As everyone in the Chicago area knows, Schaumburg is filled with chains. It's the big-box, retail capital of suburbia, what with Woodfield Mall, IKEA, and endless amounts of chain restaurants. It's often cited as a prime example of what city dwellers hate about the suburbs.
Now, not every suburb is Schaumburg, and in fact I've made it a point to highlight the many suburbs with their own sense of culture, with small and local stores and restaurants, unique downtowns, and so forth.
But as it turns out, even Schaumburg is not totally devoid of interesting places. I was recently invited to a free Yelp event at Mad Mark's Mystic Pizza, 871 E. Algonquin Road, Schaumburg, in the former location of the Alumni Club.
Upon entering, I was amused and a little overwhelmed by the decor -- with brightly colored dragons, a tye-dye motif, and random "stuff" everywhere, it looks like a hippie had an acid trip in a ski lodge. There's certainly plenty to look at. The interior has a large dance floor, a big bar, and plenty of seating. Outside features a patio with a good amount of seating, a bar, a bags court and a sand volleyball court (netted, so that patrons don't have stray balls knocking over their beers).
The atmosphere was inviting and casual, a great place for a summer's evening. But the real star was the food we sampled. Featured was pizza (pepperoni, cheese, sausage and the oh-so-decadent mac & cheese pizza!), jalapeno corn mashed potatoes (just a little kick, very creamy), firecracker shrimp (spicy perfectly-fried shrimp served over a bed of julienned veggies and greens, lightly dressed) and some of the BEST broasted chicken I've had in a long time -- a fabulously spiced crispy skin and tender juicy chicken underneath.
We were also plied with some free beverages, and the bartenders and servers were super-friendly and attentive.
Mad Mark himself made an appearance, talking up the food and personally thanking us all for being there.
While yes, our food was free and we were shown a great time, I would absolutely go back as a paying customer -- I want more of that great firecracker shrimp and broasted chicken! And while the place does have "pizza" in the name, their menu is nicely varied with sandwiches, salads and more.
If you're spending a long day shopping in Schaumburg, I very much recommend a quick trip up to Mad Mark's - take a break from the chains and enjoy a tasty meal.