Helpful ReplyHot!Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders

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billyboy
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2018/08/21 16:43:37 (permalink)

Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders

For some time, my girlfriend Dayna & I have wanted to take a weeklong vacation somewhere, just the two of us.  When she found out that the hit musical Hamilton was opening in Chicago, she asked if we could go for her birthday at the end of July.  A few mouse clicks later and we had our show tickets, airline tickets and our hotel.  Since we were getting dinner at our local Shake Shack at the same time that we booked our flight, we decided to kick off the countdown until our Windy City wing-ding with a Shack-cago Dog.   

While they may not use a poppyseed bun, Shake Shack does a pretty good version of the Chicago classic and split-grills the dog for a crusty wiener that has a good snap and they don't skimp on those delightfully spicy sport peppers.  Dayna isn't into the Roadfood but she really liked it and was excited to try a few on our trip.  Sweet!

Friday July 27, 2018 - Day One - A pretty quick flight from LaGuardia to O'Hare and we were well on our way to taking in all Chicago had to offer.  Wait just a minute!  Deep dish pizza at Uno's AND Vienna Beef hot dogs at O'Hare?  Well, looks like I won't need to leave the airport this week!  Everything I need is right here...

One of a series of very touching installations throughout Chicago.  

Here's more of the backstory.

I briefly flirted with the idea of taking the "EL" to our hotel but with luggage neither of us wanted to deal with public transit.  Technology being so wonderful, we booked a Lyft and about 5 minutes later, our driver, Marquis, picked us up and despite it only being his third day on the job, he knew the best route to take and was very chatty (in a good way) as we talked about local food and theater in NYC and Chicago.  Dayna went on Priceline some months ago and scored a good deal at the Viceroy Chicago, located in the Gold Coast district.  The Viceroy had a hip, boutique feel to it and we immediately loved the look, the feel and the service we received from the staff from the moment we walked in.  
 


I wish the bathroom in our apartment was this big!

A HUGE standing shower, a room really, with a bench just out of frame.  

Our king size bed.  Not the biggest room ever but it served us well during the week were there.  

And the view from our 15th floor window.  Just out of frame on the right is the John Hancock Center.  

Peek-a-Boo!!  Each of the rooms doors was a different color, adding a sense of whimsy to the decor.

Vintage door knockers were on display in the hall of our floor.  I love the pineapple.  Growing up, we always had some representation of a pineapple on our wall as a welcome sign to visitors.  

The elevator bank.  A cool design but I'll bet it could feel pretty trippy if you step off of the elevator after having a few too many!

I think we may have noshed on some bagels in the morning before leaving for our flight but we were both feeling peckish by early evening and as luck would have it there was a Lou Malnati's literally right next door to our hotel.  YESSSS!!  My Roadfood bucket list journey began right here.  

I don't think there are any deep dish joints in NYC and even if there were I don't think it would have been right for my first time (okay, second time.  I did have deep dish at the original Uno's back in 2001) to be anywhere but Chicago.  
And the proof from way back when.  Wait, who is that guy?!


Like I said, LITERALLY next door to the Viceroy!

We started of by splitting a House Salad which was just light enough and left room for what was to come.

We each ordered our own personal pizza as Dayna leans towards the veggies and I'm more of a meat eater.  This is "The Lou" - Spinach mix (enhanced with garlic, basil & onion), mushrooms and sliced Roma tomatoes covered with three cheeses, on a garlic Buttercrust™ (as described in the menu).  I grabbed a few bites and it was excellent.  Loved the mix of vegetables.

I went with the "Chicago Classic" - Made with Lou's lean sausage, some extra mozzarella cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on Buttercrust™ (as described on the menu).  This was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  Thick, buttery crust, sweet & chunky tomato sauce, loads of gooey mozzarella and a generous amount of tasty sausage.  I think FRESH would be the best word to describe these pizzas.  I know a few people back in NYC who would balk at calling this pizza but like I'm open to celebrating pizza in all of its many delicious forms.

As delicious as those pizzas were, they are not light eating, so we decided to walk around for a while, get the lay of the land and maybe even find some hidden gems.  Heading southbound on N. State St., I made a mental note to check out this place later on during our stay.  I knew I would need at least 2 or 3 Italian Beef sandwiches this week!  

I couldn't resist the chance to see what they had in stock.  They may be more of a mass-marketed brand now but they are still one of my favorites in that category.  We were too full to buy anything but the caramel milk chocolate square samples they were handing out satisfied my need...for now.

In doing some online sleuthing before the trip, I found out about the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, located right next to Jane Byrne Plaza.  Google Maps has some great photos of the inner sanctum of the Tower, however, that is not available to the public.  

The gallery is rather small but has some wonderful photos that document some of the old buildings in Chicago and the people and efforts that went in to preserving them as historic landmarks.  

Below is a sampling of just a few photos.  It's free to go and definitely worth checking out.  

 

 

I think my frame of reference for the Chicago Board of Trade building is having seen it in "The Untouchables" and "Batman Begins".

After walking around the Goad Coast for a while, we headed back to the hotel and I later went out to get a few jugs of water to keep in our fridge in the room.  Gotta stay hydrated!  This mission had a couple of other purposes.  I was struggling with getting good lighting with the camera earlier and I thought maybe some nighttime shots of buildings lit up and some neon shots might fare well.  The Water Tower really popped after dark!  

