Even with all of the time, effort and planning that Ronnie put into the weekend - he still had a few tricks up his sleeve! One of these was including Gary Wiviott of Chicago's lth forum [and his lovely wife ellen] in the festivities. Gary's website
. Gary was a fun dining companion, and helped with the meal planning and menus.
And so it came to pass on Friday morning, a stretch Ford Excursion limo drove up to the doubletree hotel in skokie, just for us! A dozen of us would eventually travel together on a whirlwind food tour of Chicago!
I had known this plot was hatching since October, when ronnie & julie had shown us the town, as depicted here: thread on oct trip.
Still, i only knew a few details as friday unfolded - and i was delighted that Gary and our own Fatguy would be joining us.
The only "repeat" from October was the first stop: the original location of the now-franchised Al's Italian Beef.
Beef & Sausage w/hot & mild peppers, wet
Bob and i wisely brought a sharp knife for this trip, which came in very handy for sharing!
Since we did the purist experience last time [just beef], we decided to add the sausage this time - heaven on a bun!
our next stop was right across the street:
Mario's Italian Frozen Lemonade
Again, Bob & I took the purist approach, even though the many flavors offered were tempting, and got our lemonade straight.
1 of 2 banks of fry stations on either end of the kitchen
Vienna beef hotdogs in the steamer
our order - served in an incongruous paper bag
We were told that you never get the same bag twice!
Hotdog with mustard and fries
Fries were awesome - hotdog ok.
our order of break tamales
So named because they are small and may appear broken.
housemade hot sauce
We weren't expecting much from the hot sauce, but we were pleasantly surprised.
Parking lot mural
Our next destination took an Hispanic turn.
Gary ordered a feast for us! i am doing this with over a week [and a dislocated shoulder] in the interim, so please speak up to better describe these goodies.
porky goodness in a fresh tortilla, with 3 dipping sauces on the table for added zip.
1 of 2 different tortas we sampled
i'm pretty sure one of them was milanesa; don't remember the name of the other. both had crispy pork chop - 1 added cheese, 1 added ham; i think the cheese one also had avocado.
this one had ham
our beverage of choice [empty bottle]
you can see the squeeze bottle of green sauce behind it.
they had a great selection of Mexican sodas [real sugar and not hfcs] and we tasted a specialty beverage - morchata.
Our team of eaters was unable to clean the plates at Cemitas Puebla; how would we ever consume the wares at Honey One BBQ? We brought in a pinch hitter as Jesteinf joined us for this stop.
ribs, served over fries and under bread, w/bbq sauce on the side
A little dry - but incredibly tasty.
tips. uhmmmm .....
Gary and Ronnie had other stops in mind for us - but after we declared 'uncle' after eating just a fraction of the food on table, our hosts resigned themselves to ending the tour. Maybe.
It was 12 year old Lucas who inspired the last stop - you are never too full for ice cream, are you?
not only is all of the ice cream home-made, but the range of flavors was mind blowing - from jackfruit to birthday cake! hang the knife - we weren't splitting one here!
bob's - mango
mine - purple yam
The limo returned us to the hotel, and we had about three hours to digest before dinner. it was an amazing experience - showing up in some of those neighborhoods in that car was worth the trip all by itself! Thanks again to Ronnie & Julie - who's generosity made this day possible. This was a true "play with your food" experience, made all the better by amazing food and wonderful company!