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May 25, 2008 07:37 PM

Decatur's (IL) Best....

I haven't seen much traffic on Chow about my hometown, D-town, so I thought I would give it a write up. I moved out of Decatur about 12 years but I spent the first 19 years of my life there. When I go home (or when I miss home), these are the places I miss.

Kreckels - Home of the Chicken Car...this is a Decatur institution and for a good reason...the burgers are outstanding. Anything you order comes in a brown paper bag with the "Kreckel's Crunch" smushed on the top. This place puts your ketchup packets at the bottem of your frie bag which is the stupidest/meanest thing in the world, but it is Kreckels so you except it with a smile. The real secret of the place is the lemon, soft serve ice cream with red sprinkles.....that is my taste of summer. My wife grew up in Southern IL but always demands we go to Kreckels when we visit my parents.

La Gondola - In full disclosure, I went to Mt Zion High School and grew up near the Mt Zion location of La Gondola. This is a weird subshop with the sweetest, "french" bread I have ever had. The classic, La Gondola sandwich is a simple, but delicous. Not to be missed when you are in town. From looking at the pictures on the wall, this place has been blessed by the pope....

Monical's Pizza - This local chain has grown but their pizza is still awesome. The locals fave...dipping the thin crust pizza in their "red" dressing for their salads.

Paul's Confectionary - I think it is over rated....I know the locals rave about it but I always thought their chili was salty. They also used to serve Green Rivers....

Mr. G's (RIP) - This place is gone but it needs to be immortalized. Chicago dogs in Decatur and hand cut fries....people used to line out the door to get their BBQ (from a farm in Blue Mound) and the Chicago dogs. The final owner ran the place into the ground before selling the land to the pharmacy company behind the buildling. It was a chow hound gem in my hometown that is no longer there...

BBQ places on S Franklin/E Decatur (RIP) - There has been a couple of joints at this little location and most have been good. When I was in high school, my friend and I would venturer around town to find the best BBQ and this location was always the best. THere were a few good spots up on MLK but this was the closest to where we lived. Dont be afraid of Decatur BBQ.

The Wharf (South SHores) - Nothing says "locals only" like the Wharf. Get the Wharf has ham on it. The place is a litte different now that IL passed the "no smoking" laws but the Wharf burger is the still the best thing on the menu. Sit in the back at the big circular table under the "nautical" theme crap on the wall. This place is so Decatur, it is not even funny.

Enjoy your eating in D-Town....

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  1. You are evil -- I am originally from the area and I have not thought about La Gondola for years, and they do have the best, best bread aroud and I have to agree that nothing compares with Monical's pizza.

    The one place you missed --- Del's Popcorn, I still to this day make my parents bring it to me, yum....

    1. I second that thought... you ARE evil.... Mr. G's... Mmmm... the best hot dogs and greasy fries wrapped in foil. YUM!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jpots

        Del Carmens....yes I know it but I am not a huge popcorn fan. However, my mom dragged my wife and I in there when we were visiting and what do you,a guy my wife was in a high school play with (from way down in Southern IL) was working the counter. Small f'n world I will tell you that much...

        I did get some Del Carmens sent to me when I was in the Middle East and I must say it was much appreciated...

      2. re: Krekel's -

        I've spent a lot of time trying to find a burger that matches a Krekel's double cheeseburger.

        Two have come close: The Workingman's Friend, Indianapolis (picture here -

        and Carl's Drive-In in St. Louis (picture here -

        Like I said, they came close.....If gas was about $2.50 a gallon cheaper, I'd be tempted to drive 2 1/2 hours to Decatur today for a couple of doubles with cheese, mustard, pickle and onion, fries and a chocolate shake.


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