Best of Barrington 2012 Survey Results

We recently published a survey at, asking visitors to share their recommendations about all things Barrington in a range of 10 categories. There are about 75 questions in our survey and the response was overwhelming! So overwhelming, in fact, that we’ve just now completed the process of tallying the votes. And that means it’s now time to finally reveal the results.

As a quick reminder, all ten of our categories have the following names: Out on the Town, The Active Life, Shopping, Clothing, The Best Eats, Sweet Treats, For the Home and Garden, Barrington Services, Health & Beauty and Neighborhoods. With each category, we hoped to get a snapshot of some of the places, people and events in Barrington that people rave about so check out the following recommendations that come straight from the community…

Person You’d Most Like to Have Lunch  With: “My Wife/”My Husband”

This is one of my favorite questions in our Out on the Town category because it’s open-ended and the answers were unexpected.

We received a wide range of names, with “My Wife” and “My Husband” getting the top votes with 16% each.  Next in line with the most votes for the “person you’d most like to have lunch with” is Barrington Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tom Leonard. There were also votes for Barack Obama, Acacia Organics owner, Judy Zabielski and Doug McConnell (the guy who swam the English Channel). Two people chose religious leaders, one naming Father Frank Laccardi and another choosing Pastor Gregory Dickow, the founder of Chicago-based Life Changers International Church and host of TV show, The Power to Change Today. And then there were votes for celebrities like Ron Howard and Sting and local celebrities like “Mr. Malcolm, Roslyn Road’s Crossing Guard”. Now there’s a guy I’d like to meet!

Best Bar/Pub:  McGonigal’s Pub

The winner, with 30% of the votes cast in this category is McGonigal’s Pub in downtown Barrington. McGonigal’s is a popular dining destination in the heart of downtown Barrington, offering a wide selection of icy cold beer, a great menu of delicious pub food and regularly scheduled events and live performances by local musicians.

Next in line, with 20% of the votes cast is Wool Street Sports Bar & Grill, followed by Chessies/111 Grille with 14% of the votes.

After that, we have a four-way-tie, with Biltmore Country Club, Park Avenue Restaurant & Wine Bar, Francesca’s Famiglia and the Onion Pub receiving 7% of the votes and L’Eiffel Bistro, Hackneys, Pl8 and ZaZa’s also getting votes in this category.

Best Place for Cocktails:  Francesca’s

Most of the voters at chose Francesca’s Famiglia as their top choice for having cocktails in Barrington. Nestled in downtown Barrington’s quaint shopping district, Francesca’s features the earthy cuisine of Rome and the surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Their bar has become a hot spot for having drinks with friends and their limoncello is made in-house, from scratch and is particularly popular. Francesca’s wins this category in our “Best of Barrington” survey with 26% of the vote. But Park Avenue Restaurant and Wine Bar is close behind, receiving 21% of the vote followed by Biltmore Country Club and ZaZa’s, tied with 13% of the vote.  Barrington Country Bistro, Wool Street, 111 Grill, Biaggis, Pl8, L’Eiffel Bistro, Onion Pub, Kelsey Road House and Coopers Hawk in South Barrington also received votes in this category.

Best Place for Live Music:  McGonigal’s Pub

McGonigal’s Pub wins again in the “Best Place to Hear Live Music” category, with 34% of the votes cast. The traditional Irish pub features live performances by local and visiting musicians. They have a main stage on the first floor and have another stage upstairs. From traditional Irish folk music to classic and contemporary rock bands, McGonigal’s covers all the bases throughout the year, with a packed schedule of performers during Celtic Fest, McGonigal’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Next in line in this category are The Barrington Brat Tent (set up each year for the community’s annual Fourth of July celebration) and Wool Street, tied for second place with 22% of the votes cast.

Also receiving votes in this category are Citizens Park, Chessie’s/111 Grille and the Kelsey Road House.

Best Live Band or Musician:  Exit 147

In the “Best Live Band or Musician” category, Exit 147 wins, with 18% of the votes cast. The local band made up of 2 drummers and 2 bass players is one of the up and coming party bands in Chicago.

You’ll find them rocking out local bars, parties, and festivals and quickly gaining fans from their fun, audience-inclusive shows. Exit 147’s song catalog includes some of the most popular songs from the 60’s along with current hits that get the crowd up on their feet.

Also receiving votes in this category are the bands 16 Candles, Sons of Bildor, Way Past Curfew, Alex and the Allstars, August, Black Alley Riot, Industrial Road, Morgan and Garret from McGonigal’s, Pat McKillen and the Jay Gulatta Band.

Best Movie Theater:  The Catlow

The historic single-screen Catlow Theater in downtown Barrington wins this category with 49% of the vote. Barrington business owner, Wright Catlow, opened the theater back in May of 1927. His father owned the building which had previously been used as the Village meeting place. When the era’s silent films grew in popularity, Wright saw the need to create a space to accommodate the area’s growing film audience. Today, you can pick up a plate from the neighboring Boloney’s Sandwich Shop to enjoy during movies at The Catlow. Also winning the most votes in this category are the Century 16 theater in Deer Park with 32% of the vote and the AMC South Barrington 30 with 10% of the votes cast.

Readers also cast votes for the dine-in IPic Theater and lounge at The Arboretum of South Barrington and the Regal 12 theater in Lake Zurich.

Best Charity Event:  BJWC Fashion Show

18 different charity events received votes in this category, but our winner is the Barrington Junior Women’s Club Fall Fashion Show, receiving 20% of the votes cast. Each year, the BJWC hosts a Fall Fashion Show in November to raise funds to support their philanthropic efforts, like providing scholarships for BHS students and holiday meals for families in need. The second charity event receiving the most votes in our survey is the Jeffrey Pride Foundation Dinner Dance with 13% of the vote. The foundation funds cancer research for children and was formed by the parents of Jeffrey Pride, a little boy who lost his battle with leukemia days after his 7th birthday.

Another top event, with 10% of the vote, is the annual Hospice Duck Race at Barrington’s park district pool that funds pediatric programs for Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois. Other charity events receiving votes in this category are the Relay for Life, St. Anne’s Charity Gala, Ride for 3 Reasons, District 220 Foundation, BACOA Wine Tasting, Hands of Hope Antique & Garden Faire, Barrington Brew Fest, Concours D’Elegance, Dash for Diabetes, Fight Gone Bad Sportsgrants, Hough Street School Parents’ Time Out, House Walk, Michael Joseph Foundation, Rotary Rendezvous and the Wellness Place

Photo Source: Smashing Golf & Tennis

Best Spring/Summer Event: 4th of July Fest

Barrington’s week-long 4th of July festivities are the voters’ choice for Best Spring/Summer event (April – September). July 4th festivities received 46% of the vote and include the community’s 4th of July parade, fireworks and the Brat Tent with live concerts, festive food and fun for kids of all ages.

The annual Uncork Barrington wine tasting and the weekly summer Farmers Markets come in second, each receiving 11% of the vote.

Next is Barrington Brew Fest and the Barrington Garden & Antique Faire, each with 10% of the vote. Other votes in this category were for Biltmore Country Club Sweepstakes & Party on the Patio, community Kid Fest & Kite Fly and the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Sidewalk Sale Days.

Best Fall/Winter Event:  Tree Lighting

The annual lighting of Barrington’s community Christmas Tree on Main Street wins in this category with 22% of the votes cast. That’s the night Santa Claus returns, riding into town on a fire truck and visiting with kids in Barrington’s famous portable “Santa House”. There’s a three-way-tie for second place in this category with the Norge Ski Jump Tournament, Octoberfest & Biltmore Christmas Party each receiving 11% of the vote. Other votes were for Art in the Barn, Scarecrow Festival, Homecoming Parade, the BYDE’s Nutcracker performance at Barrington High School, Luminary Night, Christmas at the South Barrington Arboretum, Frozen Zucchini Snowshoe Race and “Cheering on the Barrington Broncos.”

Best Fitness Center: Good Shepherd Health & Fitness

Good Shepherd Health & Fitness received the most votes in our “Best Fitness Center” category, with 38% of our responders naming this facility as their favorite place to shape up. The 70,000 square foot community health and fitness center at the corner of Barrington Road & Cornell Avenue is part of the Advocate Health Care family of hospitals and medical facilities. At this center, they take a medical approach to fitness, offering access to state-of-the-art medical resources that impact overall well-being. Their staff includes exercise specialists, physiologists and licensed therapists dedicated to the integration of prevention, wellness and health education with physical fitness and rehabilitation services.

Next in line, with 24% of the votes received in this category, is CrossFit Barrington, a new elite fitness gym that a team of BHS grads opened in Lake Barrington last September at 28066 Commercial Avenue. CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists and many professional athletes. Also receiving votes and high praise in this category are the Barrington Park District, Buehler YMCA, Foglia YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, MidTown and the Lake Barrington Field House.

Best Workout: CrossFit

CrossFit Barrington came out on top in our “Best Workout” category, receiving 36% of the survey votes. CrossFit is an hour-long, structured workout with the help of a trainer educated in the techniques. According to Barrington CrossFit co-owner and BHS grad, Brian Niven, “The workout utilizes functional movements which represent the natural motions we see in daily activities. That includes exercises like squats, pushups, situps, dips and pullups, lifting and climbing. We put all of it together in a constantly varied, functional workout performed at a high intensity.” Brian comes up again later in this survey so continue reading to learn more about his military background and the benefits of CrossFit.

Also receiving multiple votes in this category are the Lake Barrington Field House, Good Shepherd Health and Fitness Center and Jazzercise at the Barrington Park District.

Best Yoga or Pilates: Nirvana

Nirvana Yoga Studio in downtown Barrington took the top spot, with 27% of the votes cast in our “Best Yoga or Pilates” category. The instructors at Nirvana say, “In the spirit of yoga, we believe in challenging the status quo and we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by offering a spirited style of Yoga that creatively links the physical poses with the rhythm of the breath, so not just teaching poses, but Yoga.” They say that, at Nirvana, “You will bend, stretch, breathe, laugh, strengthen and wake up to your life.” They are “passionate about their work and just happen to teach yoga.” You can read more about Nirvana, their instructors and their class schedule at

Also receiving many votes in this category are CrossFit Barrington, Margie Wedinger’s class at the Lake Barrington Field House, Pilates by Kristen, Pulsation Yoga and YMCA Centergy sessions. Several classes at the Barrington Park District received high praise, including Park District yoga with Erin and Nikki Nolan’s Men’s Yoga on Tuesday nights. I know I’ll be looking into all of these so thank you for some great recommendations!

