Dairy Queen – Clifton, IL

14 09 2009
  • 1 Bradie Drive
  • Clifton, IL 60927
  • (815) 694-3202
  • Website
  • Menu
The Dairy Queen in (and only fast food option anywhere near) Clifton, IL

The Dairy Queen in (and only fast food option anywhere near) Clifton, IL

For those of you that didn’t grow up in a small town, you will have no idea what I’m talking about.  Imagine growing up in a town without a McDonald’s, a Walmart, or a Blockbuster.  In fact, imagine that the closest location of any of those three was a half hour away.  That’s how things were when I was growing up.  We only had two options when it came to eating out.  There was the local family run restaurant and a Dairy Queen.

Things haven’t really changed much in the town where I grew up (and my parents still live).  Well, actually they have.  The Dairy Queen is gone.  It moved five miles north.  That actually happened when I was in high school, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I had my driver’s license by then so I could still get the Blizzard’s that I craved.  

While I moved away from home, my brother stayed pretty close.  He moved to that town five miles to the north which is still in the same school district and for all intents and purposes, is still considered part of the same community.  We didn’t really go by towns where I’m from.  We go by school districts.  Yes, my high school was sixteen miles from my house in the middle of a cornfield.  Literally.  It’s in a corn field.  Read the rest of this entry »


Jensen’s IGA – Clifton, IL

19 12 2008
  • 150 E. 4th St.
  • Clifton, IL 60927
  • (815) 694-2342
  • No Known Website
Jensens IGA just off the main highway in Clifton, IL

Jensen's IGA just off the main highway in Clifton, IL

I’m sure those of you stuck in Mid-Michigan right now aren’t going to feel too sorry for me.  I’m stuck in a small town in Iroquois County, Illinois with no power after a pretty good ice storm.  While we didn’t get the inches upon inches of snow, we got a heavy coating of ice which did a pretty destructive job of tearing down tree limbs and power lines.  My parents house is one of the unlucky few without power.  My brother, however, has power and, more importantly, heat, so I took a little drive five miles north to crash at my brother’s this afternoon.

Last night, my brother was raving about this new treat he had at his office the other day.  This area isn’t really known for it’s ethnic cuisines.  In fact, if you’re not looking for a burger and fries or pizza, you might have a hard time finding a place to eat.  So, when he had baklava for the first time this week, he thought it was a treat that the rest of the country had never heard of. 

After he got done telling us how great it was, he turned to me and asked if I could make it.  I hate phyllodough almost as much as I hate working with chocolate.  I told him it was a huge pain in the butt and it was going to cost him.  When I ended up at his house by myself all day, I thought I would be nice and try to make him something.  Obviously, he doesn’t have most of the stuff to make baklava, so I headed up to the local grocery store to see if they had it.

The only grocery store in Clifton is Jensen’s IGA.  It sits just off the main highway that runs through town and for a town of 1300 people, the store has much more than you would expect.  IGA is the world’s largest voluntary supermarket chain.  Almost any grocery store can apply to be a member of the IGA.  I can remember when the store in Clifton used to be a Red Fox which was a regional chain of supermarkets.  When Red Fox went out, the new owners signed on with IGA which gives them access to store brand products as well as marketing and brand recognition with customers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Longbranch – Clifton, IL

8 09 2008
  • 2713 N. 1500 East Rd.
  • Clifton, IL 60927
  • (815) 694-9748
  • Website
  • Menu
The Longbranch in downtown LErable

The Longbranch in downtown L'Erable

I have to preface this by saying, I might be a little biased.  My mom has worked as a waitress at the Longbranch for many years and I eat there almost every time I go home.  My aunt is a hostess and my sister-in-law waits tables a few times a month as well.  The Longbranch is located in the middle of the country in an unincorporated section of Iroquois County locals call L’Erbale (pronounced La- Rab).  L’Erable is comprised of pretty much only a downtown.  There is one street that runs through this old French Canadian settlement that has a few houses, the tavern, and the oldest frame church in Illinois.  The tavern is an old building itself.  From the outside, it would seem this building has seen better days.  Once you get inside, you might still think that, but once you sit down and the waitress puts your food in front of you, you know you’ve found one of those hidden treasures that not everyone knows about.

The Longbranch serves a dual purpose.  During the day, the bar is open and they serve lunch Tuesday thru Saturday for farmers in the area.  There’s only a few tables out front and the space is pretty tight.  At night, the Longbranch only serves it’s full menu on Friday and Saturday night.  Wednesday is Taco night, the first Thursday of the month is smelt night and there’s been talk of adding a BBQ night during the week.  At first glance, you would think this is a small restaurant and you could walk in on a Friday night and be seated right away.  You’d be wrong.  Reservations are suggested for peak meal times both nights.  As amazing as it may seem, people still travel from all over the region and as far away as Chicago to eat dinner in this tiny community.  Read the rest of this entry »