Big Ange’s Eatery Review – Arlington Heights, IL

Big Ange's Eatery Review

Big Ange’s Eatery Review

Big Ange’s Eatery Review. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by Big Ange’s. Really wasn’t aware of what they offered, even tho it’s announced in big letters on a number of outdoor signs.

But it came up in a search for “burgers” in that part of the city, and boy, and I glad it did. Quality.Care.Quality.Care. That’s the deal.  I had the “Petite Burger” which is a single patty with thick pickle chips, a house-made mayo/mustard spread, and diced red onion. Many optional add-ons are available of course, bacon, cheese, fried egg and so on.

It’s a flavorful patty that stands up well on it’s own. Perched on a bakery soft, butter kissed roll, substantial enough to not give way to the toppings.  Fresh cut crispy fries are one available side, hot from the fryer and lightly salted.

Wash it down with shakes made from in-house made ice cream.  Wow.

Doing a respectable job of respecting the ‘Vid.  Sat outside on the small patio and the (owner/manager?) stopped by to see if everything was to our satisfaction and inquiring if there was anything else we needed.

Parking can be a challenge, but you should definitely hit this place.

P.S.  I have no clue how to pronounce the name and didn’t ask. An-gie?  Anggg? An-gee?

Menu below and online.  Click to enlarge.

Big Ange's Eatery Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Ange's Eatery Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Ange’s Eatery Review
Big Ange’s Eatery Review

Doing a respectable job of respecting the ‘Vid.  Sat outside on the small patio and the (owner/manager?) stopped by to see if everything was to our satisfaction and inquiring if there was anything else we needed.

Parking can be a challenge, but you should definitely hit this place.

P.S.  I have no clue how to pronounce the name and didn’t ask. An-gie?  Anggg? An-gee?

BBQ King Smokehouse Review – Huntley, IL

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

 

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

A friend wanted to check this place out, had never had brisket before and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.  So we drove out to the Huntley edition of the BBQ King Smokehouse, we could have opted for his other location, in Woodstock IL, as well.  This one is newer.

We knew we were going to get the food to go, there’s a nice park/town square in Huntley, and it was a great day for a picnic lunch.

I’ve been lucky to have been to some of the great BBQ centers in the US, including five of the restaurants in Lockhart, TX, and a number of them along the Historic NC BBQ Trail, including BBQ Center in Lexington, as well as stops in Memphis, St Louis and the rest.

I’m not comparing this place to any of those.

I started with the oversized pretzel for $6, “glazed with butter and salt” and a side of “our house-made cheese sauce.”  It was the doughy type of pretzel, no exterior crispness. The cheese has some bite to it. The pretzel served me was devoid of any salt.

I ordered a hamburger, with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Each “topping” was 75 cents, so that added nearly $4.00 to an $11 burger. Included with sandwiches are fries and a couple of bites of slaw.

The burger patty itself was good enough, “100% beef brisket” the menu claims. The bun was bakery soft, but ample enough to hold the toppings.

The fries are the extruded variety, and if you’re a regular reader, you already know those aren’t my favorites. I can’t imagine why any restaurant uses them. Price? Speed of cooking?

Salad Anyone?

My coleslaw was non-descript, neither sweet, tangy, or creamy.  Curiously, the dressing on mine was white, the dressing on my friend’s serving was yellow.  There’s a “Q” place in the Mississippi delta, Abe’s, I swear has the best slaw on the planet, and he swears the only ingredients are sugar and vinegar.  I don’t believe him.  (Abe’s has been open since 1924 and is located in Clarksdale, MS at the famous “Crossroads” where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a guitar virtuoso). (So the story goes).  It’s only a ten-hour drive if you feel the urge.

On to the brisket.  Sandwich came with fries, slaw, and cornbread. In my experience, brisket should be the star of any BBQ joint.  It’s what some people work for years to perfect.

This shredded beef lacked much smoke flavor and was relatively sauceless.  The texture was good, it was a nice cut of meat.

Finally, our “to-go bag” was missing the following:  cutlery, salt/pepper, napkins, sauce, butter, or honey for the cornbread.

There were two tables in use when we walked in, and one server. She did a good enough job and was very pleasant.

Why a burger for me?  I like to see how restaurants do with menu items that aren’t their specialty.

I have friends who swear by this place, they just love it.  You probably will too.  All restaurants are having a tough time during the “difficulty,” but especially local mom and pops.  Give them your biz, whether you choose to dine in, carry out, or have delivery.

