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~Fly-by-night CRAZY trip from MSP to Chi: HELP!~

  • m

Hubby and I are making a CRAZY road trip from MSP to Chicago.

Our very favorite band in the whole world is playing a rare mid-week date in Chicago - and we live in MSP. They don't come here often (they're from Australia) and we're determined to see them.

So we're working until noon the day of their show...a Wednesday; then hitting the road. We'll get into Chicago around 6 or 7PM. They hit the stage around 9PM.

We will hit the road back home as soon as they are done playing, and drive all night, getting home in time for a sleepy/happy day at work Thursday morning. I know, we're nuts. But we just *hafta* do it!

Any suggestions about:

1) a good, quick dinner in Chicago near Schuba's (3159 N. Southport)

2) Hounds' fave places to stop on the road betwixt MSP and Chicago!

TIA for your ideas!

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  1. Chicago is in the Midwest, but they have their own board, Chicago Area. For the Chi town recs you may want post there as well. My knowledge of the route and
    Chicago is so dated as to be useless, but Saveur magazine's latest issue is all Chicago and could be a great resource for you this week.

    Bon Voyage! Bon Appetit!

    1. Mellu-
      It's a long haul down 94 to get to Chi-town. I make the drive frequently, and haven't had a lot of success finding non-fast food restaurants that aren't too far off the highway. The one we've found that's usually pretty good is Norke Nook in Ossseo, WI. The exit is well marked and the restaurant is only a mile or so off 94. Here's their web site- http://www.norskenook.com/

      The food is solid, a mix of american favorites and norweigan fare. Some of the lefse-wraps are pretty good. The soups are home-made and so are the rolls. The main reason we stop there is the pies, they're wonderful and freshly- made. The raspberry sourcream pie is amazing!
      Good luck!

      1. I drive this a lot, and just stop once for food. For me, like for Spunky Monkey, it's Osseo. I always get a half of a hot-beef sandwich. When it is hot enough (most times) the gravy is the closest thing that I have had to the gravy that my mom used to make. Then I get one piece of pie to go, grab a plastic fork, and I have my snack for later. I also am partial to the raspberry sourcream pie.

        Madison has great restaurants, but there is nothing I can think of that is close to the Interstate, and it sounds like you don't have time to head downtown.

        1. I like the Norske Nook for pie. The food can be pretty bad.

          In Camp Douglas, German Haus is just off the highway. Pretty good German food. Even better is Essen Haus in the Dells. Also in the Dells is the Cheese Factory, the best restaurant on this road.

          1. This is not as unique or special as some other places, but it may fit into your schedule as a quick stop...

            The Taco John's in Menomonie (like an hour from msp) has a pick your own salsa bar with 5-6 kinds of fresh salsa. It's maybe 3 blocks south of 94 at the main Menomonie exit.

            Growing up in a small town, Taco John's was some of the only fast food I thought tasted good (they actually season their meat).. so it's my & my husband's default road trip quick stop. I was oh so pleasantly suprised to have a buffet of at my fingertips at this location (never seen it before).. so even if you don't like the fast food Taco stuff you can at least enjoy the salsa =)

            1. Don't know if your plans are set yet but....I've done this drive a number of times, as well as the section prior to splitting off to Milwaukee. As mentioned before here, easy on/off interstate places are few and far between. My M.O. is to grab something on the way out of St. Paul -- most recently it's tamales, chicharrons and/or tacos at El Burrito Mercado.

              Two blocks east of the Schuba's address is an outpost of Giordano's, a good source of deep dish pizza. I've done some of the rounds and know Giordano's isn't the epitome of Chicago pizza greatness, but it definitely holds its own. If you like that kind of pizza, that would be a good option. 773-327-1200 (you can save time by calling and ordering in advance)

              Frankly, I've grabbed individual deep dish pizzas for my drive back. The smallest offering from Gino's East (the original location) was way more than I could eat, and I can eat a LOT of food. I got through two slices and threw in the napkin. Around Tomah, I dug back in and it was still good.

              The only place I'll go out of my way to stop at on the way back is Monk's Bar in the Dells. It's an excellent burger joint.

              Hope that helps some. Enjoy the trip!

              2 Replies
              1. re: MSPD

                >> Two blocks east of the Schuba's address is an outpost of Giordano's, a good source of deep dish pizza. I've done some of the rounds and know Giordano's isn't the epitome of Chicago pizza greatness, but it definitely holds its own. <<

                Hey, wait a minute! Some of us Chicagoans like Giordano's the best of ALL of the Chicago deep-dish pizza places! ;)

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  I should have said "in my opinion". I like Gino's East (original) better personally, but obviously there are a million places I haven't tried in Chicago.

                  That said, I'd take a Giordano's pizza in a New York minu......well......a Chicago minute. (?)

              2. I have driven the MSP to CHI run countless times and count myself lucky if I am near something decent along that route at a mealtime.

                I would agree about the Norske Nook in Osseo: good pie, but the food is Perkins-bad.

                A couple of places along the way to add to the list:

                Northfield, WI (about 10 miles past Osseo) ____'s Bar (Jackie's, maybe?) Had a Friday night supper here with friends-- we saw the sign for Dee Dee's Diner and thought we'd stop there, but it was closed (breakfast-lunch only), so we instead went a couple doors down into the Bar & Grill on this tiny one block main street right off the interstate exit. Along with the small-town bar atmosphere, we enjoyed some decent burgers and deep fried cheese curds and delicious homemade greasy fried potato chips.

                Pinecone Restaurant at the Hwy 151 exit just north of Madison. Its a truck stop place and its a chain (with a location in Johnson Creek on 94 between Milwaukee and Madison and at least one or two more), but they bake their own pies and pastries, etc and it seems that it is a cut above similar places. It is mentioned positively in Roadfood.com so I thought I'd give it a try. I had a decent supper and two very good breakfasts there this summer (LOVED the fried chicken benedict and the hashbrowns). Made the Countess very happy by bringing home an enormous eclair. Probably open 24 hours. (No place link for this location, only the Johnson Creek one).

                If one has no alternatives to chains, one could do much worse than Steak and Shake (State Street/ US 20 exit, Rockford, IL). I have seen signs for Beef-a-Roo down there and wanted to try just 'cuz of the dumb name, but haven't tried it yet.

                I like the Tollway oases over the highway (at Belvidere and Des Plaines), but more as monuments to highway culture than as chow locations. The overpass Oasis has great nostalgia factor for me, although the recent enlargement/remodel makes them resemble a food court in an airport terminal. There's more choice than when they were just a McDonald's for the past three decades and, IIRC, a HoJo's way way back before that, but its still a bunch of chains. Stonebridge Gyros & Cafe seems to be the best of the bunch, although I think you can get a Chicago Dog at the Dog House (open for fewer hours, though).


                1. It's probably too late for the OP, but I second the recommendation for The Cheese Factory in the Dells - actually, it's in Lake Delton. Only a half mile from the freeway exit, and really good food. The desserts are stellar. (I had peach-rasperry pie last summer, and I'm still dreaming about it.)

                  Another place nearby is David's Jamaican Restaurant. Great food in a small, non-touristy place, which I think is a branch of a Madison restaurant. The hot sauce will keep you awake for the rest of the drive...

                  See this thread for more info: