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Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, IL on I-55

Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, IL on I-55
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  • Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, IL on I-55

    Post #1 - May 6th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Post #1 - May 6th, 2005, 11:45 am Post #1 - May 6th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Hi,

    I have family moving there in the very near future. I envision many a roadtrip along I-55 in the next year. If you have recommendations of places to eat and things to do, then it will make these trips just ever so much more pleasant.

    Once I get my feel for the territory, I will report back as I learn things myself.

    Thanks!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - May 6th, 2005, 12:47 pm
    Post #2 - May 6th, 2005, 12:47 pm Post #2 - May 6th, 2005, 12:47 pm
    I was very happy last trip to White Fence Farm:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t= ... fence+farm
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - May 15th, 2005, 7:03 pm
    Post #3 - May 15th, 2005, 7:03 pm Post #3 - May 15th, 2005, 7:03 pm
    Cathy,
    I've been thinking about your request and I don't know too many places between Chicago and Bloomington, but here are a few---just off 55 on the 30 exit (Joliet) go West to Plainfield--about 1 l/2 mi. to a small place called Baby Back Blues. They have a great pulled pork sandwich, good fries and cole slaw all at a very reasonable price. The place is nothing fancy, but they are very pleasant, do all smoking right there and have what we think one of the best pulled pork sandwiches in the area. Skip the ribs tho--.
    Off the Wilmington exit- head on over to Morris and stop at Rockwell Inn. Good food, a fun bar and some great Norman Rockwell pictures.
    Off the Braidwood exit, go into Braidwood and try a little Itailan place called Antonia's. Food is good, coffee is great(they get it frozen from Italy) and the deli and bakery are good too. Again, these are small towns and you'll find the prices are small town as well.
    Off the ElPaso exit, go on over to the winery. Forgot what it's called, but if you look up Illinois wines, you'll find the name and directions. Wine is 0-k, but the gift shop is really nice and the people at the winery are very nice--it makes for a fun little stop.
    Also if you look up posts by Mugs on the chowhound site, you'll find lots of places he rec. in the Joliet area. I live in that area as well, but haven't been able to find very many great places. Of course, there is always Harrahs and the Empress if you like to gamble.
    Hope some of this info will help you.
    Please let us know if you try any of these. I'm sure you'll find lots of interesting spots and places of your own that you can let us know about.
    Have Fun!
  • Post #4 - May 16th, 2005, 5:23 am
    Post #4 - May 16th, 2005, 5:23 am Post #4 - May 16th, 2005, 5:23 am
    Vital Information wrote:I was very happy last trip to White Fence Farm:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t= ... fence+farm


    Or, you can stop at Del Rhea'sfor larger more juicy chicken in a less fun atmosphere. It's always a tough call when I am on that stretch of 55 and hungry for chicken.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - May 16th, 2005, 10:55 am
    Post #5 - May 16th, 2005, 10:55 am Post #5 - May 16th, 2005, 10:55 am
    While it's not what you're asking for, we found a good, family run Mexican restaurant in Bloomington. I don't remember the name, but if you're interested, I can describe it's location. I suspect you may not need this as your family will soon know the lay of the land.

    Jonah
  • Post #6 - May 17th, 2005, 1:30 am
    Post #6 - May 17th, 2005, 1:30 am Post #6 - May 17th, 2005, 1:30 am
    Come on, Jonah! Don't leave us in suspense!

    Are you thinking of Delgado's right off of Veterens Parkway in the "College Hills" area of Southeastern Normal? Even if it's not what you are thinking of, I've recommended them before. A far, far cry from the Mexican delicacies one frequently sees on this site but not too bad for Bloomington. And it is family owned - a true rarity on the franchised Bloomington dining scene. Grew up eating the chimichanga but most recently have ordered the fish tacos (once quite good, once quite bad...).

    I only get into Bloomington once about once a year, though. So, if a new place has opened and has perhaps a little more authentic Mexican then Delgado's then please let us know!

    Delgado's Mexican Food and Drink
    201 Landmark Dr.
    Normal, Il
    Phone: 454-4747
  • Post #7 - May 17th, 2005, 8:10 am
    Post #7 - May 17th, 2005, 8:10 am Post #7 - May 17th, 2005, 8:10 am
    Really, I wasn't trying to be cagey! The problem is I don't know the name. I never thought I'd need to recommend a restaurant in Bloomington. The place is a free standing building on the east side of Main Street, just a bit north of Bloomington on the way to Normal (but much closer to Bloomington). Based on a web search, it may be called El Porton, because one site lists a Mexican restaurant at 901 North Main, which seems to be the in the right area. That's all I can recall.

    Jonah
  • Post #8 - May 18th, 2005, 9:37 pm
    Post #8 - May 18th, 2005, 9:37 pm Post #8 - May 18th, 2005, 9:37 pm
    Hi,

    Thanks for the information so far. We are likely to make our initial foray south sometime soon, so I am squirrelling away information for the inevitable. I realized the other day it is only an hour from Springfield, so I will be hitting the State Fair for the first time in some years.

    This is a round up of Bloomington-Normal references on LTH as well as CH Midwest board. Where I cite 'experience' is when the author listed quite a range of restaurants.

    The bagels are questioned because of a recent shift in the recipe, which they may or may not recover from.

    As we work our way through these options or find something new, I will add to the body of information.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    Bagels?
    Bagelmen's (1503 East Vernon Ave., Bloomington or 503 Main St. Suite #1 in Normal

    Bistro & Chinese

    10 years away experienced recommendations

    5 years experience

    More experience

    Indian & breakfast recommendation

    Japanese

    Michaels

    Pizza

    Pizza, again

    Sushi

    Tenderloin Sandwiches
  • Post #9 - May 19th, 2005, 7:33 am
    Post #9 - May 19th, 2005, 7:33 am Post #9 - May 19th, 2005, 7:33 am
    stevez wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:I was very happy last trip to White Fence Farm:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t= ... fence+farm


    Or, you can stop at Del Rhea'sfor larger more juicy chicken in a less fun atmosphere. It's always a tough call when I am on that stretch of 55 and hungry for chicken.


    Steve I have to agree with you that it's a rough decision. For me del rhea's often wins because it's only a few minutes from my office and they serve lunch. A White Fence Farm carryout location is on my way home and they win sometimes in the evening. We only go to the original WFF on my grandmother's birthday, but the grub seems to be consistent either dine in or carryout.

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #10 - May 19th, 2005, 5:50 pm
    Post #10 - May 19th, 2005, 5:50 pm Post #10 - May 19th, 2005, 5:50 pm
    My son is a current student at ISU and heartly recomends Linden Street Grill for it's fantastic fried chicken and fried dill pickles. He swears the chicken is the best in town. The dill pickles are unique and are ordered by everyone.

    Linden Street Grill
    1006 N. Linden
    Bloomington, IL
  • Post #11 - June 5th, 2005, 1:30 pm
    Post #11 - June 5th, 2005, 1:30 pm Post #11 - June 5th, 2005, 1:30 pm
    My view is that if you're going to be somewhere, eat the indigenous food, which to me (and I grew up right in the middle of it), is tavern food. You know, the dimly-lit places with the bar down one side of the room, tables on the other. Drinks in high-ball glasses. Undrinkable wine, but reallly good cold beer. Families with kids eating next to the boozers at the bar.

    The food? Fried chicken, fried catfish, steaks, burgers, and if you're really lucky, a pork tenderloin sandwich. So here are my suggestions:

    In Dwight & Morris, Turtle's Tap. (I personally like the mural at the one in Dwight better.) And while the Mansion in Dwight is in a beautiful old house, I've always been disappointed in the food.

    In Odell, Rentz's Tap. But don't drink the water. Odell water is horrible.

    In Pontiac, David's.

    In Bloomington, the Ozark House.

    Also in Bloomington, there's Biaggi's for Italian or Lucca Grill downtown for old atmosphere and great pizza.

