Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House ReviewFor people who don’t live around Chicago, fried shrimp probably isn’t the first things that pop into their minds as a “Chicago food.”  No, you’re knowledge probably ends at Deep Dish Pizza and Italian Beef Sandwiches.

But fried shrimp is a thing, and there are dozens of outlets for it, including some mini chains.  Seems WW II GI’s, returning from the South Pacific, had developed a hankering for the tasty deep-fried morsels and more than a couple of them set up the first simple take-out stands.

Today, in addition to regular or “Chicago style” (slightly spicy), many stores sell a bit of chicken, fish, frog legs, scallops and fried vegetables.  Full typical menu looks like this:

My chain of choice is Franks Chicago Shrimp House with four outlets scattered around the city, including the one I patronize in the far northwest suburbs.  Food is sold in 1/4 increments. I always go for the catfish strips, and today, feeling bold, I threw in some onion rings and a couple of frog legs.  They do not offer local fish like walleye, smelt, perch or blue gills, but there are other places that do.

Their breading is a mix of flour and cornmeal, same for the onion rings which I suspect are made in house, because they are inconsistent, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all, but rather that they are irregular sizes and shapes.  Food service rings are usually identical in those regards.  It’s a nice size ring, with a juicy circle of real onion inside, not “onion bits” as some fast food joints sell.  BTW, best fast food onion rings?  Arbys.  Seriously.

The catfish is meaty flesh, slightly flaky, but firm. The breading is not seasoned, or if it is, it’s so slight as to not be detectable by old fart taste buds.  The usual array of sauces are available for dripping, tartar, cocktail, lemon juice, bbq and more.

I don’t get over there enough.  It’s a dozen or so miles from my house and I rarely have a reason to head in that direction.  I’ll make the effort in the future!




Frank's Chicago Shrimp House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House 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

Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit

Vienna Beef Italian BeefI’ve written a ton about Chicago’s iconic specialty, the Italian Beef sandwich.  I’ve looked at different brands to prepare at home, as well as a number of restaurant offerings.  Check all those posts out here.  Today we tried Vienna Beef’s home version of the preparation, beef and gravy frozen in a tub.  Spoiler.  Any of these brands will disappoint you if you don’t COMPLETELY thaw prior to heating, and when heating GENTLE rules.  Boil any frozen Italian Beef and you’ll hate it, I promise.  Packaging says you can thaw in the microwave, but I personally would not.  I thaw in frig and the in pan.  24 hours +.  The beef in the au jus appears to be whole muscle meat, not pressed, chopped and formed.  I did inquire of Vienna as to the composition of the beef, but they did not reply.

The product is available in different weights, with just meat and gravy in a tub in your grocer’s freezer section, or as “sandwich kits” which include authentic Chicago rolls and the pickled vegetable relish known as giardiniera.  Several manufacturers of Italian beef in this style, also sell a “French dip” style.  Same stuff, I imagine, without Italian seasonings.

Nestle a hot Italian sausage within your beef, and you have a “Combo.”  I prefer Klement’s from Milwaukee.  I have no ‘beef’ with Vienna’s Italian Beef product.  I love all their products. They tie at #1 on my preference list with one other brand.  Vienna’s beef is mild but very flavorful.  Some other brands are spicier, like Mike Ditka’s (which I believe is also made at the Vienna factory, but with a different recipe).

Have some Italian Beef shipped to your house, just heat, eat, and enjoy.   You’ll be happier if your store leftovers – separate (beef and gravy). We can also hook you up with some great Klement’s Italian sausage.

Klement’s Sausage

Frozen Italian Beef

Thawed, Ready to Heat


Vienna Beef Italian Beef

Assembled Sandwich, Prior to Dipping!



Vienna Beef Italian Beef Kit

Algonquin, IL – Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Back in Chicagoland for the last time this year, had a craving for Mexican food since Mrs. Burgerdogboy has been on a cooking strike lately and she makes some fine Mexican platos.

I was out in the NW burbs, some areas of which are increasingly populated with people of various Latin heritages, and mercados and taquerias are popping up like pop-ups.

Not wanting to cause confusion among any potential customers, one entrepreneur labeled his restaurant as plain as plain could be: “Algonquin Mexican Restaurant.” (AMR)

With tables that will accommodate thirty and a counter with room for eight more, the AMR serves breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday with hours from 10A – 8 PM. They were doing a brisk take-out business, but I was in the mood to be waited on, so I took a seat a booth looking out at the Algonquin intersection at the corners of “Road Construction” and “Needs Road Construction.” The gajillion dollar downtown bypass appears that it will take another generation of work before it is actually finished, and from where I sit, will do little do alleviate the REAL area traffic problems, which are East – West, while the bypass is north-south. DOH!

The menu is straight forward and straight Mexican. Order ala carte or a plate which includes beans and rice.  (Me and the Mrs were forever spoiled by the refried beans in Aberdeen, WA one day).   Turns out tho that these were pretty tasty.  I wish I had ordered an additional side of them. (The ones in Aberdeen were so tasty we ate two orders at the table and got an order to go).

Polished off the complimentary chips and pico, and then  I ordered three tacos, chorizo, shredded beef, and ground beef.  Chicken, steak, pork, and pork skin were other options.  No tongue here.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tacos, even tho I had them with the gringo flour tortilla.  They come loaded with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. A second “filling” option is straight chopped onion and cilantro.  Should have tried that.

In order of favorites – chorizo one, then shredded beef, and lastly ground beef.  The accompanying rice was nothing to write home (or here about) so i won’t.  I rarely eat rice as a side anymore. Can’t say why and sure you don’t care.

Circumstances were such that I spent a fair amount of time in Mexico this year, and of course few places North of the border can match local street food in Juarez or TJ,  just like after living in China I was spoiled to consuming  that type of food in the US.

But in any case, if you happen to be driving around the NW burbs, or live in Algonquin, Dundee, Lake in the Hills or Crystal Lake, the Algonquin Mexican Restaurant is worth a stop with freshly prepared food at great prices.   I’ve posted there menu over in our menu section, check it out.

Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review



Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

3 Taco Plate


Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review





Algonquin Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Algonquin Mexican Restaurant Review

Crystal Lake, IL – Andys Family Restaurant Review

Andy's Crystal LakeLanding at O’Hare after an overnight flight from Honolulu, I was starving.  Why didn’t I eat on the plane?  Conked out on the new lie flat seat/beds in first class, very comfy, a little too comfy.

Was heading from Chicago to Madison, so I thought I’d stop en route and get a tasty breakfast on the back roads, and my back road of choice to Madison is US 14, so I hit Andy’s Family Restaurant in Crystal Lake, IL.

Over ordered, not a surprise, went with the Chicken Fried Steak and eggs, the place was jammed, but service was prompt and friendly, they have had lots of practice, this place has been around for years.

Played “butter Jenga” while I was waiting, scarfed the meal and hit the road.  Great place.

Andy's Crystal Lake

Andy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Andys Family Restaurant Review

Chicago, IL – Uncle Sammy’s Sandwiches

There are what – 40,000 Subway sandwich places in the world.  The franchised brand name one, not including other chains, Quiznos, Jimmy Joe Bob’s or whatever that one is.   Yet “independents” keep springing up and competing.

Like Uncle Sammy’s Sandwich Classics, in Chicago.  Uncle Sammy’s is in Lincoln Park, the first neighborhood I ever lived in Chicago.  I was at the corner of Lincoln and Wells, Old Town, a few years too late for the hippie fest that went on there, and a few years too early for Belushi and all the pros of his era marching through Second City, just down the block.

No matter.

Uncle Sammy’s is described by Time Out Magazine of one of Chicago’s six great sandwich shops.   They’re open late, and offering a pretty limited menu, a handful of fresh made subs, chips, and brownies.  They do catering, meaning, they will deliver quantities of box lunches to your workplace.

Such was the occasion that I got to sample Uncle Sammy’s “Little Italy” sandwich.  A friend of mine had a truck load of the sandwiches delivered to her work, and I got the left overs.

