The Stockholm Inn is an absolute must-do in Rockford. It simply has remarkably good food and is visited by 12,000 denizens per week. You would be hard-pressed to find a time when the parking lot is not at capacity. Whenever we have guests in from out of town, we are always elated because it means that we get out a bit and get to take them to the Stockholm Inn for breakfast.
Besides the city’s Swedish roots, Rockford is probably best-known for its Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees and hometown heroes, Cheap Trick. At least one of the band members still lives in Rockford and is a pillar of the community. On top of being a world class guitarist, Rick Nielsen also happens to be a co-owner of the Stockholm Inn as part of a group that helped preserve the restaurant in 2002.
Honestly, from the parking lot, it is difficult to imagine what the draw is. It is not flashy or remarkable. There is a simple sign in Swedish colors on the storefront of a strip mall. Aside from the brisk walk because you had to park so far away, the first impression doesn’t fill you with awe. You walk in, give the hostess your name, and wait your turn to be seated at one of the three sprawling seating areas. The sound if clinking dishware and the perpetual murmur of Sunday-morning conversation of the Wobegon variety are pervasive. There is an occasional cackle of laughter. Often you will find yourself seated in the midst of a local celebrity or two. It’s really a place that brings the community together and where the focus is on the food and the conversation and not uber-fancy or ornate surroundings.
While waiting to be seated, there is a fully-stocked and diverse smorgasbord of edible, non-edible, and imported-from-Sweden goods to peruse in their Swede-splosive gift shop. From their homemade to-go food to imported lingonberry jam, from a local sock monkey to a traditional sweater from the old country, there is a sea of chattels, knick-knacks, and blue-and-yellow Swedish memorabilia to choose from.
When you are finally seated, the paper placemats have the coat-of-arms of all the regions of Sweden. Like a diner or a truck stop, you flip over your mug and get your own carafe of coffee. Despite a thorough menu that includes omelets, Swedish meatballs, and Swedish pancakes par excellence, many people, myself included will succumb to the draw and the variety of the buffet. Besides the pancakes and the meatballs (which are available at the buffet) the best item on the menu is their homemade potato bake, which is also available at the buffet and in the gift shop so you can get your cheesy potato jones at home if you so choose. The buffet also has other breakfast staples like scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon, biscuits and gravy, French toast, which is constantly refreshed by an attentive staff. Like the building’s exterior, nothing sounds too fancy, but the food is delicious and there is a familiarity in the atmosphere that reminds you of home.
On the way out at the bustling front of the house, the cashiers always ask how everything was. You pay at the front counter, grab a toothpick, strum Rick’s Swedish-flag-painted guitar, and revel in a blissful food coma, grateful to walk off some calories on the way to your car that you parked so far away. There is a reason the Stockholm Inn has been a staple in Rockford for decades. They have deliciousness down to a science.
The Stockholm Inn is located in the Rockford Plaza Shopping Center at 2420 Charles St., Rockford, Illinois.
Their website is:
A full culinary review of the Stockholm Inn is also available from the Rockford Register Star at:
Articles about Rick Nielsen, his role in the Stockholm Inn, and his take on Rockford are available in the Washington Post:
and from the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: