There’s perhaps no better reason to get together with family, friends and colleagues than FOOD! And as we explore the vast flavors of the Real. Original. Rockford region in our fourth Reunite in Rockford blog installment, we have delicious local dishes for every palette.

For starters, some of our can’t-miss restaurants beloved by Rockfordians of all ages are featured in downtown Rockford. District Bar and Grill serves up traditional American pub food and beverages while featuring live music and events, while Sister's on Main is a downtown diner known for Soul Food Sundays. Renowned local chef and entrepreneur Paul Sletten has opened three upscale restaurants, including Abreo (premier farm-to-table style), Social (think small delicious dishes and a seating arrangement that brings us together) and Taco Betty’s (modern tacos). (Editor’s Note: Social has consolidated its food and beverage services with Abreo recently amidst the pandemic.)

Olympic Tavern tacos

Head north a bit from downtown to the North End neighborhood and you’ll find The Olympic Tavern, a friendly neighborhood spot since 1945 that features drinks, sandwiches, pizza, homemade soup or full dinners. Groups can eat indoors our outside on the deck, a favorite spot during warmer months because of the ambience, food and huge selection of microbrews! Keep heading north to Machesney Park for another unique food and beverage experience--the vegan food AND microbrewing specialist Pig Minds Brewing.

For another ideal meeting place, Franchesco's has been providing old-world charm with upscale dining since 1986 and has become a Rockford tradition in the process. The multi-faceted restaurant features a traditional indoor dining room, an outdoor patio, and additional event space that makes it perfect for group gatherings. New this year is Franchesco’s recently renovated bar area, now called Benny’s Bar & Lounge. Benny’s serves up casual dining food along with imaginative cocktails.

Across the street from Franchesco’s is another Rockford staple—JMK Nippon, one of the Midwest's finest Japanese restaurant, where they prepare your meal right before your eyes at the Teppan tables. Think traditional seafood, steak and chicken dishes, a sushi bar and even a karaoke bar!

GreenFire hamburger

Not to be outdone, GreenFire specializes in wood-fired brick ovens, while Rick's Ribs in Loves Park has arguably the best BBQ in the region. And if you’re looking for breakfast or brunch after your overnight stay, Eggsclusive Cafe offers a modern, contemporary, open air dining experience serving the highest quality and freshest ingredients that’s sure to please.

We have a feeling you’ll need to make a return trip the region—you’re going to need days, weeks and months to fully understand why we’re so proud of our culinary artists. These are just a small sample of what the region has to offer in local food and beverages. For some more ideas about where to dine during your next reunion, keep following all of our GoRockford social channels and website for updates!