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

Petes Hamburger Stand Review

Petes Hamburger Stand Review

My Petes Hamburger Stand Review.  For over 100 years, 112 to be exact as of this year, Pete’s Hamburger Stand has been opening Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, summers only, to sell their unique hamburgers to a hungry public.

Why unique?  Because they are BOILED. But in the interest of accurately, I think “simmered” (in water) is more accurate.  Also swimming in that water on the flattop? A gajillion pieces of sliced onion.

Don’t get it?

Here’s a short video I found on YouTube.

The menu is as basic as a food seller can get.  Hamburger. Canned soda. Chips.  End of story. My pic at the top shows a burger without onion on the left, with on the right.

There are a modest number of condiments available.

$5.00 for each smash burger.  And worth it.  And worth the drive, from whereever you are, because Praire du Chien, WI is not on the way to or from anywhere!

But it is also home to Valley Fish and Cheese, a really fun stop that I have also written about. Somewhere on this site. LOL

Petes Hamburger Stand

Minutes before opening bell

 

 

Pete's Hamburger Stand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Petes Hamburger Stand Review

Petes Hamburger Stand Review

For over 100 years, 112 to be exact as of this year, Pete’s Hamburger Stand has been opening Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, summers only, to sell their unique hamburgers to a hungry public.

Why unique?  Because they are BOILED. But in the interest of accurately, I think “simmered” (in water) is more accurate.  Also swimming in that water on the flattop? A gajillion pieces of sliced onion.

Don’t get it?

Here’s a short video I found on YouTube.

The menu is as basic as a food seller can get.  Hamburger. Canned soda. Chips.  End of story. My pic at the top shows a burger without onion on the left, with on the right.

There are a modest number of condiments available.

$5.00 for each smash burger.  And worth it.  And worth the drive, from whereever you are, because Praire du Chien, WI is not on the way to or from anywhere!

But it is also home to Valley Fish and Cheese, a really fun stop that I have also written about. Somewhere on this site. LOL

Taylor Maid-Rite Review Marshalltown

Taylor Maid Rite Review Marshalltown Iowa

Taylor Maid-Rite Review Marshalltown

“Maid-Rite” restaurants started as a single outlet in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1926. For those unfamiliar with the term, the “Maid-Rite” is a loose meat sandwich, cooked on a steam table with onions, mustard, and “secret seasonings,” piled on a steamed bun with mustard and pickles.

Locations come and go, but as of today, there are 32 locations in Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri. The one in Springfield, Illinois, was the site of the very first fast food drive-thru.

The Marshalltown location was one of the first franchises, purchased for $300 in 1928.

Some Maid-Rites have a longer menu,  featuring all kinds of sandwiches, including Iowa’s famous pork tenderloin, but almost all feature several kinds of home-made pie daily.

This happy traveler made a short video  of his visit to Taylor’s. (No, not me, I’m never happy).


A single sandwich is around $2.50. The Marshalltown location is usually open every day for long hours, but during “Covid” – look for them Tues-Sat, 11AM – 7PM.  It’s located in downtown, on 3rd Street, just north of US 30, the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road in the US.  A fascinating drive on its own!

I visited one other similar shop this trip, called the “Canteen on the Alley” in Ottumwa, Iowa.  Same concept, but not affiliated with “Maid-Rite.”  It’s actually in an alley.  It was tasty and great pie!  The three women working truly enjoyed their work!

Typical menuShip Maid-Rites across the country!

Taylor's Maid-Rite Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Taylor Maid-Rite Review Marshalltown

 

Ship Maid-Rites

Maid-Rite Menu

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict ™ Colossal Cheeseburger Review

I’ve written A LOT about gas station sandwiches, burgers, pizza.  Often times, they are made by the same companies, like Big Az, which is part of AdvancePierre, which is now owned by Tyson.

Today’s purchase, the “BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger” was picked up at Thornton’s, a Midwest-centric gas station/c-store chain.  While Thornton’s has their own roller grill and other heat and eat foods, they also stock some of there refrigerated items.

While there is no USDA establishment number on this package (odd), I believe it is made by AdvancePierre, based on finding similar named and appearing products in my heavy  “research” for this piece.  This burger was made on April 9, and has an expiration date of 4/23. Whew, room to spare.

