9144 S. Kedzie, Evergreen Park
7759 S. Harlem, Burbank
Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S. Western
A trifecta of great times at venerable south-side institutions. First, fuel up at the railroad-themed Snackville Junction in Evergreen Park with a Cheddarnooga Choo-Choo burger, fries, and an IBC root beer. Be sure to sit at the counter, where all the food comes from the kitchen via model railroad, in baskets set on the train cars. Trust us; it’s not just for kids.
Next, drive west on 79th to Burbank, turn right on Harlem, and check out Haunted Trails. Work off that burger in the batting cages, where you get 15 balls for $1.25. Then step inside the building that could only have once been a Denny’s and play some Skee-Ball, or a little arcade basketball, and try to win enough tickets to trade in for a Gummi Hot Dog for your sweetie.
If you want to play a round of mini golf or race go-karts, that’s fine, but for my money the thing to do from here is to head over to Beverly and stop by Original Rainbow Cone for the eponymous specialty. More even than mediocre baseball and perpetual construction, the Rainbow Cone—with its troweled-on orange sherbet, strawberry, pistachio, chocolate, and Palmer House, a vanilla with cherries and walnuts—says summer in Chicago. In fact, my family claims that when I had my first Rainbow Cone as a boy back in 1980, I vowed to one day move to Chicago so I could have Rainbow Cones every day for the rest of my life.