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 »

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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.





Fleetwood Diner – Ann Arbor

11 04 2008
  • 300 S Ashley St                                                                      Fleetwood Diner
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    (734) 995-5502
  • Website
  • Menu

I’m gonna start by saying the Fleetwood Dine was a huge surprise. I was at the University of Michigan for work, so when it came time for lunch, I put the Fleetwood in my GPS and went looking for a neighborhood diner. What I found was this great little shack located just off downtown. I actually drove by it twice cussing at my GPS because I couldn’t find it. It was hidden behind a delivery truck.

I had eaten at the sister restaurant in Lansing and was expecting the same thing. The food was the same, but the atmosphere was totally different. The size is ridiculous. In the entire restaurant, there are 6 tables and less than10 stools at the counter.

I was by myself, so took a seat at the counter and the waitress asked if I needed a menu. I did, but I really didn’t. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. It took about 10 minutes for the lone cook working the flattop just on the other side of the counter to send my order up. The waitress got sidetrack with some punks who came in wanting to start trouble, but still was able to not neglect her other customers.

My bill was a little over $7 and in less than a half hour, I had a decent meal. The burger was nothing special and the fries were out of the bag…it was classic diner grub in a truly classic…and unique diner.





Fleetwood Diner – Lansing

11 04 2008
  • 2211 S Cedar Street
  • Lansing, MI 48910-3131
  • Phone: (517) 267-7606
  • Website
  • Menu

The Fleetwood Diner is a throwback and exactly what you think of when you think of the word “diner.” My first weekend in Lansing, I accidently stumbled on the Fleetwood while driving around lost trying to get back to my new place, so, of course, the next day we headed back for breakfast.

The Fleetwood is an interesting place. The exterior is a metallic silver. The inside is cramped. You walk into the counter and to either side is a small dining room. One smoking and one non-smoking. There is a bench that runs along with wall with tables pushed up against them and chairs on the other side and there are a couple booths along the back wall plus a few tables in between. We were seated at one of the in between tables.

The host gave us the menus and took drink orders. A different waitress came back with drink and took our meal order. I got a bacon omelet which came with four pieces of toast and hash browns. The omelet took up a good portion of the plate and had big chunks of cripsy bacon. The toast could have used a little more butter and I didn’t really dive into the hashbrowns since I’m not really a fan.

The other guy in my group got the french toast and a cup of coffee. His plate came with 6 pretty good slices of bread which he polished off pretty quickly.

Now, the ladies dove right into the Fleetwood’s specialty….the Hippie Hash. My girlfriend got eggs and toast and got the Hash as a side. She didn’t say anything about either the eggs or the toast, but really enjoyed the hash. Hippie Hash consists of the Fleetwood’s homemade hash browns topped with grilled tomato, green pepper, onion, mushroom and broccoli topped with feta cheese. On the plate, it just looks like a mess, but both my girlfriend and her mom (who ordered the Hippie Hash as a meal) enjoyed it and will probably go back for it.

The Fleetwood is just a classic 24 hour diner. The people were great, the atmosphere is that retro diner feel I’m always looking for in a new city. The food was alright, but I’m sure this is a place I’m going to take anyone and everyone who comes to town for a visit. You just have to see the Fleetwood.   I always thought this would be a great place for the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but when I e-mailed the producer, he e-mailed back and said they’ve contacted The Fleetwood and the owners weren’t intersted.  Too bad because that would have made a great episode