 

 

Menu.

Catering Menu.

 

 

 

 

BBQ King Smokehouse Woodstock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
BBQ King Smokehouse Review

BBQ King Smokehouse Review

Smokin Coop BBQ Review

Smoking Coop BBQ Review

Smokin Coop BBQ Review

Smokin Coop BBQ Review Belvidere Illinois. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I……wait. Never mind. On a country road between Chicago and Rockford, IL, there’s a guy doing BBQ every summer, Mon-Sat, lunch, and dinner. Completely “al fresco” there are picnic tables and chairs scattered under the trees just off the road.

There is a port-a-potty.

The menu is is ribs, chicken, beef, and some creative sandwiches, like smoked ham or a turkey club. I went with the latter, and it was superb. Not the best club I’ve ever had in my life, that honor goes to Portland Oregon’s oldest restaurant, “Hubers” who specialize in all things turkey.

There are lines for food, lines for beverages.  There is a loaded baked potato that people rave about.

All dinners come with two sides and a piece of cornbread.  Sides choices include slaw, beans, potato salad, or apple sauce.  Plates run between $7 – $20.

This is a great place to take advantage of COVID dining.  Plenty of distancing and open air.

This energetic couple made  a video of their visit and got some insider secrets.  Nobody ever gives ME any!

 

Full menu.

Smokin' Coop BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smokin Coop BBQ Review Belvidere Illinois. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I……wait. Never mind. On a country road between Chicago and Rockford, IL, there’s a guy doing BBQ every summer, Mon-Sat, lunch, and dinner. Completely “al fresco” there are picnic tables and chairs scattered under the trees just off the road.

There is a port-a-potty.

The menu is is ribs, chicken, beef, and some creative sandwiches, like smoked ham or a turkey club. I went with the latter, and it was superb. Not the best club I’ve ever had in my life, that honor goes to Portland Oregon’s oldest restaurant, “Hubers” who specialize in all things turkey.

There are lines for food, lines for beverages.  There is a loaded baked potato that people rave about.

All dinners come with two sides and a piece of cornbread.  Sides choices include slaw, beans, potato salad, or apple sauce.  Plates run between $7 – $20.

This is a great place to take advantage of COVID dining.  Plenty of distancing and open air.

This energetic couple made  a video of their visit and got some insider secrets.  Nobody ever gives ME any!

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork ReviewCurlys is one of the brands of (now Chinese owned) Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processor.  They slaughter about 50,000 hogs a day to keep up with your demand for Nathans wieners, Kretschmar deli meats, Cooks hams, and many other product lines.

Curlys makes seven different BBQ products: pulled pork, beef, and chicken in sauce; sauceless versions of the pulled meats. And fully cooked whole slabs of baby back ribs.

The pulled meats are in the refrigerated or freezer cases of your grocer; they come in one pound tubs, and rings up at about .43 cents an ounce.  I purchased the pulled pork in sauce, and it can be heated (it’s fully cooked already) in the microwave or stovetop.

There’s a considerable amount of meat in the sauce.  The BBQ sauce itself is thick and fairly sweet. (Ingredient list below).  The meat has an authentic pulled ‘cue’ taste and texture.

I ladled it out onto a Turano sandwich roll, a popular Chicago brand.   It’s a bakery type roll, soft but substantial enough to hold “wet” meats. I like my BBQ sandwiches like they serve in the Southeast US, topped with slaw.

The product will appear in my kitchen again in the future, tho if I can find it, I’ll go with the sauceless choice, and try some of my own preferences, like “Carolina Gold.”

Curlys Product LocatorCoupon.

INGREDIENTS: Pork, Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Mustard Bran, Modified Corn Starch, Natural  Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Spices, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Tamarind Extract.

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

In the tub.

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Factory in Sioux City, IA

 

 

 

 

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Curlys Pulled Pork Review

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen ReviewNana J’s is one of those places that leaves you really conflicted.  On the one hand, you want to tell everybody how wonderful it is.  On the other, you don’t want to go back someday and find a line out the door because it’s become so popular.

It’s small, unassuming, short menu which mostly changes daily, and your entree choice includes a couple vegetables and dessert.  There are five-six choices daily, all made from scratch. ALL MADE FROM SCRATCH.

In a way, it reminds me of Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans, before Katrina.  Four tables, one woman, a cast iron skillet and the best fried chicken you’ve ever had anywhere.

Whatever your choice of entree at Nana J’s, be prepared to have it be the best version of that dish you’ve ever had anywhere.  The same claim for the sides and dessert.

The Deets

I went with fried catfish, some days they have filets, some days whole, bone-in, some days both.   My side choices were potato salad and collard greens. A piece of cornbread is included on every plate; dessert the day I was in was banana pudding, complete with the requisite ‘nilla wafers.

The fish was done perfectly, crispy breading, nicely seasoned, with steaming flaking moist flesh enclosed.  House-made tartar sauce was the best I have ever had anywhere, yes, you could spoon it if you were inclined.  It was so far beyond the usual glop of mayo and pickle bits or chives.

Potato salad was superb, it was like creamy deviled eggs with potato bits. Went down easy.  Likewise the greens, like potato salad a dish most restaurants seem to deliberately screw up.  Nana J’s was smoky, salty, crisp and buttery at the same time. Could almost convince me to be a vegetarian. OK, not quite.  But you get my point.

Banana pudding, something I haven’t had since childhood since I’m not much for desserts on any occasion.  Wonderful.  Flavorful, smooth, creamy, with pieces of vanilla wafer.  As it should be.

I posted after I left the restaurant that I’ve been fortunate to have dined in 65 countries, and this meal easily popped into my list of top five meals anywhere, anytime.  Meant it.  I go to the Gulf Coast every year, and hands down I’ve never had better food on the coast.

Personable, friendly, charming, helpful host/server as well.

They have a website, but it doesn’t tell you much.  You’d be much better off checking their Facebook entries from time to time.  Go there. Often. But don’t tell anybody else about it!

Nana J's Soulful Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review  – Little Rock, Arkansas

Touted as Little Rock’s oldest operating restaurant, Frankes is cafeteria-style American and Southern classics, with a set number of entrees available each day as well as different specials each day of the week.  Grab a tray and walk through the cafeteria line where the servers will hand you the dishes you point at or call out, starting with an abundance of old-fashioned salads, like “Ambrosia,” then sides, entrees, breads, desserts, and beverages.

Pricing is by item, tho you can elect to have a flat price for your entree depending on whether you opt for one or two sides.

I opted for the catfish meal, which isn’t on the heating table but cooked to order.  Comes with crinkle-cut fries and one side, I chose the collard greens. The fish was excellent, crispy, piping hot, lightly seasons.  Fries were as you would suspect.  Greens were also superb, cooked right, highly seasoned. There were two fruit salad choices, I chose the wrong one (I was looking for sweeter).  I also chose a soft roll and had chocolate cream pie for dessert (not pictured).

Lunch was around $10.

Two locations in Little Rock.  Here’s the full menu, including the rotating daily specials. (Subject to change, imagine).

 

 

 
Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyd's Barbecue Company Review

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyds Barbecue products are part of the line of Austin, MN based Hormel Foods.  I can’t say whether they started it organically or acquired it, just haven’t found that info.  The product is made and distributed out of a modern facility across the Missississippi River from the Minneapolis St Paul airport.

Lloyds Barbecue Company ReviewThey produce three different types of shredded meat in sauce – pork, beef, and chicken; and six different styles of a full slab of ribs in two different sauces, original and “Kansas City, Style.”

The product line can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery, usually near the deli or alongside other “heat and eat” products, for both of these products are fully-cooked, and need only heating, with instructions included for your choice of heat source, microwave, stovetop, or grill.

I tried the shredded pork and the original ribs and found really no fault with either one, despite not being the world’s biggest barbecue fan.

The ribs come fully sauced, some people would probably prefer that the sauce was included but set aside so they could apply as desired.  The pulled pork is also sauced, and very finely shredded, more so than you would find in most barbecue restaurants, I suspect, or how you would prepare it at home.  The taste is fine. Again, probably pre-sauced is not the best idea.

The ribs required an hour in the oven, wrapped in foil.  The pork I did in a saucepan on the stovetop, which is really overkill, you could just pop the entire container in the microwave and it would be just fine.

The ribs were served with a side of Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns, per the diner’s request.  I piled the pork atop an “Everything Ciabatta” roll from Trader Joe’s, topped with Wal-Mart original coleslaw.  Martin’s Potato Rolls would have been a better choice than the ciabatta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Crab Shack Review – Tybee Island, Savannah, GA

Crab Shack ReviewTybee Island is the easternmost point of the U.S. state of Georgia, and is one of the barrier islands off the east coast of the U.S.

