Ann Sather Restaurant – W. Belmont, Chicago

27 09 2009
  • 909 W. Belmont Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60657
  • (773) 348-2378
  • Website
  • Menu
Ann Sather Restaurant on West Belmont in Chicago.

Ann Sather Restaurant on West Belmont in Chicago.

Every wedding has to have a good story.  When I was the best man in brother’s wedding, we went golfing at 6 AM before the ceremony.  He damn near flipped a golf cart.  The grass was still wet from the morning dew and he was going a little too fast looking for his bar.  He slammed on the breaks and turned the wheel.  He did a pretty good donut and got a couple wheels off the ground, but it stayed upright. 

For my wedding, my brother and I got the bright idea to run to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood to get cinnamon rolls for the morning.  Not a bad idea…except rush hour had just begun. 

My mom called to see if they had any rolls left.  The lady who answered the phone said they had three dozen left, but they were closing in 50 minutes so we had to get there before then.  Sounded like a challenge that we were about to take. 

Ann Sather’s has four locations in Chicago.  They’re a “Swedish” breakfast place.  They also have pretty good cinnamon rolls.  I don’t remember which show it was, but I saw it on the Food Network.  The rolls looked good on TV, so I had no reason to assume they weren’t going to be good in person. 

The restaurant we chose was the location on West Belmont just east of North Clark Street.  Our hotel was on the extreme south side of Chicago near Midway Airport.  For those of you not familiar with the city, Belmont and Clark is on the far north side.  It was only 14 miles, but even on a good day, that’s a half hour drive….and it wasn’t a good day. 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 »





Al’s Beef – Oak Lawn, IL

24 09 2009
  • 5128 W. 95th Street
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60435
  • (708) 422-2333
  • Website
  • Menu
Als Beef on 95th in Oak Lawn.

Al's Beef on 95th in Oak Lawn.

It only took a day and a half this time.  Operation Bridesmaid Pickup is in full swing and J, her mom, and the one out-of-town bridesmaid headed to the hotel to unload a bunch of stuff for this week.  I was left at the future in-laws house to shower and run a couple errands.  Of course, it was lunch time and of course, I wanted a beef. 

Al’s Beef is a Chicago legend.  They claim to be the inventors of the sandwich.  In recent years, they’ve expanded quite a bit around Chicagoland with franchise locations.  One of those franchises is in Oak Lawn not too far from where I was staying.

The Oak Lawn Al’s Beef is on 95th Street in a new strip mall in the downtown area.  It’s actually a dual store with Nancy’s Pizza.  The inside is missing the one major thing that makes Al’s Al’s.  The counter.  Actually, I was quite confused with the store. Not only did it have tables instead of stand up counters, but when I walked in the door, I had no clue where the order area was.  You can’t see it at all from the doorway.  There’s a wall that sort of leads you around to the counter, but I walked into the dining area before I finally saw where I was supposed to go.  I had to go back to the entrance and walk inside the wall to get to the cash register. Read the rest of this entry »





Kuma’s Corner – Chicago, IL

24 09 2009
  • 2900 W. Belmont Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60618
  • (773) 604-8769
  • Website
  • Menu
Kumas Corner on W. Belmont on Chicagos northside.

Kuma's Corner on W. Belmont on Chicago's northside.

 We finally made plans to make the trip the north side of Chicago.  We had to pick up the first of three out-of-town bridesmaids who flew in early to stay with another friend who lived in Bucktown.  We offered just to pick her up at her friend’s place because it was only a ten minute drive to West Belmont and I’d finally get to chow down on Illinois’ best burger.

Kuma’s Corner is on the corner of West Belmont Avenue and North Francisco Avenue in Chicago’s Avondale Neighborhood.  It’s an old corner building that doesn’t look like it should house such a popular restaurant.  The door was open and there were people spilling out when we drove by.  Like most of these neighborhood places, there is no specific parking.  You’re own your own to find something along the street.  Read the rest of this entry »





The Department – Joliet, IL

23 09 2009
  • 205 N. Chicago Street
  • Joliet, IL 60432
  • (815) 714-2280
  • Website
  • Menu
The Department in downtown Joliet

The Department in downtown Joliet

First day back in Chicago and J and I had a lot of errands to run.  We got up early to take care of our first major task at the Cook County Courthouse in Bridgeview.  After that, we needed to run to Joliet to see my grandma.  By the time we left her, it was lunch time. 

 

I lived in Joliet for four years and there wasn’t much reason to ever go downtown.  Things have changed a lot in the last seven years.  They’ve brought in a great Independent League baseball park and the Harrah’s Casino has invested a lot of money downtown.  With the influx of things to do, the dining scene has picked up dramatically.

In June, J and I went to a Joliet Jackhammers game with my parents.  They wanted to eat at the only reason there was to go downtown when I was there..Chicken ‘N Spice, but on our trek through town, I noticed a number of restaurants that I tucked away into the ol’ memory bank should we ever get back to Joliet.

After driving around the block a few times, the restaurant I settled on was The Department.  It was a neat looking restaurant from the outside, but what we found inside blew us both away. Read the rest of this entry »





Zingerman’s Roadhouse

20 09 2009
  • 2501 Jackson Avenue
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48103
  • (734) 663-3663
  • Website
  • Menu
Zingermans Roadhouse on Jackson Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Zingerman's Roadhouse on Jackson Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Where to go to do dinner after a Michigan football game?  J had suggested Zingerman’s Deli, but we would have had to go north through downtown which I didn’t really want to do and I’ve always been told Zingerman’s Deli is nuts on game days. 

I started looking over the menu at Zingerman’s Roadhouse and while the prices all seemed a little higher, when I thought about it, dinner at the Roadhouse would have cost the same as dinner at the Deli.  We love Zingerman’s Deli, so I had no reason to think we wouldn’t love Zingerman’s Roadhouse….plus, Bon Appetite did call their BBQ one of the best in country….and I do love me some BBQ. 

Zingerman’s Roadhouse is on Jackson Avenue near the Westgate Shopping Center in Ann Arbor.  It’s near the Interstate 94 Exit for Jackson Avenue, so after leaving Michigan Stadium, I headed back to the expressway.  We left the game a little early to beat traffic since it was a blow out, so it only took a few minutes to get to the restaurant. 

Leaving early also allowed us to beat any sort of post game rush.  It was a little after three when we parked the car and there weren’t a lot of cars in the parking lot which was good news to me.  We were both pretty hungry having skipped lunch at the Stadium, so the quicker we could get food the better. Read the rest of this entry »





T & D Coney Grill

17 09 2009
  • 1735 W. Grand River Avenue
  • Okemos, MI 48864
  • (517) 347-9066
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

 

T & D Coney Grill on West Grand River Avenue in Okemos.

T & D Coney Grill on West Grand River Avenue in Okemos.

In my runnings around Delta Township this morning, I forgot a few things I needed to do, so it was back out tonight, but this time, I decided to go to Okemos.  The store I needed to go to was out that way too and I wanted to check out another new place recommended by BernieB.

 

 

T & D Coney Grill is a new addition to the Okemos restaurant scene that sits in a strip mall at the corner of West Grand River Avenue and Dobie Road.  It takes up the space that used to be Villegas.  They do breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the small, family run diner, but it was dinner that I was looking for.

I pulled in just before 8:00 on a Thursday night.  There were a few other people in the restaurant which is divided into two dining rooms.  It’s just the layout of the space.  There’s not really a reason the room is divide.  Tying the two spaces together is a lunch counter that overlooks a window to the kitchen.

Since I was alone, I grabbed a seat at the lunch counter in front of the large LCD TV which was tuned to Wolf Blitzer.  When I sat down, I was asked if I was dining in or if I wanted carry-out.  I had no place to be, so I sat down to eat.  Read the rest of this entry »





National Coney Station

15 09 2009
  • 565 E. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-2100
  • Website
  • Menu
National Coney Station on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

National Coney Station on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

As readers of this blog know, the thing I love most about food is regional cuisine.  Sure, I may not like everything that makes a region popular, but I love the idea that no matter where you grew up, there’s going to be some brand, food, or preparation technique that will always make you think of home. 

In Michigan, that food is the Coney Dog.  I’m not a hot dog eater, so it’s not something that I’ve been able to adapt to.  I’ve tried it once and wasn’t a huge fan only because I don’t like the dog.  The chili is delicious and I could eat that without the hot dogs.

There are always imitators when it comes to a region’s marquee cuisine.  Yeah, you can get a coney dog here in Lansing, but up until last week, you couldn’t get it from one of the big names in Detroit coney’s.

National Coney Station opened up on Grand River Avenue in the building that was most recently Moe’s Firehouse.  Before that, it was a Spartan Gyro.  National Coney did a lot of work to the building to clean it up.  I never got a chance to eat at Moe’s before it closed, but for some reason, the place always scared me a little bit. 

National Coney Station is not quite the same as the National Coney Island restaurants you’re familiar with in Detroit.  They’re owned by the same company, but they’re designed to be more of a quickservice restaurant.  The menu is much, much smaller having only nine choices plus some a la cart items.  Read the rest of this entry »





Nicky’s Carry-Out, Crestwood, IL

14 09 2009
  • 14001 Cicero Avenue
  • Crestwood, IL 60445
  • (708) 388-4626
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Nickys Carry-Out in Crestwood, IL

Nicky's Carry-Out in Crestwood, IL

Months before I started dating J, I was sent up to Chicago to shoot a high school basketball game at St. Xavier University on the south side.  I didn’t know then that I’d be spending so much time on the south side of Chicago and when I got off the Interstate on Cicero Avenue, my first order of business was finding some place to get an Italian beef. 

The first place I came across was Nicky’s Carry-Out in Crestwood, so I stopped and got a beef.  I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a Portillo’s right down the street.  If I had known that, I probably would have waited, but I’m sort of glad I didn’t. 

I haven’t been back to Nicky’s since then even though we do drive by it quite a bit on our way to J’s parents’ house.  On my last trip home by myself, I had to make a stop at J’s parents on the way back to Lansing to pick up some things we forgot on our last trip home. 

I left my parents in kind of a rush because I slept much later than I had intended.  After a quick stop at my brother’s, I headed towards Chicago….hungry.  I could have stopped at Portillo’s, but since I was by myself, I decided to stop at Nicky’s to see if it was what I remembered now that I’ve been formally introduced to Chicago cuisine. Read the rest of this entry »





Chicken Coop – Paw Paw

11 09 2009
  • 206 E. Fadel Street
  • Paw Paw, MI 49079
  • (269) 657-6136
  • Website
  • Menu
The new Chicken Coop location on Fadel Street in Paw Paw

The new Chicken Coop location on Fadel Street in Paw Paw

Football season finally begins for me.  My first game of the season is back in Illinois, so I hit the road again to make the trip home.  Once again, it was after lunch when I was going through Kalamazoo and I was getting hungry.  I held out until Paw Paw though because there was a chicken shack I ate at last year that had relocated and I was curious to see how things changed.

My first encounter with the Chicken Coop was in the spring of 2008 not long after J and I moved to Michigan.  I was heading back to Champaign for work and stopped to get gas.  I noticed the restaurant and got chicken for the road.  Similar situation on this trip except the location I stopped at last time is now a Walgreens.

I didn’t really know where the new location was but commentors had told me it just moved around the corner.  The old location was easy to see from the Interstate.  There was a large sign and as soon as you got off, you ran into the restaurant.  The new one is a little harder to find. Read the rest of this entry »