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Ol’ Moose BBQ

April 26, 2016
  • 7540 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 377-4453
  • Website
  • Menu

More food trucks, more BBQ, no arguments from me.  I like both.

Friday’s are L’s short day at preschool.  I picked her up at 11:30 and texted J to ask if she wanted BBQ for lunch.  I had noticed a post on Facebook that a new BBQ food truck was going to open for the day despite the rainy weather, so I headed down Westnedge from downtown Kalamazoo to check it out.

Ol’ Moose BBQ has been opening up pretty much daily for several weeks now in an empty lot on South Westnedge in Portage across the street from Main Street Pub.  The physical address they give is 7540 S. Westnedge, but that doesn’t come up in Google Maps…..probably because it is literally an empty parking lot.  I’m pretty sure this is the same spot Nick’s Gyros used to set up when they were a food truck only operation if that helps you picture where it’s at.

Ol’ Moose is a simple BBQ truck.  The old bus has been painted red and loaded up with delicious smoked meat the owner likes to call “Michigan BBQ.”  The menu is simple with brisket, pork, chicken thighs and a sloppy joe.

I pulled in to the lot close enough to the truck that I could leave the sleeping baby in the car and he’d still never leave my sight.  I was actually the second person there right at the 11:00 opening time, so I had a few minutes to decide what I wanted to do for lunch while the person in front of me was getting their order put together.

I’m on a real brisket kick right now and had to make a choice.  Do I pick the chopped brisket sandwich which comes with giardiniera or do I pick the Brisket Tacos Al Carbon?  Both would have been delicious, but I chose the Tacos.

You can get the tacos with either pork or brisket.  I chose the brisket version which came with onion, cilantro, and chipotle roja wrapped in a flour tortilla.  The dish was two of these tacos wrapped up with the roja on the side.  I asked to forgo the onions, so the inside of the taco was just the brisket and cilantro.  I chose to use the salsa as more of a dipping sauce instead of opening up the tightly wrapped tortilla to add it to the inside of the taco.  Read more…

Bernie O’s

April 24, 2016
  • 321 Center Street
  • North Muskegon, MI 49445
  • (231) 744-4900
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t eat out a lot in Muskegon.  I don’t usually have the time and when I do, I’m not really familiar with the options.  I typically look for quick service places and anything I really want to try is always more of a sit down.

Late last week, I was in Muskegon by myself and not really on a time crunch.  I pulled in to a parking lot and started looking some places  up.  Pizza sounded like a good idea and I came back across a pizza place that was recommended to me several years ago.  It didn’t take me long to find something that looked good, so I put in an order and headed to pick it up.

Bernie O’s is an interesting little pizza joint on the corner of Center Street and Ruddiman Drive in the small city of North Muskegon.  The building barely looks like it contains one of the top pizza joints in the area.  From the street, a couple of banners hanging off the building is all that marks it.

I was a little confused because I couldn’t figure out where to park.  There is no street parking on either street around it.  I headed to the Wesco next door because I needed gas and that’s when I noticed a parking lot behind the building on Ruddiman Drive.

The parking lot in back is actually the main entrance to the restaurant.  Just inside the doors is the register counter and the kitchen.  Both ladies working the register were on the phone taking orders when I stopped in, so I stepped back and waited.  Their website mentions they are working on online ordering which I would have to assume would make their life a little easier.   Read more…

Capital City BBQ

April 24, 2016
  • 1026 W. Saginaw Street
  • Lansing, MI 48915
  • (517) 775-8500
  • Website
  • Menu

J and I first moved to Michigan in the spring of 2008 when she got a job in Lansing.  We hadn’t been dating that long, but I was tired of my job in Peoria, needed a change, and I knew where things were going with J.  It was a no-brainer for me to move with her.

Seeing as I didn’t have a job when I moved, I had a lot of time that I used to write a food blog I started and to work on my cooking as I made dinner for the two of us every night.

I had always hoped I could turn that food blog in to something profitable, but alas, eight years later, I’m still writing and still bringing in exactly $0 every month.  It’s ok, though, because really, I just like eating and the adventures finding new restaurants takes us on.

My biggest complaint on was the lack of BBQ restaurants in Lansing.  I wrote more than once about the utter lack of anything worth a darn…like on this post

For over a year, I’ve been complaining about the lack of BBQ in Lansing.

Or this one.

I’ve been complaining about there being no good BBQ in this area since we moved here.  This was good, authentic BBQ.  We never would have found this place on our own, but now we have a place to stop on the way home from MIS!

Or this one.

On one hand, I think it’s sad that Lansing’s only BBQ joint isn’t the creation of a family recipe, but on the other hand, I’m glad there’s at least one place that takes the time to do BBQ right.  It’s a good thing we don’t live closer to Lansing Township.  I could literally eat every meal there and be happy.

And yet another.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve been asking people where the good BBQ joints are.  No one has given me an answer.

We always found something passable, but two of those were food trucks that didn’t last long, one was a chain, and one was in Jackson.

We moved from Lansing to Kalamazoo in the fall of 2009 and man, how things of changed in the Lansing BBQ scene since then.   Read more…

Fatso’s Pizza

April 17, 2016
  • 13506 Beadle Lake Road
  • Battle Creek, MI 49014
  • (269) 339-3813
  • Website
  • Menu

The zoo is open!  The zoo is open!  I’m pretty sure everyone in the greater Battle Creek area knows that because it was PACKED this past Saturday.  Sure, the fact that it was 70 degrees on opening weekend probably had something to do with that, but holy cow was Binder Park Zoo a busy place on Saturday.

We decided to head over to Battle Creek a little later in the afternoon thinking it wouldn’t be as busy, but the line to get in was well out in to the parking lot.  Lucky for us, there was an employee near the end of the line asking if anyone was a member.  We have a membership, so we handed it to her, she wrote down the information, and we were able to skip the line by going in through the exit.  Soooooo happy we’re members.  Others told us it was anywhere from a 45 minute to an hour wait just to get in!

Anyway, the deluge of people wasn’t so bad once inside.  The only real wait was for the tram out to Wild Africa.  It was a 20-30 minute wait each direction, but we passed the time and kept the kids happy.

We went later in the day than we had originally planned and J had asked for pizza for lunch.  I told her we’d pick up a pizza for dinner on the way home from the zoo.

We’ve been going to the zoo enough years now that finding a new pizza place somewhat close to our route home is getting more difficult.  Usually I go down B Drive North to Beadle Lake Road to get to the zoo, but this time, I intentionally took I-94 all the way to the Beadle Lake exit.  I had an idea…that is, if it was still there.   Read more…

Vitale’s Pizza and Sports Bar – Comstock Park

April 17, 2016
  • 3868 West River Drive
  • Comstock Park, MI 49321
  • (616) 784-5012
  • Website
  • Menu

I get lazy sometimes.  It doesn’t matter what I’m hungry for, if I can find a place that has online ordering, I will likely order from there instead of having to call something in.

Last week, I had some time at work to actually eat dinner.  I was hungry and my first choice was closed.  I was in the mood for a burger, but I really didn’t feel like talking on the phone.  How stupid is that?

Anyway, I kept looking around and decided I would just order pizza.  There’s a Pizza Hut fairly close to work as well as a Papa John’s….both have online ordering.  That would be just too lazy though so I started checking around to some of my favorite local places.  Seriously, I could have just called in an order for a burger and went in got it in as much time as it took me to find someplace to order online.

I finally stumbled on the website for Vitale’s Pizza and Sports Bar in Comstock Park which had online ordering.  I’ve always really liked Vitale’s pizza after getting introduced to it by a friend several years ago when I met him at the location on Leonard Street NE in Grand Rapids.

I put in my order for a large pizza with pepperoni and jalapeno bacon.  The email said it would take about twenty minutes to cook and I was about twenty minutes away.

Vitale’s is on the corner of West River Drive and Mill Creek Avenue in the unicorporated community of Comstock Park that kind of straddles parts of both Alpine and Plainfield Township.  The restaurant is just down the street from Fifth Third Ballpark in what can be considered the “Main Street” of Comstock Park.  Read more…

Buona – Beverly

April 7, 2016
  • 10633 S. Western Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60643
  • (773) 941-69870
  • Website
  • Menu

Last time we were in the Chicago area, I had some time to myself to seek out a truly delicious Italian beef.  I chose to go to the northside of town and hit up Johnnie’s Beef in Elmwood Park.  While I was researching that trip, I came across a couple other places I wanted to try including Buona.

At that time, the closest Buona was in Orland Park, but as luck would have it, my mother-in-law mentioned, in passing, that Buona opened a new store on the corner of Western Avenue and 107th in the Chicago Neighborhood of Beverly.  This location is only about ten minutes from my in-laws and I wasn’t leaving town without making a stop.

After our time with my family in Cullom, we headed back to the Chicago suburbs to drop L off with J’s parents for the week.  Her preschool was closed for spring break and Nana and Grandpa wanted some one-on-one time with L.

It was about dinner time when we got back to Oak Lawn.  J and I did have a snack from Casey’s General Store before we left down south, but I really, really wanted an Italian beef.  I asked everyone else if they wanted to give it a shot and everyone was on board.

I attempted to put my order in using the website, but after I got everything completed, it told me that it had failed and to call the store.  I did that on my way to see if it somehow went through.  They never got an order from me, so I asked if I could put one in over the phone while I was driving so that it would be ready when I got there.  I could, so I did.

Buona claims to be the Original Italian beef.  Now, Buona has only been in business since 1981 which is long after the Italian beef was invented, but what makes theirs the “original” is the recipe.  The Buonavolanto who started the small Chicago chain is a relative of Carl Buonavolanto who is the original owner of Mr Beef on Orleans and one of the “Original 14.”  It’s a complicated story that all goes back to the 1930’s and Scala’s Original Beef and Sausage Company.  Robert Scala provided funding for Carl to open Mr. Beef which is how Mr Beef and, by way of the recipe, Buona can use the claim of “Original” in their marketing.  That’s all according to their website and not independently confirmed anywhere else.

Anywho.  Back to the beef.

The restaurant on the corner of 107th and Western is brand new.  They have a really tight parking lot with entrances off both Western and 107th.  If you’re looking for the drive thru though, you have to enter off of 107th Street.

I stopped in on Sunday of Grand Opening Weekend.  The place was busy, but not jam packed.  The feel of this Buona is a clean, sleek restaurant.  It’s not the sandwich stands you think of when you think Chicago beef.  The dining room is pretty large and very wide open.  Ordering is done as you walk in with a modern POS system instead of someone writing down your order on a piece of paper and yelling it back to the kitchen.  The place is and feels like a chain and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the food is good and doesn’t taste like it came from a chain.

I had already put in our order for three Italian beefs and a salad.  I got two of the beef’s as a value meal (don’t say combo meal in Chicago as that has a totally different meaning at beef places.  I remembered that as the words came out of my mouth.  A “combo” is an Italian beef sandwich with an Italian sausage in it….delicious, but not what I wanted on this day) which come with fries and a Pepsi.  My order was ready when I got there and after paying the bill, just under $40, I headed back to my in-laws to dig in.  Read more…

Casey’s General Store – Cullom

April 7, 2016
  • 215 W. Jackson Street
  • Cullom, IL 60929
  • (815) 689-2784
  • Website
  • Menu

How weird is it to get excited over gas station pizza?  I’m not even gonna lie.  I really miss Casey’s General Store.  When J and I worked in Creve Coeur, IL (right outside Peoria), there was a Casey’s right down the street.  Whenever we didn’t have time for dinner, we’d stop at Casey’s and grab a couple of cheap slices to eat while on the road.

Unfortunately, Casey’s hasn’t reached Michigan.  The closest location of the Iowa based chain of gas stations is in Elkhart, IN.  Even when we go home for a weekend, there aren’t many Casey’s that we pass.  They are much more common in the central part of Illinois than in the northern.  Outside of one in Peotone, IL just off I-57, I’m not sure where there would be one that we pass near Chicago.

My mom’s hometown has one though and this trip home included a family gathering in the small Village of Cullom.  I didn’t grow up in a very big town.  At the height, population was 800 (not a typo), but Cullom beats even that with a whopping 563 people in the last census.  As far as food options, there’s Casey’s and a bar on Hack Street which is the main downtown area.

Our family get togethers always involve a pot luck, but just for nostalgia’s sake, J and I decided to stop at Casey’s on our way out of town.  We both needed a drink for the drive back to Michigan anyway and since we were there, how about some pizza. Read more…


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