridge Road, Port Barrington, 847-639-9468.

Go for: Bar food, beer garden, live music and skydeck dining. 


The Snuggery (above)

Location: Upper Fox, 801 N. River Road, McHenry, 815-578-9600.

Go for: Broasted chicken and sports bar atmosphere. 



After the Fox (above)

Location: Upper Fox, 1406 N. Riverside Drive, McHenry, 815-344-3760. 

Go for: Friday fish fry, English- and Irish-style pub food and a great view.  


Vickie’s Place 

Location: Upper Fox, 1211 N. River Road, McHenry, 815-385-2014.

Go for: Tiki-bar themed outdoor dining and burgers. 



Buddyz Pizzeria (above)

Location: McHenry Riverwalk, 1138 N. Green St., McHenry, 815-363-1010.

Go for: Chicago-style pizza and Italian food in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, plus riverfront balcony patio dining with live music five nights a week.  


Epic Deli 

Location: Upper Fox, 3312 N. Chapel Hill Road, Johnsburg, 815-271-5204.

Go for: Gourmet subs, paninis and cheesecake. 


Oak Park Lounge (above)

Location: Pistakee Lake, 801 Oak Grove Road, Johnsburg, 815-385-9872.

Go for: Outdoor dining, pizza, takeout and live music.


Captain’s Quarters 

Location: Fox Lake, 38283 N. Bolton Place, Antioch, 847-395-3569.

Go for: Bar food, kids’ playground, volleyball, basketball, horseshoes and regular special events. 



Location: 33 West Grand Ave., Fox Lake, 631-653-0653.

Go for: Steak, burgers, baby back ribs, pasta, fried chicken and more.


Antonio’s Grill on the Water  

Location: Fox Lake.

Go for: Brats, Polish sausage, Italian beef, hot dogs, chips, ice cream, pop, homemade chips and salsa, and bags of ice.



El Puerto Mexican Restaurant  (above)

Location: 200 Forest Ave., Fox Lake, 847-973-1370.

Go for: Fine Mexican food for lunch or dinner, award-winning margaritas, fun atmosphere, great view. 


Blarney Island 

Location: Grass Lake, Antioch, 847-395-3804. Accessible only by boat — shuttle service is available from Port of Blarney at 27843 W. Grass Lake Road, Antioch, 847-395-4122.

Go for: Bar food, music and dancing, party atmosphere, boat races and more. 



Lindy’s Landing (above)

Location: Bangs Lake, 115 Park St.., Wauconda, 847-526-9789.

Go for: American fare, food and drink specials, live music on the weekends. 





The Top Sandwich Shops

08 July 2014
Published in Food & Spirits

Local sandwich shops are carving out a fervent following with big, meaty sandwiches piled high with top-quality, house-made ingredients between specialty breads. 

Photos: R Hacker Photography 


Heroes, hoagies, subs, grinders, sammiches, paninis, sammies ­– whatever you call them, however you like them – we love our sandwiches. I mean, we really love them.

Here’s some food for thought: Technomic’s nationwide Sandwich Consumer Trend Report found that 95 percent of consumers eat at least one sandwich per week. That means in McHenry County alone, we eat more than 15 million sandwiches a year!

You can thank John Montagu for this modern obsession. Born in 1718, he was the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the person often credited as the inventor of the modern sandwich.

The myth goes that he was such a committed gambler he wouldn’t get up from the table to eat. Instead, he had servants put meat between two slices of bread and bring it to him at the table. Others at the table would say, “I’ll have the same as Sandwich.” And so the sandwich was born.

From those early days as practical and convenient sustenance, the sandwich has morphed into something of an art form with sandwich masters all over McHenry County creating true culinary masterpieces. We’ve put together a short list of McHenry County’s best delis and sandwich shops, plus their menus’ must-trys.

R. Hacker Photography-8536

Epic Deli

Known for: Meats made in-house, deep-fried sandwiches and homemade desserts, particularly cheesecakes.

Order this: The Viking Quest, Epic’s best-selling sandwich, weighs in at nearly 3 pounds of turkey, pastrami, salami, bacon, ham, pepperoni, roast beef, pepper jack, provolone, cheddar, banana peppers and ghost pepper ranch.

Claim to fame: “We’ve been the winner of best sandwich shop for [Northwest Herald’s] Best of the Fox for the past two years and the best deli the past three years in a row,” said Tyler Wildey, general manager and owner. “We have 50 different sandwiches. We keep everything fresh and new.”  

For more: 3312 Chapel Hill Road, Johnsburg, 815-271-5204, epicdeli.com.

R. Hacker Photography-8260

Algonquin Sub Shop

Known for: The highest-quality, high-end meats ordered from Tennessee, and its specially designed bread.

Order this: The Al Capone, the shop’s best seller, is a take on the traditional Italian sub with Italian capicola, salami, pepperoni, mortadella, provolone and olives.

Claim to fame: “If you’re someone who likes sandwiches, we pump some great stuff out of this little joint,” said John Ryals, owner and self-proclaimed “sub guru.” “We’ve been here 22 years. We’re kind of a hole in the wall, kinda small, but once you come in, we gotcha.”

For more: 105 Filip St., Algonquin, 847-658-0680, algonquinsubshop.com.

R. Hacker Photography-8426

Breaking Bread Catering & Deli

Known for: Friendly atmosphere, unique sandwiches and being “the cool place to hang out and break bread.”

Order this: The reuben, fried chicken and bacon, Chief Dog, and ham and salami with a fried egg.

Claim to fame: “We have a very diverse menu, and we appeal to all ages,” said Teri Plazak, owner. “We’ll bend over backwards to accommodate your tastes. Our sandwiches are really large, so you get a lot for your money, and all of our products are natural.”

For more: 638 Northwest Hwy., Cary, 847-516-2223, breakingbreadcary.com.

R. Hacker Photography-8714

Butcher on the Block

Known for: Being the neighborhood family butcher, and meats that are pure, honest and butchered the way it was in the past.

Order this: The cooked pot roast and Butcher's Special sub.

Claim to fame: “Our motto, ‘If I’m not gonna take it home, neither are you,’” said Tom Yucuis, owner. “The beauty of [our shop] is that you have to come in here and talk to us. We have to help you. It’s all full service. We guide our customers; we’re meat cutters. You get good, quality products at a fair price.”

For more: 4660 W. Algonquin Road, Lake in the Hills, 847-669-6679, butcherontheblock.com.

R. Hacker Photography-8619

Flatlander Market

Known for: Flavorful sandwiches across the board, homemade sauces and a love for customizing sandwiches.

Order this: Chicken pesto panini.

Claim to fame: “Nothing but top-quality stuff,” said Rocco Gailloreto, owner. “We get a lot of folks from around the county who are cycling or taking the scenic drive. Marengo is halfway to everywhere. We’re a great place to meet. It’s all about the flavors. Some of our best sandwiches have come from our customers. They ask, ‘Can you make this?’ We get that a lot.”

For more: 125 S. State St., Marengo, 815-568-3528, flatlandermarket.com.