    Turtle's Tap
    1400 Division Street
    Morris, Illinois
    (815) 942-3664

    Turtle's Tap
    152 East Main Street
    Dwight, Illinois
    (815) 584-3663

    The Country Mansion
    101 W South Street
    Dwight Illinois
    (815) 584-2345

    Rentz's Tap
    210 S Waupansie St
    Odell, Illinois
    (815) 998-2383

    David's
    624 W Howard
    Pontiac, Illinois
    (815) 844-4130

    Ozark House
    704 McGregor
    Bloomington, Illinois
    (309) 827-3900

    Biaggi's
    1501 N Veterans Parkway
    Bloomington, Illinois
    (309) 661-8322

    Lucca Grill
    116 E Market Street
    Bloomington, Illinois
    (309) 828-7521
  • Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 10:34 pm
    Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 10:34 pm Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 10:34 pm
    Hi,

    The Japanese/Sushi places linked above have closed, you can find more information here.

    Next door to what was Tachibana is Longhorn Smokehouse which promises ' "Real" Texas Barbecue.' One's eyebrows do rise ever so slightly when real is emphasized with quotation marks. Ah yes, they follow this up by stating at the bottom of their take-out menu: "All meat is fully cooked ... The "Red Ring" Signifies Perfect Texas Barbecue."

    The posted hours for this place is 11 AM - 8 PM on Sunday. I walked in around 3:30-ish to find the place empty with kitchen workers hovering around the cafeteria style serving area. I wasn't really sure the place was open since the lighting in the diningroom was barely lit. I asked them what type of wood they used for smoking, which ignited a chain reaction as each person turned to the other who turned to the other until someone yelled to kitchen. The answer: hickory.

    The menu features beef brisket or chopped beef brishet for $9.95 per pound. Pork ribs for $13.50 a full slab. Smoked Country Ham, Pulled Pork or Pork Loin at $9 per pound. Low Fat Smoked Turkey for $9.25 per pound. They also have a smoked Polish sandwich.

    There are a few mystery items which I will eventually find out what they really mean: Armadillo Eggs, Smoked Texas Tater (all the trimmings) which I guess is a smoke-cooked baked potato and Texas Tater with Chopped Beef.

    Longhorn Smokehouse
    5 Currency Drive
    Bloomington, IL
    Phone: 309/661-0433
    Fax: 309/661-0362
    Monday-Saturday: 11 AM - 9 PM
    Sunday: 11 AM - 9 PM

    I did do a quick visit to El Porton to obtain a take-out menu. The directions from Jonah suggest this is indeed the place he estimated it may be. Since I envision being a semi-frequent visitor here this year, I will get there eventually and try it. There was one very favorable sign today: several tables filled with Mexicans.

    El Porton
    901 Main Street
    Bloomington, IL
    Fri-Mon: 9 AM - 9 PM
    Tue-Thurs: 11 AM - 9 PM

    Where did we eat? Based on several mentions in the linked threads above, we had dinner at Biaggi's and ice cream at Carl's, which I will report about later.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #13 - June 13th, 2005, 4:39 am
    Post #13 - June 13th, 2005, 4:39 am Post #13 - June 13th, 2005, 4:39 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Smoked Texas Tater (all the trimmings) which I guess is a smoke-cooked baked potato and Texas Tater with Chopped Beef.


    The Texas Tater, or as they call it in Texas, Baked Potato (much as you leave out the French or Canadian when ordering French fries or Canadian bacon when visiting those countries) is a staple of many BBQ shops in Texas. It's a...um...Texas sized baked potato filled with your choice of chopped meat from the pit topped with various toppings of you choice (or none) such as cheese, sour cream, chives, etc.

    The place you describe sounds authentic enough. How was the Q?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - June 13th, 2005, 7:26 am
    Post #14 - June 13th, 2005, 7:26 am Post #14 - June 13th, 2005, 7:26 am
    SteveZ wrote:The place you describe sounds authentic enough. How was the Q?


    I have no idea, so far. When I stumbled on this place, I was really looking for the Japanese restaurant next door. This was as much an effort to show my sister, who just moved there, as for myself.

    Thank goodness they have smoked turkey as almost everything else will not be of interest for her.

    Do you know what Armadillo Eggs are?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - June 13th, 2005, 7:38 am
    Post #15 - June 13th, 2005, 7:38 am Post #15 - June 13th, 2005, 7:38 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Do you know what Armadillo Eggs are?

