Tips Suburban Safaris
If you have access to a car, you'll want to explore suburban Chicago's highways
and byways. These restaurants alone ar e worth a special trip:
• Phil Smidt 's, 1205 N. C alumet A ve., Hammond , IN ( & 800/376-4534 ).
Northwest Indiana is just a hop , skip, and jump acr oss the Chicago Sk yway
(and close to the Indiana gambling boats). The fried perch dinners (all-you-
can-eat, a boon f or families with g rowing kids) will make y our kids recon-
sider their pr eference f or fr ozen fish sticks . F or desser t, tr y the tar t
gooseberry pie. Closed on M onday.
• White Fence Farm, 1376 Joliet Rd., Romeoville, IL ( & 630/739-1720; www.
whitefencefarm.com). For the best fried chicken nor th of the M ason-Dixon
line, Chicagoans in the k now head t o White Fence Farm. And what bett er
kid-pleaser than a fried chicken dinner with all the fixings?
• Robinson's No. 1 R ibs, 940 M adison St., Oak P ark, IL ( & 708/383-8452;
www.rib1.com). Backyard Chef Charlie Robinson parla yed a win in the lat e
Chicago journalist M ike Royko's first annual rib c ook-off into this large and
extremely popular v enue. After a da y touring the Oak P ark's architectural
gems, go lo wbrow and div e right in t o a plat e of smok y ribs slather ed in
a secret sauce made with 17 herbs and spic es.
• Hecky's Barbecue , 1902 Gr een Ba y Rd ., E vanston, IL ( & 847/492-1182;
www.heckys.com). When in Evanston, do as the locals do and indulge at this
rib joint. Since the place isn't big on atmosphere (there is a dining r oom, two
doors down the street, so you must pick up y our food and go), the best plan
is to get dinner t o go, head back t o your hotel, and div e in (don 't skimp on
the napk ins). O ther specialties include hot pork links , chicken, and turkey
drumsticks. I f y our tra vel plans don 't include a visit t o E vanston, head t o
Hecky's new Chicago branch, at 1234 N. Halst ed St. ( & 312/377-7427 ).
• Homer's Ice Cream, 1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, IL ( & 847/251-0477;
www.homersicecream.com). Homer 's is the k ind of plac e wher e y ou f eel
good about feeding your kids burgers and ic e cream. And in fac t, Homer's
is all about the ic e cream, which is the best I' ve had. (Adults should tr y the
cappuccino chip; k ids go f or peppermint stick or mint choc olate chip .)
Seasonal flavors might include pumpk in in the fall , and prairie berr y and
peach in the summer . The burgers, hot dogs , and chicken sandwiches ar e
fresh and grilled to order. The red-and-white signage outside and matching
decor inside evoke good old ic e-cream-parlor fun. Homer 's is a c onvenient
stop af ter a t our of the Nor th Shore and a w elcome relief from the usual
Tufano's Vernon Park Tap ITALIAN Taking the family to the U nited Center to
catch a Chicago B ulls game? H ere's a gr eat spot to for tify your family for the ev ening
ahead. Located on the eastern edge of Little I taly, Tufano's is a popular place that 's been
family-owned for 60 years—and it's attracted neighborhood regulars as well as celebrities