Four finalists showcase their signature dishes in the ‘Final Fork’ of ‘Elgin Munch Madness’

Sixteen restaurants got in the game, but just four now remain to compete in the “Final Fork” of “Elgin Munch Madness,” a bracket-style competition organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin (DNA) and a variety of local community partners.

Elgin Public House, Danny’s on Douglas, Beef Villa, and Rookies Pub & Grill will compete in Round 3 with voting being held at from March 28 through April 1. Each of the restaurants put forward one of its signature dishes to serve as an entry when the competition started on March 13, and they will stick with those “star players” in the Final Fork.

“We’ve been thrilled with the excitement this event has generated for all the participating restaurants.” said Jennifer Fukala, DNA’s Executive Director. “Our goal for Munch Madness was to bringing more awareness to the dining options around Elgin. So far thousands of votes have been cast, and we’ve seen tons of activity on social media. The community is really rallying around Munch Madness, and we’re looking forward to crowning a champion!”

The Munch Madness bracket was set up so that eight of the original restaurants competing in the event came from Downtown Elgin, and eight were located outside the Downtown area, or “Aroundtown.”

Four Elgin Restaurants Compete for the Munch Madness Final Fork

On the Downtown side of the Final Fork, Elgin Public House’s Pork Belly Nachos will go up against the Thin Crust Sausage Pizza at Danny’s on Douglas.

“Our signature dish stands out because it’s an Elgin classic!” said Jerry Dalton, the owner of Danny’s on Douglas. “Elgin has embraced and supported us for the last 34 years, and we try to give back as much as possible.”

On a similar note, Eric Klekamp, general manager of Elgin Public House, said: “We love everyone who comes to EPH and try to make them feel like part of our family, and they bring us into their lives, too.”

Klekamp offered a simple explanation for why the Pork Belly Nachos have been a big hit. “Pork just tastes great,” he said.

On the Aroundtown side of the Final Fork, the Monster of the Midway Burger at Rookies Pub & Grill will take on the Italian Beef Sandwich at Beef Villa.

Todd Evanson, the chief operating officer for Beef Villa, said he’s not surprised the restaurant’s Italian beef sandwich made it to the final round. “We have cooked our Italian beef ourselves using the same recipe for over 49 years now,” he said, thanking all the restaurant’s fans who supported the dish during Rounds 1 and 2 of Munch Madness.

Bob Karas, the general manager and owner of Rookies, gave credit to his opponent – calling Beef Villa an “icon” in Elgin with “great beef.”

“But watch out for the Monsters of the Midway!” Karas said. “Double patties, double cheese, double bacon, double delish! We are ‘rookies’ only in name, not by game!”

Restaurant lovers can view the Final Fork here. Voting for Round 3 will be open from March 28-April 1, and the championship match will be held from April 4-8. Winners per round will be announced the day after each round ends; the Munch Madness champion will be announced April 10, or as soon as the final voters are tallied.

Participants are asked to “keep it fair” by only voting once per round; duplicates will be deleted.

More information about this exciting and unique event – as well as mouth-watering pictures of all the signature dishes – can be found at A Facebook event also used to communicate with those following the contest can be found here.

Other Downtown restaurants that participated in Munch Madness include Al’s Cafe, Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza, Blue Box Cafe, Café Revive, Kubo Sushi and Sake Lounge, and Legit Dogs & Ice. The other participating Aroundtown restaurants were Alexander’s Cafe, Gifford’s Kitchen & Social, Grumpy Goat Tavern, Porter’s Pub at Bowes Creek, Sammy’s Mexican Grill, and ZZA Factory.

Participants are asked to “keep it fair” by only voting once per round; duplicates will be deleted.

The DNA would like to thank all the participating restaurants as well as our partners and volunteers who’ve helped make Munch Madness a reality including the City of Elgin, Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, Explore Elgin Area, Gail Borden Public Library, Oddball Art Labs, WRMN Radio, Chris Mau, Tara Burghart and Michael Copeland.