    Regards,


    Armadillo Eggsare stuffed jalapenos. They are usually stuffed with cream cheese and spices/bbq sauce., then wrapped with pulled pork or sausage in a bread crumb mixture.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - June 13th, 2005, 7:50 am
    Post #16 - June 13th, 2005, 7:50 am Post #16 - June 13th, 2005, 7:50 am
    stevez wrote:Armadillo Eggs are stuffed jalapenos. They are usually stuffed with cream cheese and spices/bbq sauce., then wrapped with pulled pork or sausage in a bread crumb mixture.

    Z,

    I thought Armadillo Eggs were hard boiled eggs encased in fresh sausage, breading optional, then deep fried. Though either way sounds good. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #17 - June 13th, 2005, 8:16 am
    Post #17 - June 13th, 2005, 8:16 am Post #17 - June 13th, 2005, 8:16 am
    Gary,

    It would appear your known variant of Armadillo Eggs and Scottish Eggs have the same pedigree.

    What I can advise, Armadillo eggs are $4 and Smoked Texas Tater is $3.50 whereas a Texas Tater with chopped beef is $6.50.

    I'll be down there soon enough to divine what an Armadillo Egg means in Longhorn Smokehouse territory.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #18 - June 13th, 2005, 8:18 am
    Post #18 - June 13th, 2005, 8:18 am Post #18 - June 13th, 2005, 8:18 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    stevez wrote:Armadillo Eggs are stuffed jalapenos. They are usually stuffed with cream cheese and spices/bbq sauce., then wrapped with pulled pork or sausage in a bread crumb mixture.

    Z,

    I thought Armadillo Eggs were hard boiled eggs encased in fresh sausage, breading optional, then deep fried. Though either way sounds good. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    I've only had them with jalapenos in Texas, but I'd be more than willing the give the hard boiled egg version a try.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - June 17th, 2005, 5:15 pm
    Post #19 - June 17th, 2005, 5:15 pm Post #19 - June 17th, 2005, 5:15 pm
    I went to school at IWU and my favorite thing to eat in Bloomington is the Buffalo Shrimp at Schooners. It's a platter of lightly breaded, perplexingly fresh popcorn shrimp you dip into buffalo sauce with a toothpick. It's the only thing about Bloomington that still makes my mouth water here in Chicago.

    They also serve an enormous pork tenderloin that is enough for four hamburger buns. They ask you how many buns you want when you order it and you have to cut it into multiple pieces. Another way they serve the tenderloin is like a pizza: on a pan topped with marinara, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, (can't remember what else) and cut into squares with a pizza cutter. It's a local legend.

    mark
  • Post #20 - June 19th, 2005, 6:53 pm
    Post #20 - June 19th, 2005, 6:53 pm Post #20 - June 19th, 2005, 6:53 pm
    For our first dinner in Bloomington, we really wanted to visit the Japanese restaurant, which has closed. When my sister indicated she wanted Italian as a second choice, the decision was easy from this thread: Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano. This is a small chain of 18 restaurants, which reminds me of Maggiano’s yet aiming at medium sized markets (Champaign, IL, Deer Park, IL (outside of Rockford), Evansville, IN, Fort Wayne, IN, etc.).

    As part of the introduction, the waiter brought a basket with a mixed variety of breads. He then recited the specials while pouring a quantity of oil on a plate, followed by grated parmesan cheese and a few turns of a pepper grinder. He indicated the olive oil was a special blend, which my Dad wanted to know what that meant. Dad used to stay in northern Italy where he observed olive oil for different types of uses, but he wasn’t aware of blended. Blended does suggest low grade, in this case it was several kinds extra virgin olive oils infused with rosemary and other herbs. Whatever it really was we liked it quite a bit.

    My Dad is eating exclusively fish these days. Any offers of meat or foul then we are tempting him with food, which compromises his cholesterol. He is also fussy about how his fish is prepared. From reading posts here, I was pretty assured he would get well prepared fish. To my surprise, he chooses the rainbow trout even though it came as a fillet. What he really seemed to like was the thin raspberry puree they squirted over his fish as a finishing touch.

    After checking out the dinner at the next table, I had pork chops al forno which were mounted on garlic mashed potatoes with a side of sautéed spinach. I remember asking for extra parmesan and gorgonzola butter, which was probably a mistake. It just had a cloying feel, which slightly dimmed my appreciation. Yeah, the customer can be wrong sometimes.

