Karen and Jerry Swidergal have transformed Kooker’s in Barrington, Illinois from a hot dog stand to a fabulous local establishment with homemade cooking at a great price. I had the pleasure of meeting Karen at one of the many charity and community events she caters. When I learned that she makes her Italian Beef Sandwiches from scratch, the old-fashioned way, I was impressed. You can follow my recipe to make Italian Beef Sandwiches at home (takes two days), or for just $5.99 you can get Karen’s made from scratch Italian Beef Sandwich at Kooker’s in minutes. Kudos to Karen and her team at Kooker’s for bringing the best Italian Beef Sandwiches to Barrington.
The Italian Beef Sandwich is served on a fresh Gonnella bun with homemade sweet peppers and spicy Giardiniera. Chicago bakeries Gonnella and Turano are the only acceptable buns for an authentic Italian Beef Sandwich. You can ask for the condiments on the side but I wanted to enjoy the loaded Kooker’s version.
Kooker’s has been in Barrington since 1990. Located in a different location and under different ownership, it always had the name Kooker’s. Karen & Jerry Swidergal, longtime Barrington residents, purchased Kooker’s in 2013 and moved it to its current location at 301 W. Northwest Highway in Barrington. They kept the iconic Milk Shakes and burgers, and added some of Karen’s own homemade recipes. Look for her famous homemade Gumbo served during Mardi Gras. Even with all the homemade cooking, this is still a fast food restaurant, serving fast and hot quality food. You order at the counter and enjoy your meal at one of the many tables inside or out.
The menu has some surprisingly good items. They are most known for their fabulous old-fashioned Milk Shakes, Malts and hearty burger/fries combo. All the burgers are made from locally sourced meats. The Kronos Gyros sandwiches, Prime Rib sandwiches (on special days) and french fries are hand-cut. Even the potato chips are homemade! Kooker’s breakfast is new with an assortment of custom made breakfast sandwiches and pancakes. The biggest surprise to me on the menu were the Fried Twinkies! Karen has made sure the new menu includes gluten-free and healthier options with lots of salad and homemade soups as well. I guarantee that everyone in your family will find something they will love to eat.
The fabulous food and friendly proprietors have earned Kooker’s lots of loyal customers. The day I was there I met “John the Plumber”, a longtime Barrington resident and well known friend to the community. “At Kooker’s you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The difference here from other places I have eaten at is Jerry, Karen and crew treat you like family. In these times, that’s important today. The food is great and the price is right. Great food, good laughs. It doesn’t get any better than that” said John.
Kooker’s is also a go-to caterer for festivals, charity, corporate and sporting events. Look for Kooker’s at Cruise night, Uncorked Festival, and Barrington Youth Football. Kooker’s is partnering with the owner of the Edelweiss Inn in Palatine to offer a very special Oktoberfest Menu this fall.
Kooker’s is located at 301 W. Northwest Highway, Barrington, IL 60010.
Phone (872) 382-3309
Monday – Friday 8AM – 8PM
Saturday 8:30AM – 4PM
Sunday 10AM – 4PM
No reservations required.
Free restaurant parking available.
Price: Under $10
Special orders, private parties and catering available
Follow Kooker’s on Facebook to learn about daily specials.