Friday, June 29, 2012

Vienna Beef Cafe

-In Chicago: Every Dog Has it's Day

Summertime Chi. It's what we deal with winter each year for. Today's post has been a longtime coming. It could of been the first post ever here on the site and that would of been alright. Because today we head on over to one of the most annoying corners for traffic in the city but we don't care, that doesn't keep us away from the greats. Located on Damen just off Fullerton and Elston is the holy grail of Chicago Hot Dogs, the home to Chicago's hot dog - Vienna Beef. Anyone who's driven by the three corners has surely seen the empty hatchback from the truck that sits at Fullerton and Damen. This is the factory where it all begins for each Vienna Beef sponsored hot dog stand in Chicagoland and beyond.

The Vienna Beef Factory located at Fullerton and Damen

Vienna Beef started sometime around 1893 when a couple of Austrian-Hungarian immigrants brought their Vienna beef style hot dog to the Chicago's Worlds Fair. It was the following year they would open their first store on the 400 block of south Halsted. By 1900 Vienna started to market its product and sell it to other stores. Then as Chicago started to rapidly expand so did Vienna Beef. It was there to help the people eat cheap during the Great Depression. By the 1960's Vienna Beef was being distributed not just in it's hometown of Chicago but around the country as well. Then in 1972 they took up residence on the Northside where they still sit today.

The cafeteria for their workers, open to public

When you ask people whats "Pure Chicago" to them? I'm betting many would say Vienna Beef. It's a locally owned company who gives back to the city (jobs, opportunity) and they're always here for us when were hungry and need something cheap and quick but not the fast food shit that floods America. I still have never taken the tour and considered asking them if they would show me around for this but time crept up and before I knew it summer was here.

Inside the factory, briskets getting cut up (Pic from LTHforum)

We take our hot dogs seriously in Chicago because that's what Vienna Beef does. Vienna uses 100% beef in their dogs and not the scraps and pieces and parts nobody else wants. They cut their meat from brisket as seen above and turn it into some top notch tubes of wieners and sausage. Whether you want to make your own and get them in the grocery store or you're at a baseball game on the north or south side or you just want to visit one of 1000's of stands that serve them in Chicagoland, VB is always there and ready when you need them. These days you can find their hot dogs all over the globe. However there's just something special about eating them at the place they're made and that's what were going to do today.

A view inside the cafeteria

All Vienna Beef products are on sale at the Cafe

Vienna Beef, I believe, has workers working around the clock at their factory. Hey they gotta make sure everyone is good to go. I don't know on average how many hot dogs they produce a day but just imagine how many are consumed in Chicagoland every 24 hours? ALOT. The VB Cafeteria is open Monday-Saturday, check hours before going, and well worth the visit no matter where you're coming in from. It's not just sausages but of course theres those too. Vienna Beef also makes corned beef and supplies restaurants with both ready to be eaten batches and the ones where the place cooks it on their own. They serve a very respectable Reuben at the cafe.

Reuben Sandwich from the Vienna Beef Cafeteria

Mac & Cheese with wieners and giardineria

They make some fun things with their hot dogs too like the mac & cheese seen up above. But lets be real, this is the Vienna Beef Cafeteria located at the factory where their famous hot dogs are made. What do you think the best thing on their menu is? When you want as authentic of a Chicago style hot dog as you can find, you'll find it here. Just take a look at this beauty below made with one of their larger natural casing wieners. She is something isn't she? Centerfold material, the playdog of the millennium. This my friends is why Chicago is the center of the hot dog universe. Look at her.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Perfection

The reason it's well worth the drive even if you're coming in from the suburbs is the fact that not only is this their factory where they have a cafeteria open to the public but they also sell most everything they make inside at the little store within the Cafe. This is where I go to get my grilling needs when it comes to hot dogs and Polish sausage. In fact my favorite type of sausage from anywhere is Vienna Beef's natural casing Polish which they sell by the tube at the deli counter inside. The trick is to cut slits into each end making both the first and last bite the best. These are a staple on Bears gameday.

The Bill Swerski Polish Sausage

Chicago-Green Bay Truce Dog: Char Grilled w/ Merkt's cheese & Sport Peppers

In fact with the 4th of July coming up it's no coincidence I chose to post about Vienna Beef and their factory store and cafe on this day. They have large outdoor tent sales throughout summer and one of them is going on now. Thru July 3rd if you head over there you'll find some great deals on tubed meats and the condiments they also make. Vienna Beef owns Chipico (Chicago Pickle Company) which makes those juicy pickles and other condiments that make a dog real deal Chicago style. If you love the minimalist style of dogs we feature a round up of on here like I do, they sell their natural casing wieners at the store too and they're so easy to replicate at home. The fries on top part is tough though. Oh well, the double dog with mustard, onions, relish and sport peppers always hits the spot.

Classic minimalist Chicago style hot dog at home ala Gene and Jude's

The grilling season is in full swing and I'm always up for trying new things and seeking out the best small town butchers the Midwest has to offer. But I'm also never going to not have the old timers and tradition that is Vienna Beef Hot Dogs at my cookouts. Why is it they're always the first ones to go? Because they're the Kings of Wienerland. Happy Grilling Season.

Get in me belly!

Vienna Beef Factory Store and Cafe
2501 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 278-7800

Vienna Beef Factory Store & Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vinnie's Sub Shop

-The Sammy's of Chi

Hot and humid summer days are here. With them comes the need for something refreshing and cooling though not just in the drinks department. Whenever it gets hot as hell and I'm hungry as as the devil in the dark night, I like to get, amongst other things, cold sub sandwiches. A sub almost always fills you up and when done properly, which isn't all that hard, can be as satisfying as anything and perfect for a hot summers day. Sometimes you just need something cold and a cold cut is where I usually turn too. Enter Vinnie's Sub Shop on Grand avenue.

A locals favorite on Grand avenue

I'm not sure how long Vinnie's has been around but its been there a minute. I used to do some summertime work for my grandpa, dad and uncle back in my high school days and it was around then and been a part of the neighborhood long before it became trendy. It's right down the block from Bari which gets alot of love when it comes to Italian subs so many people have seen Vinnie's but never been. You need to switch that up. Its as much of a "family owned place" as any of them out there. It doesn't matter if its your 1st or 1000th time, they treat you like you're their good friend. Vinnie's is your typical neighborhood sub shop with sandwiches much better than most of the typical places around town. Lets start off with the Vinnie Special.

Vinnie Special Sandwich

This sandwich named after the place comes with ham, hard salami, provolone and Vinnie's special oil. Instead of the standard French bread they serve with most subs this one comes on a sesame seed roll. The ingredients are great at Vinnie's, they use quality lunch meats and their special oil is addictive but with this sandwich its all about the bread for me. Crunchy exterior with a fluffy interior and when paired with the meats, cheese and toppings this is a top notch sub sandwich. I also hear good things about their turkey special with Pesto as seen on Serious Eats, but I usually cant pass on whats next. Also great about Vinnie's is the fact that when the bread is done for the day so are they. None of that day old stale bread that should of been made into crumbs served here.

The Insides

My go to sandwich at Vinnie's though remains to be their tuna salad. I think its the best tuna salad sandwich in the city. Its also the only place I get tuna salad which I much prefer to just make on my own. But when I want a cold tuna salad sub sandwich and not a tuna melt which is what I mainly go for when eating tuna, Vinnie's is my spot. They make a flavorful salad that doesn't go Paula Deen with the mayo. They don't use the Sunkist stuff that tastes and looks like its been sitting in the sun getting kissed by it all day and that's the biggest thing when making tuna salad. You cant substitute the taste of the real Italian stuff packed in olive oil and not water. It's a simple sub that's made great with the quality of the ingredients and care put into making them and this is why Vinnie's is a great place to go for one.

Tuna Salad Sub from Vinnie's

Vinnie's Sub Shop
1204 W. Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 738-2985

Vinnies Sub Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 25, 2012


-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

Summerfest is coming. One of the largest outdoor music festivals, it brings 1000's of people into Milwaukee during its time. So today I figured we would head over to an Old Tied House for some drinks and burgers. Sobelman's is a very popular Milwaukee tavern/burger joint that is also one of the best kept Tied House's I have ever seen. It's very clean and while still very old, almost feels like new. It fits in great in the industrial part of town amongst the factories which are really the only things near it. It's not below the radar or anything like that and has been featured in many publications, top burger lists and seen on Travel Channel/Food Network etc...

Milwaukee, WI

I've been here a couple times now and enjoyed each visit. I first went during Summerfest a couple years back. Everything people said about it was to my agreement with it being a classic Milwaukee tavern. On this visit where the pics were taken it was around 2p and there was still a nice crowd but a few tables and seats at the bar were open so as always I plopped down at the bar. They had the music playing from the jukebox, it was Friday and people were alive and with the Packers playing playoff football the next day, many were getting started early. The staff at Sobelman's is as nice as any and you could tell they enjoyed being there on the job as they spread their joy around the bar.

The view as you enter

The first time I visited here it was the pictures of the Bloody Mary that drew me in. In typical Wisconsin fashion they are overdone loaded with condiments from cocktail shrimp to sausage and cheese along with all the necessary veggies to make a damn nice Bloody when it's all said and done. They made them with Absolut Peppar and they had that nice spice kick that I like. I knew I was going with the signature Sobelman burger as did one of the others in the group and one had the Loser burger which is named after the burger that lost in the Milwaukee burger challenge featured on Travel Channel's Food War's. The 'Loser' comes with Nueske's bacon, caramelized onions and a few types of cheese. My buddy very much enjoyed his loser burger and is somewhat of a burger nut.

A 'Sconnie Bloddy

The Loser burger

I was happy with my Sobelman burger which comes with three types of cheese, a circle of bacon and a jalapeno like relish. The beef patty's are from the Tallgrass Beef company and can be pretty lean but they do cook them to perfection. If your so inclined you can watch the grill-men make your burgers live on one of the TV's. The best part about the burger to me is the bun, it's an excellent version for this burger and overall I am a fan of Sobelman's burgers but I like the atmosphere inside the pub and it's history just as much. Great place to stop in Milwaukee for some lunch and drinks. If you haven't already you need to at least once.

Sobelman Burger basket

Sobelman's Pub & Grill
1900 W Saint Paul Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 931-1919

Sobelman's Pub and Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Urban Union

-Grubbing in Chicago
New on the Scene

We had a very nice Mothers Day Brunch at Urban Union on Taylor street this past moms day. When I heard we were going I was surprised to see that the place wasn't talked about much over on LTHforum or the rest of the internet for that matter. It's a small plate place with a "new American" menu that also does brunch. I enjoyed my trip there to the point where I would go back on my own dollar and not my dads. Lets check them out.

In University Village on Taylor Street

As many already know Taylor Street is considered Chicago's "Little Italy" and for a while it was but nowadays its reaching past the assumption that it's all Italian places such as Rosebud and Al's or Mario's. Urban Union is one of the places bringing more than slices of pizza, Italian beef, chicken vesuvio and cigars and such to the neighborhood these days.

Wood Fired Grill behind the bar

The menu has European influence that touches down on Italian cuisine but not the type you find at its neighbors places. Everything we tried I liked and wouldn't have a problem ordering or eating them again. Reminder that I did not pay for this meal. But the prices are reasonable with the average plate being around $11. Of course some things were better than others such as the wood roasted head on shrimp bathed in a lemon garlic butter sauce which were excellent, especially the juice sucked from the heads. The farro and arugula salad along with the Bar Harbor mussels served with chorizo, garlic, san marzano tomatoes and herbs were both tasty too.

Wood Roasted Head on Shrimp

Farro & Arugula Salad


My favorite side of the meal was their French potatoes which come cooked in duck fat with sea salt chervil and shallot butter. These were creamy and addictive, some of the best potatoes I can remember having of late. One of the Italian focused dishes is their porchetta which is a very fine version of this dish. It starts out as a pork tenderloin which is wrapped and covered in soffrito and then is then placed inside a butterflied pork belly. Sound good? It was. My moms favorite dish of the meal was the Pacific reef fish which I want to say was tile fish that day. Topped with spicy tomato, nicoise olives, caperberris and braised baby fennel this was a real winner which I thoroughly enjoyed as well.

French Potatoes


Pacific Reef Fish

As I mentioned already this is brunch but the menu isn't much like the other places who lean more toward breakfast when they do theirs. This is a meat and potatoes brunch with some seafood thrown in kind of meal. The most "brunchy" thing we got though was also really good. The pork schnitzel Benedict was a heavy filling marriage of breaded tenderloin with a fantastic rendition of hollandaise sauce. The suckling lamb didn't look like much as far as presentation goes but it was good and that's all that matters to me. If its art why are we eating it and turning it into you know what when done.

Pork Schnitzel Benedict

Suckling Lamb

To end our meal we went with some of the housemade pasta, a tagliatelle with asparagus, wild mushrooms, pancetta, pea shoots and Parmesan. This was an excellent pasta dish which is also what the desserts were. I'm not sure why this place doesn't get more love but I'm going to give it some more soon. I look forward to trying their whole roasted fish which is made in the wood burning oven that also cooks up some other things from their menu. If you haven't been or were planning on going eventually, you should get on over.

Housemade Tagliatelle Pasta


Urban Union
1421 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 929-4302

Urban Union on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Don's Grill

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

I couldn't even give you a guesstimate as to how many times I drove by Don's Grill on Western avenue right at 18th street but I always wanted to stop in. Its got the look of a quintessential old time neighborhood grill with its old school looks and blue collar display. What got me in was when Patty's Grill in Skokie closed and I no longer had a ham off the bone breakfast sandwich option that I knew of but Don's sign on the side is right there for all to see.

Locals favorite on Western avenue in the Pilsen neighborhood


There's a few of these type of "gritty" grills as you start heading south and I plan to check out other ones now that I got over to Don's. I've actually been twice with over a year in between visits but not a thing changed as far as the atmosphere inside. Just because it took a year doesn't mean it's not all that but if your expecting Patty's or Three Sparrows you might not like it. The ham off the bone is not on display like it was at Patty's and is at Hall of Fame Food Stop Mike's Famous Ham Place in Detroit. But I think that has more to do with space and getting orders out quick. The waitress on each of my visits was the same nice lady who knew everyone and on my most recent trip Don himself was there chatting it up with the regulars, each one of them in there and then me too introducing himself to me.

Don's Ham Scrambler

I went with the ham scrambler seen up above on my most recent trip which is diced ham, onions and eggs all scrambled together served with hash browns with the option of cheese on top. Yes please. It was quite tasty enhancesd with the hot sauce I had never had that they carry. Also very filling and very reasonable for that amount of food. My go to order though from here on in will be their ham, egg and cheese sandwich. There's nothing too special about this rendition, the ham isn't from an award winning farm down south, the eggs arent those of ducks and the toast isn't from a made from scratch bakery but its damn good and hits the spot when that's what you want. All while not breaking the bank. One day Don's Grill will be forgotten Chicago but I don't think that day is coming anytime soon.

Ham, Egg and Cheese Sandwich

Don's Grill
1837 South Western ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 733- 9351

Monday, June 18, 2012


-The Sammy's of Chi

I was very anxious awaiting for the arrival of Monti's. Located on North Talman just off Lawrence ave in Lincoln Square I was very excited when I first heard the former culinary director of Rockit or whatever it is was leaving there to start a place of his own so he could spend more time with his family. So him and his wife opened up Monti's which specializes in authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks. I patiently waited as I heard the news. I developed an appreciation more than I had before for cheesesteaks after a trip to the City of Sandwiches last Fall. I didn't go to neither nor of the famous more well known spots that arent nearly as good as some other places. So instead hit up some lesser known to tourists spots. The steaks I got there were great and unlike anything we could get in Chicago.

The Cheesesteak place in Lincoln Square people are raving about

So I had been fiending ever since and haven't made it back to the Philly Way in Milwaukee for one. Which at the time was the closest place to get the real thing. Not anymore as Monti's was love at first bite for me. We'll get to the cheesesteaks in a lil' bit. Another cool thing about Monti's is it doubles as a friendly neighborhood bar which makes it a great place to get some food and a drink. They have a selection of good beers although I'd like to see a few more. They also offer riot juice which is the blue concoction seen below. So I was told it's a drink from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'. Got me a lil tipsy turvy the night we had 'em and watched some bball.

Riot Juice

It wasn't just the cheesesteaks I was excited about when I heard Monti's was coming. I had the famous Philly roast pork sandwiches while in Philly and I knew they were good but just not that damn good. One of the best if not the best regional sandwich variations in America the ones I had there were fantastic and had me wondering why more Chicago Italian beef places don't offer something similar since the cooking styles can be the same. In Philly most roast pork sandwiches come with thinly sliced, highly seasoned roast pork. Others offer it pulled and at all places they come with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. I tried Monti's version and was pleased with what they bring but it just wasn't enough to keep me away from the steaks the next time around. That's no knock on them, in fact I take that back, I'll be having one again.

Monti's Philly Style Roast Pork

Monti's uses thinly shaved fresh ribeye steak as their meat of choice and its a good one. The best steak quality I had while in Philly was a place that uses the same except they slice theirs a little thicker than Monti's. Some people might wonder about the double digit pricetag but the regular 8" sandwich with fries is more than enough for most in one sitting. Add to that the quality of the steak and its very reasonable for me. The rolls they wanted to be able to have them made fresh here but that's the thing with an authentic cheesesteak, most people say its Amoroso or it aint real. I don't think that's the case in Philly but in Chicago it might be as close as you can get so they source those from Philadelphia.

The 'Rocky' (R) and a Regular "wit" (L)

I've tried a few of the variations since they first opened. The first time I was there I went with the old classic of a cheese steak with onions. They offer white American and a melted Wisconsin cheddar in place of whiz. I haven't tried that yet and since I never made it to Steve's Prince of Steaks in Philly I've never had one with whiz. I like Monti's steak hoagie but I'm not sure I'll ever have one as good as Cosmi's Deli in Philly which is fine because I got my go-to order now at Monti's. The hot pepper concoction on the 'Rocky' is pretty fire, literally and figuratively but I'm not a fan of the mayo. So I like to get a regular steak with, along with the peppers from the Rocky on the side. This my friends is now one of my go to sandwiches in Chicago and Monti's is pretty much in my regular rotation because of it. I used to go to that other cheesesteak place for a quick fix every once in a while. Cant do that anymore now that Monti's has raised the game.

Cheesesteak "wit" from Monti's

Monti's Restaurant
4757 North Talman Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 942-6012

Monti's on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Northwoods

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-Eating & Exploring the Wisconsin Northwoods

Summer is here and those that read us know we love to 'Travel Wisconsin'. I got a few trips planned to the beer & cheese state for 2012 and also a few from last year to share with y'all here today. It had been forever since I took a trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I used to attend summer camp in Rhinelander. I loved that part of summer so I changed all that last 4th of July and me and a friend went up North for some change of scene and the pace from the city life we live. It was fantastic trip that made me realize it wont be that long between visits next time around.

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Exploring the Wisconsin Northwoods

We set out from the city Saturday morning and were set to head straight to Vilas County with a couple pit stops while on the way. The first place I'll share on here was actually visited on the ride home since they are closed on weekends. Twig's Beverages in Shawano which was on the way (about 40 mins north of Green Bay) is a place that's been on my radar for a while now.