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Frozen patty with bacon, cheese

Weight is 9.3 oz.  In addition to no USDA number, there are also NO INSTRUCTIONS for heating, so I punted based on my past experiences.  I also disassembled it prior to heating. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a frozen spot in the bun or meat and other areas scalding. You’d think they could fix that.

The burger uses the “circular bacon” which is commonly found on these types of items.  BTW, on the first link above, it’ll take you to a page of my other review but also a VIDEO on how gas station sandwiches are made.

So I went 90 seconds on the meat, 30 seconds on the bun (separated) and it seemed to work out.  Added mustard and pickles.  If you had a ready supply of the usual burger vegetables, you certainly wouldn’t be able to distinguish this from McD or BK, other than this bun is a bit higher in quality.

The patty has good texture and the same artificially induced “flame-broiled” taste as BK, which I suspect comes from Liquid Smoke.  Or, if you remember the old Hardee’s jingle, it’s “Char-cooooo broilllllled!” (You don’t? So YouTube it).

So? Satisfactory.  Retail cost $2.99.  Wholesale cost, (according to a distributor’s price list)  $2.94 each, 10 cents off if you buy six, larger discounts if by the pallet. Uh huh.

If you’re jammed for time or location, this one will do.

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review – Nationwide Chain

Freddy's Steakburger Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review – Nationwide Chain

Started in Wichita in 2002, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has quickly grown across the country, now with over 300 locations in 30 states.  The eatery focuses on smash patty burgers, Vienna Beef brand hot dogs, and frozen custard deserts.

I visited the one in Lake Zurich, IL, which opened fairly recently.  It’s on a busy stretch of US Highway 12, and anybody in the area has dozens of dining choices on this highway.

My stop as lunchtime on a Monday.  It wasn’t very busy.  Maybe eight diners inside, no cars backed up at the drive-thru.

The restaurant was immaculate, including the restrooms, and one or two employees were in constant motion wiping down tables, counters, and so on.

I ordered the “Original Double” combo (with cheese).  Two beef patties, two slices of cheese, small fries, small drink.  $8.50 with tax.

Burgers standard dressing includes mustard, pickles, and onion, which is great for me, that’s how I order my burgers everywhere, and how I dress them at home.

The fresh burger patties are smashed thin on a flat top grill, cooked until the edges are crispy. (Also a personal preference).  The beef has terrific flavor all on its own.  It may have a slight sprinkle of seasoning. The pickles are mild dill, sliced thin, lengthwise.  The bun is soft and fresh, but not nearly substantial enough to hold moist weight. It did crumble on me. Not a deal killer. They did forget the onion on mind.

Fries are ultra crispy, and also thin.  Thinner than traditional shoestrings.  But great flavor and seasoned well. The restaurant’s small condiment stand includes a dispenser for two different varieties of “fry sauce.”  I don’t see the point. Not sure what it is anyway, like a thousand island/mayo mixture. Variety two contains Sriracha.

Pepsi products are the fountain option.

In addition to burgers, they offer Vienna Beef brand hot dogs, a couple of chicken sandwich options, tenders, cheese curds, and chili.  In lieu of fries with the combos, you can opt for Baked Lays or Apple Sauce.

I’d go again.  BTW, personnel were friendly enough, and although they weren’t busy, they didn’t set a speed record for product prep.  10 minutes to get my order.  I dined in.

Full menuLocations.

Freddy's Steakburger Review

Food portion of menu. Click to enlarge

Freddys Steakburgers Review

Freddys Steakburgers Review

Canteen in the Alley Review – Ottumwa, Iowa

Canteen on the Alley Ottumwa Iowa

Canteen in the Alley Review

Since 1927. Can hardly beat that for a recommendation, can you? The Canteen in the Alley serves “loose meat” sandwiches, known elsewhere in Iowa as “Maid Rites.”   What’s a “loose meat” sandwich?  Crumbled ground beef cooked on a steam table with diced onions and 17 herbs and spices. (Well, some, anyway – shall remain a mystery!).

The counter seating only diner is literally in an alley. Enter through there or through the adjacent parking garage.

Your consumption choices other than the sandwiches include menu items like chips, soda, coffee, ice cream shakes or a variety of pies.  There is a bevy of pie choices, depending on the day of the week.

We polished off one and a half sandwiches each, tried for the large milkshake, couldn’t finish it.  All of it delicious.  Will try harder next time.

Canteen in the Alley Review Ottumwa Iowa

 

Canteen Lunch In the Alley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Canteen in the Alley Review

 

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock ARMeh. Though I didn’t go for the beer, but I hear it gets high marks for a microbrewery. (What’s smaller than a microbrewery? A mini microbrewery?  Anyway, this place is pretty small, in a pleasant residential section of LIttle Rock.

Some friends wanted to meet there, so meet we did. They all ordered beers. I had a diet cola. I always have a diet cola. Or bottle watered. Do I have a drinking problem and purposely stay away?  Nope, never did.  But after I passed into adulthood, paying to consume something that was either going to make me sick or lose a day – seemed silly.  Still does.

Four persons.  Two ordered food.  One ordered the black bean burger, one a catfish strip basket with cole slaw and fries.  Bean burger came with spinach, onions, hummus, and mushrooms with a maple cayenne mustard on a vegan bun.

The joint wasn’t crowded and we were the only ones who ordered food.

Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty.  I inquire of the (only) waitress.  “What, well I put that order in, let me check.”

She passed by the table a few minutes later with the news “He was just plating it, it will be out in a minute.”

Result?  It wasn’t.  “He” started on the order when she went back.  So at the 45 minute interval, out cames the food, prettily plated (well, in baskets), bean burger first bite – satisfactory.  Catfish first bite. “Does this look raw to you?”

It was.

Good lord, people own up to your mistakes.

And millenials? Speak up when you aren’t happy with goods or service. Expect better.

It was resolved by taking it off the bill.  Really?  That’s it?

Maybe the beer is good.

 

 

Stone's Throw Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Dari Ice Cream and Grill Review – Hebron, IL

Dari Ice Cream and Grill Review

Dari Ice Cream and Grill Review - Hebron, IL Hebron (Illinois, not Palestine) is a dinksquat town of around 1200 in northern Illinois. You may know it as the home of Chris Ferrara, who is in the Bugler Hall of Fame. No? Anyway, it’s right on the border of Wisconsin/Illinois.  Can’t miss it.

They have a Dollar General, that’s kind of exciting. (FYI, the bathrooms are kept locked). And a stoplight (well, flashing red, anyway). A small frozen pizza manufacturer (Champion) (but you can’t buy them there, you have to walk down to the gas station). (Yes, I picked one up, here’s what I thought).

There’s a bar, allegedly famous for good whiskey and bad pizza. (Local gossip, only). A couple or three restaurants, one renown for having a giant fiberglass chicken in the parking lot, then there is Hazels, a cafe and bakery, with excellent breakfasts and lunches. I confess  although the food is great, I went primarily to admire the help.

And then there is “The Dari” – a seasonal ice cream/burger place, right at the flashing red light. There’s a bunch of “mom and pop” places like this around Chicagoland. I like them. Seek them out. Down the road a piece, there’s The Dairy Mart, in Huntley, IL, a place I also like. Wrote about it a few years back. Another great one is Wedl’s, small town in Southern Wisconsin, been selling burgers from a seasonal shack on the sidewalk for a century!

The Dari has a pretty ambitious menu for a small operation. While I was tempted to go for the “gravy sandwich,” I opted for a double cheeseburger and rings, and a small chocolate malt, just because they offer “malts.” Not many people do anymore, sadly.

How was it?

Well, it’s a good value, at $5 for a half pound of ground beef. Excellent bun. There was a sign in the window saying they exclusively use some particular brand, I didn’t pay attention to it at the time.

The beef patties are standard restaurant supply frozen patties. Not a complaint, just an observation. It didn’t seem like they add any of their own seasoning. Very melty American cheese food. Good pickle. Diced onion. Pretty ok.

Onion rings also from a food service supplier. Slight flavor to the batter. These are seasoned, as an ingredient or after. I quite enjoyed them. Best part of the meal for me.

