Monday, April 25, 2011

The Great River Road - Wisconsin

Cruisin' Across America
-The Mighty Mississippi thru WI

I'm a big fan of travel along the Mississippi. Last summer I took a ride up North that brought us from Chicago to Madison where we stayed for the night and then traveled the Wisconsin River all the way to the Mississippi River which we then rode up North towards Minnesota. I was estatic to start my 2010 Great Lakes journey up north with a stop at Pete's Hamburger Stand. Located in Prairie Du Chien which is the largest river community in Wisconsin along the Mississippi and the 2nd oldest town in the state, Pete's was the gold medal winner on this trip for me as far as food stops. So that in itself makes this drive worthy because I eat like a King. This was the day we rode the river up north thru Wisconsin towards Duluth, MN. The month of June will be 'Travel Time' here at chibbqking and you can expect reports like this the entire month. This is the first installment of 'The Great River Road'. More states to come.

Highway 35 along the Mississippi in Wisconsin

I did a little web browsing of places worth stopping at and a spot I found that was getting alot of love, much like Pete's, which had just captivated us, was a place not but a five minute walk from the hamburger stand. Valley Fish & Cheese specializes in smoked meats and fish amongst many other things. It was a really cool looking shop from the outside and that's something you can expect to see a few of on this trip. There's no strip malls and no abundance of franchised places like Burger King along the river, just alot of family owned businesses that have been serving their community for generations. Some places, such as Pete's have been around for over 100 years.

Pete's Hamburger Stand (Prairie Du Chien, WI)

One of the best burgers I have ever had, and I've eaten a few...

Check out my complete report on Pete's RIGHT HERE. Valley Fish & Cheese is a place that's been open for over 25 years now and owned by a family that's been commercial fishing, trapping and hunting their entire lives.

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Valley Fish & Cheese: a treasure along the river (Prairie Du Chien, WI)

They do a unique combination of things including hickory smoked catfish, smoked buffalo fish, snapping turtle jerky, catfish jerky, smoked frog legs, dried beef, buffalo meat, fresh cheese curds, hickory smoked string cheese, mustard's of a wide variety, aged cheddar's, pickled river chub and a bunch of other unique Wisconsin canned and bottled products. You can also get all sorts of gear and items for fishing and hunting along with wooden carved decorations for your yard and all that other good stuff. I thought this place was phenomenal and the jerky was as good as it gets and tasted more like steak than jerky. I thought the smoked carp was unique and interesting and loved the turtle beer stix and carp jerky as well. I wish I had left with alot more than I did. I got some pic's to share and if you want to check out this video I just found on google, its a look into the place with the owner.

Great selection at this shop

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frog and duck legs, pickled prawns and pickled perch, they smoke and pickle it all...

assorted jerky's

Never seen that until I saw it there

The fact that Valley Fish & Cheese is also in Prairie Du Chien along with Pete's and some other places I didn't make it too like an old fashioned soda fountain make it a fun stop on the River Road route and one I would highly recommend.

Onward north we went, there were many historical markers and sites along the way

Our next stop was in Lynxville at a place that popped up and caught my eye so I pulled in since I at least needed a drink since I was thirsty. It was a little festival type food stand bragging about their hot dogs and catfish and looked like a place to get a nice snack even though I wasn't hungry.

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"World Famous Dogs" and fresh fried Mississippi catfish

It wasn't over an hour since I devoured four burgers from Pete's and had plenty of smoked fish and jerky for dessert so I didn't try a dog but they didn't seem to appealing anyway but I did get some catfish and a draft of 1919 Root Beer brewed in New Ulm, MN. The expertly fresh fried catfish nuggets were great loaded with hot sauce and the root beer was really good, I'm a fan of draft root beers and drink them when I see it available and this was a nice brew. Good stuff keeps popping up along the river.

The view from The Dawg Houses parking lot

Mississippi Fried Catfish

and on we pushed northbound...

I think about the halfway point was La Crosse which is the home to City Brewing Company and has also been to the home to many different brewers over the years such as G. Heileman Brewing Company. It's also the home to the worlds largest six pack and a cool place to stop and stretch the legs. Only in Wisconsin does your first stop have an abundant smell of onions everywhere and then the next there's the smell of beer in the air. On this particular trip I didn't go to many of these places in the La Crosse area except the Coney Joint seen below (which was closed on my last visit) but I was there for Labor Day weekend last year and had a good time and enjoyed the area. That trip report can be seen by clicking RIGHT HERE. CHECK IT!!!!!

The World's Largest Six Pack (More on it and La Crosse HERE)

-Coney's Across America

I will usually stop in for a Coney Dog whenever I see a place on the road while traveling and this stop was the first of a few Coneys on my journey North up the river. Usually these stands have been around for a long time and this one said they've been doing them since 1922. Like the rest, they had the hot dogs in the window and lots of old time locals hanging out sitting down at the counter.

La Crosses local Coney Island hot dog stop

I also always try and get one Coney with cheese and one without. I wasn't really thrilled by these Coneys but I'm sure they're different if you grow up on them.

People love them from all over...

Coney with Cheese from Downtown Coney in La Crosse

Perrot State Park is located about 30 minutes up the river from La Crosse in Trempealeau, WI and I had read last year when I visited that it along with Devil's Lake are two of Wisconsin's better state parks. Since I know how great Devil's Lake is having hung out there when I was in Madison for school, I knew that Perrot would be pretty panoramic and a great place to spend a summers day exploring, grilling and enjoying some brews and it was. I would rec a visit there for some exploration and relaxation.

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Perrot State Park...see the complete report from that trip HERE

and on we push...many great little towns to cruise thru for 10-15 minutes

The next stop was the end of the Great Wisconsin River Road in Prescott, WI and the end of our journey up the Mississippi. It was done in a few hours and we made a few stops so a weekend excursion out of it would be very much possible. I'd like to one day ride up the other side and go thru IA and MN, stay tuned and you might just see that I already have. I had a few spots on my radar in Prescott and since we just drove a couple hours we wanted to take in some sun and get a snack and a brew or two and so we stopped into the Point St. Croix Marina's Bar, which is overlooking the river. Beautiful spot on the sunny day we visited.

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Prescott, WI

Still my favorite summertime beer anywhere...and only available in WI :(

The marina bar's jumbo grilled shrimps are $1.65/each

I had read the marina bar does a good jumbo grilled shrimp that go great with a cold one while sitting in the sun looking over the river. They weren't bad and came served with melted butter and cocktail sauce but weren't great either, just Vietnamese jumbo shrimp coated with Louisiana seasoning and grilled. I liked them for what they were. The next stop was to a place called Enrique's that I had read put out a mean burger (handmade and stuffed with pico and queso) and also does deep fried tacos. I had to pass on the burger since it was a monster and we were just 15/20 minutes from Minny/St. Paul and were going to stop for dinner there and get a Juicy Lucy before we pushed onward to Duluth. So I went with the deep fried taco and we all split some fresh fried tortilla chips coated with cinnamon sugar. Not bad but nothing that will me must visit if I'm ever out that way again.

a Mexican/American grill in Prescott, WI

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What the fried tacos lacked in spice and flavor the chips did not and were great

Well I hope you enjoyed this peak into what was an amazing trip last summer, and there were a few. Stay tuned and you'll get to see the rest of this trip and all the fantastic food devoured, as well as some other sweet stops across America. You'll be sure to get some great tips if your planning a trip up North this summer. Plenty more to come. Please stay tuned.

So this is where we end the tour up River Road thru WI

and on we drove to Minneapolis/St. Paul...

Pete's Hamburger Stand (seasonal and wkds only)
118 W Blackhawk Ave
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821

Valley Fish & Cheese
304 South Prairie Street
Prairie Du Chien, WI 53821
(608) 326-4719

The Dawg House (seasonal & wkds only)
Located on Highway 35 near the boat landing
Lynxville, WI

Coney Island Hot Dogs
114 4th Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-6314

Perrot State Park
W26247 Sullivan Rd Off Rte 1
Trempealeau, WI 54661
(608) 534-6409‎

Point St Croix Marina
101 Front Street
Prescott, WI 54021-1619
(715) 262-3161

Enrique's Mexican and American
310 Lake Street North
Prescott, WI 54021-1766
(715) 262-5566

Friday, April 22, 2011

Armadillo Eggs

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

Despite the fact were still waiting for Spring were going to get the BBQ lit and smokin'. Today were doing up an old favorite from the bbq circuit. Armadillo eggs are different depending on who you talk to or where you go and this is the chibbqking way. My egg's have a little Tex-Mex flare. I like to smoke them but you can also make these by just grilling them, baking them or frying them which I imagine would also be very good. Make sure you get the right breakfast sausage which just needs to be loose and not tubed. Jimmy Dean makes it as well as other companies like Tennessee Pride which is what I use, they call it country sausage and make a mild and hot batch as well as Italian. The key to perfecting these and speeding up the time if you plan on making batches of them is practice. It also doesn't hurt to have two people but it's all worth it no matter what. These little app's are always very popular with everybody and they go quick.