I also wanted to swing by the Ghirardelli store and make a custom bag to snack on during the week.  Vanilla Caramel, Bourbon Caramel (not a fan, as it turned out) and Dark Chocolate Blueberry I have never seen in retail stores in NYC.  

And I just knew I'd get a better shot of the Lou's Malnati's sign once it was lit up.  

 
Many thanks to fellow Roadfooder BuddyRoadhouse for introducing me to the poem, Chicago by Carl Sandburg, which was the inspiration for this trip report title.
 
That's it for the first day!  Coming up on Day Two: some hidden gems just around the corner from our hotel, traveling to the show, Back to the Future-style, Hamilton in Chicago, a stop for a classic Windy City treat, drinks and dinner with Mr & Mrs. ChiTownDiner, and some killer desserts.  Much more to come!  Stay tuned...
 
The 411
 
1.)  Viceroy Chicago
      1118 N. State Street
      Ph# 888-712-2712
      Website: https://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/chicago
 
2.)  Lou Malnati's
      1120 N. State Street
      Chicago, IL 60610
      Ph# 312-725-7777
      Website: https://www.loumalnatis.com/chicago-gold-coast
 
3.)  City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower
      806 Michigan Avenue
      Chicago, IL 60611
      Ph# 312-742-0808
      Website: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/city_gallery_in_thehistoricwatertower.html
 
post edited by billyboy - 2018/08/27 16:59:52
#1
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/21 17:02:41 (permalink)
Wow...while we shared a couple meals and I followed though the journey on social, your ability to tell the story around the GREAT photos is exemplary!  Love the start, can't wait for the next installment!  
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/21 17:08:39 (permalink)
Great photos. I'm looking forward to the rest of this.
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leethebard
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/21 17:26:31 (permalink)
Nice report. Enjoyed it!
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/21 20:36:13 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner
Wow...while we shared a couple meals and I followed though the journey on social, your ability to tell the story around the GREAT photos is exemplary!  Love the start, can't wait for the next installment!  


There's a bad ChiBears15 joke in there waiting to happen.
 
Great start billyboy. Maybe you'll be the first person not named DavidSanders to finish a Trip Report this decade.
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/22 07:44:10 (permalink)
David Sanders is merely a puppet whose strings are pulled by one ChiBears15...pay attention to the man above the curtain!  
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/23 10:15:43 (permalink)
DavidSanders posts could be Hoosier Mama pie shots on repeat...
blueberry, blueberry, .....blueberry?
 
(ie, Bueller, Bueller, .....Bueller?)

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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/23 12:55:48 (permalink)
JRPfeff
Great start billyboy. Maybe you'll be the first person not named DavidSanders to finish a Trip Report this decade.

I take umbrage at this hurtful, yet accurate remark...


#8
billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/26 03:12:30 (permalink)
Saturday, July 28, 2018 - Day Two - Feeling bit jet-lagged (I know, it's only a 1-hour difference!), Dayna & I slept in late but I decided to get up and take a walk around a bit north of our hotel and see what I could find.  Plenty of books on Chicago in the Barnes & Noble next to Lou Malnati's, though I didn't pickup anything as our luggage just squeaked by under the 50b limit on the way here.

Even though it currently is home to a CVS, I love the many older buildings I came across while walking through Chicago during this week.  

I found a small farmer's market on W. Division St., just a few blocks from our hotel.  

Do-Rite Donuts was on my list and since I could get them right here...

...a buttermilk old-fashioned was right up my alley.  Very tender and sweet with a nice crisp exterior.  

I also stopped at a stall called Delightful Pastries to pick up this outstanding cheese danish.  I'm always on the hunt for a good one and this was top notch; tender and flaky with generous amount of sweet cheese in the center.

The Mick Klug Farm stand had a good deal on some sweet cherries that we kept in our room fridge and snacked on for the next few days.  

We ended up running a bit behind schedule which meant that instead of walking to the theatre, we took advantage of the Tesla Model X (with gull wing doors) that the Viceroy had available for guests.  At first, it was a bit weird to have a door close right on top of my head, but it looks pretty cool and was one of the quietest and smoothest rides I've ever taken (tied with Ralph Melton's Tesla during the 2016 Pittsburgh Crawl).

We really didn't have a place in mind for lunch so we popped into a local branch of the multi-state chain, Corner Bakery Cafe, a few blocks from the theatre.  

We both went with the Anaheim Scrambler (scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, tomatoes, green onions, cheddar & avocado) with fruit and toast.  It's a "fast casual" sort of spot where customers order at the counter and someone brings the food to the table.  The food and atmosphere were nothing spectacular but it worked for our needs on this day. 

I don't really know why but I've always been fascinated with elevated train tracks in the middle of a bustling city.  Must've been quite a revelation when they were first constructed.  Makes me think of the story about people who went to see the first silent film around the turn of the 29th century and a train was barreling towards the audience from the screen.  Some filmgoers ran screaming from the theater, thinking that the train was actually going to run them over!

Dayna & I have seen Hamilton a number of times since it began its run at the Public Theatre in NYC and she was really excited to see it here in Chicago at the CIBC Theatre as some of the actors she likes are in this cast.  After we decided to come out here to see the show, we found out that an actor we have seen onstage in NYC and have met socially on a number of occasions (he's a cousin of a good friend of ours) was cast as King George in this production.  We really love his work and were excited to see what he would do with the role.  

A pretty long line.  I've heard something to the effect that this show is quite popular.  

Almost in "the room where it happens"!

They don't allow photography in the theatre so no pics from inside.  Sorry!  This was a terrific show and one that really brings history to life.  This show actually got me excited about reading the 700+ page Alexander Hamilton biography and it was fascinating!  After the show, we did our best impressions of a couple "Stage Door Johnnies" and waited outside for the actors to come out, hoping we might see Andrew Call, who played King George.  We just missed him by a few minutes but his performance was amazing and wickedly funny.  We did see Jose Ramos, below, who played the dual roles of John Laurens, a close friend and confidant of Hamilton and Philip Hamilton, one of Hamilton's sons and who had died in a duel at age 19.  He did an excellent job with both roles.

We were also able to meet Jamila Sabares Klemm who was outstanding as Alexander Hamilton's wife, Eliza. I don't always cry at shows but her performance brought me to tears.

Wee managed to get a number of other autographs for our Playbill collection as well.  I think we're on our fourth binder full of them at this point.  We don't always wait around for autographs but we do love to collect the Playbills.

I do love to find different works of public art whenever visiting a new city and I had seen this one before in various films and was eager to check it out.  Calder's Flamingo by Alexander Calder was unveiled here in the plaza of the Kluczynski Federal Building in 1974.  This was just a few blocks from the CIBC Theatre.  

It's quite a stunning piece and really pops out against the dark buildings and it's really cool that it can be admired from many angles, including beneath it.

Dayna & I began walking back to our hotel as we had a dinner date with two of our local friends and on the way we poked into a few shops.  When I saw Garrett Popcorn Shop I knew I would have to pick up something.

The location in NYC that I reviewed some years back recently closed due to losing their lease but they hope to reopen elsewhere in the Big Apple later this year.  That was the first place I had ever tried the classic "Chicago Mix" and have been hooked ever since!  

Samples of the Pecan CaramelCrisp were being given out and this stuff just blows me away every single time.  I wish all popcorn was this good.

I made sure to get a large bag of the Garrett Mix (cheese popcorn and CaramelCrisp) which amazingly lasted a few days.  That combination transforms me into an orange-fingered fool every time!

While the different color lines are reminiscent of the "T" subway system in Boston, it did take me a little bit to figure out the system in Chicago and after that, we used it quite a bit.  It seemed like an easy way to get around the city and fairly safe, though we did experience about many homeless individuals approaching us during our travels.  No one aggressive or disturbing but there was more of a visible presence than I have noticed in other large cities (except New York City).  

The Ventra card used to tap at the turnstile and the 24-hour pass for $10 are both great ideas.  Just waiting for NYC to catch up with the whole"tap" idea and to reinstate the 24 "Fun Pass", though I'm not holding my breath on that one!

Back at the Viceroy, we made our way to the rooftop lounge where we met up with Gregg & Patti (Mr. & Mrs. ChiTownDiner) for some prosecco before heading out to dinner.  They had taken me out to lunch at Peter Luger's in Brooklyn a few years ago and I was looking forward to taking them out for dinner and getting the chance to spend some quality time with them.  The lounge was hopping and also provided a nice view looking east towards Lake Michigan.  

The caramel corn we had to accompany our prosecco was pretty good.

It was a lovely night for a stroll, so we took our time walking southwest to dinner while Gregg & Patti told us about the different neighborhoods and gave us a terrific primer on Chicago and some of the can't-miss sights to see.  

Dinner at a Rick Bayless restaurant has been on my short list for quite some time and I had made reservations at his Frontera Grill about a month in advance.  

While the lighting was low, it was a very colorful place with very bold artwork.  I had a few more pictures of some metalwork and sculptures but they didn't turn out so well.  

Even the menu incorporates artwork on it.

Spicy (guajillo pepper) peanuts and pepitas. An amuse bouche to get the appetite going but Frontera also uses it to gauge how much spice its patrons can handle.

Cucumber-lime-mint agua fresca. I thought I'd be a bigger fan of the cucumber.  For some reason I had it in my head that it would be like the cucumber water that Will Ferrell kept raving about in the movie, "The Other Guys" but this was definitely thicker as the cucumber was pureed and blended into it.  

Little masa boats filled with braised beef and topped with queso fresco and avocado. Uhh-mazinnnggg!

Tuna ceviche. While I'm not really a fan of the ceviche it was a hit with most of the table.

Fresh guacamole and chips.

A pair of fresh salsas. Loved the red.

Dayna's Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Pueblan Green Mole (Fresh Gulf shrimp cooked over the coals, Pueblan green mole (tomatillo, serrano chile, epazote, cilantro, fresh corn masa, spices), herby green rice.)  Dayna couldn't finish all of it so I was the happy recipient of some plump, spicy shrimp that had an nice smoky char on them.  

My Smoked Chicken Breast, Guasmole (Cherry-wood smoked chicken breast, guasmole (roasted tomatillo, guaje seeds, herbs), queso anejo mashed potatoes, green molcajete salsa (tomatillos, pineapple, serrano chiles and white onions)). There was a lot going on with this dish: the chicken was tender and juicy with a faint hint of smoke, the guacamole was, at turns, tangy, spicy and sweet and the potatoes were creamy and garlicky.  It all worked really well together.  

Fresh corn tortillas.  I never really got the wow factor until Chris Ayers & Amy Briesch aka Ayersian really pushed me to seek out fresh made tortillas.  These were outstanding. 

Fried, nearly caramelized sweet plantains with crema and queso fresco.  I would come back just for these.  Truly decadent.

Patti's chipotle-glazed pork back ribs with spicy-tangy slaw and cheddar grits.