The Crab Shack therefore is the easternmost restaurant in the state of Georgia, 18 miles from downtown Savannah, and worth the drive.

Built from the ground up by an enterprising returnee couple, from the remnants of a local marina and bait shop, the restaurant, bar, and gift shop features a menu that offers  fresh seafood, local and otherwise, as well as Georgia style barbecue.

This unique attraction is the perfect place to sit in the sun (or not) and have a great meal, mosey your way through an afternoon of tropical cocktails, or  ……. wait for it. ………….. show the kids the pond with SEVENTY EIGHT (yes, 78, count them!) live baby alligators!  No,  I’m not kidding!

I went for the “low country boil” – something you’ll see on a lot of area menus, which is concocted via  a massive pot of boiling seasoned water, into which is dumped sausage, corn cobbettes, smoked sausage and shrimp. A lot of peel and eat shrimp.  It’s a very generous serving, dumped out onto your plate and serve with condiments of your choice.

(BTW, if your kids get antsy waiting for the food – there’s a giant bin of saltines at each table, but the food comes quickly).

I dug the boil plate big time. Pretty much like a New Orleans crawfish boil, except substituting shrimp, of course.

Also on tap, local favorite Brunswick stew, a flavorful tomato based thick broth with pulled chicken, sausage, pork and vegetables. Simply marvelous.  Brunswick, Georgia, claims to have originated the dish in 1898. Earlier versions were made with rabbit and/or squirrel.  No such luck these days!  here’s a traditional recipe if you want to try it at home.

If you’re visiting Savannah, don’t confine yourself to the tourist areas downtown and along the river. Get out of town, feed the gators, then feed yourself at the Crab Shack.  Highly recommended.

Can’t get there?   They’ll ship you their seafood, stew, ‘cue and condiments.  No kidding!  Brochure below, or order here.  Ask your server about the local atomic bomb!

Crab Shack Review

Low Country Boil

 

Crab Shack Review

Baby gators! They’re alive!

Crab Shack Review

Have Crab Shack Food Shipped

The Crab Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Crab Shack Review

Crab Shack Review

Crystal Lake Rib House Review – Crystal Lake, IL

Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Yeah, I’m just not a rib guy.  Never have been.  I’ll cook them for others, I’ll go to restaurants that serve them, they just aren’t for me. When it comes to BBQ, give me pulled pork (I make an excellent one), BBQ sausage, smoked turkey, chopped ham ‘cue, maybe some beef.

Besides, I’ve been to the two BBQ capitals of the western world, Lockhart, TX, and the North Carolina BBQ trail. Who can compete with those destinations?

A friend wanted some BBQ chicken, so after considerable research, off we motored to Crystal Lake Rib House, in Crystal Lake, IL, a distant suburb of Chicago, that toddling town.

These guys have apparently won bucketloads of awards, and in addition to the restaurant will cater your event or roast a whole pig for you. (I’d love that).

We started with the “Sweet Vidalia Onion Rings,” which were good sized and had a light breading primarily of cornmeal. You could have a choice of one or two dipping sauces with those. Enjoyable.

My friend ordered the BBQ 1/2 chicken, which was four generous pieces, taters, slaw and a roll, and I was up for catfish (I have been a lot lately), and they presented me with two monster filets, fries, slaw, and a roll. Tartar sauce, lemons, and honey butter on the side.

The cat had a crispy cornmeal based breading, not too heavy, fried to perfection, and the chicken was juicy and amped up with the flavorful sauce. Like most people mentioned about this, the side of “red potatoes in butter” will make anybody happy, and the fries are of the “steak fries” size and texture. Again, excellent.

I generally don’t read other people’s reviews before I go to a place, I know, odd, huh, but do after, and for some reason, this place is currently getting a bad rap. There is a trend for people to launch into trashing a restaurant based on hearsay from a friend or relative, and that can throw a joint’s stars/points/numbers way off. It’s not fair.

We had good food today, as good as I’ve had anywhere, at a fair price, with prompt courteous service.  I can’t ask for more.

Crystal Lake Rib House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Crystal Lake Rib House Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have  spawned in those areas, including the mini chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard grub on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave, or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chucks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crock pot, throw it in before leaving for the factory, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregular sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6 pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even liked the applesauce, which isn’t really sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Dine in / Carryout menu. Locations.

 

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Prior to heating

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Out of the oven

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal Review

Memphis Factory

 

 

 

 

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

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