Eating like a local:- Summertime Establishments to Enjoy Illinois
Regional food specialties
Regional food specialties
You may have seen a little Q&A with yours truly in the Tribune recently. I forgot to mention that last week it was released both online and in print. You can check out the online link HERE. I imagine I have a few new readers this week and they're probably interested in my Midwest food adventures. So with summer winding down now is the time to share with you five summertime operations to seek out on that final roadtrip this summer. All of them from my home state here in Illinois. Safe travels!
First stop up is out in DeKalb County in the village of Hinckley. The Dairy Joy Drive-In is a classic summertime establishment. They've been a part of the area since 1957. Dairy Joy has been the spot to celebrate everything from winning a baseball game to the start (and end) of summer. So basically everyone is always happy when here. The menu is much more than ice cream. It sports all the drive in classics including burgers, hot dogs, and tacos. Yep something I've noticed frequently at old school Midwest drive-in's are tacos on the menu. Many of them on there since the 60's. Dairy Joy makes a classic drive-in style taco which is pretty much identical to what you might picture when I mention the words "gringo and "taco". It's a classic flour tortilla filled with taco seasoned beef, lettuce, cheese. I'll be the first to admit I like these for what they are. I also enjoyed a cherry freeze with my taco.
Taco and Treat at Dairy Joy
Here's one from a few years ago. Pretty sure we stopped here just bc I wanted to snap a pic of the original Shake Shack. Haha. From the looks of the place it's a classic Midwest burger counter with vintage stuff hanging on the walls inside. I cant find much info online and we stopped here on the way to 3 or 4 burger joints so we were just passing through McClean County with no plans to stop. Well I was sucked in and decided to try the onion rings which the menu was bragging about. Well they were in the right to boast as these were a fantastic little batch of fresh lightly battered delights.
Onion Rings at Shake Shack
On a recent trip down to the Peoria area I made it in to Ernie's Dairy Dream. According to an article in the PJ Star Ernie's reopened last year after a three year hiatus. Ernie's was born in South Peoria in 1959 in what was a bustling area. They had as many as 20 employees. As times changed and other businesses shut down so did Ernie's. But with it's recent rebirth I got to try one of their famous Castle Burgers which is really just a loose meat sandwich. Loose meat being exactly what it sounds like. Crumbled up ground beef served on a bun. A Sloppy Joe without the slop. Ernie's makes a good one that reminded me a bit of White Castle. It had that smooth slider taste. Dear I say it was great.
Castle Burger with Cheese at Ernie's Dairy Dream
Moving over to Fulton County which is where we found Hannam's Dairy Dream. I dont have an exact born date but I know someone from the area and he's been going here his whole life. Whenever I'm at these small town dairy shops I like to browse the menu for interesting things. Hannam's has two. First up is their lemon soft serve. Something I've noticed at a few other ice cream shops in the state. Then there was the chili bun which I wasn't expecting to see. It's exactly what it sounds like in that it's a hot dog bun with chili. These are big in Eastern, KY but not really anywhere else. I got one plus a chili dog to go with my cherry dipped lemon cone. Interesting they put the toppings on bottom.
Chili Dog and Bun with Cherry Dipped Lemon Cone at Hannam's Dairy Dream
We finish today's trip in Lee County. That's where Dixon Illinois is located. Home to Ronald Reagan and Meusel's Dairy Delite. This is a classic summertime shack offering only ice cream. It's got the walk up window with tables off to the side. Customers dont get to go inside. We tried a brownie sundae of sort and it hit the spot after some delicious fried chicken. Stay tuned for more on that soon.
Brownie Sundae at Muesel's Dairy Delite
See ya next time @chibbqking