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April 7, 2016
  • 9851 S. Pulaski Road
  • Evergreen Park, IL 60805
  • (708) 423-1121
  • Website
  • Menu

When J and I started dating almost nine years ago, there were several places that she pointed out to me from her childhood as we drove around the south suburbs of Chicago.  Like any new couples, we shared stories about times with grandparents at different restaurants, times with friends riding for ice cream, and those times our parents took us out of school to spend some one on one time over lunch.

One of the first places J told me about was a little hot dog stand on the corner of 99th and Pulaski in Evergreen Park.  Her mom used to pick her up from a nearby school over the lunch hour and take her for a milkshake.  Over the past nine years, J has said many times, we needed to go to this place for lunch, but we always forgot about it when it came time to find something to eat.

We were in Chicagoland last week for J’s birthday.  On Thursday night, she and I went to Black Oak Tavern for dinner.  On the way, we passed The Original Wojos (or Wojos Vienna..I’ve seen it both ways…either way, most people just call in Wojos) and again, the conversation came up about lunch with her mom and how the heck we’ve never eaten there.

The next day, I wanted a daddy-daughter day with L.  She has been asking to ride a train, so my idea was to take her on the Orange Line from Midway Airport and just see where the afternoon took us.  I wanted to grab lunch before we left though because I didn’t know how long we’d actually be on the train and I wanted to make sure L had a full belly.

When I got up in the  morning, I checked Wojos website and noticed they opened at 10:30.  I asked everyone else if they were hungry, took down the orders then made the short drive to Evergreen Park to pick it up. Read more…

The Black Oak

April 7, 2016
  • 9630 S. Pulaski Road
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 572-4500
  • Website
  • Menu

About 99% of the time, I pick the restaurant.  I’m one of those people that obsesses over finding something we’ve never had and something we both will love.  The other 1% of the time, it’s J’s birthday and I want nothing more than to make sure she’s happy with what we choose to do.

This year’s birthday involved a trip to see our families in the Chicago area.  We started out on J’s actual birthday at her parents house.  Our plan was to go check out Chicago’s first Ciderpub on the north side of town.  Unfortunately, The Northman wasn’t quite looking like something we were going to enjoy.  They have no functional website with menus yet.  They never answered questions about flights.  The menu we did see didn’t look like something we were really in to.  On the plus side, they have dozens and dozens of ciders to try….just don’t try to do it in a flight apparently.

J didn’t want to be disappointed because it’s a concept she fell in love with immediately.  We always go to breweries for me, but she really likes cider and was looking forward to being the irresponsible one and drinking too much.

We had a back up plan until J’s step-dad mentioned a new place that just opened up not far from their house.  The menu looked good and they have a decent, not great, but decent drink list.  We scrapped our back up and headed out to the recommendation instead.

Black Oak Tavern is very easy to miss on Pulaski Road just south of 96th Street in Oak Lawn.  It’s in a very unassuming strip mall next to a fishmonger on the busy strip of road.  J was the one that actually noticed it.  I was about to drive past.  I think I was looking for anything other than a rectangle sign on the side of a very bland building. Read more…

Rice Kitchen

March 27, 2016
  • 811 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 388-6083
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

If you read this blog very much, you’ll notice there aren’t many (or any really) posts about restaurants that serve Asian cuisine.  Honestly, it’s mostly because I don’t eat a lot of vegetables and I’m not a big fan of rice, so while I may enjoy the meats from these places, I never feel like I get enough to eat, so I just don’t go.

J came home from work last week and told me one of her co-workers was really talking up a Chinese place.  Not for their traditional Chinese fare mind you, but for their chicken wings.  Hey, I like chicken wings, so why the heck not give it a try.

Rice Kitchen is on Michigan Avenue just before you hit downtown if you’re coming from the west.  It’s in the building at the corner of Michigan and South which it shares with Strength Beyond Fitness.  It’s just a small part of the building doing mostly a carry-out and delivery business around the campuses of WMU and K College.

