Triple XXX Family Restaurant – West Lafayette, IN

1 10 2009
  • 2 N. Salisbury Street
  • West Lafayette, IN 47906
  • (765) 743-5373
  • Website
  • Menu
Triple XXX Family Restaurant on Salisbury Street in West Lafayette, IN

Triple XXX Family Restaurant on Salisbury Street in West Lafayette, IN

If you’ve figured out J and I, it should come as no surprise that we chose to take a honeymoon that revolves around food. After the wedding, we loaded up the car and headed to East Tennessee. It was too far to make in one night, so we decided to stop in Louisville for the night. Since we were in no hurry, the first stop on our culinary excursion was in West Lafayette, IN at a place we saw on Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives.

The Triple XXX Family Restaurant is on the hill in West Lafayette just down the street from Purdue University. It’s a 24 hour place that serves good, cheap grub for those late “study breaks.” It’s been so long since I saw the segment on Triple D and the building we found was not what I was expecting for some reason.

Triple XXX (named after the Root Beer brand they serve) is an old drive in on the corner of State & Salisbury. The car stalls have turned into parking and the only business they do is inside. The building itself is not huge, but it’s bigger than you think. There are no tables, only lunch counters. They weave around the building so there are a lot more seats than I thought there would be. Read the rest of this entry »





The Original Maxwell Street Station – S. Cicero, Chicago

27 09 2009
  • 6659 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60638
  • (773) 581-3500
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
The Original Maxwell Street Station on South Cicero in Chicago.

The Original Maxwell Street Station on South Cicero in Chicago.

My brother loves Chicago Style hot dogs.  You would think that someone who lives so close to Chicago would have access to a Chicago style dog, but you’d be wrong.  Where he lives, just an hour south of the city, no one does them right.

My whole family packed up and headed north for the weekend.  Once we got checked into our hotel, we went looking for lunch.  We went for a walk.  There was a little shack right across the street from our hotel that had everything we wanted.

The Original Maxwell Street Station on the corner of South Cicero and West Marquette Road is one of a handful in Chicago.  The building is very tiny and is really the kind of place I love.  There is very little seating inside the bright yellow building.  There are no tables.  Just a counter that overlooks the kitchen with a few bar stools.  Since we had my one year old niece, my brother decided that wasn’t a good idea.  The only other option is a couple picnic tables right outside.   Again, it was very close to the very busy Cicero Avenue and that made him a little nervous.

It just so happened that the special for the day was 2 Chicago Style Dogs and 2 Fries.  That was perfect.  My brother wanted two dogs and I would take one of the fries.  My dad did the same and my mom took the other order of fries from his order.  They both got the dogs without the tomato wedges that are common on Chicago dogs.  What my brother really likes is the sprout peppers and the poppy seed bun. Read the rest of this entry »





McDonald’s – South Holland, IL

19 02 2009
  • 700 E. Tri State Tollway
  • I-80/294 Milepost 1 – Lincoln Oasis
  • South Holland, IL 60473
  • (708) 596-3195
  • Website
  • Menu
The business listing for the Lincoln Oasis on the Tri-State Tollway

The business listing for the Lincoln Oasis on the Tri-State Tollway

OK, this is my last Illinois review for….two weeks.  Finally, after a week back in Illinois for a family emergency and then work, I was heading back to Lansing.  I like my family and miss them a lot, but I was really, really ready to get back to Michigan.  J and I had been watching the radar for the last two days wondering if I was even going to make.  It never fails, if we have to drive through southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana, it’s guaranteed to snow.  Guaranteed.  Today didn’t look much better, but I decided to chance, so after a quick phone call to J to let her know I was on the way, I packed up my truck and headed north.

I left my parents right around 11:30 and sort of ran out in a hurry wanting to be on the road in between snow storms, so I didn’t get lunch with them.  I was on the road about an hour when I started to get hungry.  I knew I was coming up on the Lincoln Oasis, so I decided just to wait.  For those of you that aren’t regulars on the toll roads, the Oases are stops along the toll road where you don’t actually get off the highway, so you don’t have to pay to get off and get back on.  On I-294 (the Tri-State tollway), the Oases are suspended over the road.  In other places, they usually look more like rest stops with gas stations off on either side of the road, but around Chicago, there’s not much room, so they built a parking lot on either side then built the actual building across.  We used to stop at one of the other Oasis’s near O’Hare when we went to shows at The Rosemont Horizon (later called Allstate Arena).  They always have some sort of fast food.  Some have Wendy’s.  Some have McDonald’s.  This one has McDonald’s.

This McDonald’s is located in the Lincoln Oasis which is near South Holland, IL on the Tri-State tollway.  There are are other restaurants and services.  The McDonald’s only takes up a small part of the space yet they are pretty much the main attraction since they are open 24/7.  I was northbound on I-294 when I stopped.  The McDonald’s is near the south bound side, so I had to walk all the way through to find McDonald’s tucked in to a little corner.  Read the rest of this entry »





Merry Ann’s Diner – Downtown Champaign, IL

29 12 2008
  • 1 E. Main Street
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 531-1160
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Merry Anns Diner in downtown Champaign, IL

Merry Ann's Diner in downtown Champaign, IL

5:30 AM is still too early for me.  I was up at this ungodly hour because I had to be in Champaign by 7:00 AM for a basketball game.  My parents live a little over an hour away, so the alarm was set for just before 5:30.  Since the game was at 1:00, it meant lunch was actually going to be breakfast, so on my way in to town, I started scouting out breakfast joints.  I wasn’t having much luck until I had to detour off of Neil Street (the main artery of Champaign and the road that runs through downtown) because of construction.  I turned down Main Street and like a golden beacon, a simple sign that said “diner” jumped out and I found my breakfast spot.

Merry Ann’s Diner is located in the One Main building which is a development companies’ prototype for downtown buildings.  I know they also built a “One Main” in Normal, IL near Illinois State University even though the street is not Main Street.  The “One Main” name comes from the address of this original building. 

I was not aware that there was a second Merry Ann’s in Champaign.  I had eaten at the location farther down on the corner of Neil and Kirby Streets near the University of Illinois (review HERE).  I was surprised when I actually saw the name of the diner on Main was Merry Ann’s.

I got back downtown just before 10:00.  The diner isn’t very big and it’s set up pretty much the same was as the diner on Neil Street.  Most of the booths but up to the “kitchen” with little cutouts for the waitress.  This way, the waitress never has to go out into the dining room….unless you happen to be sitting at the two or three tables near the door which are separated from the counter.  The diner is setup with a row of booths, a lunch counter, and another row of booths.  When I walked in, I wasn’t sure there was any available space.  All of the booths looked full.  I thought maybe there was one down at the end, so I started walking that way.  That’s when I noticed the stools at the counter, so I just sat down there. Read the rest of this entry »





Huck Finn Restaurant – Oak Lawn

9 08 2008
  • 10501 S. Cicero Ave.
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708 ) 499-1112
  • Website
  • Menu

One of three Huck Finn Restaurants in the Chicagoland Area

I have got this strange fascination with 24 hour diners.  When we go to my girlfriend’s parents house, we leave Lansing when she gets off work around midnight.  That puts us in the Chicago area around 2:00 AM CST.  This night was no different.  We made it to town just after 2:00.  Like the lazy college kids we aren’t, we piled all of our dirty clothes into her car and took over her parents laundry room.  Because we had plans Saturday afternoon, J wanted to get a couple loads done before we went to bed.  We put in a load of whites and realized we were both hungry.  Even though Huck Finn has been there since she was in high school, she never ate there.  Since it’s only a few blocks away, we hoped back in the car and went for breakfast.

Huck Finn is a chain of three restaurants in the Chicago area.  They’re open 24/7 and they work on the unique model of being not only a restaurant, but a donut and ice cream shop too.  The parking lot was packed even though it was 2:30 in the AM.  We headed inside and a hostess showed us to a booth along the back wall.  We just seem to not have much luck with waiters in Chicago area 24/7 places.  We had an absolutely disasters meal at White Palace Grill (review HERE) in the south Loop and this one started out that way.  Fortunately, the waiter recovered and everything turned out ok.  Read the rest of this entry »





Steak ‘N Shake – Edgedwood Blvd.

30 06 2008
  • 540 E. Edgewood Blvd.Steak \'N Shake
  • Lansing, MI 48911
  • (517) 272-3038
  • Website
  • Menu

I know.  I’m getting bad.  We’ve been going to a lot of fast food chains for lunch recently.  It’s not that there aren’t places we want to go, it’s just that we’ve been lazy.  We’ll be laying on the couch watching The Price Is Right and one of us will say “I’m hungry.”  Since my girlfriend needs to get ready for work, we really can’t drive somewhere and have a sit down meal, so we debate for twenty minutes on which greasy fast food we want.  Today, we were almost decided on Wendy’s when I said “Hey, what about Steak ‘N Shake?” 

Steak ‘N Shake is one of the few places that make me think of home in Eastern/Central Illinois.  Growing up, the 24-hour options were either Denny’s or Steak ‘N Shake.  I didn’t really like Denny’s.  While living in Central Illinois, I grew more found of the place because of it’s history.  The original Steak ‘N Shake was in a gas station in Normal, IL (the home of Illinois State University), so there were Steak ‘N Shake’s all over the place.  Read the rest of this entry »





White Castle/Church’s Chicken – S. Cedar

27 06 2008

I hate White Castle.   That’s not necissarily a slam on the business.  I just don’t like thier slyders.  I’m not a huge onion fan and I really don’t like them on or in my burgers.  I’m well aware that people travel hours just to get to a White Castle, but I’ve never bought into it.  So when my girlfriend said she wanted something greasy for lunch, I was kind of surprised that she said White Castle.  I went along with it because this particular location also has a Church’s Chicken.  I figured I could get some chicken and she could get whatever greasy concoction her heart desired. Read the rest of this entry »