Gregg's Mushroom Mixiote (Shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms, dark pasilla chile sauce, potatoes, chayote & local greens cooked in a parchment package. Creamy goat cheese, sunflower shoots.)  We didn't try either of Gregg & Patti's dishes but they really seemed to like them.  Frontera Grill is on the higher end, pricewise, and not so much a Roadfood restaurant but if you're in Chicago and you want some great quality Mexican food with fresh, local ingredients and excellent service, this IS the place.

We skipped dessert at the restaurant as Gregg had a special treat in store for us.  Just a short walk around the corner (literally!) was Firecakes Donuts.  Gregg has been posting about this place on Facebook for a while and the donuts look amazing but would they measure up?  I'm a donut hound from way back and I have high standards.  

Inside is a tiny little storefront, no seating (there are some small sidewalk tables outside





The menu.  So many from which to choose.  Gregg suggested that we get the donut ice cream sandwiches.  Donuts AND ice cream?  Swoon!!  I went with the churro donut which was a smash with my taste buds and especially as part of an ice cream sandwich with house-made Belgian chocolate ice cream and fresh local raspberry sauce.  Gregg had a honey glazed with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and hot fudge which was a winner in his book.

The churro donut may be the smallest of the bunch but it sure packed a LOT of flavor.  They use a heavy hand in applying the cinnamon sugar coating and it really pays off.  The sleeper hit for me (and Dayna too) was the Classic Jelly donut.  On this evening, it was homemade blueberry jelly.  It tasted like fresh blueberries just picked from the bush and cooked down with a minimum of fuss.  I'm still obsessing about it as I write this...

Man, those sure do look good.  I would be back one more time before the end of our trip.  

I celebrate donuts the way that "Bob" from "Office Space" celebrates Michael Bolton's entire catalogue!

They named their truck after me!  Wow!  That's so nice!

Donuts so good, they make you smile like crazy!

And they make people strike out they tongue and act like a goofball!  We had a really great evening getting to spend time with Gregg & Patti, getting to know them even more and learning so much from them about their fair city.  Roadfood is always great but even moreso when enjoyed in the company of good friends.  

While walking back to the hotel, we saw this place.  We didn't make it on this trip but I feel compelled to eat at any place that is sporting on oversized replica of a grill above the entrance!

We passed by this neon (a sign we would encounter at many more places throughout the week) as we walked by Mister J's Dawg 'N Burger a few blocks from our hotel.  

And a favorite of Buffetbuster's, which we had a take-out lunch from a couple of days later.  

 
 
That's all for now, folks!  
When we return to our Chicago-based programming, we take a trip to the 'burbs for an EPIC Evanston (and more) crawl with perfect pies, tantalizing tacos, crusty burgers, LOTS of fresh-cut fries, some excellent Chinese food, delightful donuts, fantastic fried chicken & shrimp along with some great company and a wonderful host, my very first Chicago-style dog in Illinois and a great end to the day at Graeter's for ice cream.  Don't touch that dial!
 
The 411:
 
1.)  Do-Rite Donuts
      181 N Morgan St.
      Chicago, IL 60607
      Ph# (312) 624-8878
      Website: http://doritedonuts.com
 
2.)  Delightful Pastries
      5927 W Lawrence Ave.
      Chicago, IL 60630
      Ph# (312) 234-9644
      Website: http://www.delightfulpastries.com
 
3.)  Corner Bakery Cafe (located in the Palmer House Hilton Hotel)
      35 E Monroe St.
      Chicago, IL 60603
      Ph# (312) 372-0072
      Website: https://www.cornerbakerycafe.com
 
4.)  CIBC Theatre
      18 W Monroe St.
      Chicago, IL 60603
      Ph# (800) 775-2000
      Website: http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/theatre/cibc-theatre/
 
5.)  Calder's Flamingo
      50 W Adams St.
      Chicago, IL 60610
      Ph# (312) 744-2400
      Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo_(sculpture)
 
6.)  Garrett Popcorn Shop
      4 E Madison St.
      Chicago, IL 60602
      Ph# (888) 476-7267
      Website: https://www.garrettpopcorn.com
 
7.)  Frontera Grill
      445 N Clark St.
      Chicago, IL 60654
      Ph# (312) 661-1434
      Website: http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/frontera-grill
 
8.)  Firecakes Donuts
      68 W Hubbard St.
      Chicago, IL 60654
      Ph# (312) 329-6500
      Website: http://firecakesdonuts.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
#9
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/26 09:37:12 (permalink)
Billyboy & Dayna - So much fun and such a perfect weather night that we could truly enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the city!  With the huge number of restaurants in Chicago, we are always trying new places and hadn't been to Frontera in some years.  It was great to go back home to a Chicago classic with good friends!  We loved the evening and enjoyed celebrating Dayna's birthday also!  For other Chicago visitors, Chef Rick Bayless has 3 restaurants co-located in the same block, all conveniently accessible to Firecakes.  Save some money and try Xoco his breakfast, lunch and early dinner answer to fast food (a personal favorite) or get a 2nd mortgage and try Topolobampo which is his high end restaurant hidden within Frontera Grill.  BTW, I am an Anaheim Scrambler guy also!  Can't wait to see what you guys did on Sunday!? 
#10
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 08:08:50 (permalink)
Billyboy and ChiTownDiner together on the loose?  Chicago hasn't been this afraid since Joe Walsh and John Belushi were wreaking havoc!
 
Wonderful report BB and beautifully photographed.  But it's your attention to detail that really make me appreciate and enjoy your reports so much.
#11
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 08:16:11 (permalink)
Not captured on these fantastic photos was his personal director, ChiBears15 who spent countless hours editing and posting these photos for BB.  An unsung hero!  
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leethebard
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 09:36:29 (permalink)
Wow...great theatre and great food...what a day. 
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JRPfeff
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 10:21:03 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ChiTownDiner 2018/08/27 11:01:27
leethebard
Wow...great theatre and great food...what a day. 


And the best company and donuts that money can buy!
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leethebard
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 10:37:00 (permalink)
JRPfeff
leethebard
Wow...great theatre and great food...what a day. 


And the best company and donuts that money can buy!



#15
billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 16:58:29 (permalink)
Sunday July 29, 2018 - Day Three - I was very excited for this day to arrive as The Contingent (the Midwest group that has regular meet-ups) graciously decided to hold their Day In Evanston Meet-Up on the Sunday during our visit to their fine region.  I have admired their meet-ups from afar for many years, longing for a taste of a true Chicago-style hot dog and dying to sink my teeth into a hot, wet and sweet Italian beef sandwich.  At long last, my time has come!!  Dayna gets why I love Roadfood so much but it really isn't her thing so I was thrilled that she was willing to come along on an all-day crawl and meet so many of the people with whom I have shared this passion for so long.  She has joined in for a few stops on the crawls I have put together in New York City, but could she survive a full day?  Time will tell!  
We decided to sleep in and skip the first three stops.  We did get a bit sidetracked on the way to the "EL" train by the wonderful 9-month old Black Lab puppy named Bentley.  He couldn't stop giving hugs and kisses!  Such a sweet boy!

A fairly straightforward ride on the Red line towards Howard...  

Transferring at Belmont to the Purple Line, getting off at Main... 

And then after a short three-block walk, we found ourselves in front of Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Stop #4).  

It's a pretty big space and lots of great stimuli that kept attacking my senses (in a good way).  The first thing that caught my eye was the cooler of different regional sodas.  Ski?  Triple XXX root beer?  I've always wanted to try these and I'm just now kicking myself for not picking up a few to bring back to the hotel!  

What to eat?  So many choices.  I didn't realize that they had so many savory options.  

And the pies.  Oh, the pies!  ChiTownDiner put in a "pie request" for a few flavors to Hoosier Mama owner and Pie Mistress, Paula Haney, a few days in advance of our visit.  Some of his choices made it on to the day's menu.  I'm telling' ya, CTD is Roadfood's own Huggy Bear.  He knows what's goin' on in the streets and he's a man who knows how to make things happen.  

We'll be having a slice of one of these pies.

If I didn't already have a pie server at home I definitely would have bought one here.  

Our selection:  a breakfast sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit with eggs, cheddar and Nueske's bacon.  A fine sandwich with a tender, flaky biscuit and that bacon was just loaded with piggy flavor.  This was only topped by the pair of bites I snagged from CTD's breakfast sandwich with sausage, melted leeks and butterkase (from what I understand it is a creamy German cheese).  I have the words to describe the combination of those three ingredients but I am still haunted by it as I write this.  If you go to Hoosier Mama's (and you should!), be sure to get this one if it's on the menu.

A slice of Apricot Triple Berry with a pecan crumble on top.  Tart, sweet, crunchy, flaky, buttery.  This pie hits the tastebuds on so many points and since Dayna and I are both big crust hounds, a duel was narrowly avoided as we reached the last few shards of crust.  

A slice of Hoosier Sugar Cream.  Rich and custardy with a mellow sweetness not unlike maple, this was a pie that others should aspire to make.  And once again, that crust was just wonderful and provided a nice textural and flavor balance against the filling.  

Hoosier Mama has a LOT of space and it was great to have so many seating options.  A stool at the counter, a long table for our large group and a couch with a coffee table.  My favorite part was getting to see old friends and meeting new ones as I was finally able to put faces and real life names to many people I have been corresponding with on Roadfood for so many years.  

And the chance to meet Paula Haney and she was gracious enough to pose for a picture during a busy day.  You're doing some truly amazing work, Paula and I hope to return soon!

On the way out, I saw this sign on the community bulletin board.  I like how Hugh sets firm boundaries.

Our next stop (#5) was at Taco Diablo in downtown Evanston.  

Just look for this sign on the sidewalk and you're there.

Too true, too true.

At first, this just appears to a shot of ordinary chips & salsa.  I was more a fan of the spicy red than the tomatillo green.  However, the chips were the real standout here.  I've eaten my share of stale, overly salted, oily, mediocre tortilla chips over the years. These truly were transcendent.  Light, crispy and they just about melted in the mouth.  An odd way to describe them, right?  But that is really how they were and impossible to stop eating.  Tostitos, you've been put on notice...

We started out with a Masa Corn Cake (griddled masa cake with mushrooms, rajas (poblano chile strips) and mixed veggies, topped with crumbly cheese and cream.  An interesting combination of flavors but it didn't really work for me.  

Dayna & I decided to split a 3-taco combo: Spicy Shrimp (grilled shrimp with orange, chili aioli, radish and cabbage), Smoked Brisket (salsa roja, poblano rajas and queso fresco) and an Al Pastor (marinated pork with pineapple).  Dayna didn't like the shrimp as much as she had hoped, saying that the color and taste of the aioli reminded her of St. Joseph's children's medicine.  Dayna's favorite was the smoked brisket and I was really loving the al pastor.  The pork had good spice and a very deep, rich flavor to it and the sweetness of the pineapple cut right through it.  