J’s parents were in town for the holiday weekend and they got up on Saturday morning and took the kids to Old Dog Tavern like we do most Saturday mornings.  They have a great concert for the kids featuring Benjammin’ and Analisa plus there’s some incredible brunch options for the adults.  I was really in a sleep deficit this week so I asked if I could pass and stay in bed.  J had help with the kids from her parents so that was cool with everyone.

I was the only one who needed lunch once they got home because they all had brunch at Old Dog.  I figured this was as good as time as any to order some wings.   Read more…

Philly Steak & Cheese Express

March 23, 2016
  • 655 Eastern Avenue
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 259-9818
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

I’m usually the one handing out recommendations when it comes time to find dinner at work.  A few weeks ago, a co-worker turned the tables on me.  She found a Philly Steak place not far from the station and said it was amazing.  I was skeptical because I knew the place she was talking about.  It used to be Sam’s Philly Steaks and I had eaten there in the past.  Plus, it’s a Philly steak place not in Philly…so the goodness of it is going to be pretty subjective.

Philly Steak & Cheese Express is on the corner of Eastern and Thomas and, as I mentioned, takes over the space that used to be Sam’s Philly Steaks.  I don’t actually know when the switch took place.  Sam’s closed quite a while ago and the windows were covered.  This new place didn’t actually change anything on the outside, including a sign that still says Sam’s Philly Steaks, so there’s no way I would have noticed they had reopened other than the open sign in the window.

The inside of the restaurant is pretty small.  There’s only a couple of tables which were being used on the day I stopped in.  The bulk of the space is kitchen with an order counter separating it from the customer area.

I grabbed a paper menu off the counter to find something to eat.  I like Philly Steaks, but they always seem so thin once you keep off the veggies.  Steak and cheese.  If I could get a hearty sandwich doing just that, I probably would, but there’s always so little steak on the sandwiches that it ends up mostly bread without the onions or peppers (that’s just a general observation, not necessarily about this place because I haven’t tried a Philly from this joint.)

I ended up ordering the next best thing.  An Italian beef sandwich.  I got the combo which included fries and a Coke then added on hot peppers and cheese.  The total cost came out to a little over $8.

I grabbed a can of Coke out of the cooler while I was waiting for the sandwich to made. I didn’t expect them to make the beef from scratch seeing as 1.) we’re outside of Chicago and 2.) it’s not really a main menu item for them.  What I saw is pretty much what I expected.  A stack of beef was taken out of the freezer then dunked into some hot au jus to warm up.  The sandwich was then assembled on a crusty roll and topped with the hot giardiniera and squeeze cheese.  I asked for it dipped, but they just poured more of the gravy over the sandwich instead of dipping the whole thing in.  It was then boxed up with the fries and handed over for me to take back to work to eat.  Read more…

Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill – Plainwell

March 17, 2016
  • 618 E. Allegan Street
  • Plainwell, MI 49078
  • (269) 685-2122
  • Website
  • Menu

I’m really not a fan of working Saturday’s…but seriously, who is?  We’re short some staff at work, so we’re all taking turns filling in shifts.  My draw was a Saturday morning since it’s the only time I can really work before 2:00 seeing as how J works until noon and we want to pay for childcare.

The shift I had to work was pretty odd hours with my day being over at 2:00 PM.  I still had a little bit of a day left so I wanted to get home and spend it with L and the kids before they had to go to bed…and J had the same situation where she was filling in on Sunday with a shift that started at 3:00 AM, so our time was limited.

I hadn’t eaten lunch yet and I knew it was getting close(r) to dinner time for everyone else.  I asked if they would eat a pizza if I picked one up on the way home and once again, I got no pushback for wanting pizza.

At the end of last year, a pizza chain born in Ypsilanti opened it’s first SouthWest Michigan location in Comstock Township.  Last month, they opened one in Plainwell.  Hey, Plainwell’s on the way home, how about trying out the pizza?

Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill is right off US-131 in Plainwell on Allegan Street.  The building was originally a Big Boy and later a local pancake house.  The building has been almost completely remodeled.  If you didn’t know better, you would have no clue that it used to be a Big Boy.

When we ate at the Comstock Township location in December, we stayed away from pizza.  We were all in the mood for something else and I knew we could do carry-out sometime once the Plainwell store opened.

I called in the order for a thin crust pepperoni pizza (only comes in large) and an order of cheese bread once I got about as far as Wayland.  I was told it would be about 15 minutes or so for the order to be cooked and that’s about how far I was from Plainwell.

As I mentioned earlier, Aubree’s looks nothing like Big Boy.  So many times, restaurants move in and only change a few things to make it their own.  Aubree’s really did a complete remodel.  The dining room is quite large and very open.  There’s a huge bar near the front door with windows that look back out in to the parking lot.  It’s in the area that the classic Big Boy sunroom used to be, but the whole area has been redesigned.

I was told on the phone to just go straight to the bar when I got there, so I bypassed the unmanned hostess station.  The bar was also unmanned at the moment as there was only one person nursing a cold one while watching basketball on one of the number of monitors hanging above the bar.   Read more…

Paulie’s Cheesesteak

March 12, 2016
  • 6650 South Westnedge Avenue
    Suite FC6
  • Portage, MI 49024
  • (269) 323-1102
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

The Easter Bunny and Santa Clause.  Two reason we HAVE to go to the mall.  L has always liked the Easter Bunny for some reason and after we mentioned that he was at the mall, she wouldn’t stop talking about going to see him.

We took both the kids to see the Easter Bunny and we did it on a Friday afternoon hoping the line would be short.  It was.  In fact, there was no line, so we were able to get in, get our pictures, and get out pretty quickly.

L wanted to go to the play area near the food court and we really had nothing else to do that afternoon, so we let her go “get out her energy” for a while.

We knew we were going to the mall, so J and I just decided we would eat at the food court.  The Crossroads Mall doesn’t have a great selection of food, but they have just enough for us to both find something to make us happy.

J went to Subway, but I wanted a burger.  The choice for burgers in the mall food court is Paulie’s Cheesesteak.

Paulie’s Cheesesteak appears to be a one shop only mall food court stop. I  actually think they took over the space of Great Steak (and Potato Company) and only changed up the menu slightly.  Their menu looks similar to the bigger chain and I can’t find any information about Paulie’s online anywhere.

Paulie’s has a big banner advertising the Pub Steak Burger right on the front of the space.  That’s actually what drew my eye when we walked in.  I could have gone with one of their cheesesteak subs, but a burger is what I was actually in the mood for.   Read more…

Smoke-N-Buns – Sprinkle Road

March 12, 2016
  • 3530 South Sprinkle Road
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 383-4431
  • Website
  • Menu

I spend a lot of time on the road and a lot of time eating in dinner in my car.  Fast food gets old.  In fact, I do my best to not eat fast food, but sometimes, it’s just inevitable.

Spending so much time on the road means I spend a lot of time at gas stations as well.  I typically seek out Speedway’s just for the Speedy Rewards and the fact they usually have something hot to eat…even if it is just Tornado’s off the roller grill.

Every so often, I’ll come across a gas station with actual food.  One that has a grill inside of it cooking up something fresh.  I like those.

Ridderman Oil is one of those companies that have added grill’s to a couple of their stores.  The D Avenue BP was the first to add Smoke-N-Buns over a year ago.  The Sprinkle Road location followed suit recently and added a Smoke-N-Buns of their own.

The second Smoke-N-Buns location is inside the BP station on Sprinkle Road just south of the I-94 interchange.  This location is a little bit bigger and a little bit fancier than the operation in Alamo Township.   While that one looks shoehorned into the store, the Sprinkle Road location fits in to the corner nicely and has an actual kitchen area.

The other difference between the two stores is ordering.  The Sprinkle Road Smoke-N-Buns has touchscreens to order sort of like the Speedy Cafe in Wayland.   You don’t ever have to talk to anyone.  You select your order on the touchscreen then it prints out a ticket that you take to the register to pay.  The food is made fresh to order while you wait then a number is called when it’s done.   Read more…


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