The Little Italy has a little kick to it, with Genoa salami, capicola, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, vinaigrette, and a little giardiniera.

The bread was incredible fresh, the meats were tasty, extremely thin sliced, and I personally think there could have been more filling.

But it is a good sandwich.  One of Chicago’s six best?  Hard to say, and I won’t get around to making that determination in this lifetime, for sure!

Uncle Sammy's on Urbanspoon

Skokie, IL – Kabul House

It’s one of those places where most “reviewers” are not going to be able to find fault;  nor will your average customer who walks in off the street.

Affable hosts, prompt service, delicious food, artfully presented, and a fair price.  That’s the story at Kabul House on Oakton Street in Skokie.

A soothing atmosphere with linen tablecloths and napkins is the perfect setting to sample a wide variety of the cuisine of Afghanistan.

The restaurant has been around for quite some time, but has been in various locations around the North Shore;  the Skokie location is the newest and nicest.

They bill themselves as “Chicago’s only authentic Afghani restaurant”.   I have no way of knowing if that is true or not, of course, but I do know the food is spot on to other Afghan dining experiences I have had outside of the US.

We opened the experience with hot cardamom tea all around, which was both delicious and palate cleansing;  on to lentil soup, with was hot, thick, with just a hint of spice.

For appetizers, we shared the “Mantoo”, steamed dumplings stuffed with seasoned ground beef and plated very attractively with a tomato based sauce and yogurt, and split the vegetarian platter entrée as another starter, a plate of sautéed spinach , eggplant, cauliflower, and pumpkin.   If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I enjoy dumplings in any form, and the same goes for cooked spinach.

For my entrée,  I opted for the Koubideh,  seasoned ground beef skewers or kabobs (yes, I seek out hamburgers  in any shape!) , with grilled vegetables.  All entrees come with a choice of three styles of rice, a seasoned version, plain white, or dill.  I went with the dill, enjoyed it very much.   The other diners in the party enjoyed the shrimp kabobs, and the chicken kabob entrees.

I generally pass on dessert, but my companions raved about the rosewater and cardamom ice cream, made in-house.

Tea, two appetizers, three entrees, two desserts, two coffee, less than fifty bucks.

I generally don’t look at other reviews on line, but I was curious about how Kabul House fared, because my experience was so divine;  I wasn’t surprised that the majority of reviews I saw paralleled my own experience.

This family deserves your business, and all the success that life in the free world promises.  I’m happy to have had the experience of dining here.

Kabul House Skokie

Lentil Soup

Kabul House Skokie

Steamed beef filled dumplings

Kabul House Skokie

Ground beef skewers



Kabul House on Urbanspoon

Gino’s East of Chicago – Frozen Classic Sausage Patty Deep Dish Pizza

(From our archives) True “Chicago Deep Dish” pizza was ‘invented’ in the 1940s by Pizzeria Uno.   Some folks claim the Malnati family deserves the credit too.   But in 1966, two cabbies and a friend started Gino’s East in downtown Chicago, and for me, that’s the epitome of Chicago deep dish.

Chicago deep dish should not be confused with offerings of the same name in other parts of the country, the Chicago crust is nearly thin, and the “deep’ comes from the toppings piled into the pie pan.   Some establishments, like Gino’s,  layer the pizza thusly,  crust/cheese/meat/sauce/seasonings, and in the case of the sausage pie, the sausage stretches the entire diameter of the pizza, forming a rather large Italian sausage patty.

Few restaurants have been able to translate their recipes to the grocery store successfully, but Gino’s makes the grade with their Classic Sausage Patty, two-pound, handmade pie.    The ingredients are not adulterated by a lot of additives; the pie is fairly pure on the ingredient list.  Many Chicago pie crust makers add a “buttery flavor” to the dough, and Gino’s is no exception.

It takes about 40 minutes in a 425 oven to bring this beauty to the plate.

The wait is worth it.

To find Gino’s frozen pies near you, use the locator, or you can have them shipped to you, as well.

Gino's East Frozen Classic Sausage Deep Dish Pizza