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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review, Chicago, IL

Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review


1870 was the year Herman Berghoff immigrated from German. He worked on plantations and at other jobs before opening his own brewery in Indiana. When the World’s Fair in Chicago came along in 1893, Berghoff set up a booth to sell his beer to fair patrons.

He met with such success, he figured he better have an outlet in Chicago, and thus the Berghoff opened in 1898.

1870, when Herman Berghoff immigrated from Germany to America. After stints working on cotton and sugar cane plantations—and even time spent performing at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show—Herman opened his own brewery in Indiana.

When the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893, Herman Berghoff set up a stand in the Midway Plaisance and sold his beers to people entering and exiting the fair. His success at the fair prompted him to consider a more permanent place to sell his beer in Chicago. Thus, The Berghoff opened doors in 1898.

He survived prohibition by expanding the food offerings beyond sandwiches, and brewing and selling sodas and near beer. To this day, the Berghoff brews some of the finest root beer you’ll find anywhere.

The restaurant holds Chicago liquor license #1. Today, there is the full service restaurant, a bar with small bites, and a fast service cafe opening M-F lunch. One of the quirks of the Berghoff is it was strictly “men only” until 1969, when Gloria Steinham and some women friends walked in and demanded to be served at the bar.

That was that.

Renowned for authentic German cuisine, the menu also offers some American favorites, and most everything served is crafted in-house, including some of the best rye bread you’ll ever experience.

I went for the fresh cut, lean corned beef sandwich, which came with chips and a pickle. And of course, a root beer.

If you’re in downtown Chicago, be sure to make this one of your stops.

Regular Menu
Cafe Menu
Bar Menu 

Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review

Corned beef on house-baked rye


Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review

House-made chips


Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review

Back in the day menu

The Berghoff Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review

Berghoff Restaurant and Bar Review


Daisy Hot Dogs Review


Daisy Hot Dogs ReviewHad a hankering to make coney island style hot dogs, with my ho-made delicious sauce (recipe), so I needed some natural casing hot dogs.  Gotta have that “snap” when you’re dripping coney sauce down your shirt. (BTW, in the industry, that “snap” is referred to as “knack” – from the German word for “crack.”)

Alas, one grocery had no natural casing dogs, across the street, where they usually have three or four options, today they had only one, “Daisy Brand,” a Chicago product, “since 1925.”  Made by the Crawford Sausage Company, a few miles southwest of the Loops.

It’s a pork/beef product, very mild, with a minimum of additives. Tasty. All natural casing dogs run very close to the same price, unless they are on sale. They’ll cost you about a buck a dog. Well worth it.  What I like about them over some competitors is they are “pure savory,” you can’t taste any added sweetener which seems to be so common these days.  Full ingredient list: PORK, BEEF, WATER, NONFAT DRY MILK, SODIUM LACTATE, SEASONING (DEXTROSE, SPICES, SALT, PAPRIKA, HYDROLYZED PROTEIN FROM SOY, FLAVORINGS, CARAMEL COLOR), SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, PAPRIKA, SODIUM NITRITE.  (No corn syrup solids, yay!)

These pups are made in the Crawford factory on South Pulaski, pictured below. Looks like they are working on setting up online ordering.

And oh yes, the coneys turned out JUST fine….

Daisy Hot Dog Review

Daisy Hot Dog Review






Daisy Hot Dogs 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


Video – Building the Perfect Chicago Hot Dog Recipe


Step by step, for the uninitiated…


Chicago hot dog recipe


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

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