We love to go out to eat, but sometimes it's hard to get the five of us to agree where to go. My 5-year-old wants to make his own pizza. My oldest son really wants to see the football game. "I think I'd like ribs," chimes in his brother. When you need a little bit of everything, Mad Mark's Mystic Pizza in Schaumburg has the options.
The huge restaurant appears to be a colorful sports bar from the outside. (In fact, during warm weather, the patio, complete with its own bar, ongoing "bagz" tournaments and volleyball games, is a popular destination.) Multiple indoor dining spaces provide plenty of distractions for kids and adults. Giant TV screens broadcast multiple sports contests, a huge relief to my oldest. And every inch of wall and ceiling space is covered in pop-culture memorabilia-from Grateful Dead magazine covers to a life-size Elvis statue, football helmets and even a rocket ship.
My sons could barely focus on the children's menu because they were so intent on discovering every hidden treasure buried in the restaurant's décor. But I was pleased to find a variety of kid-friendly options with budget-friendly prices. Children's make-your-own pizzas are less than $5. The dough comes to the table with a container of sauce and cheese for the child to spread around. The kitchen then adds one choice of topping. In the end, each child ends up with eight slices of thin-crust pizza.
I recommend sharing some appetizers. Mad Mark's sports-bar influence shows in its gooey mozzarella sticks and salty beer nuggets (fried and seasoned bread) with dipping sauces. Generous portion sizes for entrees meant we ended up with plenty of leftovers to take home.
Daily drink specials, along with a good selection of beers on tap, will keep adults happy. Plus, Monday nights are a great family deal with "Kids Eat Free" after 4 p.m. and a roaming magician who performs table-side tricks from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.