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Buona (Frankfort)

July 6, 2019

  • 20950 S. LaGrange Road
  • Frankfort, IL 60423
  • (815) 534-5700
  • Website

Sometimes, things work out.  We were planning on heading back to the Chicagoland area for one of J’s high school friend’s 40th birthday party.  The kids were invited but we figured we’d have more fun without them so I asked my mom if she wanted the grand kids for the night.  She jumped at the chance but my niece was supposed to play softball in Pontaic, IL that weekend.  I said that was fine..we’d take the kids down to Pontiac and pick them up from there on Sunday if we needed to.

About a week or so before we were scheduled to go, my nieces softball tournament got moved to Mokena, IL.  This was soooooo much better because our hotel for the weekend was actually in Mokena.  The party was in New Lenox which is nearby so things worked out perfectly.

The softball game wasn’t until 3:00 and we couldn’t get in to our hotel until about then too so we took care of some chores at home before heading to Chicago in the afternoon.

We pulled off the highway about 2:30 and started heading towards the park.  J was hungry though and kinda wanted a Chicago Dog.  She searched for a Portillo’s nearby and we started heading there.  Along the way, we passed another Chicago chain that would satisfy both her desire for a Chicago Dog and my always burning lust for a good Italian beef.

Buona is a rapidly expanding chain of Chicago-style food.  The locations popping up all over the place is new but the restaurant that started it all claims to be the inventor of what we now know as the Italian beef sandwich.  There’s a connection to the downtown location of Mr. Beef which then gets you back to the street corners during the early 1900’s but Buona was the place that took it to the suburbs by opening a shop in Berwyn.

The Frankfort location is on the very busy LaGrange Road just south of the I-80 interchange.  It is in a fairly new strip mall with access from access road just north of the building.

I have never been to the original Buona location but I have been to a couple of the newer stores around the south suburbs.  This one in Frankfort looks exactly like the ones I’ve visited in Oak Lawn and Beverly.  The dining room is quite large.  There are silver tables and chairs spread throughout on top of a dark laminate wood floor.  Orange leather booths and orange accent walls are the only pops of color throughout the monotone eatery.

The menus are on front of the cash registers at the order counter so you don’t have to look up.  The menu has a lot of the typical fast food items but the specialty is the Chicago-style food you can only get in north eastern Illinois.

I ordered the 7″ Buona beef with hot peppers.  I asked for my sandwich to be “baptised” which means they put the beef in the bread then dunk the whole thing in to the gravy to make sure every inch of the bread is dripping with that oregano-laced beef juice.  They add on their hot pepper mix which has carrots, jalapenos, olives, cauliflower.  It comes to the table on a wood plank alongside a paper bag filled with fries.

I had never heard of Buona until the Beverly location opened a few years ago and it has quickly become one of my favorite beef sandwiches.  I’ve always been such a huge fan of Al’s Beef but I have to say, I’m finding myself craving the Buona beef more and more.  The thinly sliced beef is so tender and so full of that woodsy oregano flavor and the crusty roll is softened by the gravy but it doesn’t disintegrate to the point you have to use a fork.

The fries are still a place Al’s wins hands down.  The fries from Buona are fine but they’re just frozen fries with a little bit of salt.  It sounds weird to those that aren’t familiar with Italian beef but I like to soak up some of the gravy juice left on the wrapper with the fries just to give them a little more flavor.

J ordered the Chicago-Style Dog she was sort of craving.  The all-beef dogs are topped with mustard, relish, onion, sport peppers, pickles, tomatoes, and celery salt and served on a poppy seed bun.  She did with out the peppers and took the tomatoes off.  I know people love Chicago-Style dogs but I’m not one of those people.  J isn’t one who craves them all the time but she enjoys a good Chicago Dog every so often and the one from Buona does the trick.

We didn’t even attempt to make the kids eat real food.  This was two meals in a row.  The previous night we had gone to Celebration! Cinema to see Toy Story 4 right after work so they had popcorn for dinner there followed by ice cream cake for lunch at Buona.

As we were walking in to the restaurant, we saw flyers for Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Cakes.  If you grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, you are very familiar with The Original Rainbow ConeSince the 1920’s, The Original Rainbow Cone has been serving up ice cream cones with scoops of Chocolate, Strawberry, Palmer House, Pistachio, and Orange Sherbert on the corner of 92nd and Western.  The cakes and cake rolls are a staple at children’s birthday parties on the South Side and now, you can get the cakes and slices at Buona too.

We let each kid (and J got one too) get a slice of a cake roll which is the five flavors I listed above wrapped in a chocolate cake.  We were both shocked that the kids ate pistachio ice cream.  It’s not a popular flavor and one we’re sure neither has ever had before but they ate it without saying a word about it.  Unsurprisingly, both kids ate all of their lunch…I guess we just gotta give them cake and we won’t have to fight them.

Our bill for lunch was about $33.

I love Buona.  I love that there are more popping up everywhere even though we don’t live or have ties to the south suburbs anymore (my family is quite a ways south of the city and definitely not a suburb).  I lived in the Chicago area for  years thinking it was just Portillo’s and Al’s when it came to the bigger Chicago-Style chains but Buona is making a move and it’s making a big impact.

 

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