    My Mother and sister had two varieties Ravioli Bolognese and Quattro Formaggi, while I was tempted to order their Butternut Squash Ravioli. When I saw the portion of 6 large ravioli’s each, I was glad I had pork chops instead. In restaurants, I never quite get as many raviolis as I really want.

    We skipped dessert in the restaurant, though I quizzed him on local ice cream parlors. We learned there was a Dairy Queen, an independent named Carl’s and another he couldn’t quite remember the name. Actually our destination was already decided since Carl is my Dad’s name we decided to follow our gut feeling on a trail of warm fuzzies.

    Image

    Carl’s is definitely one of a kind. They offer soft serve ice cream, yogurt (can you really call it?) ice cream and homemade ‘hard’ ice cream. When we were there the flavor of the day was peach in the soft serve. I asked them if it was fresh peach, actually a dare from my sisters, the lady looked at me quizzical then said for it to be dispensed in the soft serve surely it must be artificial flavoring. Yet, I did order a hot fudge sundae requesting blackberry hard ice cream instead of vanilla. As evidenced below, they do use real fruit.

    Image

    My youngest sister ordered a combination, which simply looked awful: mint ice cream and a peanut butter topping. My Dad ordered a turtle, which looked pretty good.

    Image

    On the whipping cream front, I am somewhat disappointed. They do not use fresh whipped cream. They do not use whipping cream from a can. They use a Cool Whip-type of product dispensed from a piping bag onto the sundae. Though it is not real whipping cream, the texture mimics real whipping cream better than the artificial cream dispensed from a can.

    Thanks for the tips so far!

    Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano
    Bloomington, IL
    309/661-8322

    Carl's Ice Cream Factory
    601 West Locust Street
    Bloomington, IL 61701
    309-828-7732

    I just noticed when I looked up this address there are two Carl’s Jr., which I never thought were in Illinois. I will check them soon:

    Carl's Jr
    2702 East Oakland Avenue
    Bloomington, IL 61704
    309-662-3023

    Carl's Jr
    1601 South Main Street
    Bloomington, IL 61701
    309-829-1351
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - June 20th, 2005, 3:04 am
    Post #21 - June 20th, 2005, 3:04 am Post #21 - June 20th, 2005, 3:04 am
    Can't tell you what a kick I'm getting out of watching you check out my old hometown, Cathy! I've been nervously awaiting your review of Biaggi's - it wasn't around during my youth but I honestly had only heard "blah" reviews of the place. Glad to hear that things worked out at least reasonably well.

    For what it's worth - Tachibana was a decent Japanese restaurant, certainly better than much of what Bloomington had to offer. I think that it was finally forced to throw in the towel after all of the Mitsubishi factory's cutbacks (and the gradual disappearance of many of it's Japanese customers...). It will be missed, though.

    The one place I've really heard good things about but haven't tried yet is Purian - the Indian restaurant mentioned in the "Indian & breakfast" link above. I'll post a report if I get there before you do!
  • Post #22 - June 20th, 2005, 8:00 am
    Post #22 - June 20th, 2005, 8:00 am Post #22 - June 20th, 2005, 8:00 am
    Hi,

    My sister is in Bloomington for just this one year. She's lived away for so long a mere 2.5 hour drive is hardly an inconvenience.

    I think you may get to the Indian before I do, though I do want to try the Texas BBQ next. I also like the food opportunities on the way there and back. By the time she leaves, hopefully we will have a better picture of the food scene between here and there.

    From driving around, I did see one small Asian market and a Mexican market. I would venture to guess they were not there when you lived there. I'm also interested in what's happened with the bagel shop who changed their recipe causing former boosters to drop their support.

    I also saw a small Thai restaurant, which nobody has yet mentioned. Who knows maybe they had a second menu or I might get the response I got from a Highland Park establishment: "We have so few Thai customers, we only have one menu."

    At the old Tachibana location, someone was attempting to start something up but either funding has dried up or things are delayed. You're explanation of events is likely right plus their location isn't as ideal as Biaggi's. When you exit the expressway, all signs pointing to Bloomington are not pointing you in the direction of Tachibana; though both are in Bloomington.

    I expect to have a good year checking things out and hope others will chime in with their thoughts and experiences. BTW - do they have any food festivals in Bloomington area? Corn daze? Soy daze?

    All the best,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - June 21st, 2005, 12:56 am
    Post #23 - June 21st, 2005, 12:56 am Post #23 - June 21st, 2005, 12:56 am
    You're right - the markets may be new although there have been a few "asian" (asian/indian) markets in Blm/Nrml since my time there... As far as Thai goes, I seem to remember several Thai places that have come and gone. My father usually loads up a group of friends and drives to Springfield when he gets hungry for Thai. I'll have to ask him the name of the place because he really enjoys it and it's unusual enough with Thai places in central Illinois that it could perhaps be a find...

    I think the Texas BBQ is an excellent choice for your next experiment. I haven't even heard of the place and the menu tidbits that have been posted do seem enticing!

    Regarding festivals - Bloomington/Normal wouldn't be the place it is without the annual sweet corn festival! It looks like it will be held on August 24th and 25th this year and it's been moved from downtown Bloomington to downtown Normal since my childhood but it is one of those things that can really get me waxing nostalgic. What I wouldn't pay to get some of those luscious ears of locally-grown, picked-that-morning, sweet corn (cooked in an old steam engine boiler) sent up to me in my current home in Sweden! I only have fond memories of the sweet corn festival and I'd venture to say that it's worth a visit for you and your family!
  • Post #24 - June 22nd, 2005, 5:49 pm
    Post #24 - June 22nd, 2005, 5:49 pm Post #24 - June 22nd, 2005, 5:49 pm
    I heard that after 25 years, Delgado's has closed.
  • Post #25 - June 24th, 2005, 3:21 pm
    Post #25 - June 24th, 2005, 3:21 pm Post #25 - June 24th, 2005, 3:21 pm
    Welcome all, no time lurker, first time poster (I just discovered this forum while I was looking for information on the Thai House here in Bloomington, IL).

    Anywho, as I said, I'm a local (tho not Native, the Chicago burbs is where I spent most of my youth) in Bloomington/Normal, so I thought I could add some information.

    Doing some scattershot responses here.. (and quick, I leave work in about 5 minutes..;-)

    The Thai House is the first of two Thai restaurants opening here in town (opened just a couple weeks back). My wife and I ate there about 3 days ago and intend to go back tonight to try it as take-out. I had some boiled beef in a red curry sauce and she had some Chicken Pad Thai (which I will be getting tonight with Shrimp). The Crab Rangoon (somewhat surprised to see it on the menu) was amazingly tasty, as were the Thai Egg-Rolls we had before the meal (I think they 'chinesed' a lot of the dishes to make it easier for people to order). The two main dishes were excellent, as was the dessert of Fried Banana.

    Bloomington has had 2 Indian Restaurants for some time. Originally it was the Gateway to India, which has 3 total locations (one was here, one in Springfield and 1 in Peoria). They had a marvelous buffet for lunch and it's how I got my wife hooked on Indian. Taj Mahal was closer to State Farm corporate, and also did pretty good business. Eventually GtI was sold and closed (wasn't as good after it was sold, but the old owner still runs the other two stores last time I went to one) and for a short period we only have Taj Mahal. Now Puran India Restaurant opened (with an Indian grocery store next to it) and their food is simply fantastic. Had it for lunch today, actually, and they can dial up the heat as much as you would like. And recently TM was purchased and the food has taken a bit of a turn to more northern indian/Chinese influence. I still enjoy it, but the naan isn't a fresh as it used to be, and it's a bit more spicy.

    Love em both tho, can't go wrong. Not the best Indian the world, but certainly good.

    As for Carl's, well, can't really go wrong there either. Their malt is 100 times better than Steak and Shake, that's for sure. It can have one heck of a line in the summer, and with the heat coming up, expect huge wait times, even with all windows serving. (which is good for them, since last year just wasn't that hot).

    Corn Fest. Oh yes, can't miss the corn fest. Most small towns in Central Illinois have various corn festivals, but the one in Normal contains a massive street vendor festival at the same time, and while the corn isn't free, I think it was $.25 last year, so close enough.

    Delgado's has, in fact, closed.