Ingredients (Yield:16)

1 lb Country Sausage (loose)
4-6 Jalapenos
Packet of Cream cheese (room temp)
1/2 package Velveeta shreds
finely chopped cilantro
finely chopped garlic
your favorite BBQ rub or taco seasoning


1) Start out by cutting the top of each jalapeno out and slicing it down the middle and then remove seeds and veins. Cut each half in half again so you have the pepper quartered. Place the quartered jalapenos in a bowl and set aside.

2) Take the cream cheese and throw that into a mixing bowl and add in the Velveeta shreds along with a few tablespoons of your favorite bbq or Tex Mex rub along with the minced garlic and mash it all up so it evens out.

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Ingredients ready to go

3) Use a teaspoon and take a large scoop of the cheese spread and layer it onto each jalapeno piece like those seen below. Some cheese oozes out while they cook, so you can add a little extra. Once you have all of them done sprinkle the finely chopped cilantro on top of each piece.

4) You don't need to use that much sausage. What I found works best is to take a small balls worth (stop laughing) and form it into such with your hands and then flatten it out evenly into the palm of your hand. Insert a jalapeno piece into the middle and fold over the ends and form it back into a ball. You want them small enough to be able to pop 'em whole.

Like So

Note: You need to roll it around for a half minute or so making sure that there are no air holes. After a dozen or so are done you pick up the routine and work thru them pretty fast. Whenever I make them I always do at least 30 if not 100's. They work great at a tailgate. You can expect each guest to have a few if not five, six or seven. You can expect jokes about how tasty your balls are from a few too.

Ready for Smokin'

4) Smoke the egg's until done. About 2 hours for a batch of balls. You want the sausage fully cooked thru. Once ready and removed from the smoker let them sit for five minutes. You don't want the oozing cheese that's coming out burning the roof of your mouth.

These make a great snack when your smokin' something that takes longer

The insides seen up above, though they taste best when popped whole

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Susie's Drive Thru

-Fried out on 420

Happy Holiday to everyone. Haha. Well were taking it a little bit easier this year compared to years past. I didn't gather a bunch of places that serve amazing fries like past reports and instead were going to head to a place with great fries that's also a favorite of the late night 420 crowd. I've been going to Susie's Drive Thru since my youth when my buddy's housesitter back in the day would take us over that way for some food the weekends we were hanging out. Located on the Northwest side along Montrose ave just past Elston this grease pit is best visited in a non sober state of mind. Check out 2009 and 2010 reports on fresh fries by clicking on the years in the link below.


a longtime late night favorite in the city

I really loved my visits to Susie's during my youth, it was a favorite place of mine to stop at. Though it's called a drive thru there is none anymore so you park in their lot and head on in. As you enter the lot you'll see the raggedy old building that's got years and years of grease layered on it's walls along with drawings of the food served. It's kind of like the food stands at the carnival and the options are endless. Prices are cheap and the portions are huge, it's loved by all blue collar people and of course all those who are inebriated.

The confused chicken is popular with fans

To go thru the entire menu at Susie's would be something, you would have to be near death from starving or extremely stoned with a serious case of the munchies. As a kid I loved their Italian beef and sometimes got me one with cheese. I actually haven't had their beef in ages, last time was a few years back it wasn't what I remembered so I moved on to other things. Since I get in there only now and then and mostly during the later hours I don't have pics of everything but I do of a few. Not pictured is the Corn Pole which is a Polish sausage fried on a stick like a corn dog would be. Just like the confused chicken, it's a calorie laced treat best eaten when you wont remember it the next day. Other options are your standard fast food fare, just expect a little more flare. Hot dogs, beefs, gyros, burgers, they got it all and then some at Susie's

Taco on Pita Bread

Fried Polish Sausage

But the star of the show at Susie's are the french fries. They take fresh hand cut fries and throw them into a freshly fried taco shell bowl and the only way to go is with cheese, if not more. You see they offer just about everything they have as a topping for your fries. Some people like myself prefer to go with just the cheese, the minimalist way while others load them with stuff ranging from hot peppers to gyro meat and everything in between. Although I like my cheese to be Merkt's or actually melted shreds of cheddar when it comes to topping it on my fries, I like the cheap gooey neon orange stuff Susie's uses. It goes great with the fresh cut fries and taco shell bowl. I've been known to put down an entire shells worth but wouldn't recommend doing so, these can easily feed a few. Check it next time your cruising by but remember theres only a few seats inside but they do have a few picnic tables in front. Happy Chowing.

Taco Shell bowl of cheese fries from Susie's

Susie's Drive In
4126 West Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 283-6544

Susie's Drive-Thru on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five More Items (Fried)

-Grubbing Like a King
Where chibbqking eats.

It's time to do one of our "Five more..." segments here at chibbqking. Y'all ready? It's when we take a stroll back to five different spots that have already been featured here on S'C'&C except we check something new out from their menus. Today the five spots are all high on my list and places I get too more often than other spots. If your hungry as you read this be warned, your going to be starving after.

Wiener...and Still Champion!

a locals favorite in Evanston, IL

Gus over at WaSC is the heavyweight deep frying champion of the foodie world. If theres something that works even better when it's fried, Gus got it taken care of. We took a stop in for some of their world famous corn dogs back in August of '09 and you can see the original report HERE. One of the things that makes going to this place so much fun is you never know whats going to be written on the specials board that day. They might be frying up gyros, pickles and who knows what else along with all the original stuff. The pickles are fantastic but when I got to try the fried jalapeno's I was taken to yet another level. Gus takes pickled jalapeno rings and puts them in coating and drops them into the fryer with the end result being one of the best fried food app's out there. Check these out.

Fried Jalapenos

Captain Porky's

a chibbqking favorite in Wadsworth, IL

Well as long as were indulging in fried food lets stick with it. Captain Porky's is one of my favorite food finds since the times when I started riding around anywhere and everywhere in search of great local eats. When it comes to that deep frying heavyweight state crown, Porky's is a contender. Aside from what I consider to be the best fried shrimp I have had they also fry up to perfection everything from veggies to goat cheese as well as the usual suspects from the water. You can check out my original report on Captain Porky's right HERE. On my last visit which was too long ago we tried some of the fried okra and it was outstanding. It reaffirmed to me that there isn't anything that the Captain cant make good as long as he's got some breading and a deep fryer by his side.

Fried Okra

Well's Brothers Pizza

a locals favorite in Racine, WI

There are many times when people talking food with me want to know where my favorite place to eat pizza is at. Since I'm a born and raised Chi guy they expect to get an answer like Lou Malnati's or Pizzeria Uno or something like that, something from Chicago nonetheless. Nope that's not the case. I live for Tavern style thin and the best most crispiest, crackliest pizza pie I have ever had is at Well's Brother's Pizza in Racine, WI. This isn't just a place that I went to once and think about ever since then, oh no I've been here 10+ times and that number will continue to grow. The pizza is perfect and the atmosphere inside is classic. You can check out the full story right HERE and please believe it's worth the ride from Chi. If your going with a group of people which is what I suggest, order the fried appetizer combo platter to start with alongside a Whiskey Old Fashioned. They let you choose any three items from the app menu. So we went with fresh breaded 'shrooms, cheese curds and fried green beans. Good stuff indeed.

Fried App Platter from The Great Well's Brothers Pizza

Big & Little's

Located on Orleans, this somewhat new spot has made a splash

Well were still in Lenten season for those of you that follow it and for those of us that don't, it's always a good time to eat fried fish so lets do that at our next two stops. Big & Little's has been getting quite the press since it first opened including a recent visit from Triple D and Guy Fieri. You can check out chibbqking's visit HERE. The menu at B&L is small and they do what they do right which is fried fish. I think they might have the best fish and chips in town and that is my usual order when there. But recently I tried the fried shrimp and also thought that was something special. They just know how to fry away over there as the reggae plays and you patiently wait for your order. Some of the best fried shrimp within city limits, not a surprise to me when you consider how good they do the fish and chips. Makes sense they would do shrimp so good as well.

Fried Shrimp Dinner from B&L's

Troha's Shrimp and Chicken

a locals favorite on 26th street

Sticking with the fried fish theme lets take a stroll over to the classic Chicago shrimp shack that is Troha's. It's been around these parts for over 90 years and they keep people eating well, especially on Friday's during lent. Troha's is another one of my favorite food stops in Chi and you can check out my visit HERE. The story behind how this place came about is a great one and I try to make it over there whenever time allows me too and I have fried shrimp on my mind. They also have Walleye on the menu which isn't found everywhere around here so I like to get some of that from time to time too. God Bless the places like Troha's, the family owned spots that care a whole lot. Here's to ninety more years!

Troha's Fried Walleye

Wiener and Still Champion
802 Dempster
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 869-0100

Captain Porky's
38995 N US Highway 41
Wadsworth, IL 60083
(847) 360-7460

Wells Brothers
2148 Mead St
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 632-4408
Closed Sun. & Mon.

Big & Little's
939 North Orleans Street
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-0000

Troha's Shrimp & Fish House
4151 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 521-7847


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