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Q-BBQ (Naperville)

May 23, 2018
  • 103 S. Main Street
  • Naperville, IL 60540
  • (630) 637-6400
  • Website
  • Menu

If you’re still reading this blog and wondering if we’ve moved permanently to Illinois, my answer is, it feels like it.  Six days without my grill is a lot and it’s also a lot of eating out.  Just a few more and we’ll try to get back to some Michigan blog posts next.  Deal?

Monday was kind of a gap day.  We only stayed in town because it didn’t make sense to drive back to Kalamazoo for one day.  We would have had to turn around and come back on Tuesday.  Both of our works were understanding but we did hate keeping L out of school for three days.

We needed to do something stimulating.  Our initial plan was Brookfield Zoo, but it was raining so that was out.  We then decided on the DuPage Children’s Museum.

We spent a couple hours at the museum and the kids had a blast.  At one point, B looks at us and says, “I’m hungry.”  That almost never happens.  We asked L and she said she was hungry too. That was fine with J and I because we were also hungry.

I typically do a ton of research when we travel to a new town and find the perfect spot to eat.  This time, I looked on Google maps at what was around us and saw the word “BBQ.”

Even if I had done my research, there is a very, very good chance I still would have picked Q-BBQ.  This counter service BBQ joint in downtown Naperville sits on the corner of Main Street and Van Buren Streets.  There is street parking all around and a surface lot across the street, but on a Monday afternoon at 2:00, all of it was full.  We got lucky and found a car leaving a spot on Main Street just a few cars down from the entrance.

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Jalisco Express Restaurant

May 23, 2018
  • 10846 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 423-6476
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve always told J, as much as I want to live in Chicago, it’s probably a good thing we don’t.  I’ve eaten horribly these past few days.  Lots of Italian beef.  Lots of pizza.  Lots of fried food.  It’s just all so dang good.

Sunday we had a pretty late lunch.  We did our shopping at Chicago Ridge Mall then hit the drive thru at Buona Beef for lunch at 3:00.  I thought maybe that would get me through the day but after everyone went to bed, I started getting really hungry.  I knew there were options around me…it was just a matter of if I wanted pizza or tacos.

I chose tacos and headed toward Jalisco Express Restaurant on the corner of Cicero Avenue and 109th Street in Oak Lawn.  Jalisco has a couple of full service restaurants in the area, but they also have this little quick, counter service place in the Oak Plaza shopping center.

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Premo’s Drive In

May 22, 2018
  • 5540 95th Street
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 423-8282
  • Website
  • Menu

By the time we get back to Kalamazoo, we will have spent six nights at J’s parents in the Chicago suburbs.  That’s a long time for the kids to be away from their toys…and more importantly, their Apple TV….and it’s a long time for six people who don’t normally live together.

We’re trying to get the kids out and doing things as much as possible.  I caught L sitting at the kitchen table staring at the ceiling because she actually got bored playing games on NaNa’s iPad.

We found a great park not too far from where J’s parents live.  Oak Lawn Memorial Park has a great play structure that is suitable for both kids.  We spent about an hour there Sunday night letting the kids run around before bed.

We know we’re asking a lot of the kids and they’ve been pretty good at dealing with this week.  They had a couple of long days ahead of them when we took them to the park so when it was time to head home, we offered ice cream to kind of grease the wheels.

We left the park and headed down Central Avenue to Premo’s Drive-In.  The fifty plus year old ice cream shack and grill sits on the corner of 95th Street and 55th Court in Oak Lawn’s downtown area.  95th Street is also US-12 and it’s a seven lane, high volume, high speed roadway with no street parking.  Premo’s has a small lot  with an entrance on the east side of the building and there is some street parking on 55th Ct.  On busy days when lines are out the door, those spots are hard to come by but our visit was pretty late in the evening on a cool spring night.

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Mini Donut Factory (Chicago Ridge Mall)

May 21, 2018
  • 444 Chicago Ridge Mall #651
  • Chicago Ridge, IL 60415
  • (708) 636-3001
  • Website
  • Menu

The original reason for us taking a weekend in Chicago came to an end when I got home Saturday night.  Sunday morning, we had to start planning for the reason the weekend was extended.  We had a death in the family and would be staying in Chicago through the middle of the week for the services.

We knew before we left we were going to be a couple of extra days so we brought church clothes with us.  I always need new shirts because I beat the heck out of button down dress shirts when I wear them for work.  B needed a whole new outfit because it’s been a while since we’ve had to dress up and both kids needed dressier shoes.

We figured we could knock all of this shopping out at the Chicago Ridge Mall.  We hit Kohls for my shirts then Crazy 8 and Carson’s for B’s stuff.  I then ran to the car to drop off bags and to grab something we had forgot.  While I did that, J got the kids a treat.

Right next to the Kohls is a small shop called Mini Donut Factory.  It’s in the southwest wing of the Chicago Ridge Mall right next to a Wetzel’s Pretzels.

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Buffalo Wings and Rings (Bridgeport)

May 20, 2018
  • 3434 S. Halsted Street
  • Chicago, IL 606018
  • (773) 579-9464
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s time for the annual get together with my dad, my brother, and my best friend from grade school.  We’ve been getting together once a year for a White Sox game since my bachelor party in 2009.  I live in Michigan and my buddy lives near St. Louis so we never see each other.  My dad and my brother see him occasionally, but it’s still great to get together every year for this game…no matter how bad the Sox are.

Part of this night out at the game is tailgating.  Chicago is big on tailgating.  It’s the thing I’ve always found so weird at Detroit sporting events.  They don’t let you tailgate in the lots near the park.  In Chicago, tailgating is just part of the game.  You get to the park two hours early when the lots open and drink and eat outside until close to first pitch.

We’ve always ordered wings for our tailgates.  Back in 2009, I found a great place called Wings Around the World.  It went out of business a few years later so we tried a couple of other places.  We did whole wings one year which the guys didn’t really like.  Then we did a WingStop which was better but still not the same.

About three years ago, I realized our wing place reopened as Chicago Wingz Around the World.  We did that a few more times but the group decided last year the wings were not as good as they have been in the past and they wanted to find something else.

I went searching for a new wing place and gave them three options that weren’t too far out of our way.  They collectively decided on a chain close to the park.  The flavors looked good and it would be easy for us to pick up before hitting the parking lots.

Buffalo Wings and Rings is a Cincinnati based sports bar chain with about 50 locations (none in Michigan).  There are three Chicago area locations.   We ordered from the one in the city near the corner of 35th Street and Halsted in the Bridgeport Neighborhood.

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Portillo’s Hot Dogs (Oak Lawn)

May 20, 2018
  • 4020 95th Street
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 425-1600
  • Website
  • Menu

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while.  Every year I get together with my dad, my brother, and my best friend from grade school to go to a White Sox game.  Work has been tedious lately and I’ve been counting down the days until we could get away from Kalamazoo for a little weekend getaway.

Well…that weekend getaway is turning into an extended weekend due to some family business we have to attend to that popped up at the last minute.   I was still able to do do my baseball game on Saturday night but now we’d be in town for almost six days instead of the planned three….that means you’re going to see some more blog posts from the Chicago area over the next few days.

We did our favorite pizza joint for dinner on Friday when we got to town.  On Saturday, before heading to the game, I got to grab another one of my favorite Chicago foods…and Italian beef.

We chose to pick up lunch from Portillo’s on 95th Street just west of Pulaski Road in Oak Lawn.  We go to this Portillo’s quite a bit but I haven’t blogged about it since 2008.

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Casey’s General Store (Watervliet)

May 19, 2018
  • 3781 M-140
  • Watervliet, MI 49098
  • (269) 463-3979
  • Website
  • Menu

J and I moved to Michigan from Central Illinois ten years ago.  It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but the 10 year anniversary recently snuck up on us.

There are still things we miss about the time we spent in Peoria.  Obviously, it’s where we met so there will always be that special connection, but there, of course, is food we miss as well.

We worked in a small town just outside of Peoria called Creve Couer.  There wasn’t much in the way of lunch spots in the small suburb.  There was a street that had some fast food options so that’s what we ate most of the time.

Taco John’s was one of the places we went to often.  They were open until very early in the morning so when we got off work at 11:00 or came in for a shift at 1:00 AM, Taco John’s was open.  We finally got a Taco John’s in Michigan when one opened in a gas station in Stevensville a few years ago.

Another place that we ate at often was a gas station.  That sounds odd, but they had the best gas station pizza.

Casey’s General Store is a Midwestern chain of convenience stores headquartered near Des Moines, IA.  It’s not hard to find one in small towns all over their twelve state foot print.  In fact, most directions in these small towns include the phrase, “turn right/let at the Casey’s.”

Michigan finally got it’s first Casey’s General Store just a few weeks ago.  The gas station sits just off I-94 at the Watervliet exit on M-140. Read more…