    In B/N there is an Indian Grocery, at least 2 'mexican' ones (one Downtown Bloomington, one just SE of State Farm corp headquarters), and one on the west side of town that is basically an Indian style, but with more Caribbean influences. There is also 'Shanghai' market which is right next to China Star (more or less in the SF Corp parking lot) which contains a good supply of various Chinese foods.

    Soy Daze would be Decatur..;-)

    Carl's is no longer open in town, they purchased some old Hardees and temporarily renamed them, but it failed, one went back to a Hardees and one was remade as a Blockbuster/Subway.

    Schooners is great, but a bit smokey. The tenderloin is amazingly huge.

    Anywho, wife is here, time to go! Will update/fix/covermytracks later.

    Gryfalia
  • Post #26 - June 25th, 2005, 12:18 am
    Post #26 - June 25th, 2005, 12:18 am Post #26 - June 25th, 2005, 12:18 am
    Hi!

    Welcome to LTHforum!

    Thanks for the tips and updating of information on Bloomington-Normal.

    Schooners is great, but a bit smokey. The tenderloin is amazingly huge.


    Is the tenderloin prepared on the premises or is it a frozen product?

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - July 10th, 2005, 2:53 pm
    Post #27 - July 10th, 2005, 2:53 pm Post #27 - July 10th, 2005, 2:53 pm
    Spent the weekend at the fine arts street show in Normal. On Saturday night, we went to Viv (which abbreviates wine is life in Latin). What a lovely NON-B/N experience! This is a wine bar attached to a wine shop. The bar has over 100 different wines by the glass, and offers wine flights as well. The menu is extremely limited -- 8 or so appetizers, including a cheese plate, hummus with bread, chicken satay, baked savory brie, a shrimp thing, and pizzas.

    We had the cheese plate -- 5 different kinds of cheese, with walnuts, dried cranberries and apricots, and grapes. It cost $8.50. We also had chicken satay: 4 big, juicy pieces of chicken with a spicy peanut sauce. I think that was $7.50.

    We also had sparkling wine. A glass of Gruet brut is $6. A bottle is $15, so we went with the bottle. They also serve a french champagne for $9 per glass ($29 for the bottle), and an Asti.

    The room is long and comfortable. At 8:00 a band started playing, which was very good and a lot of fun. We got there a little after 6, and didn't leave until after 10! The crowd turned over quite a bit during our rather lengthy stay, but business was steady.

    The owner was there, and was very personable. He said they were changing their menu soon.

    This reminds me of Bacaro in Champaign. And it made me yearn for a similar place in Aurora (or environs).

    Viv
    909 N Hershey (at the corner of Rte 9 and Hershey)
    Bloomington
    309-662-9905

    The actual location is a bit of a drag -- in a strip mall location that requires Viv to be a destination bar -- hard to do in B/N I would think. It is right next door to Le Peep, a good breakfast place.
  • Post #28 - August 11th, 2005, 10:16 am
    Post #28 - August 11th, 2005, 10:16 am Post #28 - August 11th, 2005, 10:16 am
    How smokey was it in Viv? That sounds like a place I'd love to hang out for the evening but very much smoke will kill my sinuses.
  • Post #29 - August 12th, 2005, 7:55 am
    Post #29 - August 12th, 2005, 7:55 am Post #29 - August 12th, 2005, 7:55 am
    smoky in the least. I don't know if it's non-smoking, but no one smoked for the several hours I spent there.
  • Post #30 - August 19th, 2005, 11:56 am
    Post #30 - August 19th, 2005, 11:56 am Post #30 - August 19th, 2005, 11:56 am
    An update on Bagelman's:

    I was in Bloomington where a Bagelman's store is operating. I learned the Champaign location was sold to a new owner, so rather they are Denny's rather than Bagelman's.

    The Bloomington and Normal locations all retain the Bagelman's name, yet they are owned by the same Denny's. This explains the change in recipes, though the server claims the menu stayed the same.

    Can anyone offer any information related to the past and present Bagelmen's product?

    Bagelmen's Restaurant
    1503 East Vernon Av
    Bloomington, IL 61701
    309-663-8200

    Bagelmen's
    503 South Main Street
    Normal, IL 61761
    309-454-1005

    Is this place any good?

    Niksky's Deli & Bagel
    Eastland Mall Food Centre
    Bloomington, IL 61701
    309-662-0606

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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