First off, I want to make it clear that I really don't eat "Fast Food" with the exception of food from Steak N' Shake Restaurants! As I kid, I loved going to the Normal, Illinois, area where I could have a steakburger and milk shake from the Steak and Shake Restaurant (1219 S. Main Street on old Route 66 was the location then).
Sadly, that Original Steak and Shake Restaurant in the Nation has become a Monical's Pizza Parlor as of a couple of years ago.
Gus and Edith Belt started Steak 'n Shake way back in the 1930s. Today, there are almost 400 Steak 'n Shakes in six states.
But the chain's hometown, Normal, Illinois, is still my favorite place to eat the famous steakburgers because of all the history that accompanies it.
Gus and Edith 's first restaurant was called The Shell Inn, and beer and chicken were served (there was also a Shell gas station on the property). When Prohibition came, they started to sell steak hamburgers and shakes.! Gus would bring in steaks and grind them into burgers while customers sat at the counter and watched. Thus, the restaurant's slogan became, "In sight it must be right".
In about 1934, Gus renamed his restaurant "Steak 'n Shake" and served butter-grilled steak hamburger for 25 cents, which came with home baked beans and potatoes. Edith's specialties included homemade chili.* The restaurant still serves that same chili today!
Favorite Dish: What I like about Steak N' Shake:
a. They slice pickles the long way.
b. You can order from the drive-up window,
seat at a table or booth inside, sit at the
counter and watch them cook, or you can
Takhomasak (take home a
sack) For the longest time, I
did not understand that at all.
c. The hamburgers are made of steak and
thin and good well, the way I like them.
d. The shakes and malts are made with
handpacked real ice cream.
e. They use real China to serve the food.
g They are open 24 hours a day.
h. The french fries and very "thin" (the way I
prefer them. They are the only potatoes
that I ever eat!!
You can eat at Steak N' Shakes in several midwestern states, especially the state where it all began....ILLINOIS!
If you enjoy "local lore" as I do, you will love going to the Kitch-Inn in Mendota, Illinois. This restaurant has been in the same family since 1909, when Ted Troupis bought the Mendota Candy Kitchen from a fellow Greek immigrant, James Stasinos. Ted son's Andrew and his wife Genevieve own and run the place today. Genevieve worked as a waitress there when she was in high school! This quaint place seats about fifty people in seven orange booths, two tables and eleven diner stools. The fountain behind the counter has a vintage pink 1940s malt dispenser and a 60-year-old Hamilton juicer.
This business evolved from a candy store into a restaurant in 1953 when all the large ice cream companies began squeezing out the local ma & pa shops. They used to make 20,000 gallons of ice cream a year, and when andrew quit making ice cream in about 1966, he was down to only 1,2000 gallons a year. Today, Andrew buys his ice cream from Valley Maid ice cream company in Aurora, but he makes his own syrups of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
Although Andrew and Genevieve have four children, none of them are involved in the business. So, they will have to sell the restaurant some day. How sad.
Better stop by soon; I don't know how much longer they will be in business.
Favorite Dish: Andrew still makes homemade candy, but it is only available from October through April He works from a basement candy kitchen that is filled with copper kettles and marble tables. He makes peanut and coconut brittle, peanut and pecan clusters, and cashews and caramel. He's been offered lots of money for his secret recipe for pure cream caramel. He has not sold yet.
The menu offers daily luncheon plates and delightful specials such as the nutty carrot muffin with chunks of walnuts, slivered carrots, pineapple and raisins. YUM!
The Country Squire was originally built as the residence of Wesley Sears who started the Chicago based mail order firm. The house was completed in 1938 and regarded ten years ahead of its time.
The front door hardware of wrought brass and the hand-carved woodwork on the ceilings of some rooms of the house are still there. This is a great restaurant because of the delicious cuisine and the setting . There are huge windows you look out of and see 13 acres of woods and varieties of native and transplanted trees. The existing gardens were rejuvenating and are continually expanding. In 1954 the residence was turned into a restaurant; the family dining room is used as a lounge now. The living room is the fireside reception area, and the original library is the Library Bar. Upstairs, the two bedrooms are now connected and used for private banquets. A dining porch was added to the south and east exteriors of the building. Such people as Carl Sandberg, Marlon Brando, Esther Williams, Peggy Lee, Mike Ditka, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many Illinois Governors have eaten here.
The Govas Family own and run the restaurant, and they treat you as though you were a guest in their own home.
Favorite Dish: The Country Squire is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 am-10 pm; Saturday from 11 am-11 pm; Sunday from 10 am-9 pm. They are closed on Mondays.
They serve lunch and dinner and on Sundays they offer a unique champagne sit down brunch menu as well as dinner.
Allan and I love the Mediterranean Bruschetta, Shrimp DeJonghe, and Fried Calamari as examples of appetizers.
We enjoy Filet Mignon, Steak au Polvre, Lamb Chops, Deep Sea Scallops, Broiled Lobster Tail, Lake Superior White Fish, Salmon Balsomico, Roast Duck, and Veal Oscar for the entree.
For Salads we prefer the Mesclyn Mixed Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.
All dinner come with a Country Squire Lazy Susan Tray, salad, Potato, and Vegetable
They have an Early Bird Special (Two dollars off an entree before 6:00 p.m.
Desserts are also excellent.
While in Galena, Illinois, Allan and I ate at Vinny Vanucchi's "Little Italy" on Main Street. We were told by the locals that this was the place to eat. It's always good to listen to the locals, as we found out.
This restaurant is an old world Italian neighborhood kind of place that is located up the cobblestones where Washington Street meets Main Street. There's an old fashioned deli and import store, which you walk through to get to the restaurant. The restaurant has lots of beautiful wood, a fireplace, imported artifacts and signs, and the tables are covered with checkered tablecloths. There is an outdoor Cappuccino Garden for warm summer days and evenings.
There are many house specialties and supposedly the Meat Lasagna is the best because it is an old recipe from Vinny's Nana Lu who is about 88 and lives on the northwest side of Chicago. A picture of her on Taylor street at age 16 hangs on the wall. Also Auntie Nancy's manicotti recipe is still used as well as Uncle Paulie's baked mostaccioli and Tortellini Carbonara.
The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Favorite Dish: Allan loved the Fried Calamari, Garlic Bread and Veal Picatta. I loved the Garlic Bread, Italian Salad, and Uncle Paulie's Baked Mostaccioli!
The whole experience was delightful with super service, warmth, Italian friendliness...we thought we were back in Italy.
For my birthday this summer in July, 2004, Allan took me to one of my very favorite restaurants in Chicago, Wildfire.
It is a restuarant that strives to be a 1940s dinner club and succeeds! They have a large Martini Lounge that features your choice of hand-stuffed olvies, full wine list, and tantalizing classic cocktails.
The service is incredible and the food is "to die for!"
It is open nightly for dinner, and all rooms are non-smoking! (Yea!) We sat in a comfortable leather booth facing the open hearth where the steaks are grilled. Speaking of steaks. Wow is the operative word to describe them.
Besides wonderful steaks, they offer lots of fish dishes and Roasted Prime Rib of Beef.
1940s music plays; there is candlelight, and the ambience is quite romantic.
Favorite Dish: I love the Filet Medallions, the Wilfire Chopped Salad, and the decadent desserts. Allan loved the Cheese crusted Steak (I forget which one), the salad, and, of course, the desserts.
Our waiter was quite kind, friendly, and so funny. He made a special effort because it was my birthday.
For any special time in my life, I always love to spend it at Wildfire.
When we started starving, we found this restaurant to be conveniently located in the beautifully designed portion of the building. This portion of the building itself seemed like StarTrek's Enterprise and Voyager's interior. It was a spacious area offering dazzling views of Chicago highrises and the lake (see pictures). Once you are halfway through the planetarium your body will certainly crave for food and drinks and this is the best place at hand. It can also provide catering services for 15 or more people.
Along the walls facing Chicago highrises, there were telescopes that we used to watch the activities in the city :-)
Favorite Dish: Fresh salads, soups, sandwitches, hot dogs, and burgers.
I must admit that if it wasn't for our local friends I would probably hadn't been to this place if not after spending a much longer time in Chicago. Well, good friends always choose the best despite I suspect they also love this place for the stunning beauty of waitresses!
Namely, this is a Japanese and sushi place but personnel is Korean and they propose a good selection of Korean dishes and sushi. Nevertheless, I spend a good portion of my time in Korea and I felt "at home" here.
Friendly and professional service.
Favorite Dish: Soju, the most popular Korean booze is served here.
A "special" drink was given to us, don't know if this is a standard or it was given to us as something nice to my friends who are addicted customers of this restaurant.
After pouring half a mug of beer, a couple of chopsticks were laid on top of it, and a small cup full of soju was put steady over these. It was then all ready for the waitress to slam her fist on the bar table, this causing the soju cup to drop into the beer and ready to be quickly guzzed down.
We have been visiting Rock 'n Roll McDonald since 1993. This time we found it to be revamped. All the rock 'n Roll stuff that used to be inside the restaurantl has been removed except for few paintings. The red sports car, statues and the red guitar has been moved out, housed inside a glass cabin, and can only be observed standing outside (see the pictures). We missed the old look. We do have those recorded in our videos though.
Admittedly, the new interior decorations were admirable too. When we were there (2nd week of March 2007), daffodils in their pots bloomed inside. In addition to the normal dining tables, there were leather sofa sets arranged in a nice manner so that people had an option of sitting on them in a cozy family room kind of environment.
The 2nd floor offered great views of the busy street outside.
Favorite Dish: Fish Filets.
A Chicago institution since 1898, The Berghoff Restaurant has an excellent selection of German food served in an elegant dining room decorated with dark wood paneling, stained-glass windows, and original brass chandeliers.
The Berghoff Restaurant was established by German immigrant Joseph Berghoff. He and his three brothers, Henry, Herbert, and Gustav, began brewing Berghoff's Beer in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1887. Seeking to expand his market, he sold his Dortmund-style beer at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Due to the popularity of his beer, he opened a cafe in downtown Chicago where he sold beer and offered free sandwiches. During Prohibition, when the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal in the United States, Berghoff's cafe became a full-service restaurant specializing in German cuisine. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Berghoff's Restaurant was issued Liquor License Number 1.
Favorite Dish: The Berghoff Restaurant offers some of the best reasonably-priced German food in the Midwest. The more popular dishes include Wiener schnitzel, Rahm schnitzel (a breaded pork cutlet), and numerous sausage dishes. The Berghoff also serves excellent homemade root beer and German-style beer that is brewed on the premises.
In addition to German cuisine, some of the restaurant's traditional dishes are infused with Contemporary American influences, which is billed as "tradition with a twist."
Chicago has a large Greek population, and there are many fine Greek restaurants in the Greektown area of the city. One of the more renowned Greektown restaurants is the Parthenon Restaurant. Opened in 1968, it is the first full-service, classical Greek restaurant in Chicago. From its sidewalk window, passersby can see lamb roasting on a spit and gyros turning on a vertical spit next to it.
The restaurant was established by brothers Chris and Bill Liakourus. When they opened the Parthenon Restaurant, they introduced the flaming saganaki presentation. Saganaki is a type of Greek fried cheese, but the Liakourus brothers came up with the idea to flambé it. At tablesides throughout the restaurant, waiters ignite platters of saganaki cheese into flaming torches while yelling "Oopa"!
Another Greek dish popular at the restaurant is gyros. Gyros, seasoned pieces of meat grilled on a vertical spit, is now wildy popular throughout the United States, but it was first indroduced at the Parthenon Restaurant in 1968.
Favorite Dish: The Parthenon Restaurant offers reasonably priced classical Greek cuisine which includes moussaka, pastitsio, octopus in white wine sauce, and sweet Greek deserts. Its three most popular dishes, however, are flaming saganaki, gyros, and grilled lamb.
A fun place to have lunch is Ed Debevic's. Established in 1984, this restaurant is inspired by the diners of the 1950s, with period memorabilia on the walls and music from the era playing on the old-fashioned juke box.
The waiters and waitresses are dressed as such characters from the 1950s as "greasers," "sock-hop" waitresses, "jocks," and "nerds." They are directed to be rude to the customer and act in a sassy and sarcastic manner. Not knowing about the act, the first time I went to Ed Debevic's I was shocked that the waitress would speak to me in such a manner until I realized that it is all in good fun. In fact, the restaurant's slogan is "If you like what you're eatin', order more. If you don't--there's the door."
Favorite Dish: Ed Debevic's features such American classics as real beef hamburgers, fries, homemade chili, fresh-baked bread and pie, sodas, plenty of hot coffee, and chocolate malteds.
The late Harry Caray was a legendary announcer for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, and many felt he embodied the spirit of Chicago. Opened in 1987, Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse specializes in the finest prime aged steaks, chops, and Italian favorites.
The restaurant was named "Best Steakhouse in Chicago" by the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Tribune Dining Poll, the Best of Citysearch Poll, and Metromix, as well as "Best Restaurant/Bar in the Midwest" by Santé Magazine. The restaurant is a favorite of professional athletes, celebrities, and politicians, not to mention countless ordinary Chicagoans and visitors to the city who make the restaurant one of the busiest and most popular in Chicago.
Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse contains an extensive collection of over 1,500 pieces of first-class baseball and sports memorabilia, original newspapers and photographs, and museum-quality artifacts.
One of the most popular and romantic restaurants in Chicago is The Signature Room at the 95th. Located on the ninety-fifth floor of the 100-story, 1,127-foot (344-meter) John Hancock Center, it offers fine dining with incomparable views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.
The elegant Art Deco interior features rich wood paneling and fixtures. The highlight, however, is the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of Chicago that must be seen to be believed.
The best time to dine at The Signature Room at the 95th is in the evening, as the sun sets over Chicago. As dusk falls, lights twinkle and glimmer all over the city, turning the entire metropolitan area into a sea of light. As the darkness deepens, the waters of Lake Michigan turn from bright blue to an inky black void that makes a surreal contrast to the lights of the city.
Favorite Dish: The Signature Room at the 95th has an award-winning contemporary American menu. The entrees are among the most expensive in Chicago, but the food is excellent, the service is impeccable, and the view is worth the extra expense.
Cocktails and light snacks are available one floor up at the Signature Lounge, located on the ninety-sixth floor.
Ugh, I don't remember the name of this place, but in Peoria, IL, on the riverfront, there are a bunch of places to eat. One of these places is a converted train depot. Find the depot and go in. The food was good and the decor was really nice, but casual.
Very upscale, nice restaurant, that serves a some French cuisine. Apparently this is like a 4-star restaurant, and touted as some of the best French dining in Chicagoland. The restaurant is in a nice, converted historic building, but the dining area is designed with a sort of chic/noveau look with track lighting. Anyway, the food and service was great, and I reccommend this place if you can afford it! (someone took me out to this :]) Also next door to this is the Lockport Canal Museum, another nationally recognized historic building.
The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago is an absolutely wonderful hotel! Every detail is thought through and...more
This is a simple but nice, modern hotel in an updated building from circa 1960 that has aged quite...more
2139 CityGate Lane, Naperville, Illinois, 60563, United States
Good for: Families