Chocolate malt. Real malt powder. Kinda hard to find anymore. I was hoping for scooped ice cream, but their base is soft serve.

I don’t fault them for any of their ingredients or prep methods. It’s a small operation, small kitchen, in a small town, but can get overwhelmed (when I was at the window, a guy was picking up $156 worth of food orders), so they have to be as efficient as possible.

The burgers were recommended very highly to me. They didn’t live up to the hype. But it was a pleasant day for a drive in the country and to have a meal sitting outside.

As I am a bigly yuge supporter of entrepreneurs, ‘mom and pops’ be sure to visit the nice South Asian couple that runs the gas station / market across the street.

Menu.

DARI Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dari Ice Cream and Grill Review
Dari Ice Cream and Grill Review

Twisted Burger Review – Barrington, IL

Twisted Burger Review

Twisted Burger Review

Twisted Burger ReviewTwisted Burger Restaurant Review. With a few locations around the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago, Twisted Burger is a growing chain with designs on serving the quality fast food audience.  Just five years old, they have been getting rave reviews with each new location they open.

The menu has a lot of customized burger choices, as well as chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, (well, it IS Chicago), Italian beef, appetizers, wraps and salads.

I went with the “Captain America” – beef patty (you can substitute veggie or turkey) topped with  cheddar cheese, bacon, apple BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato and a giant onion ring. I had them hold the sauce.  Patty was flavorful and lean, toppings were crisp and fresh.  Bakery style roll, soft to chew, but firm enough for the toppings.

Also ordered the small size fries – garlic and parmesan style, which were really excellent. I wasn’t looking at the menu carefully enough, so I didn’t see a quantity option was “Side.”  Would have been better for one person, the “small” will keep the table happy.

There have been more than a few restaurants in this location over the 30+ years I’ve been coming around this town.  Most recent was a Mexican eatery. Before that, another casual burger place, which then moved across the street and has now moved to the adjacent suburb. Reviewed that one before.

I’m sure I’ll be back to “Twisted” to try some other items on the menu.  And more fries with that, please.

Twisted Burger Review

Garlic Parmesan Fresh Cut Fries

 

Twisted Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Twisted Burger Review

Twisted Burger Review

Kiefs Reef Review – McHenry, IL

Kiefs Reef ReviewThere are lots of bars and eateries along the Fox River in Northern Illinois. If you’re a boater, you can navigate the river up to the “Chain of Lakes” where you’ll find even more choices. At nearly each one, there are docks to tie up your craft if you feel like having lunch, dinner, or a few bumps.

In the winter, apparently, they also serve as way stations for snowmobilers going up and down the frozen river.

Such was the case yesterday at Kief’s Reef, and also it happened to be a “wake/memorial” for a local denizen who had recently passed, and was apparently quite a popular person judging from the size of the crowd. It was elbow to elbow.

I might have chosen someplace different had I known about that, but once inside, I was committed, and I had looked at the menu earlier in the day, and had a hankering for their offer of a “School of Lake Perch” platter, served with fries, tots or chips, and a dollop of cole slaw.

Kief’s Reef, I understand, is very popular for their version of the Friday nite fish fry, a big thing in these parts. They also serve up a respectable pizza, a lot of wings, and prime rib on Saturdays.

The perch was everything I was expecting and more. Three large fillets, batter fried, crispy on the outside, tender, steaming fish inside. Tots were deep fried to perfection, as they should be. Ultra-creamy cole slaw had a little twist to it, as their recipe includes ultra fine diced onion. Nice change.

The burger was mammoth, hand pattied, and covered with blue cheese morsels, not some of the icky salad dressing so many people use. The blackened seasoning was just the right amount and there was more than ample bacon. The bun was bakery soft but sturdy enough to hold up as many toppings as you could choose to garnish your meat.

Video gaming, of course, too.

I’ll go back in the summer, sit on the outdoor patio/deck, watch the boats putt by on the lazy river, maybe have a beer, and admire the sunbathers.

Full menu.  Best server ever?  Kelly!

Kiefs Reef Review

Black and Blue and Bacon Burger

 

Kiefs Reef Review

“A School of Lake Perch” Plate

 

Kief's Reef Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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