Friday, September 28, 2018

Ina Mae Tavern

-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'

It took some time but the space that used to house an old dive called The Beechwood Inn has come back to life. This time in the form of a shiny new New Orleans inspired tavern. We had a chance to check out Ina Mae's one hot day this past summer. I like what they did. I did feel a bit of Nola vibe via the design of the place. Though it was empty on our visit it was also opening time on a weekday.

Newly Opened in Wicker Park 

Ina Mae's is the second spot from the chef behind Frontier. Chef Brian Jupiter has developed a name for himself at Frontier doing things like exotic game, and crawfish boils and such. The fried chicken is considered by many to be the best in the city. It makes an appearance on the Ina Mae menu. It's an ode to New Orleans with most all of the classics making appearances. You know the drill. Gumbo, Po Boys, Fried Shrimp, and more. Maybe not as much more as I'd like. I was hoping to see a few hyper local favorites on the menu. Something like Ya Ka Mein which I suppose could still make an appearance this winter. Nonetheless the area gained itself a great place for fried seafood. The 1/2 lb plate of fried catfish was as good as I've had here in the North. I'm confident the rest is just as good.

Fried Catfish at Ina Mae's Tavern 

I had to make a tough choice between the gumbo and the shrimp Po Boy and ultimately settled on the Po Boy. To go along with it I also got a side of dirty rice. One of my favorites. The rice wouldn't live up to the stuff at the long gone Analogue but it still hit the spot in the way that New Orleans style food most always does. The Po Boy had strengths and weaknesses. The strength was in the fried shrimp. They were just about perfect. But I felt like the bread could've been better. D'Amato's maybe? Still though we aren't in Nola. It was damn good for Chicago. It just needed some crisper bread.

Shrimp Po Boy at Ina Mae Tavern 

There is one hyper local Nola dish that they recreated. The famous SnowBalls found all over town. The mounds of shaved ice flavored with sweet syrups and evaporated milk and such. It's a Nola tradition that goes back to the 1930's. I did a little SnowBall tour once and loved doing so. Many of the spots down there are classic old school joints that have been around forever. I couldn't resist one from Ina Mae so I went ahead and got Tiger's Blood which is a popular (fruity) flavor down there. I loved that they serve them from Chinese takeout containers which is what the famous Plum St. Snowballs does. Only problem was the containers weren't secure enough and mine started leaking after a minute or so in the 90+ degree heat. It's a problem that's easily fixed and thus I'm sure I'll be back next summer for another. In fact this is the type of spot I'll probably get back to a few times.

SnowBall at Ina Mae Tavern

Ina Mae Tavern
1415 N Wood St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 360-8320

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

JK Kabab House

-Grubbing in Chicago
Lunch Special off Devon

Hello friends. It's good to be back. Sorry about the unexpected pause but my computer took a crash. Luckily I was able to get it fixed and all of my files (pictures) were saved. Nonetheless I have so many posts that need to go up so expect a stream of them to come. We'll start with a spot I went to this past spring when on a run for lunch specials. I was planning on doing a little special on where to find the best lunch specials but two of the spots ended up closing and JK Kebab was clearly better than the others. It's a favorite with the locals and those willing to look off of Devon. It sits on Rockwell.

Locals Favorite in West Rogers Park 

JK Kabab calls itself an Indian / Pakistani restaurant but the menu seems to be Pakistani dominant. In fact most of Devon is Pakistani despite it's standing as Chicago's Little India. You'll find classics on the menu such as Chili chicken and Chicken tikka. What sets JK apart from others in the area is the fact there is no buffet or heat lamps. Everything is made (grilled) fresh to order. The lunch special is a good way to go should you be there the hours it's available. It includes some Seekh kabab, Chicken kabab, rice, soup, salad, and bread (paratha). A meal fit for a sumo wrestler for the price of just $6.99. Making it one of the better lunch deals in the city. You could tell the kababs were grilled to order while the rice was nice and fluffy which is just the way I like it. Only thing I wouldn't recommend is the soup which was way to gloppy for my liking. They also have a second location in Naperville.

Lunch Special at JK Kabab House 

JK Kabab House
6412 N Rockwell St
Chicago, IL 60645
(773) 761-6089

Friday, September 14, 2018

Stopping in at three Ann Arbor Favorites

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Longtime Ann Arbor Favorites

School is back in session. It didn't take long for the Michigan Wolverines to lose national championship aspirations. Nonetheless the show must go on up in Ann Arbor. Where they may not have an elite D1 football program but they do have a pretty fantastic campus within a beautiful town. I will say it never quite did the things Madison does for me but it's still one of the better college campuses in the country. Due to it's close proximity to places like Detroit and Dearborn it's got some really good stuff going on as far as food and culture. Today we check out three town favorites for food.

 Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger

There's at least two spots that pretty much everyone who's lived in Ann Arbor will tell you about. The first one up is Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger. One of the more unique restaurants in not just Ann Arbor or Michigan but in the entire country. They play the mad at the world schtick and treat customers like their servicemen and women in the army. It's kind of annoying but also pretty funny. I watched some poor Asian students obviously new to America get rode up by the crazy lady running the show. Your best bet is to try and figure out and know what you're getting before you go. Then when you're in line you can practice the order form. it's been this way since 1953 which is when they first got started.

 a peek inside 

Obviously you're here for a burger. They dont make it easy by offering 100's of different variations all based off the toppings available. You even have to choose which type of bun you want. On top of the obvious stuff like how many patties, what type of cheese and do you want onion rings? The answer to that is always yes. Krazy Jim's makes some of the best onion rings out there. Or maybe I should say onion ring as it all ind of forms into one upon coming out of the fryer. Nice and thin and extra crisp which is just how I like them. Burger wise you should always go double when the option is there no matter whee you are. If so a single will always be small and never have a good meat to bun ratio. I got a double with American cheese, grilled onion, mustard, pickles, and bacon on a poppy seed bun. Man I must say I'd heard mixed reviews about Jim's and after eating the burger I can only assume those that didn't like it was bc of the Nazis who run the place. Bc the burger is a throwback classic.

Cheeseburger and Onion Rings from Blimpy Burger

 Broadway Cafe 

Our next stop is much more lowkey than the other two. I'd venture to guess most Ann Arbor residents dont know of the Broadway Cafe. Despite it being around since 1986 there's not a ton of love out there. You look around and there just isn't much. Well I'm here to tell you that this should probably be your first stop in Ann Arbor. Owned by a Korean family they make a few Korean diner classics such as bi bim bop. They also do cheesesteak hoagies. These sandwiches are big around this part of Michigan. There's a few places that have been making cheesesteak hoagies going on a few generations. So the folks from Broadway cafe decided to bank on that fact and they too offer hoagies. But what they have that the others dont is a Bulgogi based hoagie. Bulgogi being the thinly sliced beef popular in Korean BBQ. Well it also makes for the perfect cheesesteak meat. Paired with gooey American cheese and grilled onions, carrots, mushrooms, green peppers it's a world class sandwich.

Bulgogi Hoagie at Broadway Cafe

 Zingerman's Delicatessen

You cant make a trip to Ann Arbor and not stop at the most famous sandwich shop in town. Zingerman's is recognized on a national level as one of the best deli's in the country. It's an Ann Arbor staple that I had never visited until this past Spring. I'll start by saying it's a cool p[lace. They got alot going on. It's a full fledged grocery store as well as a deli. It's grown a little bit ever since they first opened in 1982. Today they're a full grown empire with a handful of offshoots as far as businesses including a roadhouse, catering company, coffee house, and creamery. Now let me say this. I wasn't crazy impressed with their selection of stuff which was really just a bunch of goods they stocked up on from elsewhere. I didn't see a bunch of housemade meats or the likes. But one thing they do make in house, or rather bake, is the bread. It's fantastic and was the highlight of my $20 Reuben sandwich. Maybe a tad steep in price I was still pleasantly surprised by it's deliciousness.

Reuben Sandwich at Zingerman's Delicatessen

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
304 S Ashley St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 663-4590

Broadway Cafe
1139 Broadway St
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
(734) 769-8900

Zingerman's Delicatessen
422 Detroit St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 663-3354

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the cabbies eat

A month or two back I decided to show some Insta love to the immigrant owned mom and pop shops across Chicago. Each day of that week I featured a spot most folks probably hadn't heard of.  One of them was this Somalian owned restaurant on Orleans st. Most folks in the area have no clue as to what Mogadishu is. The answer is a spot that caters to the city's cab drivers from the Horn of Africa.

Locals Favorite on Orleans Street 

Mogadishu is one of those spots that pretty much only it's regulars know of. It's not going to be found unless you go looking for it and or Somalian food. While not as prevalent in Chicago as it is in other places like Minneapolis this is one of the city's lone suppliers of comfort food for those who hail from around the Horn of Africa. Everything is prepared fresh and served buffet style. Thus your best bet is to ask for the sampler platter which will net you a little bit of everything that's available. On my most recent visit that was barbecue chicken, salmon, chicken suqar, lentils, vegetables, and more. It was an insane amount of food for just over $10. Easily enough to feed two people or one hungry cab driver.

Sampler Platter at Mogadishu 

931 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 265-1850

Monday, September 10, 2018

Al's Drive In

-In Chicago: Every Dog Has it's Day

Long time coming for today's post. One of my favorites. With school season back in session I know the folks over at Al's Drive-In are back to the busy season. That's bc Proviso East High School is right across the street. The Maywood Hot Dog stand is always hopping on game nights. But the high school kids aren't the only ones who frequent the stand. It's got fans from all over. So what makes it different or better yet what puts above so many other hot dogs stands in Chicagoland? It's the city's only Thai owned hot dog stand for one and two they also make Chinese food. Let's take a look.

Locals Favorite in Maywood, IL

I've featured many of the city's Asian owned hot dog stands over the years. Sadly this is the last one I have to post on. The owners and a few of the workers come from Thailand however there is no Thai food on the menu. It's a classic Chicago style hot dog stand menu except they also have a Chinese food section. So people will place orders for stuff like hot dogs and fried rice. It's not odd at all to enjoy a gyro sandwich with a side of chop suey. The hot dogs are natural casing making them worth the $3 pricetag though the fries are your standard thin variety ala McD's. Great deal for a lunch.

Hot Dog and Fries at Al's Drive In

Another menu item worth your time are the burgers. Nothing special as far as the beef. Though it is fresh and from Vienna Beef too I believe. But what makes Al's burger unique is their special sauce which comes standard when you ask for everything. It's a mayo mixed with relish, mustard, pickles, onions. Their own secret sauce even though they tell you what's in it. Another terrific deal around $3.

Burger at Al's Drive-In

But the main reason I find myself going to Al's more times than I should? Fried rice. They do it right over here. You'll notice when you order from the Chinese menu that those items get cooked in the room next door. That's where the wok is. As opposed to at the hot dog and grill station. It's fried fresh and you can always hear the sizzles coming from the room as soon as your order is yelled to the ladies working that part of the kitchen. It's an amazingly smooth operation and my guy behind the counter taking all the orders is always full of energy in dealing with the crowds and regulars that stop in. He seems to know most of the customers incl. me. It's long running success and the fact they're such a unique spot has me wondering when their induction into the Vienna Beef Hall of Fame will come? Al's is a treasure that will hopefully be around forever but truthfully probably has less then 20 years left. The owners are older and I dont think there's any kids involved. Check it out while you can.

Shrimp Fried Rice at Al's Drive-In

Al's Drive In
80 Madison St
Maywood, IL 60153
(708) 344-8660


Related Posts with Thumbnails