Best Personal Trainer: Brian Niven

Our survey produced a great list of recommended personal trainers in Barrington, including the fitness experts at CrossFit who came out on top, receiving 37% of the total votes cast for “Best Personal Trainer”.

Most responders recommended CrossFit head coach and co-owner, Brian Niven, as their top choice for personal trainer in Barrington. Brian graduated from Barrington High School in 1999 and earned a his Bachelors Degree from Virginia Military Institute and an MBA at Loyola University.

After College, Brian served as an active duty infantry officer with the U.S Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He was deployed to Iraq for 6 months in 2004 and also served in Afghanistan in 2006 & 2007 before retiring from active duty later that year.

When he returned to Barrington, he developed a passion for CrossFit’s military-style fitness programs and got his start training clients out of a gym that he built in his home garage.

Brian’s business grew and he and his friend, Chris Bluse, opened the area’s only CrossFit training facility at 28066 Commercial Avenue in Lake Barrington in September of 2011. Today they have a team of seven trainers and have clients ranging in age from 4 to 70-years-old. “I wanted to spread the results of this program to my community. I have a vested interested in Barrington. I was raised here, live here and my kids will grow up here. We want our town to be as healthy and as fit as possible. We know we can make a difference in this community as long as I can introduce as many people, young and old, to our program.” For more information about the trainers and the program, visit

We also received recommendations for a number of other great fitness trainers & role models including CrossFit co-owner, Chris Bluse along with Mary Pahlke, Sue Pomeroy, Nirvana Yoga’s Jean Masusevich, Nikki Nolan at the Barrington Park District, Joanne Graser and Brendan Doyle at the Lake Barrington Field House, Go Hardball Training Academy founder, Kate Mitchum and Good Shepherd Health & Fitness trainers John Carlino, Craig Anding, Kara Aquino and Tim Lanenga. We also received votes for deceased fitness and nutrition guru, Jack Lalanne.

Best Store for Healthy Living: Acacia Organics

If you’re looking for a place to purchase personal care and household items produced with your health in mind, most of our survey responders say Acacia Organics in downtown Barrington is the place to go.

Acacia received 85% of the votes cast in our “Best Store for Healthy Living” category. Two friends, Registered Nurse Laura Mueller and Nutritional Consultant Judy Zabielski opened Acacia Organics three years ago to fill a need in our community. “It all started as we were discussing how many toxins we are inundated with on a daily basis. We are exposed to toxic chemicals through the air we breathe, in the foods we eat and the products that we put on our skin.” So Laura and Judy opened Acacia “…with the true goal of helping people live healthier lives.” To read more about Acacia, their products and services, visit their website at

Also receiving votes in this category are Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Here’s Health, offering a variety of nutritional supplements at 704 S. Northwest Highway.

Best Nature Walk: Cuba Marsh

With Barrington’s beautiful pastoral and natural landscape, the community offers a number of great options for you to set out and explore nature on foot.

But 57% of our readers give Cuba Marsh their highest praise for “Best Nature Walk” in Barrington. Early settlers once drained the marsh to use as farmland. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many of those farmers started selling their property to investors who hoped to develop homes on the land. Local residents who wanted the area preserved as open space joined together to form “Citizens for Conservation” and helped the Lake County Forest Preserves protect the property. Today, Cuba Marsh offers the public three miles of crushed-gravel trail through almost 800 acres of gently rolling hills with views of the marsh, abundant wildlife, plants, flowers and scattered groves of trees.

The entrance to Cuba Marsh and parking area are located on Cuba Road, west of Ela Road and east of Route 59. The east end of the preserve offers trails suitable for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Trails to the west end link to a boardwalk connected to more trails that lead to Citizens Park, the next top vote-getter in this category. Citizens Park features athletic fields, outdoor fireplaces, picnic areas, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, a music pavilion and a tree house. Also receiving votes in the “Best Nature Walk” category are Stillman Nature Center in South Barrington, Bakers Lake Trail, Grassy Lake Trail in Lake Barrington and the golf course at Biltmore Country Club.

Best Dance Studio: Barrington Dance Academy

Barrington Dance Academy received the top honors, with 43% of the votes cast for “Best Dance Studio”.  Established in 1984, the Barrington Dance Academy offers classes in Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet, Ballet, Pointe, Character, Jazz, Hip Hop and Modern Dance.

When Barrington Dance Academy students reach middle school, they can audition to perform with the Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble, a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1989 which promotes artistic integrity, involvement and awareness through exceptional dance training and performance in the Chicagoland area.  BYDE dancers perform the annual Nutcracker Ballet at Barrington High School and also participate in a variety of community outreach programs, about which you can learn more at

Also receiving votes, rave reviews and recommendations for “Best Dance Studio” are Bataille Academy of the Danse, Denise Sabala Dance Studios in Lake Zurich and dance programs offered by the Barrington Park District.

Best Golf Course: Biltmore & Makray

And finally, we had a top spot tie for “Best Golf Course” with Biltmore Country Club and Makray Memorial Golf Club each receiving 43% of the votes.

Soon after Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington opened in 1926, the club’s golf course quickly gained a reputation as one of Chicago’s finest. Golfing legends like Sam Snead often graced their fairways.

Today, Biltmore’s classic 18-hole course challenges golf lovers of all skill levels. As a member of the National Audubon Society, Biltmore’s unique natural settings and serene environment offer gorgeous landscaped views at every turn.

The club offers a staff of PGA professionals, private lessons, organized golf events, league play, an esteemed junior program and Pro Shop. Biltmore’s facilities also include a driving range, putting green, short-game range and full-service men’s and ladies’ locker rooms.

To learn more about golf, tennis, Honey Lake beachfront swimming, dining & the history of Biltmore Country Club, visit their website at

Sharing the top spot for “Best Golf Course” in Barrington isMakray Memorial Golf Club on Northwest Highway. The course is named for Paul Makray Senior who started the public Thunderbird Golf Course on the site in 1962. “His vision was to create a joyous and family friendly golfing experience without the exclusion of membership.”

Nearly ten years after Paul’s passing, his family decided to honor him by drastically remodeling the course, which re-opened for play in June of 2004.

The premier, 18-hole championship caliber course now offers 7,000 yards with four sets of tees, many water features, strategic bunkers, bent grass tees, fairways and greens, blue grass roughs and beautiful views.

The 24,000 clubhouse was also constructed as part of the redevelopment and features the Oak Terrace Grill restaurant, banquet space for weddings and corporate parties, the charm of an old world manor and spectacular views of the golf course. For more information, visit

Best Shopping Center: Deer Park Town Center

The area shopping center receiving the most recommendations in this category, with 45% of the votes cast, is Deer Park Town Center. Deer Park offers an exciting mix of 70 upscale retailers and restaurants and also features the Century 16 Deer Park movie theater. Popular shops at Deer Park town Center include the Apple Store, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, JCrew, Ann Taylor, Williams Sonoma and Aveda Salon for spa and styling services. The center also hosts great events throughout the year, including the new Sub-Rosa dinner club, Summer Sidewalk Sale, Jazz Patio, Art Festival and Santa Visits. Click HERE to read our review of Deer Park Town Center or visit their website at

Also receiving many votes in this category are the Arboretum of South Barrington, Ice House Mall, the Foundry of Barrington, Cook Street Plaza and even Acacia Organics, a single store downtown specializing in toxin-free household and personal care products.

Best Art Gallery: Tina Han Gallery & Custom Framing

The business receiving the most votes in this category, with 67% of the recommendations we received, is Tina Han Gallery and Custom Framing in Barrington’s Ice House Mall. With years of custom framing experience, Tina is a seasoned local expert when it comes to choosing colors and materials to frame your favorite pieces. Her gallery offers an original selection of limited edition prints and paintings including oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels and drawings created by established and emerging artists from around the world. She also features an impressive list of artists based right here in Barrington and has special showings of new and upcoming artists who are making a name for themselves.

The Barrington Cultural Arts Center’s gallery at the Ice House Mall and La Citadelle Art at The Arboretum of South Barrington also received votes for Best Art Gallery.

Best Book Store: Barnes & Noble

The best local book store, according to 41% of our readers, is Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Deer Park Town Center. Did you know that Barnes & Noble sells 300-million books per year online and in their stores? After a quick visit to the company’s website, I also learned that Barnes & Noble Cafés serve about 60 million beverages, 6 million cookies and scones and 3 million sandwiches annually and they’re the second-largest retailer of magazines in America. Nice to know we have one right in our own back yard! They also regularly host “Storytime in the Children’s Department” at Barnes & Noble and you can Click HERE to find and follow their upcoming schedule of events at Deer Park Town Center.

Local favorite, Dear Books and Gifts came in a close second, with 35% of our readers choosing this Barrington book nook as their top choice in this category. And we also received quite a few votes for our own Barrington Area Library plus one vote for iTunes as the best place to shop for a book in Barrington.

Best Gift Shop: G. Whiz & Angelina

In the best gift shop category, we have a TIE! G. Whiz and Angelina share the top spot for the best place to pick up a great gift for someone special. Owner Jan Cunningham opened G. Whiz at the Foundry of Barrington in 1993. They’re known for stocking the store with unique and unusual gifts that are as fun to give as they are to get. At G. Whiz, you’ll find a huge selection of designer jewelry, fashion accessories, handbags and home decor. One of the hottest sellers at G. Whiz continues to be their Pandora Beads, which is why Jan also opened a Pandora store at Deer Park Town Center in 2011. You’ll find G. Whiz in the Foundry at 724 W. Northwest Highway or online at

The second Barrington gift shop that took the stop spot in our survey is Angelina, right on the corner of Cook at Station Streets in downtown Barrington.

Owner Katie Kuempel has an eye for eclectic jewelry, handbags, artwork and home accents. She offers a smart selection of clever and artistic cards for every occasion plus a variety of sentimental gifts like hand-stamped, vintage silverware, ceramics and wall art decorated with fitting quotes for any relationship. She also features a selection of sweet baby gifts and the perfumed candles and lotions from the Lollia line she carries smell amazing. But Katie says one of the hottest sellers at Angelina are their Lily & Laura beaded stacking bracelets which come in literally every color. Click HERE to browse Angelina’s newest merchandise on Facebook or check out their selection online at

Also receiving top votes in this category are TT Patton Fine Stationery on Station and Acacia Organics, which is right across the street along with Vintage Faire on Hough Street, Estate Jewelers on Main Street and Acquisitions for the Home at The Arboretum of South Barrington. The Barrington Home Shoppe also received many votes in this category, which really makes us miss this popular Ice House Mall destination for fine tableware since it closed its doors earlier this year.

Best Jeweler: M.J. Miller Jewelers

M.J. Miller & Co. has been in business in Barrington for nearly 45 years and they took the top spot, receiving over 45% of our readers’ recommendations in this category.

Owner, Mike Miller’s passion for gems and precious jewels dates back to when he was 7-years-old and working in his father’s drug & jewelry store in rural North Dakota. Mike later earned his degree in Pharmacy and worked as a Pharmacist in Barrington’s old Esh Pharmacy while selling jewelry in the back of the store. Today, M.J. Miller & Co. Jewelers is one of the largest privately owned jewelry retail organizations in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs specializing in engagement rings, custom designs, fine white and colored diamonds, precious gemstone jewelry, designer brands, luxury timepieces from Switzerland, crystal, sterling silver flatware, porcelain china, stemware and home fragrances.

Also receiving many votes in this category are Long & Company Jewelers and Estate Jewelers, Ltd. on Main Street, the Ice House Mall’s Once in a Blue Moon, Azar Jewelers at The Arboretum of South Barrington, Dalzell & Co. in Crystal Lake and jewelry designer, Issac Kornhauser.

Best Resale: Vanity Share & House of Hope

We had another tie in the Best Resale category of our survey with Vanity Share Resale and House of Hope in Barrington both sharing 33% of the recommendations received. Vanity Share Resale at 128 E. Main Street is a great way to shop in Barrington if you love brands like JCrew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, but prefer more moderate prices. Store owner, Laura Howard, has a passion for giving new life to great pieces by selling them in her store at a major discount. Most items she carries cost under $20. She also has an eye for putting together new looks with the tops, skirts, slacks, dresses, shoes and accessories that make their way to the displays in her store.

If you have items you’d like to sell on consignment, Laura can help you there, too. For more details, visit

House of Hope shares the top spot for the Barrington resale store most recommended by our readers. House of Hope offers six huge rooms of furniture, antiques, collectibles, clothing, décor, housewares, art, toys, books, jewelry and more.

They also feature new arrivals every week and welcome all tax-deductible donations with great appreciation. House of Hope Resale was founded in 2001 to support the Project Hope Ministry at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Barrington.

Project Hope’s mission is to provide short-term, emergency assistance to area families in crisis. You’ll find House of Hope Resale in the Market Center Shops, 200 N. Hough Street in Barrington and you’ll find them online at

Best Store for Children’s Clothing: Amazing Gracie’s & Tommy Terri

BOB - Tommy Terri at Ice House Mall-There was a tie for Barrington’s Best Store for Children’s Clothing between Tommy Terri, in The Ice House Mall and Amazing Gracie’s at 126 W. Main Street.

Both Tommy Terri and Amazing Gracie’s offer a beautiful selection of classic and contemporary clothing for children and infants and both received 46% of the votes cast in our survey.

The Gap at Deer Park Town Center also came out on top, with 8% of the votes cast by our readers.

Best Store for Men’s Clothing: Phillips Men’s Wear

BOB - Phillips Menswear45% of our readers chose Phillips Men’s Wear as the Best place to find men’s clothing in Barrington, Illinois. In addition to custom suits, trousers and shirts, you’ll find expert clothiers, tailors and stylists at Phillips. They’ve been in business in Barrington for over six decades and are currently located at 100 E. Station Street.

Joseph. A. Bank and Brooks Brothers at Deer Park Town Center also received many votes for Best Men’s Clothing along with Grassroots, offering apparel for men, women and children at 205 S. Cook Street in Barrington.

Best Store for Women’s Clothing: Savvy Spirit

BOB - Savvy Spirit30% of our readers named Savvy Spirit in the Ice House Mall as their favorite place to shop for women’s clothing. Savvy Spirit has been in business since 1997, featuring unique women’s apparel and accessories not found in your typical department store plus the added service of personal shoppers tuned into the latest fashion trends.

Other reader favorites for women’s clothing are Mia-Sorella Salon & Boutique, offering trendy clothes & accessories along with a full salon service on Cook Street. One Girl, also on Cook Street, received a number of votes along with Starr Couture, Vanity Share Resale, J Crew and Ann Taylor Loft in Deer Park.

Best Store for Shoes: Young Tootsies

BOB - Young TootsiesYoung Tootsies, also in the Ice House Mall, received the most votes in our “Best Store for Shoes” category. 33% of our responders chose Young Tootsies, which recently expanded to include a full selection of high quality shoes for adults as well as children. When you visit Young Tootsies, you’re likely to find Doug “The Shoe Guy” Pekarek who has been fitting the little feet of Barrington for over three decades.

22% of our survey responders say DSW in Kildeer is where they most frequently go to shop for shoes close to Barrington along with Nordstrom, TJ Maxx and Vanity Share Resale at 128 E. Main Street in Barrington.

Best Place For Breakfast: Egg Harbor Café

BOB - Egg Harbor CafeAn impressive 72% of our readers picked Egg Harbor Café on Cook Street as the Best Place to Get Breakfast in Barrington. At Egg Harbor, you will find eggs-traordinary breakfast and lunch creations along with a kid-pleasing children’s menu, daily specials, seasonal menu selections, gluten-free options plus delicious catering fare.

11% of the readers who took our survey chose The Bread Basket as their favorite place to get breakfast in Barrington. The Bread Basket is a long-standing dining destination at 131 Park Avenue, offering friendly and quick service plus reliably delicious diner-fare for breakfast and lunch.

And next in line, is The Canteen on Barrington Road, a restaurant and pancake house that dates back to 1945. Other reader favorites were Apple Villa Pancakes on Barrington Road, Brunch Café in Fox River Grove, Egg Shells Café and Walker Brothers Pancake House in Lake Zurich.

Best Place For Lunch: Egg Harbor Café

BOB - Egg Harbor PatioComing out on top for a second time, 23% of our readers also chose Egg Harbor Café as the Best Place for Lunch in Barrington.

Egg Harbor’s ever-changing variety of daily soup and sandwich specials are a big draw and, during the warmer months, guests love to dine on Egg Harbor’s patio overlooking community events that take place on and around Cook Street.

Chessie’s Restaurant in the Ice House Mall takes the second spot in our reader poll for Best Place for Lunch, followed by a three-way tie between Boloney’s Sandwich Shop, Francesca’s Famiglia and Wool Street Grill & Sports Bar.

Best Fine Dining: Barrington Country Bistro

BOB - Barrington Country BistroThe Barrington Country Bistro in The Foundry came out on top in the Best Fine Dining Category, receiving recommendations for “Best Fine Dining” in Barrington from 37% of the readers who took our survey. Barrington Bistro describes their dining concept as, “the new bistronomy – bistro cuisine interpreted for the modern gastronome, inspired by French bistro and Italian restaurant classics, interpreted with contemporary flair.”

Francesca’s Familgila also received high praise from our readers along with the fine dining offered in the Biltmore Room at Biltmore Country Club and Pl8 Simply Asian in the Foundry.

Readers are recommended The Oak Terrace Grille at Makray Memorial Golf Club, ZaZa’s Tavola Italiana in Lake Barrington, D & J Bistro in Lake Zurich, Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Arboretum of South Barrington and Stoney River Legendary Steaks at Deer Park Town Center.

Best Family Dining: Chessie’s Restaurant

BOB - ChessiesFor more of a family dining atmosphere, 28% of the readers surveyed chose Chessie’s Restaurant in Barrington’s Ice House Mall at 200 Applebee Street. Serving the Barrington community for the past 35 years, Chessie’s menu features excellent steak and seafood dishes, burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups and delicious desserts. They offer dining for dinner, lunch, banquets and private parties.

Readers also chose Wool Street Grill as a great spot for Family Dining along with the Grill Room at Biltmore Country Club, Ciao Baby, The Onion Pub and Brewery, Kelsey Roadhouse, Millrose Restaurant and Pinstripes at the Arboretum of South Barrington.

Best Outdoor Dining: Wool Street Grill

BOB - Wool StreetFor the Best Outdoor Dining, 42% of the people who took our survey recommend Wool Street Grill in Barrington. Situated in a prime Barrington location adjacent to the downtown Metra train station and parking lot, Wool Street offers an inviting outdoor beer garden and about 9,500 square feet of indoor space for dining, parties and socializing in all seasons

Beach House dining at Biltmore Country Club, The Oak Terrace Grille at Makray Memorial Golf Club, Francesca’s Famiglia, The Onion Pub, Millrose Restaurant, Broken Oar and Cook Street Coffee also received high praise from our readers for their outdoor dining options.

Best Burger: Chessie’s Restaurant

Best Burger26% of our readers chose Chessie’s Restaurant in the Ice House Mall as their favorite place for burgers in Barrington.

On the menu at Chessie’s you’ll find The Chessie’s Burger, described as “Angus beef with choice of American, Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, Blue Cheese, Mozzarella plus your choice of grilled onions, bacon or mushrooms.”

They also serve a Barbecue Cheddar Burger along with a Jalapeno Burger topped with fresh fried jalapenos and a Filly Burger with grilled portobell0 mushroom and sliced eggplant.

Also receiving many reader recommendations for “Best Burger” in the Barrington area were Wool Street, Kookers, McGonigal’s Pub, Coopers, Hackneys, Onion Pub, Lucky Monk the Grill Room at Biltmore Country Club and Makray Memorial Golf Club.

Best Pizza: Primo’s Pizza & Catering

BOB - Primos Pizza OvenPrimo’s Pizza and Catering on Northwest Highway in Barrington received the most reader recommendations for “Best Pizza” in our survey, with 36% of responders choosing Primo’s as their top spot for pizza.

Primo’s has been serving pizza in the Northwest Suburbs for the past 20 years and offers deep dish, stuffed and a variety of unique and specialty pizzas. And, they say, “The difference is the crust. If you like a lite, crispy pizza generously layered with the toppings of your choice then you’ll love our classic thin crust pie.”

Also receiving high praise for “Best Pizza” were Coopers Pizza on Hough Street, Sergios Pizza on Northwest Highway, Lou Malnati’s and Rosati’s.

Best Wings: Wool Street

BOB - Wool Street Grill36% of the readers who took our survey chose Wool Street Grill as their favorite place for Wings in Barrington.

Wool Street’s wings are served the following ways, according to their menu: “Naked (mild), Rajun Cajun Buffalo, Jamaican Me Crazy, Buffalo Caliente, Ginger Teriyaki, Wild Chipotle Bbq, Pineapple Habañero Bbq and “Sick in the Cabeza” If you don’t speak Spanish, it means really stupid hot… Don’t say we didn’t warn you!”

Also receiving rave reviews for their wings were Jersey’s, Coopers, The Onion Pub, Primo’s Pizza and Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in Hoffman Estates.

Best Seafood or Sushi: PL8 Simply Asian

BOB - Pl8 SushiOur readers’ 2012 choice for their favorite Seafood or Sushi is Pl8 Simply Asian at The Foundry of Barrington, with 50% of the recommendations we received. PL8 offers a fresh, imaginative menu of classic Chinese cuisine side by side with Japanese kitchen creations and sushi.

Sagano Japanese Restaurant at 110 N. Hough Street also received many recommendations in our survey along with Naomi Sushi Express right by the Barrington Jewel, Nozumi Asian Cuisine at the Arboretum of South Barrington and Bistro Wasabi in Hoffman Estates.

Francesca’s Famiglia also received rave reviews for the seafood on their menu featuring Italy’s “earthy cuisine of Rome and the surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio.”


Best Vegetarian Restaurant: PL8 Simply Asian

BOB - Pl8 LogoPL8 Simply Asian also received the most recommendations, with 57% of our readers choosing PL8 for Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Barrington. PL8′s lunch and dinner menus are filled with clearly marked vegetarian options and they also feature a wheat free and gluten-free menu offering something for everyone along with remarkably reasonable prices.

Our readers also highly recommend Happy Buddha, the Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant on Northwest Highway serving lunch and dinner in Barrington. Happy Buddha offers a variety of hot s0ups and dishes like Baked Mung Bean Cake, Vegetarian Grilled Chicken Skewers, Vietnamese Vegetarian Rice Crepes and Sauteed Lemongrass Chicken or Tofu.

Readers also recommended Sagano Japanese Restaurant and Savory Salads on Hough Street as among their favorite local vegetarian menus.

Best Place to Get Coffee: Cook Street Coffee & Starbucks

BOB - Cook Street CoffeeWhen it comes to the Best Place to Get Coffee in Barrington, we have a tw0-way-tie for the top spot.

Cook Street Coffee and Starbucks each received 42% of the recommendations from our readers. Both Barrington Starbucks locations, on Hough Street and the drive-thru on Northwest Highway, were named by our readers as their favorite places for a cup of joe and Cook Street Coffee received high marks for being locally owned and operated with delicious coffee plus a great atmosphere and sidewalk seating right in downtown Barrington.

Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie, that incredibly delicious french bakery in The Foundry of Barrington, also received many recommendations as a reader favorite for coffee in Barrington. And there were also votes for the coffee at Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds.

Best Place to Get Picnic Food: An 8-Way Tie

BOB - Best Picnic FoodHere are the eight places our readers recommended for best places around to pick up food for a picnic in Barrington…
Barrington Country Bistro – 718 W. Northwest Highway
Boloney’s Sandwich Shop – 114 W. Main Street
Caputo’s – 2070 N. Rand Road in Palatine
Einstein’s Bagels – 208 S. Cook Street
Fresh Market – 20771 N. Rand Road in Kildeer
Jimmy John’s – 168 S. Northwest Highway
La Mesa – 243 W. Northwest Highway
Savory Salads – 215 N. Hough Street

Best Farm, Market or Stand: Barrington Farmers Market

BOB - Farmers Market RaspberriesWith 40% of the recommendations received, the Barrington Farmers Market is the number one choice among our readers for their favorite farm, market or stand in Barrington.

Located at the corner of Cook and Main Streets, the weekly Barrington Farmers Market is open during the warmer months from 2 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

It was started in 2000 by the Barrington Village Association (BVA), a local homeowner’s group working to build community, adding to the character to downtown Barrington.

The Foley Farmstand also received recommendations in our survey along with the seasonal farm stand at Route 22 & Kelsey Road, Palatine’s Farmers Market, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and The Gentleman Farmer, organic veggie growers and a family farming business right here in Barrington.

Best Takeout: Ciao Baby

BOB - Ciao BabyThe most reader recommendations we received for Best Takeout in Barrington were for Ciao Baby, the extremely popular Italian restaurant at 232 E. Main Street in downtown Barrington. 25% of our survey responders chose Ciao Baby as best place for takeout and it’s a true testament to Chef Vince Pecora. He’s the man in charge of the menu who serves authentic Italian cuisine including amazing pizzas and pastas to a diners who regularly stand in line for a seat in this casual, family-run dining room.

Chinese Palace on Northwest Highway also received many reader recommendations in this category.

And so did Frantonio’s Italian Deli & Cafe, La Mesa, Lou Malnati’s, Naomi Sushi Express, PL8 Simply Asian, Sagano Japanese Restaurant, Dog Tracks and Amore Mio at 1457 Palatine Road in Hoffman Estates.

Best Home Delivery: Lou Malnati’s and Primo’s Pizza

BOB - Lou MalnatisWhen it comes to home delivery, Lou Malnati’s and Primo’s Pizza share the top spot in our reader poll in Barrington. Lou Malnati’s in Lake Zurich offers pizza delivery, takeout and catering out of their location at 1225 Rand Road.

Primo’s Pizza & Catering at 630 S. Northwest Highway has been serving “superior thin crust since 1992” and is extremely popular for it’s light and crispy pizza crust along with its deep dish, stuffed and unique specialty pizzas.

Also receiving shout-outs for best home delivery were Chinese Palace, Jimmy John’s, Papa John’s in Palatine, Wool Street Grill, ZaZa’s Tavola Italiana, Seattle Sutton’s and Ripe Organics in Lake Zurich.

Best Caterer: Wild Asparagus

BOB - Wild Asparagus CateringIn the very last reader poll in our Best Eats category, we asked people to recommend their favorite local caterer. The highest number of recommendations we received, 31%, were for Wild Asparagus Catering located right across the street from the Barrington Jewel at 114 Applebee Street.

Wild Asparagus was established by Chef/Owner Jeramie Campana in July 2008. Former Sous Chef for prominent Barrington caterer Tastefully Yours, Chef Campana has built his business based on exceptional customer service, extraordinary cuisine, and a dedication to his clients.

As described on their website, “He is continually developing new menu ideas to keep your event unique and your guests impressed.”

And it’s no surprise that Ciao Baby also received high praise from our readers for best catering in Barrington, with 25% of the reader recommendations received along with Frantonio’s Italian Deli and Café, Egg Harbor Café, Biltmore Country Club, Jimmy John’s, Supreme Cuisine and our very own Kelly Donlea’s Organizing Dinner. Chef Kelly Donlea is a caterer, cooking coach and also writes the Barrington Eats column here at She never ceases to inspire us with easy and delicious recipes and tips to help us master the art of meal planning at home.

Best Bakery: Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie

BOB - Ambrosia Euro American PatisserieMost of the readers who responded to our survey chose Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie located in The Foundry of Barrington as their favorite bakery in Barrington this year. Ambrosia is a gourmet bakery that has been serving delicious, all natural, hand-crafted desserts, pastries, savory & sweet croissants and breads plus hot and cold beverages in a lovely Euro café setting for more than 20 years. And “delicious” may be an understatement because Ambrosia’s pastries are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. Like little works of art, pastries from Ambrosia make wonderful gifts and are such a special addition to any celebration, large or small, or the perfect way to reward yourself any day of the year.

But our readers sure are some smart cookies. They know very well that Ambrosia’s not the only “Best Bakery” in Barrington and many also recommended Clarke’s Irish Bakery & Deli on Northwest Highway, Sweet Pea Cakes in Crystal Lake (they recently closed their Barrington location), Peterson’s Tasty Delight Bakery in Hoffman Estates and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Best Ice Cream Shop: Baskin Robbins

BOB - Baskin RobbinsWhen it comes to Ice Cream, we have some pretty sweet choices here in Barrington, but most readers in our 2012 poll chose Baskin Robbins ice cream as their favorite. Baskin Robbins is in the same spot as the Dunkin’ Donuts in Barrington at 108 S. Northwest Highway. Nearly three-quarters of a century ago, two brothers-in-law shared a dream to create an innovative ice cream store that would be a neighborhood gathering place for families. Burton “Burt” Baskin and Irvine “Irv” Robbins’ started with a few old-fashioned ice cream stores in California and ultimately pioneered the concept of franchising in the ice cream industry, with the brand’s 5,800 stores around the globe now serving 300-million customers a year.

Other reader favorites in our survey include Kaleidoscoops on Main Street, Cold Stone Creamery at Deer Park Town Center, Dairy Queen and Oberweiss.

Best Place to Buy Candy: SweetSpot Candy Shop

BOB - SweetSpotMost of the readers who took our survey chose The SweetSpot Candy Shop as their favorite place for sweets in Barrington. The SweetSpot just announced on their Facebook page that they’re going to be moving from their current location on Hager Street. The owner says, “Unfortunately SweetSpot has lost its lease due to unreasonable demands by landlord. Follow us on Facebook “sweetspot barrington” for updates for 2013.” In the meantime, this popular shop specializing in “Candy you ate as a kid and more” will still serve customers who can order treats on their website at and you can CLICK HERE to follow their updates on Facebook.

Other favorite places for sweets recommended by our readers include Anna Shea Chocolates at the Arboretum of South Barrington, the Long Grove Confectionery and Jewel/Osco in Barrington.



If you’d like to let others know your business or organization received top votes in our 2012 Best of Barrington Survey, we have a digital seal that you’re free to share online.

Email for a custom seal created just for you or copy & paste the following code into your webpage:

<a href=””><img title=”Voted Best of Barrington” src=”” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”200″ /></a>


Congratulations to all of our winners in these first categories and please stay tuned as we continue to reveal our readers’ picks for the very Best of Barrington!

1 Comment

  1. Just a slight correction to your “Best Dance Studio” section… Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble (BYDE) is not a dance studio, it is a audition-only dance company. The dance studio (where students and adults can take classes)affiliated with BYDE is BARRINGTON DANCE ACADEMY 847-382-6333 located in The Foundry of Barrington. Students at Barrington Dance Academy can audition to become part of BYDE in middle school.

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