The beans and rice were okay but didn't really stand out.  

Up next on the crawl was a place just down the street so we took a short walk to digest and found ourselves at Edzo's Burger Shop (Stop #6).

I'm always in the mood for a good burger so I was really looking forward to this one.  I couldn't decide if I wanted a griddle or char burger or what size.  Fellow Roadfooder and Hot Dog Nation member ChicagoStyleDog (Mark) guided toward the right path.  He walked me over to the griddle and showed me how big the burgers are.  Since we were about halfway through an all-day crawl, I wisely went with a single burger, griddled.  

A long, narrow space, Edzo's has a lot character in the form of old signs throughout.

Like this one.  That's got the 1970s written all over it.  

The first thing that sprung to mind when I saw "The Five Dollar Milkshake" was this:

While waiting in line, I had the chance to talk with Roadfooder irisarbor and it turns out that she is from Staten Island, same as Dayna.  Small world!  She even let me take a taste of her lobster fries which were outstanding.

I got my burger with mustard, copped raw onions and Merkt's cheddar.  They did shortchange on the Merkt's as they had done with some other burgers in line before me but I didn't say anything as Dayna isn't a huge cheese fan and I figured we could split more of it this way.  It was, as Samuel L. Jackson would have said, a tasty burger!  Nice and crusty edges, the combination of the mustard, onions and cheddar was just right and the bun wasn't overwhelming, yet it held up right to the last bite.  

A heaping helping of fresh-cut fires.  I would be spoiled by fresh cuts quite a bit on this trip.

Pretty cool. 

My sweetie and me, not quite in the glow of the Vienna Beef sign.

Billy, why are you makin' me pose, man!  Food is gettin' cold!

The group shot out in front.  I'm not entirely sure who everyone is, so apologies for any errors.  Front row, left to right: unsure, Laura (irisarbor's daughter), irisarbor, BuddyRoadhouse, Billyboy, Mrs. Roadhouse, ChiBears15, Mr. Maki, Dayna, abe_froeman, ChicagoStyleDog.  Back row, left to right: ChiTownDiner, unsure, unsure, Jenn, Nina, Davidsanders, JRPfeff (I think that Pie Diva may be taking the photo). 

On the walk to our next stop, I couldn't resist goofing around with this sidewalk art.  Little did I know that I was channeling my inner Edvard Munch that would reveal itself at the end of the day!

I know a few people who might resemble this remark!

Just follow the waving kitty to...

Stop #7 at Lulu's.

Funky interior and as it turns out, they share a kitchen and staff with Taco Diablo next door which I realized when I recognized some of the same bussers from earlier today.  

If you're into Godzilla and his many foes, you'll love these.

I would love to know where these came from and if there is any backstory to them.

Dayna, CTD and I split a number of dishes, starting with the cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles (ground peanuts, sesame paste, scallions, radish sprouts).  Dayna is not a huge fan of sesame or peanuts in her food so this one was all for CTD and I.  Most of the versions I've had have been with gummy noodles and oily sauce but this was a revelation.  The noodles had a terrific chew to them and the sauce was well-blended and coated the dish perfectly.  

Next up were the Handmade Potstickers (pork & vegetable dumplings, ginger & black rice vinegar) which we all really liked.  

And here we have the Shrimp & Pork Eggrolls (with hot mustard & sweet sauce).  Another winner.  Crispy, yet not greasy, lots of filling and the hot mustard was H-O-T!!  Gregg had also ordered some Spinach Gomaee (steamed with sesame vinaigrette).  I think CTD and Dayna both liked it but I'm not a big spinach fan unless it's creamed with a side of Peter Luger steak!  By this point, Dayna and I were getting pretty full and definitely needed a break.  Gregg graciously carted us around all day but we took a pass on going in at Frio Gelato (Stop #8) and just relaxed in the car and made a few phone calls to family and friends.

Stop #9 was at Davidsanders' house as the restaurant, Evanston Chicken Shack, was too small to accommodate our large group.  We started out with some of the leftover donuts from DB3 (Stop #2)

In this box, "The Dude" (maple-bacon) was the clear winner.  It was like a french toast-meets-pancakes-meets-bacon and it was everything that is right in the world.

Tops of the box in this photo was with the donut at the top right.  A cream/custard-filled beauty that at first, I thought might be banana cream (it looked like crushed up Nilla wafers on top) but the filling had a lemony zing to it.  

Before embarking from NYC, there had been talk of possibly making a day trip to Milwaukee and having a meal at a supper club.  While that didn't pan out (high on the list for the next visit), I realized that the Elegant Farmer was up that way and after reading some of Buffetbuster's excellent write-ups of the place, I have always wanted to "hang a lip", as the saying goes, on one of their famous apple pies.  I messaged BuddyRoadhouse to see if anyone coming to the crawl might be passing by there and would be willing to pick up a pie that I could pay them for once they got to the crawl.  While the farm was out of the way, many local store do carry them and there was joy in Mudville on this day!  Dayna REALLY loves apple anything I knew this would be a nice birthday surprise.  

Apple pie baked in a paper bag.  What a fantastic idea.  Roadfooders JRPfeff and Pie Diva, presented me with the pie, which I presented to Dayna.  And they refused any money for it.  Turns out a few people chipped in to get it for Dayna.  I am humbled and honored, good friends.  Thank you so much.  She was very happy, though a bit full at the moment so I knew she would appreciate it more later.  It really was a treat to have Davidsanders host us at his lovely home and just sitting around, shooting the breeze, getting to know one another was the best treat of all.  David, thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality.  

And the main event has arrived!  This crunch-crusted fried chicken was tender, juicy and full of chicken-rich flavor.

Excellent fried shrimp that paired very nicely with the accompanying cocktail sauce and slightly bitter hot sauce.

Yes Virginia, there is a Stop #10, at Poochie's in Skokie, IL!  Okay Billy, so why is there a photo of Stop #1 here?  Good question.  It is right next door to Poochie's in the same plaza and I just had to get a photo of that handmade sign as it reminded me of yet another pop culture favorite of mine.    

The opening scene in the 1993 Kevin Smith film, "Clerks", when Dante is opening the Quick Stop for the day and the window grate won't open because some savage put gum in the lock, so he forged a homemade sign with a cloth and some shoe polish.

Now that's more like it!  I've heard good things about this place over the years and was very much looking forward to it.  Dayna was done for the day so she just hung out in the car, fearful that she might be lured in by the beguiling aroma of fresh-cut fries!

A shot of a Roadfooder taking a shot of some classic neon.

I may have to get around to that Cheddar Burger on the next visit but Paradise Pup looms large on that list.

A whole lotta choices.

Love this "Mini" Poochie's!

It appears that Jane & Michael have beaten me here!!  

For the uninitiated.

Superb fresh-cut fries.  Crispy, great potato flavor and not at all greasy.  It is at this point that I realize I am becoming a "fry snob" and look down upon frozen fries and all they represent!

Your never forget your first!  On this day, I lost my Chicago-style hot dog virginity and in such esteemed company as BuddyRoadhouse, ChiTownDiner, JRPfeff, Pie Diva and ChicagoStyleDog.  I am honored.  

A shot of your dog, with a bite already taken?  Really?  Yes, I know, but this really shows the layering of all the ingredients and trust me, each one of them plays a role.  The all-beef Vienna hot dog had a great snap to it and the flavor did NOT get buried all the "dragged thru the garden" toppings.  Juicy tomato slices, a crunchy dill pickle, wickedly hot sport peppers, chopped raw onion, yellow mustard and bright green relish with a dash of celery salt and nestled in a soft poppyseed bun.  Everything just works and I am now a HUGE fan of the Chicago-style dog!!  

As much I was honored to be part of this crawl, I must confess that I committed a serious breach of hot dog protocol when I reached for the ketchup bottle and held my CSD hostage, threatening to desecrate it at the slightest provocation!!  BuddyRoadhouse snapped this picture in case the coppers might need it for evidence.  The only thing that brought me down from my insanity was the hefty dose of side-eye shot in my direction my ChiTownDiner and the Looney Tunes-esque bug-eyed stare from BuddyRoadhouse that led me to conclude that it could indeed be my funeral if I continued on my current course.  Though, to look at that face, with its impish grin and child-like whimsy, couldja stay mad at me for long?

The famous/infamous Char Salami (ordered with yellow mustard, grilled onions, green relish and a generous dose of Merkt's cheddar on a poppyseed bun).  I have never experienced salami cut this thick and certainly not charred.  What a delight!  Smoky, beefy and with a hefty chew, this is a destination worthy sandwich.  They caramelized the heck outta those onions and I love them for it.  Boy, that Merkt's is just divine.  Wish I could find it locally in NYC.  Now, I guess the standard sandwich comes on French bread which was preferred by some in attendance.  I thought that the poppyseed bun worked just fine but I feel I should return to try the French bread, for the sake of research, you know.  

We parted ways with CSD, JRPfeff, PieDiva and CTD at this point and hopped a ride with Davidsanders to the final stop, Graeter's (Stop #11) in Winnetka, IL.  

Peach ice cream is in season.  Woo Hoo!!

I am a HUGE Gareter's fan, ever since Buffetbuster and Mariton sent Dayna & I 12 pints (yes!) of that frozen gold earlier this year.  The Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is quite possibly the best ice cream I have ever tasted and I am someone who can easily be described as "Body by Ice Cream".

I went with a two-scoop dish of Peach and Maple Cinnamon Crunch (maple ice cream with crunchy cinnamon shortbread cookie pieces).  Both of these were excellent (though I did find a pair of ice crystals in the mix, Ayersian!).  It was a really lovely day and we found a nice spot in the park across the street to cop a squat and relax.  And BuddyRoadhouse, I know you were lamenting your go-to choice of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip while I was oohing and aahing over my choice, let me reassure you, as young Charlie Bucket might have said, "The peach and maple makes the ice cream taste terrible!".  

Before departing earlier, ChiTownDiner passed along a box of treats I had pre-ordered the day before, knowing that we wouldn't be making it to DB3 for donuts or Patisserie Coralie for fancy French pastries.  The croissants, especially the strawberry & almond cream and the apple galette were big winners with both Dayna & I.  And so ends a long and wonderful day, filled with good friends, good food and good times.  

 
Time for a long, long nap and a day of recovery!  
 
When we return, my very first Italian beef sandwich ever, a Buffetbuster recommended lunch, a bridge(house) not too far, Billyboy takes on the Billy Goat, lighthouses a-plenty and stumbling upon an iconic Chicago dish, right outside of our hotel.  Much more to come...
 
The 411:
 
1.)  New York Bagels & Bialys
      3556 1/2 Dempster Street
      Skokie, IL 60076
      Ph# (847) 673-9388
      Website: https://www.newyorkbagelandbialy.net
 
2.)  DB3 Donuts
      1704 Central St.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 859-2109
      Website: http://www.db3donuts.com
 
3.)  Patisserie Coralie
      600 Davis St.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 905-0491
      Website: http://www.bestfrenchpastries.com
 
4.)  Hoosier Mama Pie Company
      749 Chicago Ave.
      Evanston, IL 60202
      Ph# (847) 868-8863
      Website: http://www.hoosiermamapie.com/evanston.html
 
5.)  Taco Diablo
      1026 Davis St.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 869-4343
      Website: http://www.tacodiablo.com
 
6.)  Edzo's Burger Shop
      1571 Sherman Ave.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 864-3396
      Website: http://edzos.com
 
7.)  Lulu's
      1026 Davis St.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 869-4343
      Website: http://www.lulusevanston.com
 
8.)  Frio Gelato
      1301 Chicago Ave.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 868-8767
      Website: https://www.friogelato.com
 
9.)  Evanston Chicken Shack
      2776, 1925 Ridge Ave.
      Evanston, IL 60201
      Ph# (847) 328-9360
      Website: http://www.evanstonchickenshack.com/assets/CHICKEN_MENU_Feb__201673209.pdf
 
10.)  Poochie's
        3602 Dempster Street
        Skokie, IL 60076
        Ph# (847) 673-0100
        Website: http://www.poochieshotdogs.com
 
11.)  Graeter's
        940 Green Bay Rd.
        Winnetka, IL 60093
        Ph# (847) 441-1725
        Website: https://www.graeters.com/retail-stores/chicago/winnetka
 
 
post edited by billyboy - 2018/08/27 18:50:58
#16
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 17:37:25 (permalink)
Whoa...that was a great day, so fun filled in part due to you guys joining in the festivities!  So many meals, so little time!  
 
Hoosier Mama is one of our city's classics and we did it right!  
#17
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 20:02:28 (permalink)
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />
#18
phlmaestro
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 22:10:09 (permalink)
Wow! That's an amazing report. My favorite item on there is the sugar-cream pie from Hoosier Mama. It's a favorite of mine and it's nice to know I can get it in Chicago if I ever go back there.
#19
JRPfeff
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/27 22:32:42 (permalink)
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />


I think you meant "Fine spots." There were plenty of those on Billy's trip.
#20
Davidsanders
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 02:13:10 (permalink)
Billy, I'm really enjoying your report. I had a great time meeting you and Dayna and was so happy you could make it to the Evanston Day Crawl.
David
 
 
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 07:16:06 (permalink)
JRPfeff
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />" />


I think you meant "Fine spots." There were plenty of those on Billy's trip.




Yeah....
That's what happens when I try to respond to something before I go to sleep. Nowadays I'm in bed at or just after 10pm- that's what happens when 99% of your life revolves around work....(not because I want to, but because I have to....OR ELSE!!!)
8.5 more years and I'm done!
#22
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 07:32:04 (permalink)
wanderingjew
JRPfeff
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />" />" />


I think you meant "Fine spots." There were plenty of those on Billy's trip.




Yeah....
That's what happens when I try to respond to something before I go to sleep. Nowadays I'm in bed at or just after 10pm- that's what happens when 99% of your life revolves around work....(not because I want to, but because I have to....OR ELSE!!!)
8.5 more years and I'm done!




Unfortunately, we may not last that long...
#23
Davidsanders
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 09:32:36 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ChiTownDiner 2018/08/28 09:55:04
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />


Sorry, I have to ask. Are you saying "Ack! a chain!!!" about Graeter's. Do you refuse to go to Graeter's? If so, I'm so, so, so sorry.
And, no, my house is not in the shape of a violin. More like a cello. 
#24
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 09:57:43 (permalink)
Davidsanders
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />" />" />


Sorry, I have to ask. Are you saying "Ack! a chain!!!" about Graeter's. Do you refuse to go to Graeter's? If so, I'm so, so, so sorry.
And, no, my house is not in the shape of a violin. More like a cello. 




Yeah,
 
I knew it was one of those stringed instruments...
 
I didn't know Billyboy went to Graeters in Chicago ??... At least not yet from the trip report.
No...I was referring to Billyboy's visit to Corner Bakery Café.
#25
TJ Jackson
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 10:31:17 (permalink)
Hey now, Graeters is a Cincinnati thing
#26
bigbear
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 10:59:34 (permalink)
I am really enjoying your report, billyboy. Thanks.
 
How did you get Louis C.K. to pose in The Scream photo?
#27
BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/28 11:31:45 (permalink)
wanderingjew
I didn't know Billyboy went to Graeters in Chicago ??



TJ Jackson
Hey now, Graeters is a Cincinnati thing

 
We actually have two of them, one in Northbrook and one in Winnetka.
 
Buddy
#28
MetroplexJim
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/29 10:52:59 (permalink)
Outstanding and thoroughly enjoyable "report"!
 
Thank you, Billyboy!
#29
1bbqboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/29 13:17:35 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse
wanderingjew
I didn't know Billyboy went to Graeters in Chicago ??



TJ Jackson
Hey now, Graeters is a Cincinnati thing

 
We actually have two of them, one in Northbrook and one in Winnetka.
 
Buddy

A big noise from Winnetka?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzwoc7UWdBw
post edited by 1bbqboy - 2018/08/29 13:22:21
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