US Cellular Field – Chicago

7 09 2009
  • 333 W. 35th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (312) 674-1000
  • Website
US Cellular Field on W. 35th Street in Chicago.

US Cellular Field on W. 35th Street in Chicago.

Most guys use their bachelor party as an excuse to go to a strip club.  Most of my friends fit into that generalization as well.  Strip clubs aren’t really my thing, so when my brother asked what I wanted to do for my bachelor party, I didn’t hesitate and said I wanted to go to a White Sox game. 

US Celluar Field is on West 35th Street on Chicago’s south side.  No one I know actually calls the place US Celluar Field.  Most people refer to it simply as “The Cell.”  The old timers still call it “Comiskey” (the original name was Comiskey Park named after the old park and owner Charles Comiskey).  The Chicago media likes to use the name “US Comiskular” (combining US Cellular and Comiksey).

The “new” Comiskey Park was opened in 1991.  They were a year too early.  New Comiskey was built as the ball park of the future.  It had clean lines.  A symmetrical shape and it was quite sterile.  There was really no character.  One year later, when Camden Yards opened, Comiskey’s futuristic styling was already a thing of the past.  The retro look is what actually took off and every ballpark since then has been designed after the success of Camden….not Comiskey. Read the rest of this entry »





Wings Around The World – Chicago

7 09 2009
  • 510 E. 75th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (773) 483-9120
  • Website
  • Menu
Wings Around the World on E. 75th in Chicago.

Wings Around the World on E. 75th in Chicago.

Back in May when J and I got engaged, the first thing out of my brother’s mouth was, “Where do you want to do the Bachelor Party?”  I chose a baseball game.  I knew right away what I wanted to do. 

Like every other time that I go somewhere with a group of people, my goal is to bring as much local flavor to the party as possible.  We decided on pizza for after the game, but we needed some tailgate food.  BBQ was thrown around as was hitting up a bar near the park, but I eventually found a wing joint not too far away that got rave reviews on Yelp.com and Google.  It had been voted best wings in Chicago and I believe I saw the place on a Travel Channel show (although I can’t remember which one).

Wings Around the World is on 75th Street at South Eberhart Avenue.  It’s strictly a carry-out place with a small store front along the commercial district in this particular neighborhood.  My brother called on Friday to see if we needed to pre-order since we were putting in a pretty large order.  The guy he talked to said no, just call right at noon when they open. 

I was already at J’s parents, so the van of guys picked me up a little after noon in the south suburbs.  Bad news whenI got in the car.  My buddy K had been calling non-stop since noon and there was no answer.  I grabbed my brother’s Iphone and started looking for a backup plan.  Read the rest of this entry »





Hardees – Rantoul, IL

20 08 2009
  • 326 S. Century Boulevard
  • Rantoul, IL 61866
  • (217) 892-2606
  • Website
  • Menu
Hardees on Century Boulevard in Rantoul, IL

Hardee's on Century Boulevard in Rantoul, IL

Back in February, I put up a quick blog post about a Hardees at a rest stop in Indiana.  I didn’t really review anything because I didn’t eat.  It was more of a post to wax nostalgia and complain about the 20 inches of snow I just drove through.  Still, someone berated me for writing a post on my blog that they didn’t think should be there.  My blog.  I’ll post what I want. 

I was back in Illinois this week for work and I ended up in Rantoul, IL.  There’s not much in Rantoul anymore.  It’s a town of about 13,000 just north of Champaign.  It used to be home to Chanute Air Force Base, but when the government shut the base down, the town hit tough times.  The major employer was gone and everyone associated with the base left town. 

Since you already know that I work in TV, I’ll tell you I was in town for the University of Illinois’ Camp Rantoul.  U of I is one of two schools in the Big Ten that do a preseason camp.  They live in a hotel next to the practice facility and they’re given a strict schedule of when to eat, when to sleep, and when to practice.  It’s a great thing for the city because the practices are open to the public and people do show up to watch.  You’d think it was an NFL camp. 

Because of impending weather, I didn’t get a lunch break.  We were trying to get our show in before the storm hit and the school moved their practice up by two hours.  Once the show was over, I was starving.  I was tired though and I really just wanted to get home.  This was the first time I had been to Rantoul since the AFB closed, so I had no idea what was actually in the area.  I drove through downtown to see what was there, but I eventually ended up back on a stretch of road with plenty of fast food choices.  Read the rest of this entry »





Silver Cross Field – Joliet, IL

20 06 2009
  • 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive
  • Joliet, IL 60432
  • (815) 726-2255
  • Website
Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.

Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.

I think I’ve already mentioned, I really like baseball.  Most guys spend all year getting ready for their fantasy football draft….I look forward to April because baseball’s starting.  I’ve been very lucky the last seven years having a Midwest League team in the city I’ve lived in.  Trust me, I’ve taken advantage of that. 

For my first two years of college, I played baseball at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.  We played our home games on a pretty nice field at Joliet Catholic Academy (high school).  Since I went to a small high school, this field was a huge step up, but for most of the guys I played with, it was a step down.  In 2003, USF got a huge opportunity to play it’s home games at the newly built Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet.  I never got to play there or even see it before I left school, but the park’s main tenant is the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League. 

J and I were at my parents house and it’s always nice to be able to get my dad out of the house.  He likes baseball like I like baseball so I suggested the hour drive north to Joliet.  Once we figured out the rain might actually hold off, my mom and aunt also wanted in, so we loaded up the van an headed to Joliet. Read the rest of this entry »





Eddie’s Bar & Grill – Kankakee, IL

20 06 2009
  • 1875 W. Station Street
  • Kankakee, IL 60901
  • (815) 939-3972
  • Website
  • Menu
Eddies Bar & Grill on Station Street in Kankakee, IL

Eddie's Bar & Grill on Station Street in Kankakee, IL

Here’s the dilemma when J and I go to my parents house.  We either drive twenty minutes to Kankakee for lunch or we eat whatever Lean Cuisine my parents have the in the freezer.  Growing up in a small town, I never noticed that there wasn’t a restaurant on every corner, but since I’ve moved away, it’s become more noticeable.  I like to eat out and I like to eat at different places.  That’s hard to do in a town that only has one restaurant.

So, J and I made the choice to drive to Kankakee.  We had some other things to do anyway, so the trip wasn’t totally pointless.  We waited around until my mom came home for lunch so we could see her and make plans for the evening.  The next part of the battle was finding a restaurant.  I know the Kankakee metro is littered with hidden gems, but no one I know eats at anything other than chains.  I ended up remembering a place my brother told me he heard from friends was pretty good. 

Eddie’s Bar & Grill is on Station Street in Kankakee near West Court Street.  The only directions I could remember from my brother were “in the old Pizza Hut next to the bowling alley.”  J told me to call him and get an address, but I knew that’ the directions I would get.  No one knows street names….they all go by landmarks.  Read the rest of this entry »





Hershey’s Ice Cream – Bradley, IL

20 06 2009
  • 1600 N. State Route 50
  • Bradley, IL 60914
  • (815) 929-1123
  • Website
  • Menu
Hersheys Ice Cream in Northfield Square Mall

Hershey's Ice Cream in Northfield Square Mall

J and I wrapped up our week of wedding planning in Illinois by picking out the tuxedo’s.  I wanted to go to a regional chain in Bradley, IL at Northfield Square Mall because all of the guys in the wedding live pretty close to one of the locations.  As we entered the mall, the first thing J noticed was an ice cream store.  When I was growing up, that location was a Baskin Robbins.  Not anymore.

Did you know Hershey’s made ice cream?  Me neither.  Fact is, they don’t.  Until I made my way to Hersheysicecream.com, I would have assumed they were affiliated with the famous candy company, but, in small print, on the bottom of the website are the words “not affiliated with Hershey’s Chocolate.”  They had me fooled.

Like I already mentioned, this Hershey’s Ice Cream location is in Northfield Square Mall in Bradley near JC Penny and the Ruby Tuesday.  It’s a small corner shop with entrances on both sides.  There was only one girl working when we were in there, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday.  There were two people in front of us, so we had a few minutes to look over the flavors.  Read the rest of this entry »





Honky Tonk BBQ – Chicago

16 06 2009
  • 1213 W. 18th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60608
  • (312) 226-7427
  • Website
  • Menu
Honky Tonk BBQ in Chicagos Pilsen neighborhood.

Honky Tonk BBQ in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.

Since we were in the wedding planning mood, J and I decided to practice for our honeymoon by going out for BBQ….guess where we’re going for the honeymoon 😉 )  Last week, I put a post on Chow.com asking for a good place to eat before a White Sox game.  One of the places suggested was a BBQ place a few miles north of The Cell.  Unfortunately, the game is at 3:00 but the restaurant doesn’t open until four.  I showed the website to J and she suggested we go for dinner one night.

Honky Tonk BBQ is on 18th Street near Racine Avenue in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.  We happened to luck out and the one parking meter directly in front of the restaurant was open, so we pulled in and fed the meter.  The restaurant is in a very unassuming building that looks like it’s the back side of the grocery store on the corner.  The door looks more like a service door than the main entrance, but the address was right and there was an “open” sign lighted in a window, so we assumed the door was right.  The steps up are pretty steep and the last step is a doozy if you’re not paying attention.

The restaurant is divided into two rooms.  There’s a few tables and a take out window when you walk in.  To the left right is another dining room that is a little bit larger with more tables.  We weren’t quite sure of procedure.  I went to the window and picked up a paper menu, but J noticed the menus on the table.  Someone in the kitchen told us to take a seat and a waitress would be right with us. Read the rest of this entry »





Rosie’s Drive-In – Oak Lawn, IL

15 06 2009
  • 10235 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 636-7717
  • Website
  • Menu
Rosies Drive-In on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

Rosie's Drive-In on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

I’ve been in the Chicago area for three days now.  I’ve had two pizzas, but no Italian beef.  J and her mom got up to go do some wedding planning that I didn’t need to be there for, so I slept in.  When I got up, I was hungry.  I wanted an Italian beef…..bad.   J’s parents have recommended a little place just around the corner.  They have Italian beef and it was close, so that’s where I went.

Rosie’s Drive-In is on South Cicero Street at 103rd in Oak Lawn.  It’s not a Drive-In in the traditional sense.  There are no speakers in the parking lot and no car hops.  It is a small building that does most of it’s business with carry-out and drive thru. 

Since I hate drive thrus, I chose to park my car and go inside.  To my surprise, there was seating inside the building.  I didn’t think it looked very big from the outside, but there are a handful of tables so you can actually sit an eat.  Since J’s parents live right around the corner, I chose to take my sandwich with me.  Read the rest of this entry »





Grace O’Malley’s – Chicago

14 06 2009
  • 1416 S. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60605
  • (312) 588-1800
  • Website
  • Menu
Grace OMalleys on South Michigan Avenue near 14th Street in Chicago.

Grace O'Malley's on South Michigan Avenue near 14th Street in Chicago.

If we’re going to go to a concert in Chicago, you know I’m going to find someplace nearby for a pre-concert meal.  J and I were meeting my brother and his wife near Soldier Field for the Kenny Chesney concert.  Both of us decided to take public transportation due to the horrendous parking around Soldier Field.  My brother took the Metra Electric Line from Univerity Park and J and I took the El Orange Line from Midway.  Both trains have a stop near Roosevelt Street.

From the train stops, Grace O’Malley’s is less than a half mile walk south on Michigan Avenue.  For my brother and his wife, it was a horrible walk.  It was pouring rain.  By the time J and I got off the CTA, the rain had stopped.  I had made 1:45 reservations and had everything been on time, we would have arrived just before the reservation.  Instead, some punks decided they were going to tag our train while it was stopped at the 35th Street Station.  The conductor had to get out and chase them away.  We were sitting in the station for ten minutes while all this went on. 

My brother and sister-in-law got to the restaurant and got our table just as were were turning down Michigan Avenue.  It was a little over a two block walk for us, but we found Grace O’Malley’s on the west side of Michigan Avenue in the middle of the 1400 block.  Read the rest of this entry »





Vito & Nick’s II – Tinley Park, IL

4 05 2009
  • 7020 183rd Street
  • Tinley Park, IL 60477
  • (708) 532-8486
  • Website
  • Menu
Vito & Nicks II on 183rd Street in Tinley Park.

Vito & Nick's II on 183rd Street in Tinley Park.

My brother has recently found South Side Chicago pizza.  Last summer, he went to a White Sox game with my aunt and some of her co-workers.  Those co-workers stopped at a pizzeria in Matteson where my brother had a cracker thin crust Italian beef pizza for the first time.  Since then, he’s talked about it on many occasions.

When J and I can only make it back as far as Chicago, we usually meet my parents for lunch on Sunday before heading back to Michigan.  J hasn’t seen my niece since February, so I asked my brother if he wanted to meet for pizza in Tinley Park.  Of course, he said yes.

I need to start this off by explaining the lineage of Vito & Nick’s.  A few months ago, I reviewed The Original Vito & Nick’s on 84th and Pulaski.  Vito & Nick’s II is not part of the original restaurant, but it is an offshoot of that tavern owned by the son of namesake Vito Barraco.  That son opened two stores called Vito & Nick’s II which are in no way affiliated with the Original.  The Tinley Park location isn’t one of those two.  After the original Vito & Nick’s II stores took off, the store started to franchise.  The Tinley Park store is one of those franchises.  So even though it’s not a direct descendant of the legendary tavern on Chicago’s south side, they do have a pretty similar menu.

They open the store on 183rd near Harlem at noon on Sunday’s.  We got there just a little before noon.  By the time we got my niece out of her carseat and started walking towards the restaurant, a man was coming out to unlock the door.  The waitress must have seen us as he was starting to push two tables together as we were walking in. Read the rest of this entry »