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
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
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.
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
, Mrs. Roadhouse, ChiBears15
, Mr. Maki
, Dayna, abe_froeman
. Back row, left to right: ChiTownDiner
, unsure, unsure, Jenn, Nina, Davidsanders
(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
, Pie Diva
. 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
2.) DB3 Donuts
1704 Central St.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 859-2109
3.) Patisserie Coralie
600 Davis St.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 905-0491
4.) Hoosier Mama Pie Company
749 Chicago Ave.
Evanston, IL 60202
Ph# (847) 868-8863
5.) Taco Diablo
1026 Davis St.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 869-4343
6.) Edzo's Burger Shop
1571 Sherman Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 864-3396
1026 Davis St.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 869-4343
8.) Frio Gelato
1301 Chicago Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 868-8767
9.) Evanston Chicken Shack
2776, 1925 Ridge Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
Ph# (847) 328-9360
3602 Dempster Street
Skokie, IL 60076
Ph# (847) 673-0100
940 Green Bay Rd.
Winnetka, IL 60093
Ph# (847) 441-1725
post edited by billyboy - 2018/08/27 18:50:58