-Grubbing in Chicago (land)
Where longtime locals eat.
Spring is in the air and opening day is also here which means summer isn't far away. Today we head to a place that's in many Chicagoland folks hearts, whether they're still here or have moved away it's pretty safe to say 1,000's and 1,000's of people have a memory they love about eating at Russell's in Elmwood Park. I know I have a few which were giving to me by by dad which were given to him and his brothers and sisters from their dad, my grandpa. To this day I still think it's one of the best looking old school eating spots anywhere with their neon still shining bright at nights and nothing much changing since way back when.
Been on Thatcher Avenue forever (Picture by: Boring Old White Guy)
Russell's has been a part of the community since 1930 which is why theres so many people who love it. It's a part of their childhood. I can only imagine how rocking it must of been during it's heyday on a Saturday night over summer. The place is huge and has the feel of a large summer sleepover camps cafeteria. There's countless tables and seats inside as well as all sorts of wooden green booths outside surrounding the place. As seen in the wonderful photo shot above it lights up at night with all the neon including the namesake spelled out up to down on the chimney atop. I came here a few times as a kid because I was saying my grandpa brought my dad and all my aunts and uncles here often when they were kids so sometimes he stopped back in with us.
Ribs were no doubt one of, if not my favorite eat going back to as young as six or seven. It also just so happens that most of the places I loved serve them Chicago style (Duh) aka baked and maybe worse, boiled. Places like the long gone Chase Tavern on Montana and Racine I remember loving as well as Stevie B's and a real bbq place in Farmer Brown's. So I wasn't totally clueless. But some people just love the baked and bathed in bbq sauce style and those that do I'll assume grew up on Russell's and places like it. I don't call this bbq because it's not smoked meat aka bbq. I just consider them to be ribs with a bbq sauce and with that I'm fine. Not saying that's great but I can still eat a slab from, say, Twin Anchor's, if I have too. All that said Russell's seems to have gone a little downhill from then to now. My last visit which is when this pic was snapped was a couple years back. I think I got an old batch.
Also on that visit we tried a couple sandwiches which were much better than expected. The ham and bbq beef were both pretty good and much cheaper than the double digit price tag your paying for their ribs. These I could understand stopping by for again or ordering if for whatever reason I find myself there. I hope they stay open for another 80+ years as they are a part of the community not just in Elmwood Park but areas around it like the NW Side of Chicago and such
BBQ Ham Sandwich
The bbq beef is the best thing on the menu. If your in love with their sauce which they sell by the bottle at the restaurant, they use that on the bbq beef. I think it's Italian beef, chopped up a little more finely than normal which is then thrown in with their signature sauce and stuffed into a bun with some cole slaw thrown on top. The fries are pre-frozen so if anything they're ok when dipped into the bbq sauce but the sandwich was tasty.
It's not always about just the food and how hard it is to get a seat at where you eat so you can tweet pictures of your special sous vide kobe beef spleen for all to be seen. When you got a place like Russell's I can understand why people love it. I mean they had a World War II victory party there, it's seen and made some history thru they years. I only went a couple of times as a kid and didn't love it then but can see why those that went often still do. We all have a place like that and if you don't, well you probably grew up in strip-mall of America land and for that I'm sorry. At least you still got McDonald's and 31 Flavors, or is that long gone? Ah we had one at the corner of Lincoln and Altgeld back in the day too. Those were the days...
1631 N. Thatcher Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60607