Family Dining in Rockford, Illinois


Let’s start with a local Rockford favorite, Beef-A-Roo. Family owned and operated for over 40 years, the seven Beef-A-Roo restaurants in the Rockford Region collectively hold their own against the many chain restaurants. Each Beef-A-Roo building has a different theme, including oldies rock-n-roll, fire station, warehouse, and lodge.

I normally wouldn’t have given the name Beef-a-Roo much of a chance, but when three people at three different places in three hours recommended it, we were feeling optimistic about a menu void of  jumping marsupials from Down Under (if you know what I mean). We dined for lunch at the warehouse location, and the restaurant itself was fast food meets sit down. For a whopping $17.58, one adult and three kids had drinks and meals. Choices for the kids meals included yogurt and fresh fruit and you are only charged for the items you eat (one kid had water, so his meal cost less than the others=what a concept).

BeefaRoo in Rockford, Illinois

BeefaRoo is one of our favorite restaurants in the Rockford area.

Please crave Italian food for at least one meal in Rockford. This way, you won’t miss out on a trip to Little Italy in Northern Illinois. Almost every table at Lino’s was full when we arrived on a Saturday night. Multi-generational families were happily tossing pennies into the wishing fountain in the main lobby and painted cherubs circled above their heads. Known for the pizza, many tables at Lino’s (including the giant one under a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa) were lined with bread and pizza and other food covered in red or white sauce.

Lino's Italian Restaurant, Rockford, Illinois

Throwing coins in the fountain at Lino’s Italian Restaurant

Reasonably priced, we ordered sides of spaghetti with meat balls for the kids. Order a surprise salad if you like a little sausage and egg with your roughage. Many people have written their own online reviews of Lino’s, and they are objectively favorable. We loved the family atmosphere, making a few wishes on three trips to the bathroom.

The next morning, our stomachs were rumbling by the time we rolled into the Motorcycle Oasis diner inside the Kegel Harley-Davidson, a Harley-Davidson retail store and mechanic shop. Whether you come craving a Sturgis Omlet or want to re-fuel with a cup of coffee, the Motorcycle Oasis is a unique place you’ll want to come back to again and again.

Kegel’s Harley Diner in Rockford, Illinois

Waiting to be seated at Kegel’s Harley Diner.

We bellied up to the bar, sitting on leather bike seats and admiring Evel Knievel’s 1972 Harley Davidson. The kids were engaged with crayons and activity packs and I read through the menu that features items like dip sticks, spokes, a throttle dog, and the fat boy burger.

Other Rockford restaurants on our list included authentic Mexican food at Alvarez Restaurant, Swedish pancakes at the Stockholm Inn, and the up-scale Garrett’s Restaurant and Bar (in nice weather, ask to sit on the outside patio and watch golfers at the adjacent driving range). O
therwise detained by dinosaurs, sock monkeys, and water tables at the Discovery Center Museum, we’ll be back to Rockford again and ready for the next course.

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at

1 Comment on "Family Dining in Rockford, Illinois"

  1. CaseyTheMonkeyPunk | February 25, 2011 at 9:20 am |

    so my girlfriend happens to be a F.I.S.H. and she tells me all the time that beef-a-roo is the shit and it’s so awesome but it sounds a bit pricey and all the pictures of the food that I’ve seen look shitty and personally I work at a McDonalds in Wisconsin so I’m more inclined to say screw the roo and just not try and make an effort for it, I’d like feedback so I know weather or not this is a good or bad idea

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