Friday, August 27, 2010

The Taste of Melrose Park

-Feastin' at locals favorite festivals

In a land where food and festivals are a plenty and thus food festivals are a weekly happening when its not winter there are too many too choose from. The list goes on and on but whenever I'm asked my favorite, some people are shocked to learn it is not the Taste of Chicago which has outgrown me but rather the Taste of Melrose Park. That's right the Western suburb long with a history of Italian Americans and now also the home to many Mexican Americans puts out Chicagolands best food fest. Its not hard to see why when you got those two ethnic culinary backgrounds prevalent in your area. Let me take you around the park during last years fest and suggest you make a real life appearance at it this years Taste of Melrose fiesta from September 3rd-5th, 2010.

The choices seem endless on food

Plenty of pasta for the people

The Taste of Melrose dates back to the 70's and features over 70 different food vendors except these arent restaurants or the same food stands you see at every festival. These are for the most part, families dishing out their recipes that have been around for generations. It makes for a unique festival with a few thousand people and plenty of hearty and wholesome divine food items to eat. Another great part to this festival are the prices. Everything runs from $2-$3 per item. Pictured below are some of my favorite items from the past and a few new ones I tried out last year. I always have to get the artichoke casserole and a fried bologna sandwich or two.

My favorite non meat dish out there, they've been here since the start

best part is the items go fast and thus they are always hot out the oven

Always a favorite of mine to eat

another new favorite non meat dish

zucchini stuffed with cream cheese

Maybe this might be my new non meat dish undisputed champ...

The most beautiful servers...

...and great pasta

Cant get enough

What beholds inside?

The best three bucks you'll spend this year

Baked stuffed clam


fried peperoni bread...great kids serving it up at this booth

The Silciliano's old fashioned fried bologna sandwich is a must get item

Scatchell's stuffed pepper sandwich

neckbones in gravy

Teriyaki steak on a stick

There is no doubt Mexican cuisine plays a major role in Melrose Park these days and there's a nice selection of it at the fest. Tacos, tamales and sugar treats are just a few of the items you'll find. Looking forward to trying more this year.

these tamales reminded me of the ones that made me love them

Whats a food fest without funnel cake?

But the star of the show each and every year are the Little Sister's of St. Charles and their amazing sfingi or Italian fried donuts. You will know where their booth is by where the biggest line is at. Don't you dare miss these treats or your belly and God himself will curse you to hell.

The best of the best and worth the trip alone. God Blessed y'all...

...and me with your fresh fried donuts

When hot out the fryer these are heavenly...

As always I saw quite a few characters and the whole squad on the grounds last year on opening night, but its the same as it ever food fest in Chicagoland. You cant beat the free admission, the highest priced food item is $3, while everything else is $2 and the most expensive thing is the $4 Peroni's and 'Sconsin beer. I'm glad I made it back after a four year absence.

2010 Taste of Melrose Park

Sept. 3rd: 5p to 10p
Sept. 4th: Noon to 11p
Sept. 5th: noon to 11p

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gina's Hot Dogs

-The other Chicago-style hot dog: Depression dog's

Its well documented here at S'C'&C that I am a big fan of the "other" Chicago Style Hot Dog as I like to call them. Others call it a "depression dog" and then some use the term "minimalist" hot dog. One thing all supporters of them can agree on calling them is da best. Its the style of hot dog I and many native Chicagoans grew up on. There isn't a better regional hot dog variation out there and that's just the way it is. Nowadays there are less and less places that serve this real Chicago style but luckily there's still a handful that do hot dogs up right and today's stop, Gina's in Bensenville, is one of these spots.

Along Irving Park rd. in the suburbs

If you take Irving Park rd. and head West you'll eventually end up by Gina's which is a favorite of the people for hot dogs in the area. The menu includes some other items and they have Italian ice as well but the dogs are what you get. Just like the rest of the purveyors of the old school Chicago style dog, Gina's uses a natural casing Vienna beef wiener which is a must for this magic. The hot dog is placed is a ordinary steaming white hot dog bun and is then topped with mustard, chopped raw onions, relish and sport peppers. Last but not least the dog is then topped with a large amount of fresh cut fries (which are included and also a must for this style) and its all wrapped up into butcher paper. The only thing that's a little different about Gina's is they use a neon relish which isn't what any other places that serve this style use. Either way if your ever driving by Gina's its a great pit stop for a quick, cheap and excellent lunch that's true Chicago style.

Gina's dog with everything

Gina's Hot Dogs
1222 West Irving Park Road
Bensenville, IL 60106-1716
(630) 766-1841

Ginas Hot Dogs & Beef on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Turk's Beef & Sausage

-Got Beef? Italian Beef
as seen on 'What's Your Beef?'

I had to take a little break from the Beef Bus since I was back and forth some places this summer and time didn't allow me to jump on it and ride. Well were riding again and today we head out to the Southwest suburbs to Orland Park to taste Turk's Italian Beef & Sausage. I actually went here last winter and have a just been backlogged in posts. However like always I recorded the score in my cell phone and saved it so there would be no forgetting. So with that, welcome back. You can expect a monthly flow of posts over at What's Your Beef? on this country's greatest regional sandwich variation.

Located in the Chicago suburb of Orland Park, IL

I had been told about Turk's from various family members and other friends who live or lived out in the area and I got to try it when I was out there with one of them. Turk's has a pretty good reputation and is one of the favorites of the locals so I had some nice hop that it would be another better than good beef to be found out South. I went with my usual of a beef with hot and dove right in to what was a heavily stuffed beef sandwich bigger than most spots. I could see why this is a neighborhood favorite and I enjoyed my beef with hot and would easily have been back if I was from the area. The only thing that I thought was average about it was the gravy which wasn't as flavorful as some other stands around Chicagoland. The beef was thinly sliced and dissolved on your tongue while the hot peppers and bread were also above average and nice.

Beef with hot from Turk's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 3
hot peppers: 4

Score: 15/20

Turk's Italian Beef & Sausage
14600 South La Grange Rd
Orland Park, IL 60462
(708) 403-6517

Friday, August 20, 2010

Add An Egg...

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

Hello readers, how's life? its a sad day here at at S'C'&C which you can learn why as you read on. I have had this post in the plans for months now but due to the sudden closing of a chibbqking favorite-CND Gyros Lounge-I am forced to switch up my schedule and bring you this post that I have been meaning to make for at least a year now. Adding an egg onto anything has been a trendy thing for a few years now and doesn't look to be dying anytime soon. I'm fine by that. I love a fried egg on top of my meal whether its a burger, sandwich, hot dog, lunch plate, bowl of rice, whatever. So today I am taking you to two spots already featured here on S'C'&C except today were going to add an egg to both these longtime downtown favorites.

One Last Gyro Melt (add an egg)

a former locals favorite downtown - RIP - (1973-2010)

It saddens me to be the bearer of bad news had you not heard it already but after 37 years the Streeterville favorite CND Gyro's Lounge will be closing down for good. Today (8/21/'10) is the last day of operation for this longtime favorite where you could get a gyros, some brew and a few lotto tickets all while doing karaoke to former #1 Chicago hit. Yep at CND you could do all of that. Its one of the last of its type in downtown Chicago and come 2am Sunday morning it will be no more. I have let it be known that the Gyro melt offered at CND is one of Chicago's best late-nite and or early morning hangover eats out there. I was introduced to it thru LTH and loved it upon my first bite a few years back. Then it got even better when someone from over there suggested it be ordered with a fried egg on top. When you pair fresh shaved gyro meat with processed American cheese, grilled onions and tzatziki sauce with a fried egg on top and throw it all on Texas toast good things happened. I had to stop by CND yesterday for one last melt. I sure will miss this sandwich and the old time warp that was CND Gyros Lounge.

Gyro melt with fried egg (RIP)

Cheezeborger, Cheezeborger (add an egg)

The tavern SNL (and some damn good burgers) made famous

So with CND closing down that leaves Billy Goats as one of the last old school food/drink/bar spots in downtown Chicago. You never say never but I don't think Billy Goats will be calling it quits down on lower Wacker anytime soon. I've been going to and enjoying this original Billy Goats since I was a kid and as my readers know, I am a fan of their double cheeseburgers. Well on my most recent visits I've been ordering my usual double but now I like to add an egg. In my original grading of the Goat I gave it a C++ but when a fried egg is added on top it improves to a B. I should of known this since they are said to have good breakfast sandwiches. Maybe next time I'll add the egg and some bacon.

double cheeseburger with a fried egg on top from Billy Goat

CND Gyros & Lounge
205 E Grand Ave - At N St Clair St
Chicago, IL 60611
312 467-4195

Billy Goat Tavern
430 N Michigan ave. (lower level)
Chicago, IL
(312) 222-1525

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jamaican Cuisine

Caribbean in Chicago (land)

So far this summer we've been back and forth, along with up and down and in and out of the state and Chicago. I said it would be travel packed and so for the next spot we visit we'll head to a place along the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route that you may pass on the way to Wisconsin if you choose to take the circle tour route to the state. Today we head North from Chicago up the Lake and along Sheridan road to a place past the Northshore located in North Chicago which is right before Waukegan. You can tell when driving by this building that now houses a place called "Jamaican Cuisine" that it used to be an old fast food outlet such as Taco Bell or KFC. Lucky for the people of the area they now have this place.

North Chicago, IL along Sheridan Rd.

I cant say exactly how long Jamaican Cuisine has been open but its been over a year. I had seen it passing by several times before I finally got to try it and then one day when I was with my friend who also likes himself some Jamaican grub we passed by and it was open and we decided to stop in and see whats up. Owned by a local family most of the food if not all of it is homemade and we placed our order up at the counter and then had a seat and the nice lady working said she would be right out with the drinks (Ting of course) and our food would follow shortly thereafter. Unfortunately they were out of beef patties so we didn't get to try any of those but we went with a jerk chicken dinner and also a curried goat plate. The chicken arrived first and we dove right in and I almost forgot to snap one and only remembered to do so after it was halfway eaten.

Jerk chicken with rice and peas

The chicken was cooked really well but had no smoke flavor to it leading me to believe it was probably baked. As far as homestyle (made in an oven) jerk chicken goes, it was very nice. The crispy pieces of skin were covering moist layers of meat and we were supplied with a cup of housemade jerk sauce for dipping. Shortly after we devoured the chicken the curried goat came out and brought with it a wonderful aroma into the air. I imagine if I was from a Jamaican family this is how Sunday dinners would of been. The goat meat was chopped up with bones and all and braised all day with other goodies in the pot including onions, carrots and potato's. It was without a doubt homestyle and this was a very good thing. If your ever passing on by stop on in and say what's up. This is a nice place in the area and some good island eatin'.

Curried Goat

Jamaican Cuisine
1536 Sheridan Road
North Chicago, IL 60064
(847) 672-4893

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manny's Corned Beef & Pastrami

-The Sammy's of Chi

Did you know that August is national Sandwich month? I did not. Otherwise I would of had some special post ready to go. Well I also learned that National Sandwich Day is November 3rd, 2010 so you can expect one of those then. So instead I switched up my schedule and am going to share with my loyal readers one of my favorite sandwiches in Chicago. Manny's Deli came to be shortly after World War II when one of two brothers who worked at a family cafeteria on Van Buren and Halsted left to open his own place which would be Manny's located on Roosevelt road not too far from Old Maxwell Street Market. Here we are with the fourth generation of the family working there and Manny's is still doing it up right and is Chicago's best deli, bar none.

Manny's has been at its current location since 1964 and is loved by all

Please note a couple things 1) It's impossible to pick one sandwich as the best. However the corned beef/pastrami with a slice of Swiss on top from Manny's would be on any list I compiled and 2) Yes I've been to Manny's many of times and it is one of my favorites but its been featured everywhere else and I try to switch it up. I was going to do a classics of Chicago month sometime in the future that includes Manny's and many other well known spots in the area loved by locals, the relocated and tourists alike. So don't think I haven't been everywhere. You can expect more on the beloved Chicago deli later in life. Believe me when I tell you that this sandwich is on any best sandwiches in Chicago list including my own. It comes piled high with both corned beef and pastrami and includes a potato pancake (seen on top of sammy) and a pickle. It will fill you up for more than a few hours. The sandwich should be a landmark just like the restaurant is. It's my favorite thing to order at one of my favorite spots to eat. Happy National Sandwich Month.

corned beef/pastrami sandwich from Manny's

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli
1141 South Jefferson Street
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 939-2855


Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Spot Drive In

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

I hate to say it but summertime is winding down but not out of the picture just yet. You still got plenty of heat and the fall season too for a road trip or two. You know we here S'C&C aka chibbqking love to travel Wisconsin and explore and consume the states glorious eats. It's also been a while since I've posted about my favorite Chicago suburb Kenosha. Hey, it's closer than other places they call suburbs of my city. Even if you only have the day Kenosha is a great spot (only 64 miles away) to spend it. Its got beaches, bars, outlet mall shopping and a handful of other things including some great Drive In's. A food friend of mine from up that way had been telling me I needed to check out The Spot Drive In and get myself one of the burgers at this local and state favorite that would be a given for a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives episode.

a locals favorite in Kenosha, WI

The Spot is a great place indeed. On my day visited spring was just starting and people were coming out and they were at The Spot by the dozens on the afternoon we were there. You can easily understand why when you realize that The Spot has been around since the middle of the 40's and has been in the same location since then too. The real hits at The Spot are everything I got but the menu is extensive and it wraps around the outside of the building letting drivers see what they offer. The Drive Up service is still available if you want to eat in your whip. Personally I love the fact its open late nite on weekends. I might have to take a late night ride up there one day soon this summer.

Part of the menu along the building outside

Since 1945 for a reason

The car hops were very friendly and well worked on my visit. The recipe for The Spots famous greasy cheeseburgers along with their housemade root beer hasn't changed since day one. On a hot summer day (or any day for that matter) the combo of these three items is another example of why the people of Kenosha and Wisconsin are lucky to have many great roadfood type spots. The onion rings are breaded in house and fried to perfection so make sure to go with them over fries as a side with your burger and root beer.

Root Beer Floats having just arrived for the car next to us

Excellent Onion Rings

The burgers have remained the same at The Spot and the grill they've been cooked on all these years has gained some mighty fine flavor. While remaining the same the burgers are still made like they were in the 30's thru the 50's and are smashed onto the grill giving them crisp edges and to top that off a nicely melted slice of cheese. Go with the classic toppings of mustard, pickles and onions and you got one of Wisconsin's many great burgers and also one of its best. They are open seven days a week from 11am to the wee hours of the am. If you don't order and eat in your car, make the short drive east down 75th and dine on Lake Michigan in your vehicle or take your food out on the rocks and listen to the waves while grubbing on some goodness.

Cheeseburger from The Spot

The Spot Drive In
2117 75th Street
Kenosha, WI 53143
(262) 654-9294

Spot Drive-In on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arturo's Tacos

-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City

Summertime in the Chi means many of things and has multiple traditions. One of those is ending a long night out at the bars with some tacos and other Mexican food munchies in a city loaded with them. One of my favorite bars in the city is the Map Room and when an evening comes to end when I'm there I'll usually mosey on down to Arturo's on Western at the corner of Armitage. It's a popular place with all types of people and that's because they are open 24 hours and have an extensive menu. Although I will admit I have never been here when it was light outside.

Corner of Western and Armitage in Chicago

I have no legit excuse but I have not been to the Map Room and or Arturo's in a while, in fact the last time I was at either it was cold outside and when we paid Arturo's a visit in between double stops at the Map Room there was none other than (then suspended) NBA PG Gilbert Arenas who was working out in Chicago and is a big fan of Arturo's. Well you count me in as a big fan of Arturo's, and Derrick Rose, as well. I love the Map Room in the fall/winter months and look forward to my return to Arturo's which goes hand in hand with the Map when that times comes around. My order never changes from here and I always get the tacos al pastor which will usually come fresh cut from a spit. On my last visit I tried one of Rico's tamales they were plugging on the front door.

As you enter...

a fresh al pastor spit behind the counter is always good news

As my regular readers know I love some legit al pastor and Arturo's does a nice job with the popular Mexico City snack. Just like any other place its best to get these tacos al pastor on a not so busy night so that the pieces carved off are crispy and charred. As far as the Bucktown 'hood goes this is as good as your going to find and its as good as your going to get after 2a in the city as far as I know. I always go with 3 tacos al pastor and a horchata and wasn't a big fan of the tamale when I tried it so I will continue to go with that. Good stuff for some late nite eats.

Rico's Tamale

Arturo's Taco Al Pastor

Arturo's Tacos
2001 North Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-4944

Arturo's Tacos on Urbanspoon


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