Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs Review – Lily Lake, IL

Pete's Famous Hot DogsLiterally in the middle of nowhere (no offense, Lily Lake, but you’re a highway intersection) – Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs may not actually be famous, but they deserve to be.

Open seven days from 7AM thru the dinner hour, this small eatery is manned by “Pete” and his daughter? Companion? Wife?

Pete is affable and the other is terribly competent cooking food to order as expeditiously as possible in terribly small confines.

And altho it will take a few minutes to get your food, (Pete tells you when he rings you up – “cheeseburger? Six minutes.” Or whatever) It’s well worth the wait. The food is fresh, hot and delicious.

Hand pattied burger, quality beef, and fresh cut fries. Too cold to eat outside the day I was there, but I could see lingering at the outdoor table on a hot summer day.

Pete’s is located at the intersections of Illinois highways 64 and 47, a few miles East of Sycamore, a few miles West of St. Charles, and a few miles North if I-88 (Reagan Memorial Tollway – the Chicago – Kansas City Expressway that stops a mere 370 miles short of Kansas City). (Oh well, maybe completing it will be part of Infrastructure Weed #4 coming up soon, probably).

Breakfast, burgers, dogs, pork chops, chicken and a few specialty entrees. Worth the drive.

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fresh cut fries


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Breakfast menu


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Lunch and dinner menu –  click to enlarge

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Please follow and like us:

The Spot Review, Marengo, IL

The Spot Review MarengoI like stumbling across (still) prosperous small towns. 30 miles east of Rockford, IL, and 40 miles west of Chicago’s O’Hare airport, you’ll find the burg of Marengo, established in the mid 1800s as a regional commerce center for the surrounding farmers.

Original industries included a flour mill, carriage factory, and a quarry. A lot of the original buildings, built with stones from the quarry, are still standing and have been restored, lining both sides of a short main street “strip.”

Today, the town of 7500 stands out among its peers, with a commerce area still full of stores, including locally owned drug stores and banks, as well as (I was surprised) 7 eateries in a two block stretch. Median house value is $169,000, and you can spend as little as $40,000 on a house, or a cool million for an equestrian estate.

Per SF prices is a very economical $87.

Marengo is about 5 miles north of Interstate 90, perched on US 20, which runs from Boston to the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the few US highways I haven’t traversed, I’ll have to put it on my “to do” list. (Location map below).

One of the main street eateries is “The Spot,” (Facebook page) a bar (we sometimes refer to them as “taverns” in the Upper Midwest), with a very short menu that’s long on burgers.

I had been by a couple times over the past few years and not found it open, but scored today. Burgers are hand-formed, three quarter pound (!!!!) The Spot Review Marengopatties, mildly seasoned, on substantial buns, and come with chips. There’s a wide choice of add-on sides, including hand cut fries, beer battered rings, and tots.

I opted for the “regular” burger, which comes dressed with mustard, ketchup, onion, pickle, lettuce and tomato. The amiable staff can be quite accommodating about one’s desires to customize the sandwich, judging from the requests I overheard.

Of course, food is cooked to order, and it’s a smaller kitchen, so it can take a little bit of time, but I imagine most folks in Marengo aren’t in too much of a hurry.

It’s a great burger, cooked to your specifications. The hand breaded rings, with a hint of beer taste, were huge, crisp, and excellent. Worth the drive, worth the wait, and with low prices you won’t believe. I actually asked the waitress if she undercharged me (it’s been known to happen, I’m so fuckin’ charming).

On a previous run through town, I tried a joint down the street, the Marengo Cafe. While they have a much wider choice of menu selections, if it’s a burger you’re after, “The Spot” will hit the spot. (You knew that was coming)!

I’ve also had a mighty fine breakfast a bit further west on US 20 at “Uncle John’s” in Belvidere, IL, home of a giant Chrysler plant, currently churning out Jeeps and the Dodge Dart.

The Spot Review Marengo

Off I-90 between Rockford, IL and Chicago

The Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Spot Review

Please follow and like us:

Billy Goat Tavern Review, Chicago IL

Billy Goat Tavern Review

Chances are, unless you worked in downtown Chicago, you would have never heard of this place if it weren’t for John Belushi and Saturday Night Live,  who immortalized the Billy Goat in their famous “Cheezeboogah, cheezeboogah”  (video) sketch decades ago.

Yes, the Billy Goat really exists, and is a Chicago legend.   The address often stated for the original location can easily be misleading.   To be more precise, the address is for the building that is in front of the stairway that leads down to the Billy Goat, which hides in the darkness of Lower Wacker Drive, along the Chicago River.

The ”Goat’ started in 1934, when William “Billy Goat” Sianis purchased the Lincoln Tavern, near Chicago Stadium, for a $205 check that bounced (he made it good on opening weekend).

They moved to their present location in the early 60’s, and have presided over the netherworld of Chicago’s multi-layered streets ever since.

The location, directly underneath the Wrigley Building (yes, that Wrigley) was sorta, kinda half-way between the offices of the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun Times, and thus many a print reporter, and later, other media folks (including me) made BG one of the premier Windy City media hangouts.

Now with half a dozen locations in the metro area, and one in Washington, DC, the ‘goat may be gruff, but it remains a fun destination for a quick meal, with a small plate of comic nostalgia on the side.

Billy Goat Tavern Review


Billy Goat Tavern Review

Billy Goat Cheeseburger

“Dubla Cheezboogah”

Billy Goat Tavern on Urbanspoon

Billy Goat Tavern Review

Please follow and like us:

Portland, Or – Capitol Highway Deli Market

Off the Meaten Path

At first blush, your fear is probably that  this is going to be a non-meat story.  T’aint so.   It is, however, about an “alternative” burger, one that might be as close as your corner, like it is mine.

Pre-cooked somewhere west of  Wherethehellisthat? Ohio, flash-frozen (one hopes)  and shipped to a corner mini mart, office vending machine, or aircraft carrier near you,  the Big Az burger with processed American cheese slice, boasts a full 9.65 ounces of flavor on a sesame seed bun, all  for less than $3.

It comes sans condiments, allowing you to decorate at your whim.   My choice, as pictured, is pickle, onion, mustard.  And some potato by-product from Lay’s that I had around the house.   If you think the bun looks kinda squished, you’re right.   My fault.

This particularly delicious delight requires some home preparation, obviously.   I get the best results by doing the bun and patty separately, or at least for different lengths of time.  Your mileage may vary.

I know, I know, you’re asking “gwailo, how did you discover such a tasty morsel?”    Well, you see kids, my significant better 2/3rds doesn’t care for ground beef, in any form or fashion, so I am compelled to seek the manna of the gods outside of my domestic environs.  My connection for the Big Az is the corner liquor store, @ Pomona and Capitol Highway,  spitting distance from my house.   To reduce my carbon footprint, I limit my burgers to those within walking distance.

And avoid places that promise “locally harvested sustainable beef.”   I abstain from sustain.   I won’t be on the planet long enough to care.

I know you are dubious.   But these are honestly better than any fast food burgers, with the exception of Fatburger and In N Out, both of which have not graced Portland with their presence.  It has always struck me as odd that Fatburger is owned by a Portland company, but doesn’t have an outlet here.

Perhaps a tea party is in order?




Please follow and like us: