FARM TO FARM TABLE
Locavore brings the table to the farm in peaceful rural Kankakee County.
To travel well means to slow down and indulge in a place with a locavore’s mindset. This comes naturally in a place like Kankakee County where the locally grown food, drinks and culture of the small towns make up the fabric of the region.
Located just 50 miles south of Chicago, Kankakee County is an idyllic weekend escape from the city. Indulge yourself in farm-to-table feasts, tee off at a renowned golf course, take in the local art and live music, and wash it all down with craft brews. This weekend getaway promises a harmonious blend of rural charm, refined tastes and a slower pace.
"Imagine a 100-foot-long dinner table serving farm-fresh entrees and desserts. This is what awaits you at Locavore."
Begin your weekend with what might be the most perfect segue from city life to rural hospitality; Locavore Farm. A 100-foot-long dinner table awaits you and dozens of other diners, all nestled within the farm's picturesque landscape, tucked away in the corner of Kankakee County. Expect to savor seasonal dishes like Sumac-Lemon Roasted Chicken Breast, Pulled Pork Tacos, Two Smoked Black Bean Tacos, and don't miss the Lemon Curd Cupcakes if they’re on the menu. Everything is crafted from locally sourced ingredients, including the live music and the hospitality, which makes for an unforgettable farm-to-table experience.
Your accommodations for the night? A cozy 20-foot canvas tent on the northeast side of the property, equipped with a queen mattress, a fan, and a coffee maker—an inviting home under the stars.
Friday dawns with a quick round of golf at Minne Monesse, a Par 72 Championship course renowned for its challenging layout, water features on 11 holes, and a forest of towering oak trees.18 holes with a cart will run you just $42 on weekdays and $54 on weekends. After golf, reenergize with cold brew, fresh strawberry and banana smoothies and sandwiches at Off the Vine in Momence.
From there you can drive over to, or walk across the wooden arched footbridge, to Island Park. By foot, the hundreds of hanging baskets of petunias lead you to an 18-acre island on the Kankakee River covered with giant Oak trees. This is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic if you grabbed food to-go or have kiddos that need to stretch their legs.
Continue your tour of Kankakee County staples by making a pit stop at Sollitt Tap. It’s a local watering hole that caters to bikers with a bartender that is “one of the nicest people you’ve met.” Sollitt’s food selection is highly recommended; stop by for breakfast on Saturday mornings from 8am - 11am or grab one of their burgers any day of the week.
Manteno, IL, a town of nearly 10,000 makes for a great home base for the rest of your weekend. For accommodations, check into the Country Inn and Suites. They offer everything you’d expect from a Choice hotel with access to the highway while being close to downtown Manteno. There’s also a level-two charging station in town if you drive an electric vehicle. We’d recommend you park there, plug in, and then bike your way around Manteno for a casual Friday evening.
Steam Hollow Brewing Company makes for a great place to start your Friday in Manteno. They boast ambitiously creative beers that feel at home in their steam-punk brewery with soaring ceilings. Steam Hollow’s brews are a nice break from the heavy-hopped beers that are popular; we ordered a flight and went back for more of the peach hefeweizen and bourbon barrel-aged stout with mint chocolate vibes. They also have live music on Saturdays and on select Fridays.
Head back downtown and stop by Sammy’s Pizza for dinner. In the summer months you can’t beat their outdoor patio; try the tough guy pizza, garlic beef wrap or the chopped salad. Try to time your visit to coincide with Manteno’s Rockin’ on the Square. The town turns out (in their street-legal golf carts) for live music and food vendors located at the Square on 2nd. This Summer concert series is free and it’s BYOB; a good place to bring the to-go beers you bought at Steam Hollow. When the concert isn’t happening, downtown Manteno has a network of speakers that put out the vibe.
"Start your Saturday with breakfast at Yanni’s. I’d give their cinnamon raisin french toast very high marks, which means a lot coming from someone with a french toast tattoo on their body.”
Breakfast at Yanni’s is a must in Manteno; a popular spot for locals and roadtrippers alike. We’d recommend the cinnamon raisin french toast which is accompanied with a fresh bowl of apple, cantaloupe, grapes, banana, and oranges.
For a to-go coffee, pay a visit to The Well, a beautifully decorated coffee shop offering an array of coffee and tea options, complemented by delightful bakery items if you’re still hungry. This also marks the beginning of your six-block art trail. The town's art walk includes multiple murals, butterfly sculptures, a grotto built in 1924 and a LOVE lock installation that follows in the footsteps of Toronto’s Humber Bay Arch Bridge and Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. Pro Tip: you can pick up a padlock at the nearby Whitmore Ace hardware.
Drive out to Rietveld’s Farmstand to pick up some locally sourced produce; a nice bookend to your start at Locavore. This haven offers a cornucopia of fresh produce and a warm welcome from the locals. We grabbed some fresh dill and pickling cucumbers for a quick pickle recipe.
Follow this up with a visit to BrickStone Brewing Company, celebrated for its collection of accolades at the Great America Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Sip on Haz'd Juice or Indecisive Particles, immersing yourself in their award-winning craft beers.
If you get lucky, like we did, the Bourbonnais Food Truck Festival will be going on. This festival boasts tons of food trucks, activities for kids, and live music. Otherwise we’d recommend wrapping up with a lunch at Copelands back in Manteno. We ordered the garlic beef wrap sliders and the house-made pretzel rolls with queso blanco. If the weather allows, eat on their three season patio. And for something sweet, stop by PJ's Ice Cream. Heed the advice and order the kids' size scoop—it's the perfect sweet ending to your unforgettable weekend.