I’ve lived in Barrington a long time. Long enough to remember no stop lights on Kelsey Road, and also to remember a time when there were very few dining options in town. It’s been a pleasure to experience things improve over the years. This summer alone two new quick-service restaurants joined several other town favorites on the six block stretch of Barrington Road from Route 14 to just past Lake Cook.

For the first time Barrington feels like the downtown I always thought it could be. Not your average run of the mill drive-thru mecca, but a destination of great places to lunch. Not that I mind drive–thrus, because our first stop on Barrington Road, just South of 14, has one. And it’s one for which I have been eternally grateful over the years…

I have had a child under the age of four for the past 12 years, and I can tell you, getting them in and out of the car can take as long as it should take to eat lunch. So having a drive through with healthy options is a godsend. Yep, you guessed it, I’m talking about Tropical Smoothie.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – 500 N. Hough Street

My family loves the Blimey Limey Smoothies and the Acai Berry Boost. We also love practically every sandwich on the menu, but the Hummus Flatbread and Thai Chicken Wrap stand out for their uniqueness. El Molino Mexcian Restaurant owner, Gustavo Soto once told me the key to a restaurant’s success is consistency. Tropical Smoothie has this quality down pat, delivering quality smoothies and sandwiches with reliably fresh ingredients.

Head South past the tracks, on the same side of the street, to the location that has housed many a restaurant in recent years, and you will find a new town favorite, Paul’s Burritos. While Paul’s promotes itself on its burritos and fish tacos, I am even more pleased about the menu’s great variety and remarkable prices.

Paul’s Burrito Express – 402 N. Hough Street

Their offerings include fajita dinners, carne asada, gourmet desserts and even breakfast fare, including my all-time favorite Chilaquiles (a dish of eggs, tortillas chips, salsa and cheese). They are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week. And with prices at just $2.25 per fish taco and $5.50 per burrito, Paul’s also brings affordability to the table.   The owner, Paul Briseno believes that the location is fantastic and chose the spot because it’s convenient for people passing right through town.

Next stop is Savory Salads, a long-awaited addition to our thoroughfare’s landscape. And don’t let the name mislead you.  This brand new Barrington hot-spot is as good for its sandwiches, coffee and baked goods as it is for its salads.

Savory Salads – 215 N. Hough Street

As a cook, there are often times when I go to a quick-service restaurant and wish I’d just have eaten at home because I would do it fresher/better/different. Not only do they do it as good and better at Savory Salads, they do it just like I would! Their chopped salad (a customer favorite) is a kindred spirit with the one featured in my 30 Spectacular Salads cookbook. Their baked goods contain lots of real butter and fresh fruit, their sandwiches high-quality cheese and vegetables and they have very friendly service to boot.

Chef Salad at Savory Salads

Adjacent to Savory Salads and sharing the same ample parking lot is the longest-standing spot on the stretch, Subway, which has been going strong since 1988. Even Subway has made this summer more fun by highlighting my favorite ingredient, avocado, in their new Turkey Avocado Spinach sub, their Ultimate Veggie and of course as one of their a la carte options on any of their great sandwiches.

Subway Sandwich & Salads – 215 N. Hough Street

Cross the tracks and Main Street, and you will come to the last stop on the Quick Bites stretch, Coopers. While most known for its pizza, Coopers also boasts barbeque ribs, fried chicken, pub-style burgers and exciting salads.

Cooper’s Pizza – 117 S. Hough Street – Courtesy of Lion’s Roar Media

After many years of experience in the restaurant industry, owner and chef, Scott Hansen, created his new restaurant concept and opened Cooper’s for business in 2009. “It’s a family friendly setting and environment. We have seating for up to 26 people, we have outdoor seating available, weather permitting, and it’s casual.”  Scott says you’ll find many southwestern and Caribbean influences in his cuisine and some of the most popular menu items at Cooper’s are their pretzel bread sandwiches, pulled pork and ribs, “Granny Apple Salad” and their stuffed pizza.

Cooper’s Pizza – Courtesy of Lion’s Roar Media

Next time you’re headed out for a quick bite, look no further than this six-block stretch. Whether you’re in the mood for a sandwich, salad, taco, pizza, burger, muffin, smoothie, ribs, wraps and more… Barrington’s got you covered.


About the Author

Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.

Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our new, local and regular food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!

If you’d like to us to feature your favorite chef or restaurant or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE.


  1. What a great review, thanks Kelly. We’ve eaten at all of them and have our favorites at each as well. You did highlight a few items we’ll have to try. And I totally agree, the eating options in Barrington just keep getting better and better.

  2. I love the food at all the places on the list….besides subway..but even the ppl working there are nice and give good portions on the veggies. But the owner @ coopers needs to relax a little bit…one two occasions he has come off as snooty to me. Its a shame because i like most of the food there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog