Fast-food restaurant chains have very few, if any, franchises in downtown Chicago, where I live. So my wife and I have to travel to the suburbs--sometimes almost as far as Wisconsin or Indiana--to satisfy our longing for a homestyle hamburger or ice cream soda or milk shake or fish sandwich or shrimp basket. Know what I mean? So it was very gratifying during a recent antiquing expedition to northwest suburban Crystal Lake that we discovered a Culver's at 501 Pingree Road. Culver's is a Wisconsin-based chain that was established in 1984, operates primarily in the Midwest and specializes in frozen custard, butterburgers, crinkle-cut fries, deep-fried cheese curds and its own brand of root beer. On other occasions, we have stopped at Culver's locations in East Peoria, Rockford, Bloomington, Galena, Champaign and even Sarasota, Florida. What we like about Culver's is it produces products that its rivals don't. Like the butterburger, a special blend of three cuts of beef--sirloin, chuck and plate, all prized cuts--that are marbled for richness and flavor with no fillers in the way. And the frozen custard, luscious and creamy, with farm fresh dairy. It contains less air so it's denser and richer than ice cream. Other items on Culver's menu that we enjoy are the North Atlantic cod sandwich, the butterfly jumbo shrimp basket, the Wisconsin Swiss melt and the sourdough melt. But you can't leave a Culver's without a quart or two of frozen custard, especially chocolate or caramel or fudge. Those Cheeseheads really know how to make a good meal.
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