We are burger connoisseurs in our family. We’re a bit snobby when it comes to “fast-food” burgers and would prefer our own over a drive-thru any day. I have been wooed before by big-name chains that many claims are the best burgers ever, only to be underwhelmed or disappointed. So to say I went to the grand opening of the Lake Bluff Meatheads with no expectations was an understatement. Meatheads not only wowed me with delicious food and great service but convinced me that dining out with kids could actually be enjoyable.
Meatheads, Lake Bluff
With 4 kids (age 2-10), we don’t eat out much; aside from cost, the hassle of corralling and controlling two toddlers is too stressful. Meatheads founder Tom Jednorowicz knows this and designed his stores to be family-friendly places that you can enjoy going to. Every element of the store is designed with families in mind.
While it may look like a typical fast-food restaurant when you walk in with a counter and menu boards, that is where the similarities stop. After you order your food, it’s much more like a casual family restaurant. One side of the restaurant is lined with booths. The booths are strategically designed to be u-shaped, so mom and dad can sit on the ends and keep the kids contained but able to move. My two-year-old enjoyed rolling his cars back and forth as we waited. When you order, you are given an activity pack with Wiki Sticks in it so the kids can play while you wait.
Food is brought to your table and cleared for you, so you don’t have to try to balance trays and children. My favorite part is that there are no TV screens anywhere. It’s harder and harder to find a place that isn’t streaming 24-hour news or sports, so I really liked that! While there is music playing, it’s at a reasonable (not too loud) volume, and the playlist has been hand-picked to be oldies, classics, and some new songs, all that are clean and family appropriate.
While each Meatheads locale is laid out basically the same (shops are not franchised and all run by the same team), they fully embrace and become part of the community. Large murals of local scenes can be found, and the stores and all work with the local high schools. Each season the local schools’ schedules are displayed, and many times the teams themselves come in to update their scores.
But what about the food?
Oh Em Yum!
Meatheads pride themselves on fresh ingredients prepared in-house. They will happily boast that the fries you are eating were potatoes this morning and that the only thing in their freezer is ice cream. You can taste that difference! The burgers were juicy and tasted like homemade. I am generally not a restaurant tomato eater; they are always pink and blah tasting (and tomatoes alone are not my favorite). I tried the seasonal special, a Mediterranean chicken sandwich, and they were, wow! The cucumber and tomato on it tasted like it was right out of my garden. The fries were delicious, with huge chunks of feta that my little dining companion kept stealing.
I had previously visited the Barrington location with all four of my kids, so I have experienced the depth of the children’s menu. The chicken strips look like you made them yourself, and they taste it too. The breading is crunchy with a bit of a kick, and the meat tender and juicy. The hot dogs are served New-England style on toast and were a fun and different experience for my Chicago kids.
In addition to the atmosphere and food, Meatheads provides a series of community programs that encourage reading, fitness, and community:
- Voracious Reading Program: reading program that encourages kids to read more books. This year, 150,000 kids will be participating in the program.
- Meathead of the Game: Meatheads celebrates young athletes in organized sports who choose to participate in real games, rather than play video games and is designed to reward Determination, Hustle and Hard Work in local youth athletes.
- On-Site Fundraising: Meatheads offers non-profit groups, schools and other community organizations the opportunity to raise funds by having a fundraiser at a local Meatheads store.
The Lake Bluff location is the 17th location; there are 3 locations in Lake County:
955 Rockland Road, Lake Bluff
(Rt. 41 and IL 176 – across from Target)
500 N Hough St., Barrington
(next to Heinen’s Grocery Store)
1036 Willow Road, Suite H, Northbrook
(at Willow & Waukegan)
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Give Meatheads a try today. You won’t be disappointed!
Disclosure: We were provided a meal to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’m a big fan of Meatheads, living near their Lincolnwood location and going there several times a week.
Two small quibbles: there’s no mention in the article of Meatheads’ grilled chicken (not even as a component of the Mediterranean chicken sandwidh), which is far ahead of any competitor’s; and the Northbrook location is in Cook County.