Whenever I go to my parents house, I run into the problem of “where do we eat today?” There’s not a lot of options in a town of 750 people. The closest “big town” is Kankakee a half hour to the north. J and I tossed around a couple options, but then I decided I was going to make dinner for my brother and dad tonight since my mom and sister-in-law were working. In order to do that, I had to find a grocery store…again, a half hour to the north. Since we were going anyway, I told J we’d just eat in Kankakee.
One Sixty Four North is on North Schuyler Street near the Paramount Theater in downtown Kankakee. Growing up, there wasn’t much in this area. The only thing we went downtown for was a movie. Most of the people I know are not adventurous eaters. They prefer their Applebees and Arby’s, so asking about a local establishment is sort of like talking in Greek. I had asked a few people about One Sixty Four North and the answer I always got was “heard it was good, but too expensive for us to try.” I checked out the menu on-line and it looked pretty reasonably priced to me.
There’s an awning along Schuyler, so you know you’ve found the right place, but the main entrance is on the side of the building where the parking lot is. When you enter the main door, you come face-to-face with a big semi-circle shaped bar. There are tables set up on either side. The place is sort of a long, narrow building. There’s a hostess station just inside the door. The exterior wall is exposed brick and the floors are hardwood. It looks like a fancier restaurant and they do bill themselves as fine dining. There are no white table clothes, but that decor option would fit nicely in this space.
We were shown to a table along the wall. A bus boy cleared the other two sets of dinnerware from the table then brought us rolls and water. A waiter came for drink orders while we looked over the menu. When he brought back the Pepsi’s, he read off the specials then asked if we were ready to order. I was tempted by the three cheese baked lasagna, but passed for a sandwich on the menu.
I went with McKenna’s Hot Italian Sandwich. This thing was delicious. It had a lot of meat. It was a typical Italian sandwich with cappicola, pepperoni, and salami as well as mozzarella cheese, lettuce and tomato, but the bread was to die for. They lightly buttered and toasted ciabatta bread to make a panini. Even J was jealous and she never thinks my sandwiches full of meat look good. This thing was delicious. Only once have I had an Italian sandwich that even came close and that was at J. Bucks in Bloomington, IL. My sandwich came with the option soup or salad. I chose the salad with Italian dressing. They didn’t skimp on the salad either. It was a bed of mixed greens with red onion and tomato. I’m not much of a dinner salad eater, but again, this was really good. The Italian dressing was nice and tangy. Overall, a great meal.
J ordered the Chicken Blackberry Salad without the grilled chicken. She also got a cup of potato soup. The waiter said he wouldn’t charge for the soup since she didn’t want the chicken on her salad. The salad was huge. A large bed of mixed greens came topped with blackberries, candied walnuts, apples, and mandarin oranges. The salad dressing was almost a blackberry jam. She loved it. She said we know where to go in Kankakee now if she ever wants a salad.
Our bill was twenty five dollars before tip. That’s a little bit higher than say Lonestar Steakhouse, but the food was also much better. The people that live in this area really shouldn’t look as One Sixty Four North as only a special night out. They have great food in a really cool, relaxed atmosphere.