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South side foodswing - A day of exploration

South side foodswing - A day of exploration
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  • South side foodswing - A day of exploration

    Post #1 - November 24th, 2007, 11:19 am
    Post #1 - November 24th, 2007, 11:19 am Post #1 - November 24th, 2007, 11:19 am
    Undaunted by our delicious and filling Thanksgiving meal, and with a free day on our schedule, the family and I decided to do a little food exploration yesterday. A couple of places we've been chatting about lately are on the south side, so that's where we headed. We left our northern enclave, without having eaten, at about 11:30 am and with construction on the Edens, Kennedy and Ryan completed (for the moment), we arrived at our first destination at just after noon . . .

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    Old Fashioned Donuts - GNR award recipient
    11248 S Michigan Ave
    Chicago, IL 60628
    773 995-7420

    It was our first experience at Old Fashioned and like with so many other places in town, I am grateful to LTH for the knowledge. The three of us split what was the best apple fritter we'd ever eaten . . .

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    Apple Fritter from Old Fashioned Donuts

    I could not believe how delicious this fritter was -- extremely rich, with a satisfying density -- and not overly sweet nor cinnamon-y. The gooey soft pieces of apple and tender pastry were countered perfectly by the crispy-crunchy edging. Wow! I'm not much of a "sweets" person but this was one of the best confections I've ever eaten. The 3 of us failed to finish the single fritter, so we took it -- along with 2 others -- home with us.

    Next up, it was time for lunch . . .

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    Top-Notch Beefburger
    2116 W 95th St
    Chicago, IL 60643
    773 445-7218

    Although I'd had carry-out from Top-Notch a few times back in the 90's, this was my first visit to the shop itself. It's a bright, clean and lively diner-esque space where many of the customers seemed to know each other. Even though we were first-timers, we were treated quite warmly. After perusing the menus, we each opted for Deluxe Beefburgers . . .

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    Deluxe Beefburger at Top-Notch Beefburger, which is served with lettuce, tomato, mayo, raw or grilled onions, pickles and "our unique French fries."

    The burgers were certainly delicious, if not exactly transcendant. The patties at Top-Notch are a bit on the thin side and as such, were cooked all the way through. I wasn't asked how I wanted my burger cooked but I probably could have stated a preference, if I'd thought of it. Still, my burger was juicy and quite tasty, and it was clear that our burgers were all made to order. The "unique," "pre-WWII-style" french fries were also very tasty but a bit on the cool side. That surprised me a bit in the context of the made-to-order burger. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable and inexpensive lunch. 3 Deluxe Beefburgers, 3 fountain beverages, a chocolate shake, tax and 20% tip was $22.

    After Top-Notch, we continued a bit north and west in search of some thin-crust pizza . . .

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    Vito & Nick Pizzeria
    8433 S Pulaski Rd
    Chicago, IL 60652
    (773) 735-2050

    It probably wasn't the best day for an inaugural visit. Even at 2 pm, the place was relatively full and -- probably because of the holiday weekend -- they were understaffed. The lone waitress kept apologizing to us for the delay and mentioned that only one pizza cook was working. It didn't matter. We killed the time pretty well (playing rounds of 'name that food,' a guessing game my son invented a while back), and about an hour after we arrived, our pizza was delivered to our table . . .

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    Large, half sausage-half pepperoni pizza from Vito & Nick

    We really enjoyed this delicious pie. I was struck by the sweetness of the sausage, which seemed to a have a note of maple to it. It also was very light on fennel seed, which I appreciated. And even though the crust was very thin, it actually had some substance to it, too . . .

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    Vito & Nick's ultra thin-crust pizza

    It was getting late, so we decided on one final stop. We continued north and then went straight east for some barbecue . . .

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    Uncle John's Bar BQ - GNR Award recipient
    337 E 69th St
    Chicago, IL 60637
    773 892-1233

    After having met Mack, the proprietor/pitmaster of Uncle John's at the GNR Awards Dinner back in October, I knew I wanted to experience their barbecue. I learned a lot about barbecue that night just listening to him chatting with Barry of Smoque and G Wiv. When we arrived, Mack was in good spirits and immediately mentioned some prime rib that he'd been working on. He mentioned a that certain barbecue maven was supposed to have come by and that because he hadn't, we'd be the recipients of his portion of prime rib. Of course, Mack was just joking around about that but the prime rib was dead serious. While not barbecued, it was cooked on the rotisserie until tender and utterly delicious. We also tried the delightfully fatty brisket, which was also cooked on the rotisserie.

    As for the barbecue, we went for a couple orders of items we'd heard a lot about . . .

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    Rib tips from Uncle John's Bar BQ


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    Hot Links from Uncle John's Bar BQ

    Both these items delighted us. The tips were meaty and smokey with a perfect ratio of bark to meat. The links were intensely porky and flavorful with a very friendly kick of spice. The definition was perfect. While I'm usually not a fan of sauce, Uncle John's sauce was just terrific and went especially well with the Links. It was a great stop and we were so glad to have finally experienced this delicious barbecue.

    On the way home, we did make one final stop at New York Bagels & Bialys on Touhy Avenue. Obviously, we weren't exactly hungry, but we knew we'd want some bagels for the weekend. And since it's a bit of a hike from the house, I've taken to stopping there pretty much every time I drive by . . .

    New York Bagels & Bialys
    4714 W Touhy Ave
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712
    847 677-9388

    All in all, it was a great day of exploration. Not only did we get to try a bunch of delicious items we've been curious about for a while, but we also ventured through parts of this vast, beautiful city that we rarely get to see. And there were so many other places that we would have loved to hit -- but we'll save those for another time. The concept of the local food field trip is one that we've grown very fond of and I look forward to getting out there again and 'discovering' more of what our great town has to offer.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #2 - November 24th, 2007, 12:36 pm
    Post #2 - November 24th, 2007, 12:36 pm Post #2 - November 24th, 2007, 12:36 pm
    Ronnie -- you continue to be my hero! :lol:
  • Post #3 - November 24th, 2007, 12:45 pm
    Post #3 - November 24th, 2007, 12:45 pm Post #3 - November 24th, 2007, 12:45 pm
    Is name that food kind of like animal, vegetable or mineral? Sounds like a great time - that BBQ looks spectacular.
  • Post #4 - November 24th, 2007, 1:46 pm
    Post #4 - November 24th, 2007, 1:46 pm Post #4 - November 24th, 2007, 1:46 pm
    Mhays wrote:Is name that food kind of like animal, vegetable or mineral?

    Yeah, pretty much. One person thinks of a food and the others may only ask "yes or no" questions in their efforts to identify it. 3 "no" responses in a row or 10 overall and the quizzer wins. Not exactly a complex game but definitely a good time killer. I was surprised yesterday when lentils and foie gras both came up and stumped Julie and I. I didn't know my 10-year-old had it in him! :D :wink:

    And yes, those rib tips were sensational!

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - November 24th, 2007, 5:04 pm
    Post #5 - November 24th, 2007, 5:04 pm Post #5 - November 24th, 2007, 5:04 pm
    gls wrote:Ronnie -- you continue to be my hero! :lol:

    GLS,

    Hero indeed, I was thinking of advancing Ron's name for the 2007 Rene G Memorial* Culinary Olympian award.

    *Yes, I know, Rene G is alive and kicking, at least as of lunch last week, but I can think of no one who more deserves to have the Culinary Olympian Award named for them.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - October 10th, 2009, 10:28 pm
    Post #6 - October 10th, 2009, 10:28 pm Post #6 - October 10th, 2009, 10:28 pm
    Since Top-Notch Beefburgers doesn't seem to have a dedicated thread other than the locked GNR nomination thread, I will post her about my first visit (to TNBB just east of Western on 95th). I was blown away by the wonderful chocolate milkshake - so much better than what one finds at a chain. It was the highpoint of my visit.

    The burger was good quality, but a thin pattie, and so not as moist as I prefer, but I was impressed by the fries - not as crispy as some, but clearly fried in beef tallow, which did make them pleasantly distinctive.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #7 - October 11th, 2009, 9:24 am
    Post #7 - October 11th, 2009, 9:24 am Post #7 - October 11th, 2009, 9:24 am
    GAF wrote:Since Top-Notch Beefburgers doesn't seem to have a dedicated thread other than the locked GNR nomination thread, I will post her about my first visit (to TNBB just east of Western on 95th). I was blown away by the wonderful chocolate milkshake - so much better than what one finds at a chain. It was the highpoint of my visit.

    The burger was good quality, but a thin pattie, and so not as moist as I prefer, but I was impressed by the fries - not as crispy as some, but clearly fried in beef tallow, which did make them pleasantly distinctive.


    It's covered here - viewtopic.php?f=14&t=26058&hilit=top+notch
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #8 - October 11th, 2009, 9:37 am
    Post #8 - October 11th, 2009, 9:37 am Post #8 - October 11th, 2009, 9:37 am
    Ahh, I typed in "Top Notch Beefburgers" in my search, but this thread only refers to "Top Notch." It might be a good idea to add "Top Notch Beefburgers" to that thread to make it easier to discover.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #9 - January 16th, 2011, 12:48 am
    Post #9 - January 16th, 2011, 12:48 am Post #9 - January 16th, 2011, 12:48 am
    Ronnie, your thread inspired me. I decided late last night that the husband and I should head to the South Side to visit Calumet Fisheries (to pick up some goodies for the Bears game) and Beverly Records (to pick up some goodies for the husband to listen to while I watch the Bears game :D ). As we don't often make it to that neck of the woods, I searched LTH and came across this thread. It was a pretty easy decision to follow your plan and make a day of it, especially as my husband has never been to any of these places, a situation that needed to be rectified.

    8 hours and 70 miles later, our journey included:

    Calumet Fisheries - although the husband does not enjoy seafood of any kind, he loved taking his picture on the "Blues Brothers" bridge and wolfed down an order of fried mushrooms. They were particularly excellent on this cold, cold day with the hot sauce for the smoked shrimp (and smoked salmon) I picked up. They were packed today, handing out samples, chatting about the White Sox, and proudly telling some first time visitors about the James Beard award. This place never fails to amaze me and was, before I married a non-fish eater, one of my favorite places to stop at before heading to Comiskey. There is nothing like eating smoked shrimp with a cold beer at a baseball game, I really need to get back into that routine next season.

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    Next stop - Uncle John's. They were doing a brisk business as people stocked up for the weekend's football games, with the Bears being the main topic of crowd conversation as we waited for our food. The husband was a BIG fan of Uncle John's, saying, and I quote, "It's like pork flavored candy!" I have honestly rarely seen him that happy with food, he's quite the picky eater. Tips and links combo (hot sauce on the side) was really exceptional today, smoky, fatty, tender, spicy...even the fries were crisp today, fantastic visit. It was hard to put it down and save room for the rest of our stops.

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    We continued on to Old Fashioned Donuts. We really aren't sweets eaters, but our apple fritter was rapidly demolished by the two of us as we drove to our non-food stop, Beverly Records. Jeff declared it to be the best donut he'd ever eaten and my twitterstream went crazy with friends pleading for me to grab extras for them - Old Fashioned certainly inspires passions! I will note that we arrived there at 4:00PM, and there was still a healthy supply of fritters to be had.

    Beverly Records was our one non-food stop. If you haven't been, I highly recommended you check it out as it really is a nifty family owned establishment. Although the husband deemed their vast 45 collection to be overly pricey at $4.00 a pop, he happily settled down for an hour with the 6 for $5.00 bins, while I perused their rebuilt turntables & chatted with the owners about the White Sox. We got a chance to rest up for more eating & the husband got some neat 45's for his blog, all in all, a great stop.

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    This put us right in line for Top Notch. We passed by Jimmy Jamm's on our way and reluctantly kept driving, but I've got it filed away for next time. Knowing that we still had Vito & Nicks ahead of us, we split a burger, fries and a shake. Since I was stuffing him like a Strasbourg Goose and he was playing along nicely, I gave in to the husbands love for cheeseburgers. Next time, I'll forgo the cheese, as it feels like it obfuscates the great flavors of this terrific burger. With that being said, great burger, crisp hand cut fries and a turn-it-upside-down-thick chocolate shake were winners as always. The husband noted that it was good that we don't live closer as we'd be compelled to eat here daily.

    Last stop, Vito & Nicks. This was particularly fun as two of my twitter friends I had never met in person saw where we were heading and came out to meet us. I love the interwebs! The place was packed with families and regulars, all craning their necks to get the best view of the football games that were on, but service was fast and the $2.00 Schlitz special was flowing... Since we had a mixed group and all of us had eaten, we kept it simple with a large sausage pizza. (Some day, I'm going to V&N with people that will eat anchovies so I can get what I really want, darn it all! :P ) Pizza took about 30 minutes and was really spot on, absolutely worth the wait. Perfectly crisp crust, spicy sausage, tangy sauce, and just the right amount of cheese. It was so good that my East Coast raised husband cut off his "Pizza isn't supposed to be in squares" rant as soon as he took a bite.

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    Service was friendly on a busy Saturday night, from the bartenders to the hostess to the waiter and our bill seemed awfully light for the large pizza and 16 beers consumed...was it our lucky night or was it the fact that we all had White Sox hats on? :twisted:

    A great day, we're home and I'm already picking at the leftovers. Thanks for the inspiration, Ronnie, as a White Sox fan and a lover of all things delicious, this was a great tour on a number of levels!

    Beverly Records
    11612 South Western
    Chicago, IL 60643,
    773.779.0066
    http://www.beverlyrecords.com/
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #10 - January 16th, 2011, 11:51 am
    Post #10 - January 16th, 2011, 11:51 am Post #10 - January 16th, 2011, 11:51 am
    Awesome, Ursiform! Looks like a great evening. I think you've actually reinspired me. :)

    As for V&N's, it does seem like the kind of place that the busier they are, the better they are. There's an easy rhythm that seems to emerge there when they're at peak demand. It's been a few months since I've been there and really need to get back. The pizza in your pics looks like absolute perfection.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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