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Caruso’s Pizza & Pasta

December 15, 2014
  • Caruso's Pizza & Pasta4801 Rivercrest Drive
  • Crestwood, IL 60445
  • (708) 824-3400
  • Website
  • Menu

One of my favorite things about going to my in-laws house in the Chicago suburbs is the food.  Man, oh man, is Chicago food amazing.

My usual M.O. is to pick up lunch for my wife and Mother-in-Law at Portillo’s.  Most people would just do the obvious and order and Italian beef from Portillo’s, but not me.  There is better Italian beef in Chicago.  Much better.  So, I get what they want then head down 95th Street to Al’s Beef.

After waiting in the ridiculous line for a couple of salads and some chicken tenders from Portillo’s, I went to pick up my Italian beef.  My heart sank when I pulled in the parking lot.  It was closed.  Again.  There was some ridiculous sign on the door about being closed for maintenance and they would be reopening “soon.”  This is the second time that has happened.

I wasn’t going to go back to Portillo’s and wait in line again, so I brought the ladies’ food home then had to head back out to find an Italian beef.  There are many, many places in Chicago that will sell me one,but finding a good one just isn’t that easy.   Read more…

Casa Bolero

December 7, 2014
  • Casa Bolero116 Portage Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 382-3148
  • Website
  • Menu

Not having any family in the area means nights out are few and far between.  Finding a babysit is hard and when we do have family in town, we feel guilty about just dropping L with them and leaving.  They always offer, but we want to spend time with our family too.

L’s preschool gave us the perfect opportunity for a night out.  They held a Drop-n-Shop on Friday night and even though we have all of our Christmas shopping done, we still took advantage of the event and went out for a nice, leisurely dinner.

We wanted to go someplace where we wouldn’t feel comfortable taking L.  Bell’s was an option because it was Eccentric Day, but we do Bell’s all the time.  Instead, we chose a place that we have been trying to go to for several years but could just never find it open.

Casa Bolero opened almost five years ago in Kalamazoo’s Central Business District.  The restaurant is on Portage Street just to the south of East Michigan Avenue across the street from Olde Peninsula.

I mentioned we’ve tried to go a couple of times.  Once was when they used to do lunch, but we must have caught them after they stopped.  It was pretty close to when J was due with L.  It was going to be our one last lunch without a baby, but we ended up at Central City Tap House after finding Casa Bolero closed.

The other time was a little more odd.  It was actually New Year’s Eve when J was pregnant with L.  We called to make reservations and they told us they were going to be closed…..on New Year’s Eve.  We just kinda chuckled and said OK, then made decided to go to Rustica instead.

We had back-up plans this time just in case they weren’t open as seems to be our luck, but once we parked in the parking lot off Bates Alley, we noticed people inside and it calmed our fear of the place being closed.   Read more…

Toppers Pizza – Grand Rapids

December 6, 2014
  • Toppers Pizza - Grand Rapids947 Wealthy Street SE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49506
  • (616) 719-3300
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s been a weird couple weeks at work.  I worked two days, was off three (including Thanksgviving) then worked seven in a row.  The two day week made it hard to get motivated.  I just kept looking forward to those three days off, so my brain wasn’t really where it needed to be.

I got pretty lucky in that the second day of that two day week turned out to be a pretty easy day of work.  I had plenty of time for lunch (or at least I thought I was going to), so I decided to order a pizza.

There’s a pretty good pizza place not too far from where I work, but I always like checking out new things and just ordering a simple pepperoni pizza.  I passed on the more fancy option and got online to put in an order at one of the newer chains to move in to Grand Rapids.

Toppers Pizza is on Wealthy Street just to the west of Diamond Avenue.  This is the only store the small midwest chain has in.  The original restaurant in Champaign, IL is closed now and the headquarters are now Whitewater, Wisconsin.  This store is a little odd for Toppers as most of them are near college campuses.  I don’t think it’s still there, but we ordered from Toppers a few times when we lived in Lansing and were always happy with what we got but it still seemed just to be typical big chain pizza.   Read more…

Michelle’s Stone Ridge

November 25, 2014
  • Michelle's Stone Ridge25441 Red Arrow Highway
  • Mattawan, MI 49071
  • (269) 668-5333
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten my butt out of bed on a Sunday so we could go to breakfast.  I made the decision Saturday night that I was actually going to set an alarm just to get out of bed and go to breakfast.

The plan worked.  I got out of bed, L and J were already up, and everyone was hungry.

A few weeks ago, I was driving from Kalamazoo to Paw Paw via Red Arrow Highway.  Just past the Main Street intersection in Mattawan, I noticed one of my favorite breakfast joints took over an old restaurant.

Michelle’s Stone Ridge moved in to the building formerly known as Stone Ridge Inn.  The restaurant is just outside of Mattawan on Red Arrow HIghway at the stoplight at County Road 662.

We never went to Stone Ridge Inn because I never read very good reviews of the place.  From the outside, it always looked like a nice place, so I’m not really sure what was going on inside.  I was excited to see the Michelle’s sign on the restaurant now so we could finally check the place out.   Read more…

Ben’s Soft Pretzels – Oshtemo

November 15, 2014
  • Ben's Soft Pretzel501 N. 9th Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 312-8930
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t go to Walmart often.  I don’t have any of the usual objections to Walmart, I just like Meijer better.  I do, however, go to Walmart when I want to get in and out quickly.  It seems like I’m not the only one that prefers Meijer over Walmart.

This past Friday, I needed to pick up two things quickly, so I headed to the 9th Street Walmart in Oshtemo Township.  As I was wrapping up, I noticed a neon sign hanging above what appeared to be a little closet near the entrance closest to the pharmacy.  I came in near the grocery section, but I decided to walk down to the other entrance to see what that little sign was advertising.

Turns out, that little closet is a pretzel shop called Ben’s Soft Pretzels.

Ben’s Soft Pretzels got started just south of the (Michigan) border in Elkhart, IN.  They have a number of stores in Indiana, a couple in Florida, and one each in Illinois and Wisconsin in addition to the three Michigan stores (Oshtemo Walmart, Comstock Meijer, and Sturgis Walmart).   Read more…

Sarkozy Bakery

November 12, 2014
  • Sarkozy Bakery350 E. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 342-1952
  • Website
  • Menu

I have to be honest.  Before the fire, I had only been in Sarkozy Bakery once.  J and I, like fools, tried to walk in on Fat Tuesday and just pick up a paczki.  No surprise now, but they didn’t have any left.  Unfortunately, that was the only time we had ever stopped in the old store.

Fast forward to last Friday, we had some work crews at our house still fixing damage from last winter and we wanted to get out for a little bit.  I had read in the Gazette a few weeks ago that Sarkozy was serving lunch now and that sounded like a great option.

The new Sarkozy Bakery is on Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo in the Columbia Plaza Building just west of South Pitcher Avenue.  The new bakery is gorgeous.  There is a big, open layout with modern furniture and stainless steel everywhere.    We actually weren’t sure that we could eat in until I parked my truck on the street right in front of the building and saw the large dining room through the picture windows that overlook the busy downtown street.

The menu is pretty small serving up only a few sandwich options, soup, salads, quiche, and some pizzas.  None of the sandwiches really did anything for me so I ordered off the pizza menu. Read more…

Big Moe’s BBQ Express

November 7, 2014
  • Big Moe's BBQ Express1928 Gull Road
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49048
  • (269) 488-5502
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

There’s never enough BBQ.  Never.  Seriously….never.

A couple of days ago, I got a text message from J saying she just passed a building on Gull Road with Big Moe’s BBQ signs plastered all over it.

Turns out, Big Moe’s opened a new restaurant to serve up their award winning BBQ sauce alongside some delicious smoked meats.

The new restaurant is near Borgess Medical Center on Gull Road.  It share a building with a party store across the street from the Max 10.  The last I knew, that building had a sign for what I assumed was going to be a Chicago Style joint, but that never seemed to come to fruition.

Big Moe’s just opened their doors a few days ago.  I’m pretty sure J and I were in there on day two.  We left L at home with J’s mom and just planned on doing carry out for the four of us.

The menu is pretty standard for a BBQ joint.  They have all of the pork favorites, but they’re notably missing brisket which is what J’s mom likes.  They did have a Beef BBQ Sandwich so that’s what we got here.   Read more…

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