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Chicago flavor on the I-80 Corridor

frohlinm Dec 13, 2006 01:59 AM

Greetings from a NYChowhounder... I'm driving through the area on I-80, but I won't have time to detour up to the city (although from what I gather (as a bbq nut), Lem's would be worth the trip). I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a place to get some 'unique to the area' food somewhat nearer to the interstate. Thanks!

  1. a
    Amata Dec 13, 2006 02:41 PM

    Folks from elsewhere probably don’t think of Mexican food as one of the Chicago area’s strengths – but they should. There is a wonderful Jaliscan restaurant in Joliet:

    Amanecer Tapatío
    700 Ruby
    Joliet, IL
    Open 10-9, closed Tuesday

    I visited this place twice at their old location, and both meals were fantastic: handmade tortillas, two or three specials that change daily – perhaps a mole dish, or mixiotes, or albóndigas, .... For more information on A.T, search on Chowhound, especially for posts by Mugs. Mugs is also a great source for other possibilities in Joliet. This restaurant is also well discussed on lthforum.com.


    For the suburbs directly south of Chicago I have no personal experience, but I can point you to some posts that may help. A very good Italian beef sandwich is said to be found at Pop’s in Homewood.

    18328 Governors Hwy (183rd & Governor's Hwy - Cherry Creek shopping center)

    There are some old school ice cream parlors down that way, such as Cunis Candies in South Holland and Mitchell’s in Homewood. See this thread for discussion:

    Cunis Candies Inc.
    1030 E. 162nd St.
    South Holland, IL 60473-2560

    Mitchell's Candies & Ice Cream
    18211 Dixie Hwy.
    Homewood, IL 60430-2205


    If a different sort of treat sounds more appealing, you might want to stop a bit earlier, in Munster, IN. Aficionados of local microbrews consider the Three Floyds brewpub a destination; the food there is said to be decent as well.

    Three Floyds Brewery and Pub
    9570 Indiana Parkway
    Munster, IN 46321
    (219) 922-4425
    Closed Monday

    Hope one or more of these work out for you.

    1. a
      Another Oak Parker Dec 13, 2006 02:59 AM

      Not exactly Chicago flavor, but Ron's Cajun Connection is a couple of minutes off I-80 (ronscajunconnection.com - check their hours, which are limited) - it beats most of what you'll get close to the interstate. It's also a few minutes from Starved Rock S.P. which is a good place to walk it off.

      Another Oak Parker

      8 Replies
      1. re: Another Oak Parker
        Crissup Dec 21, 2006 09:05 PM

        I second Ron's!! It's not Chicago food, it's real Louisiana Cajun food. Ron is from Lake Charles, LA, and found the food very bland when he moved up here. So, he started cooking his own food that he learned to cook in his grandmother's kitchen. Eventually, after enough people raved about it, he opened his tiny eatery. He's only open 4 days a week though, so you'll have to check which day you're driving through. It's about 50 miles west of Joliet.

        If you enjoy cajun cooking, Ron's is some of the best you'll find in the northern midwest.

        1. re: Crissup
          jackie de Dec 21, 2006 11:18 PM

          Ron's is good, but be sure that the exit going to Ron's is open. Last time I went on 80 the exit was closed and didn't look like it would open any time soon.

          1. re: jackie de
            Another Oak Parker Dec 22, 2006 02:45 AM

            They've moved, and are now just off the Utica exit leading to Starved Rock SP. We were there in October. The website has the directions. Remember - hours are limited!

            1. re: Another Oak Parker
              swsidejim Dec 22, 2006 01:32 PM

              Rons is open Thursday, Friday & Saturday for dinner, and Sunday for lunch until 5:00 p.m. Ron drives down to Louisiana, and picks up craawfish, and other ingredients not available up here. I have never had a bad meal there, and go about once a month. Compared to other cajun restaurants in Chicago, and the burbs, Cajun Connection is on the top of the list, nothing comes close.

              1. re: swsidejim
                Crissup Dec 22, 2006 02:41 PM

                If you can catch one of his crawfish boils just after he returns from down home, it's a real treat. You have to get there early though, as the crawfish goes fast. Also, keep in mind that it's not unusual for the restaurant to fill up and have people stacked up at the door. When this happens, it can be aggravating, but patience will be rewarded with an excellent meal. If you happen to catch a slow night, Ron will generally be out roaming the dining room looking for old friends and new friends he hasn't met yet.

                1. re: Crissup
                  swsidejim Dec 22, 2006 02:46 PM

                  also its 100% non smoking, a definite plus.

                  I know my wife loves his crawfish boils. (I dont like crawfish, I know my loss).

                  Ron does like to come around and spend time with the tables(when the place is not crowded, which is rarely.)., playfully teasing folks who dont try the frog legs, or some of the other dishes on the menu, his gumbo is probably the best I have had.

                  Last time I went he had a special that had dungeness crab, & it was some of the best crab I have ever eaten( and I eat pounds and pounds of crab a year, probably 20 + pounds).. I love the Etouffes (sp) on the menu, and although semmingly simple the Red Beans and rice with sausage..

                  1. re: swsidejim
                    LikestoEatout Dec 22, 2006 03:30 PM

                    Ron's is half way between my home and my in-laws in Peoria so we hit there several times a year. Sometimes we call ahead and bring home a huge carry out order to share with our friends at home. Ron and Amy are always the greatest and their food always spot on!

                    1. re: LikestoEatout
                      Crissup Dec 22, 2006 04:17 PM

                      You can also buy most of his ettoufes and other dishes frozen and heat them up later yourself. Helps bridge those lengthy periods between visits. ;-)

                      All this talk of Ron's made me do a quick search for Cajun on this board and the board offerings are scarce. We might want to break this out to it's own thread for other's to read and enjoy (plus, I won't feel guilty about hijacking the thread). :)

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