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 claim 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.
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 a 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 that has 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 are all run by the same team) they each fully embrace and become part of the community. Large murals of local scenes can be found and the stores 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 prides itself 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 kind of blah tasting (and tomatoes alone are not a favorite of mine). 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 was 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)
Give Meatheads a try today, you won’t be disappointed!
Disclosure: We were provided a meal in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.