Twig's Beverages in Shawano, WI

We got there during the noon hour on the Wednesday we visited so the employees were out to lunch which they take from noon 'til 1p each work day. Twig's is one of the few remaining independent soda pop bottlers around that still uses returnable bottles and one of the last two in the state. Twig's bottles Sundrop under an agreement with Dr. Pepper and Snapple and they are the last Sundrop bottler to use returnable bottles. I first found this place after buying a bottle of Werbelow's Soda from America's Market in Wheeling. The bottle showed Werbelow's was made in Shawano, WI which lead me to a search on the 'net with a few results here and there including some stuff on Twig's. We went back after 1p and they were happy to show us around.

The main machinery for bottling

I talked with a younger guy who must of been in charge since another employee sent me to him. Along with Sundrop which has it roots in the South and is said to be America's first citrus soda, Twig's also bottles its own label including flavors like orange, root beer, black cherry, grape, sour, lime and so on. On the day we visited they had black cherry and orange available for purchase along with Sundrop. Since they still use the returnable bottle deposit method the pop is pretty cheap. It's $7.50 for a case with a $10 deposit on the bottles. As you can imagine it's big around town, people were coming in and out returning bottles and picking up new ones and trucks with the Sundrop label were pulling in and out. There's a good article about Twig's HERE in the MJS. Also this site HERE is a collection of glass soda bottlers still around the USA and has Twig's included.

Warehouse full of Sundrop, employees drink it for free...

As I talked to the guy giving us the tour I asked about Werbelow's and yes they used to operate out of where Twig's does now. Twig's even bought a couple of the recipes Werbelow's used for their bottled pop when they moved in. I got a case with 18 bottles of Sundrop and and three each of the other available selections that day of black cherry and orange. They still use real sugar in their Twig's and Hill Billy brand Root Beer bottled pops although I'm not sure about in the Sundrop. I did just have the one I put in the fridge when I got back and the bottle says corn syrup but it was still pretty damn good, very refreshing. I forgot to ask if it too is made with real sugar. The Dr. Pepper Snapple LLC just decided to release Sundrop nationally and is putting millions into an MTV targeted crowd ad campaign.

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Bottles cover the walls, my case I brought home

If I was a local I would drink this stuff ice cold all summer long and they do as I was told. At the $7.50 a case price it's hard to beat. I bet it also makes a great summertime cocktail mixer like Ting does which is where I think they're going with the MTV target, some Sundrop and vodka will get it done on a hot summer day. Twig's is a fun stop on the way to the Northwoods and I didn't realize it but Seymour, WI some 30 miles away is the home to the other old school soda pop bottler still left in the state, Seymour Beverages. Check out the link for more info on both these cool spots.

Sundrop is the locals choice around town...for a non alcoholic beverage

We pushed on north with no plans too stop...

...until we spotted this place along the way

Chet & Emil's is a little bit of everything located in Birnamwood. They started off after being discharged from the military during World War II. They bought a business that consisted of a tavern and pharmacy store on the street level with rooms for their families to live in on top. As time went by they added a bowling lane with a 50 foot bar along with a dance floor to accommodate wedding and banquets. A little while later they added the restaurant and purchased a broaster. Their chicken then became the talk of the town from there.

Chet and Emil's in Birnhamwood, WI

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The first of many stuffed animals we'd see, my view from the bar

We took a seat at my preferred choice of the bar when in locals type spots like these. Nowadays they also have a resort with cottages and cabins as well for people/hunters to rent with there being a lake not too far away. I wasn't starving but have a problem with not being able to pass on places and this was a classic case. The large Route 66 like chicken statue got me in. I was curious to see how C&E's broasted chicken compared to Bob's Drive In in Sioux Falls, SD. We decided on a four piece dinner to go and had some cheese curds and drinks while we waited.

Curds while we wait

After a couple High Lifes for me and orange vodkas for her our chicken was ready. I had to have a piece while still hot and the leg was great although but still a notch below the aforementioned places. Still worth the stop and tasted great cold later that night. When we stopped in here I felt like we were finally in the Northwoods.

Broasted chicken dinner with broasted wedges, cole slaw and rye bread

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On we rode past a few more manly taverns and clubs tempting me to come on in...maybe next time

Eagle River is where we would stay for our time in the Northwoods. We got a nice deal at a place that was right on the river near the shops/bars making it a nice location. With the exception of the nights spent on the deck overlooking the river with a fire we didn't really spend much time in Eagle River aside from mornings and early evenings. I'm not much of a breakfast eater and don't rarely ever eat before noon even though I wake up early. But I had to get my friend fed otherwise she gets a lil cranky and "wonders why we have to wait til the afternoon to eat and then wait another five mins for pictures?" "why so many burgers?" "I want something else, yada, yada, yada" Haha b/c I'm not normal, that's why. But if I get her fed first thing in the morning she's a trooper and down to do whatever.

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Eagle River, WI

On our first night in town we kind of just rode around checking out was near and we stopped in at the local 24 hour grocery store Trig's. I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw on my nighttime visit and stopped back in a few times on the trip for things in need. Much better than Jewels and Dominick's they have a great liquor section and the meats and pre-made deli goods looked nice. They even make their own special recipe brats. This is definitely the place to shop if your staying in a cabin or house rental in the Northwoods. I spied a Wisconsin cream puff truck in the lot that night and headed over the next morning to check them out. The local fireman's homemade cream puffs which they make and sell on nice weekend days raise money for the local school. Right next to the cream puff truck was a sign tempting me to come inside and get some hot ham and rolls, a traditional Sunday eat in the cheese state.

I should have got a pound to at least put in the fridge...

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Real Wisconsin Cream Puffs in the parking lot of Trig's grocery in Eagle River

The fireman working the puff truck was a cool dude and gave me some rec's for other food stops and scenic spots I had to try and go check out which I got to and were great. Eagle River has a new fully restored Soda Pop shop called...Soda Pops. We stopped in there twice, once to grab a quick bite for breakfast before we embarked on an outdoor adventure.

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'Soda Pops' Soda Fountain in Eagle River

I read somewhere an article about the return of the soda fountain shop in America. Soda Pop's would be one of those places that inspired the article. A search on the 'net shows me theres also a place in LA called Soda Pops but I don't think they are related. According to their ABOUT page they are one of the oldest operating Soda Fountains in the state of WI. Originally a tavern by the railroad station until prohibition when it turned into a soda fountain. The place was then a fountain into the 70's and then vacated but the current team of owners decided to restore everything in 2002 to where it is today. Along with the soda and ice cream selections they have a soup and sandwich menu as well as over 150 bottled pops to choose from with a store to buy them all by the pack at located next door.

The inside of the soda shop

This was a fun stop. It's pretty amazing what they did with the restoration. I've been to a few of these old school fountain shops and this was the nicest one I have seen. The breakfast sandwich which I got to have a bite of was pretty good, obviously much better than McDonald's across the street. The only semi complaint from me would be the actual bottled pop selection list. Despite having 100's they didn't have any that tempted me enough. Many of them I have had before or are available easily and none of them my favorites like Dublin Dr. Pepper, Cheerwine or Ale-8-One. But the Root Beer list was pretty extensive and I could of got a mixed six pack off that I'm sure I would of liked. My cherry phosphate took me back to when Uncle Fun in Chicago was still at it's old location and had their soda fountain located in back when I was a youngin'.

Cherry Phosphate for breakfast

Located just a couple stores down from Soda Pops is Faye's Dinky Diner. I didn't read anything about this small old school 'sconnie style diner but knew I had to check it out for breakfast one day while we were there. I ended up walking over from our spot on our last day to grab some takeout breakfast to eat at our place before we headed back to Chicago. Faye's shows alot of promise with it's menu and looks of the place both outside and in but what I had hoped to be some amazing 'old fashioned' corned beef hash was just old fashioned in that it came from a can. Nonetheless they still crisped it up nice and brown, she enjoyed her breakfast sandwich. The skillet plates I saw the mother/daughter team that runs the place making look to be the way to go. Not bad, very reasonable priced, just not life changing. The view from the deck at our place where we ate it was top notch though.

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Faye's Dinky Diner in Eagle River

a beautiful morning along the river

Well as long as were going thru breakfasts stops of my trip lets take a look at one of my favorite places we ate at on the trip. Wolf Pack Cafe is in Saint Germain which is a short ride (like most everyplace else is) from Eagle River. This was a place that was actually put on my list because my friend said she had to go there and try it out so we went for breakfast on the 4th of July.

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Wolf Pack Cafe in Saint Germain, WI

The Wolf Pack was packed the early afternoon we arrived on the 4th. It's won "Restaurant of the Month" from Discover Wisconsin and I'm sure has been featured in quite a few publications. You can tell this is a place loved by year round locals and summertime regulars as well as visitors who do their research like me. We went inside the dining room and put our names in and were told about a 20 minute wait which the dad of the family ahead of us told me "well worth it". They go to Wolf Pack every summer he said.

My view from the counter, tables in back of me

The ladies working the dining room were very welcoming and set us up right away with drinks and a menu. Wolf Pack Cafe is known for its breakfast and also serves lunch. They have a full breakfast menu available 'til a certain time and then serve a lunch menu with the most popular items from the breakfast menu available all day. It's a favorite of Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers as well as former Packers BIG BOY DT Gilbert Brown. I had a big boy local from the area sitting next to me who had come in from work where he had to close down the bar from the night before which he said was a rowdy one with all the visitors in town for the holiday. The big motorcycle riding dude wouldn't stop raving about his breakfast which was their popular 'Joe's breakfast special'. So that's what we went with. Homemade hash browns topped w/ two eggs, sausage gravy, cheddar cheese and toast. A real workingmans breakfast.

Signature Dish at Wolf Pack

Yep after that plate arrived I knew why this was a favorite of the over six foot 300+ pound monster next to me and also Gilbert 'no one eats his grapes' Brown. The biker dude laughed and was loving when I broke out the camera to get a picture. It comes with option of toast and I got it with an English muffin and mixed it all together with some house hot sauce. It was great spread atop the toasted muffin. Wolf Pack Cafe also claims the best burgers in the Northwoods and I wouldn't doubt them but had to pass on that for some of their "world's best pancakes" which you can throw some locally made maple syrup on when they arrive. They were great, I'm not a big breakfast guy but this was one of my more memorable vacation breakfasts since the breakfast horseshoe at D & J Cafe in Springfield, IL and the Chayenne Crossing in Lead, SD. Although this version much better ingredients wise. My friend is a big vaca eater and this was easily her favorite spot we stopped at, she wanted to go back but we never made it. Next time for sure.

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Famous Wolf Pack Pancakes and a self made breakfast sandwich

We spent alot of our time exploring the area and checking out all the different towns and sites in the Chain O'Lakes area of the Northwoods. It's gorgeous and a great place to get away from the concrete jungles of cement in the city. I used to go to camp Algonquin (RIP) in Rhinelander as a kid and loved it back then and still do now. The stars shine bright at night and theres tons of outdoor fun for when theres sun which we had plenty of on this trip. It was actually muggy and the bugs at night sucked but everything else was great.

One of the 1,000's of lakes in the area

One of the 100's of taverns, bars and pubs in the area

One of the spots I had read about that seemed to be my type of place was 'Gooch's A-One Bar & Grill' in Boulder Junction. I read on a Northwoods forum with a food section that Gooch and his broasted chicken were top notch. We stopped in here after a stroll down "downtown" Boulder Junction which is a beautiful little town worth walking around. Lots of shops for ladies and Gooch's for the guys.

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Boulder Junction, WI

As we enter

We stopped in one early afternoon for some drinks and before we knew it we had been in there for a couple hours and put down more than the one or two we had planned. Everything you envision when you think Northwoods bar is what Gooch's is. Owned by the Gucchi himself who along with his girlfriend, run what will be a regular stop on my Northwoods visits and this trip confirmed there will be many more. You probably pictured a couple regulars in there drinking during the daylight hours and correct you are. One of the dudes was a massive man who had just arrived from McHenry county where he lives and he'd been staying up in the area since the 70's when they first got a place. Gooch's was his watering hole. We got to talking and had a great time doing so with the summertime local big boy fIb and Gooch who himself is a classic 'Sconnie. He hunts, fishes, eats, drinks and snowmobiles which are what the locals do up there and he supports himself with his great neighborhood tavern.

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Gooch's is a classic Northwoods drinking establishment

It gets busy in the summer and since it's on a snowmobile trail it's also a popular stop in the winter. Gooch has a few Packers thangs hanging here and there and also one Bears fanplate displayed on the wall. I asked him what was up with Da Bears plate, if he was an actual bears fan or if it was just to keep the tourists like myself in there for another? He was thrilled that I was the first Bears fan ever to recognize this, it was indeed to keep the fIsh happy. The longtime bartender was a sweet old lady who mixed a mean Bloody Mary, I loved this place. Ice cold Spotted Cow on tap too. We had to get out in the sun after a couple hours of great chat and we ordered some broasted chicken to go which was made by Gooch himself in back.

Sunday special broasted chicken dinner

This was some damn good chicken. I can understand why quite a few people came in and out for pick up and regulars at the bar all went with the broasted chicken which comes as a dinner special on Sunday's. We got back on the road after a few pieces in the lot and were off to see and hear the beautiful sites and sounds of the Northwoods. There are some great state parks to explore and scenic routes are a dime a dozen. Eagle River is also the home to the Kentucky Derby or Daytona 500 of snowmobile racing and the home to the snowmobile hall of fame. Not quite Cooperstown so I didn't check it out but the stadium in town looked fun.

No Chicago news anchors inducted that I know of...

As wonderful as it is having so many lakes around and some are actually large, nothing beats the greatest of lakes and Lake Superior. A beautiful beach was only about an hour and 10 minute drive from the Northwoods so we had to go get fresh with it one morning day. Nothing beats a dip in the crystal clear freshwater of Lake Superior on a 90 degree day. Well worth the drive.

a canoe rail for use to get your boat into the water

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There's by far more taxidermists than there are McDonald's in these parts

Did you know? Snowmobiles are said to be a 'sconnie thing (Historical marker)

Lake Superior in Michigan's U.P

On the 4th of July we had planned to go see a a Native American Pow Wow festival being held that day in downtown Lac du Flambeau. They had food and craft vendors until about 3p and also had a parade earlier in the day and a fireworks show at the Indian Bowl later that night. It was a pretty little community and most of the residents seemed to be out there with they're friends and family enjoying the day.

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Lac du Flambeau, WI

We arrived just as the fair was wrapping up but were still lucky enough to be able to try the food from the local vendors which is the reason we were there. Indian frybread and bbq brisket fajitas were just what we were hoping for. Both of these stands located right next to each other were selling their specialties. 1st up was the BBQ tent which had smoked pulled pork and brisket in sandwich form on good old cheap white bread and also fajitas. I opted for the brisket fajitas which came with onions and peppers sauteed up in the onsite wok along with three tortillas, some rice and beans and a cup of their version of elotes. The corn was cut from the cob which was grilled over the charcoal and thrown in a cup with mayo, cheese and a ton of butter and the best part, little pieces of cured pork. The guys smokin' and serving everything were great, they were up preppin' the meats 11 hours before the fest started and happy to have me despite my Chicago alliances as they were big time Packers and Brewers fans and letting me know they were.

The BBQ dudes had the whole woods smelling good

I love some real bbq brisket tacos and these fajitas were fantastic. I guess it's a dish that's more Tex-Mex than anything else but these we're FBI's preparing them and this obviously wasn't there first time making what might of been my favorite dish of the trip. They had a homemade red sauce salsa made with habeneros and jalapenos that was some of the best salsa I have had and went great with the rest of it. If I wasn't in a daze I would of bought a bottle or more as they were starting to call it a day and packing everything up. I should of got a couple more orders for the fridge to reheat in the place for out by the river later that night. The ladies next to the BBQ dudes made an excellent piece of freshly fried Indian fry bread that was also a highlight for me. How is fried dough with sugar not good? and I don't even have a big sweet tooth.

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The smoker and bbq'd meats with the side of corn and some Indian fry bread for desert

BBQ Brisket fajitas from the local Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Ojibwa Native American tribesmen...BOMB

After walking around the town we hopped back in the car and set out to further explore the area. Wisconsin has some great scenic drives which would explain why theres so many bikers in the state. The Northwoods has more than its fair share of them. We went thru some beautiful untouched areas and got to see some interesting towns like Park Falls, Wisconsin. Once a booming town with a big paper mill, that all changed when the local mill closed down. In 2006 Flambeau River Papers manufacturing company was developed by the government and local investors and moved into the old mill and the town is slowly transforming back to a factory town. The main street area is an interesting drive that might make you think your in a Southwest ghost town.

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Cruising a Wisconsin Rustic Road in the Northwoods

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Park Falls, WI

After our fun little 4th of July travel excursion we were ready for some drinks and the world famous Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters was the place. It was definitely one of my 'must stop spots' if for anything the history. I grew up just off Lincoln ave in LP where the Biograph Theater is where John Dillinger was gunned down after years of wreaking havoc on the FBI. Many of the stories come from the Little Bohemia Lodge. I've always enjoyed the stories of John Dillinger and his gang of goons and for those who don't know, Little Bohemia is where the Dillinger gang settled one summer day and then became the scene of an epic gun battle between Dillinger and the FBI that would see the gang get away and leave one government agent dead.

The famous Little Bohemia Lodge

Many scenes from the movie 'Public Enemies' with Johnny Depp were shot here at the lodge where the cast and crew stayed. We got there around 3p and they had just stopped giving tours of the upstairs. The lodge has remained the same since the FBI seized it in 1934. Many of the memorabilia from the gang and gun fight can be seen on tours upstairs before 3p. Next time. Today it remains a really cool place to stop in at for a drink or eats. They're open seven days a week, over summertime anyway, and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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View from the outside both in front and the drinking deck in back and Dillinger memorabilia

We made our way to the bar which when we got there was rocking. One of the cute bartenders was celebrating her bday with some friends who were in there drinking and getting crunk for the 4th. The older folks which there were a few of weren't sure what to do. The rowdy group left after a while and we just kind of chilled at a table and drank some Old Fashioned's like your supposed to do. Brandy sweets for her and whiskey sours for me. Since it was also the 4th and we were in an old Dillinger hideout I had to do a couple shots of whiskey. They have quite the selection of it and make a real nice cocktail that can also be enjoyed on their outdoor deck overlooking the lake which you can also take a dip in.

The Dining Room at Little Bohemia in Manitowish Waters, WI

The bar area

Stay away from the heat...

I was disappointed to miss the tour but was still able to give myself a real nice one of the whole property which also has lodges for rent along with the bar and restaurant. They have all sorts of original newspapers on the walls as well as wanted signs and other collectibles and of course they sell T-Shirts, mugs etc... We didn't make it in time for lunch and weren't hungry at all after the Pow Wow but the food looked good and I will for sure return to try some and put down a few more of them "creep on you like Dillinger did the banks" Old Fashioneds.

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Gettin' gangster witit in da Northwoods

So after it was time to say goodbye to Little Bohemia we made our way back towards Eagle River and tried to figure out our plans for fourth of July dinner. We went over a few places and then out popped the sign to Vinchi's Hillside Inn which was a place that came rec'd by the fireman and others I met. So there, it was decided for us. I was told Vinchi's had good thin crust pizza and Italian food and was a fun place to dine at because they feed the wild bears outside in their little park and you can see them thru the window when they stop by for food as you eat.

Cruisin' the Northwoods

Vinchi's Hillside Inn (Sayner, WI)

No thanks, I'm a tavern thin kind of guy

We stopped into Vinchi's to get a pizza which would be perfect for dinner. I wasn't starving so we decided to have a few drinks and order one of their specialty thin crust pizzas to go. The menu had other options such as pasta and sandwiches including an authentic Chicago style Freddy sandwich. We sat at the bar but they also have a middle room with a pool table and a dining room next to that. It's from there where you used to be able to see real bears from the forest when they would come down and feed off the food the restaurant left for them, you can see the window in the pic collage below. The DNR put a halt to the feeding a few years back but if you were wondering what the bears loved to eat? Gummie bears and anything sweet. That's what the really freindly bartender told us as we waited for our pizza pie to arrive.

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Inside Vinchi's Hillside Inn

I had a good feeling from the get go with the place already being recommended by a couple locals and was assured as I got glimpses and whiffs of others pizzas as they passed by. Despite what looks like a deep dish pizza being offered up by the bear outside it's all about the thin crust there. Available in small and large their signature most ordered pie is the Vinchi's signature special which comes with sausage, onions and mushrooms. This was the perfect treat to take back to our spot in Eagle River and eat on the deck, drink some cocktails and watch the fireworks next to a fire on the 4th. The pizza was great, not super duper thin but thin enough and rich from the onions and mushrooms. The sausage was the real deal Italian with chunks of fennel inside. It was great later that night after the fireworks and also good the next morning cold.

Vinchi's signature thin crust with sausage, onions and mushrooms

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Happy 4th of July! Best holiday there is...

The next morning was our last day and we kind of just took it easy and took in some sun and then decided to go check out Rhinelander where I went to camp as a kid. The town is a classic Midwest community that takes you back to another time along its historic Main street. They still got the old movie theater, liquor store and hotel standing as well as some nice parks and the old historic courthouse. We took a walk around town which has many statues of the Hodag which is a folkloric creature said to come from Rhinelander. Of course nowadays they have the Hodag festival and all sorts of events to celebrate their hometown beasts.

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Rhinelander, WI

Coming up on the courthouse

A couple of the highlights of my trip came from Rhinelander and getting to see the old town I used to hang out in and pass by the old Camp Algonquin I used to go to back in the 90's. Also great was a place on the main strip called the Spice of Life. They had all sort of fun spices, sauces, seasonings etc and the owner who was a big old bike dude was doing up some ABT's on the smoker for passer by's to try. These were stuffed with brat meat and cheese and came out great. My girl got a few gifts for her friends from here and I picked up some handy grill tools too.

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The Spice of Life Spice Shop in Rhinelander

Other highlights of Rhinelander included some bowling at the old town bowling alley, all the old towns still got them. As well as the discovery of shorty's which were just brought back on the market from Rhinelander Brewery. I love the small 7 oz bottles and the beer in 'em is actually pretty good. I got five cases to take home from the local Rhinelander outlet of Trig's and at $9.99 each they're a steal to me. Always stays ice cold like the smaller Red Stripe Lights in Jamaica. If any of you old timers used to like the old Rhinelander Export Beer and their small shorty bottles, they're back. Story HERE.

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Hodag Lanes and the beer that made Rhinelander famous

On we drove checking out the town of Minocqua where we had to wait out a pretty heavy storm that was actually pretty fun to watch hit the lake which made it smell great outside afterward. There was an old German Steinhaus with brats and other German goodies on the menu as well as a BBQ place that was filling the downtown streets with smoke but we weren't all that hungry and just kind of walked around passing on the tempting dining spots in the area.

Minocqua, WI

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Kherry dipped Kone at the Korner Drive In (Lake Tomahawk, WI)

-Got Beef?
The burgers of Wisconsin

How about burgers up North? Yep if it's things that the Northwoods isn't lacking? burgers, lakes, trees and large men in cut off tee's come to my mind. It's pretty much a gimme that each and every restaurant, supper club, tavern and pub that serves food will have hamburgers on the menu and a big fella eating in there. We're not in Paris, France up here people. I stopped into two burger spots on this trip. In fact both of them are located in the same town just down the road from each other. The first place I had on my radar was the Little Musky Bar. Praised by my friend who when I told I was going to the Northwoods, he told me I had to go to this place called the Little Musky for a burger. I told him c'mon m'aaan, he knew me better than that, of course it was on my list.

Arbor Vitae, WI

We made our visit on the 4th. After taking in a couple nice trails and views along some lakes it was time for a few cold ones as it was a really humid day. The bar is to your right as you enter and there is also a section with tables to sit down at to your left. Leading out the back is an outside dining section with tables and chairs for people to take their food and drinks to eat outside if they so wish. We sat at the bar and I went with the $3 special bottles of Capitol Brewery's 'Supper Club' (available in Chicago) and in celebration of the 4th my friend got the Dreamsicle cocktail from the specials board. Another classic setup for a Northwoods drinking establishment and I felt right at home inside this one with all sorts of Chicago Bears gear on display.

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My view from the bar...DA BEARS!

The Little Musky had constant traffic both at the bar and tables. Couples, young and old, families and friends were all there enjoying the same thing, cool air and burgers. Everyone that was over 21 was also enjoying some ice cold beer at dirt cheap prices. I still laugh every time I get my bar tab at an old school place in Wisconsin. I ordered a Musky cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms which I told her to put on the grill after I ordered my third beer. I sat there and watched as the lady who owned the place went thru ball after ball of beef turning them into hearty tavern burgers. As you can see in this short video I took below, she has them ready in individual bags as fresh balls of beef in the fridge and each time one is ordered she'll grab one, throw it on and then smash it down.

Busy with burgers

We needed to make sure we didn't get stuck in there, I felt guilty sitting inside the taverns on such sunny days, so I ordered the burger to go and when it was ready we just took it out back to the tables for customers to sit at and dug into it before we went out to explore Lac du Flambeau.

The view from outside out in back of the bar

The 'big' Musky cheeseburger with grilled onions and mushrooms

The burgers are available in 1/3 and 1/2 pound sizes and it's go BIG or go home. Burgers come with chips, although they do have "Pizza Fries" on the menu which seem to be a Northwoods thing, they're on many taverns up theres menu. Now there is a little talk of a decline in the quality of the burgers up above but this was my first visit so I cant speak on that. I liked it for what it was, which isn't a knock on it. Just a hunk of fresh beef cooked right with pungent grilled onions, fresh mushrooms and WI cheese on a soft bun. Kind of tasted like how my mom made them over summertime when I was a kid. A "homey" tasting burger if you will. On top of that the couple next to us were regular visitors from Minnesota and at the Musky for their 10th annual burger from there and they loved it as always.

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a 'Sconnie style lunch

Next up was another example of " I cant just pass it up" as we cruised by PJ's Burger Barn on our last full day in town. She wasn't all that thrilled about eating anymore burgers, but I was able to make it so that there wouldn't be a big fuss if I wanted too have one since we went out later that night for steak. Not on my radar but in my memory is what PJ's Burger Barn was. I remember Eddie, the owner of Edzo's, was doing burger research for his shop while up in Wisconsin and documenting it in his march to burger greatness. He snapped a picture of PJ's while up there and I remembered the cartoon characters eating the burger when we passed by.

Arbor Vitae, WI

PJ's is a cool looking place both outside and in. Along with the bar/restaurant it's also a 'resort'. They have houses and cabins for rent which actually looked pretty nice, newly built and surrounded in a scenic setting overlooking a lake. At the restaurant they have a bar, sit down tables, Darts, jukebox etc... the classic Northwoods setting along with peanuts everywhere which are for customers to enjoy. They're encouraged to throw the shells on the ground when done with them. PJ's is short for the husband wife duo that run the place. Peg and Jim? Don't quote me on the names though. The logo of the man and woman eating the burger is them portrayed as cartoons, at least that's who the really sweet lady working the place looked exactly like.

As we enter

We took a seat at one of the tables in back next to the windows overlooking the lake outside. I'll admit that at first I wasn't expecting a whole lot in that they had a menu with every kind of burger you can think of and they came on ciabatta rolls, eh. I didn't want anything like a pizza or olive burger, just a classic. So I went with the PJ's Burger which comes with bacon, mushrooms and Swiss. Each burger comes with PJ's housemade chips on the side. I wasn't expecting as much as I got as far as flavor is concerned. I quite enjoyed my burger which you don't get the choice of how you want it to be cooked but does come char-grilled. So that added in some nice flavor and the ciabatta roll actually worked well holding it all together. I would go here again for sure for some beers and a burger. The homemade chips were quite good as well, went great with the ice cold beer.

Bacon, mushrooms and Swiss burger basket from PJ's Burger Barn

We headed back home on our last night in town with the plans to stop at Club 155 in Saint Germain for some of their signature steaks which came rec'd.. I'm almost positive Club 155 isn't around anymore but there is still an old Supper Club where I think it used to be. However for whatever reason most supper clubs are closed on Tuesdays so we needed another spot. We found one on the way back when we cruised past McGregor's Blink Bonnie Supper Club. The lot was packed with cars and there was a group of people playing bean bags drinking beers from their cooler while another group drank Old Fashioneds outside on the deck while they waited for their tables. We decided we would go back to the place to freshen up and then return to eat around 8p.

Riding into a Northwoods sunset

Popular steak house in Saint Germain

We got back there around 8p and put in our name for a table with there being a 20 minute wait. We were all ready for the wait as she used the iPhone to read some reviews of the place and we packed the small cooler with some bottles of WI microbrew beer I got with a make your own six pack from Trig's. The reviews mentioned that was cool to do. After a few beers in the parking lot our name was called and we were seated. You can see the Bears neon in the window and that's because the original family that owned the place was from around the Barrington area. The family that bought it as well as the bartender are Packers fans but they kept the place the same so there's plenty of Bears gear on the bars walls.

Unlike Gov. Scott Walker I show the small guys in state some love...

As we enter

Our waitress was great and also very honest which helped with what we ordered. At first we were going to get the signature 26 oz T-Bone steak as well as a burger. I was even intrigued by the fried chicken but was told by the super helpful waitress to stay away from that and I should be ok. Haha so then I was going to go with the steak burger but then she asked if I was ok with it being well done since they are frozen. Thanks to her honesty we settled on an order of onion rings andthe T-Bone steak with broiled scallops combo with a side of hash browns.

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House Salad that comes with steak and an appetizer of onion rings

Blink Bonnie's was a classic Wisconsin supper club. It was great hearing and smelling the hot sizzling plates of steaks go by. Everyone in their was enjoying their night out including myself and my mate. The steak was pretty good and what I expected it to be. I think it was about $26 with the scallops, salad and side of hash browns so also a very good deal. They cooked it to my med rare request and I was stuffed when we were done. The waitress was also very helpful in letting us know they have a $3 extra for shared plate surcharge but if you just got an extra potato side (also $3) you wouldn't have to pay for the plate. So that was great too.

House Special 26 oz T-Bone steak with sauteed onions on top

Great dinner for our last night in town. Afterward we went back into Eagle River and enjoyed gazing at the totally visible stars in the sky while sitting on the balcony on the river before calling it a night as we were set to head back in the morning. Bonus stop! As we crept into Menasha, WI for lunch on the way back to Chicago. Mihm's Charcoal Grill is another one of the WI spots that uses real charcoal when they cook and have been since they first opened up in 1958. I found them thru roadfood. The signature 'Sconnie style tavern steak sandwich and double buttered butterflied brats were the perfect way to end our stay in the state full of fun to eat foods.

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Mihm's Charcoal Grill in Menasha, WI for lunch on the ride back

Big thanks to all who helped lead me in the right directions on my trip. I can only imagine how pretty it is in the Northwoods during the Fall and I am planning to get back there in September to see it and explore more. Anywhere I missed?

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The Wisconsin Northwoods, we hope you enjoyed your e-trip...

...See ya next time on 'America the Beautiful'

Twig's Beverage
711 South Washington Street
Shawano, WI 54166
(715) 526-5031

Chet & Emil's
388 Main Street
Birnamwood, WI 54414
(715) 449-2226

Trig's Grocery (Multiple locations)
925 East Wall Street
Eagle River, WI 54521
(715) 479-6411

Soda Pops Restaurant
125 South Railroad Street
Eagle River, WI 54521
(715) 479-9424

Faye's Dinky Diner
121 South Railroad Street
Eagle River, WI 54521
(715) 479-5929

Wolf Pack Cafe
426 E State Road 70
Saint Germain, WI 54558
(715) 479-8737

Gooch's A-One Bar & Grille
6215 County Road M
Boulder Junction, WI 54512
(715) 385-9288

Little Bohemia
142 Highway 51 S
Manitowish Waters, WI 54545
(715) 543-8433

Vinchi's Hillside Inn
8065 County Rd
Sayner, WI 54560
(715) 542-2240

Little Musky
1455 US Highway 51 North
Arbor Vitae, WI 54568-9505
(715) 356-6738

PJ's Burger Barn & Up North Resort
397 US Highway 51 North
Arbor Vitae, WI 54568
(715) 356-7655

Mc Gregor's Blink Bonnie
1506 Jerry Road
St Germain, WI 54558
(715) 542-3678

Mihm's Charcoal Grill
342 Chute Street
Menasha, WI 54952
(920) 722-0306


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