White Palace Grill – Chicago

23 06 2008
  • White Palace Grill1159 S. Canal St.
  • Chicago, IL 60607
  • (312) 939-7167
  • Website (not working)
  • Menu

Guy Fieri let me down.  That’s painful to say out loud.  My girlfriend and I first heard of the White Palace Grill in downtown Chicago on an episode of Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives about 24 hour diners.  I was working in Chicago this past weekend and since my girlfriend’s parents live in a Chicago suburb, she decided to come with me and take a long weekend.  We left Lansing around midnight on a Thursday night and got to Chicago a little after two a.m.  We took a detour into the city instead of just heading to her parents.  We’ve been to a handful of places featured on Triple D including two others in Chicago and figured if Guy went there, it must be good.  We were wrong.  Really, really wrong.

White Palace Grill is located just south of the Loop on Roosevelt and Canal Streets.  According to a friend of my girlfriend’s, venturing into this neighborhood at this time of night five years ago would have been scary.  It wasn’t quite a walk in the park now, but it wasn’t really bad.  We parked about a half a block from the diner and walked back.  There’s a huge mall with a lot of high end stores right next door.  The scary thing was all the people just loitering in the street and around the restaurant.  We made our way to the front door and someone behind the counter acknowledged us and told us to sit where we want.  There are two dining rooms.  When you first walk in, there’s the traditional diner setting with a counter and a row of booths along the wall.  Keep going back and there’s more of a dining room with tables and booths.  We sat in the front dining room in a booth along the wall.  The menus were already on the table, so we grabbed a couple and started looking over them.  A bus boy came by with water and wiped the table down.  After that, it was quite a while before a waitress noticed us.  This was just the start of possibly the worst service we’ve ever gotten at a diner. Read the rest of this entry »





Theio’s Restaurant

16 06 2008
  • 2650 E. Michigan Ave.Theio's
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 487-3955
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

I love 24-hour restaurants.  My dad and a buddy of mine came to town for the NASCAR races at Michigan International Speedway.  My buddy had to work until 5:00 (CST) back home in Illinois, so they got a pretty late start to the three and half hour drive.  After getting a little lost getting to my place, they were both pretty hungry.  It was after 10:00 (EST now) and neither had eaten dinner.  I figured the choices were either fast food or a diner.  So, of course, I chose the diner.

I had drove by Theio’s a few times, but never stopped.  I knew at some point it would make a great late night stop.  We drove through downtown East Lansing first to see if there was a pizza-by-the slice place, but when we couldn’t find one, we headed back down Michigan.  It looked like there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, but most of them must have been at the bar next door.  Read the rest of this entry »





Merry Ann’s Diner (Campus Location)- Champaign, IL

19 05 2008
  • 1510 S. Neil St.Merry Ann's
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 352-5399
  • No Known Website
  • Menu (downtown Location)

So here’s the first of my reviews of dining in Big Ten communities (well, second if you count The Fleetwood Diner in Ann Arbor).  I was in Champaign for the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship.  When I lived in Peoria, I would end up in Champaign quite often for work.  When we had an early call time, I would pretty much always be put up in the Hilton Garden Inn on Neil St.  From the hotel, I always saw this little diner called Merry Ann’s.  For the most part, I needed to get to bed and didn’t have time to grab a bite to eat, so I kept passing this place up.  Not this time.

I spent the weekend in town and I got off work at a fairly early time on Saturday.  I had eaten nothing but cold meat sandwiches supplied by University Dining Services for two days, so I needed something good and greasy.  I walked across Neil to get to Merry Ann’s.  There were only a couple guys sitting in a booth when I got there, so I grabbed a spot at the bar.  The set up is pretty interesting.  There is only one row of booths and the bar.  All the booths have a cut-out area on the kitchen side so the waitress never has to go out to the dining area.  Merry Ann’s is your typical 24-hour diner and the menu is too.  It’s filled with breakfast items, greasy burgers and they even have some after midnight “hangover” specials. 

The waitress brought me a Pepsi and asked if I needed a menu.  I glanced over it and right away, one thing jumped out.  The Horseshoe!  If you don’t know what a horsehoe is, check out my post on unique regional foods.  This is what I really miss about Central Illinois.  The flat top was right in front of me, so I was able to watch the cook grill the burger, fry the fries, toast the bread, and squeeze the cheese on.  I actually got quite a bit more than I expected.  The fries came piled on and the burger was a pretty good size.  The cheese, for being squeezed out of a bottle, was just what I wanted.  I devoured the “sandwich” in just a few minutes.  The waitress was actually a little surprised I finished so quickly, but I was really hungry. 

My bill was a little over $7, so with tip, I got out of there for ten bucks.  Merry Ann’s is a great asset to the University of Illinois’ campus.  Diner’s are getting rarer and Merry Ann’s has been there for 25 years this year.  I’ve drove by there on my way to Memorial Stadium on Saturday mornings and the place is usually pretty busy.  If your in town, hunt this place down…it’s on Neil and Kirby and two blocks from Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium.