Our Favorite Restaurants

When we travel, we try to avoid commercial chains and look for locally popular places. We haven’t done much traveling since the start of the pandemic, but we have gone to a few funerals and family events, and we’ve ordered from our favorite restaurants.

Some of these reviews go back to before the pandemic. (We’ll let you know if our visit is an older one.) Others are within recent memory (the past few months or at most a year).

Don’t expect fancy settings. Just good food and a reasonable price. We’ll be adding restaurants we like as we find them.

We never take money or meals for a review. If we really like a place, we’ll say so to anyone. If we don’t, we won’t endorse it.

The Tipsy Steer, Minneapolis MN

Nothing beats visiting Minneapolis in February, except possibly visiting there in January. Cold, but we made the trip because of the death of a friend. While there, we brunched with others at the Tipsy Steer at 5000 Hiawatha Av in Minneapolis.

The food was excellent and the cost for breakfast for two (huevos rancheros and Cajun hash skillet) ran about $32 including tax. The place is locally popular, but if you are avoiding crowds, they have a handy pickup and work with several delivery services. As of July, 2023, expect to spend about $20-$25 per person for a meal and tip. Alcoholic drinks run between $6 and $14.

Himshakar Indian and Nepali Cuisine, Chicago IL

I love exploring neighborhood restaurants, and Himshakar at 6031 N. Cicero Avenue in Chicago is definitely worth a splurge visit. This is NOT a buffet restaurant, and each item can be prepared to order (spicy to mild). Expect to pay about $25-$35 per person with a main course and their great naan or poori bread. Lunch specials run between $13-$16 plus tax. Their salted lassi is excellent. I am a fan of their butter chicken, and my friend loves their Chicken Keema Curry.

Mr. V’s Pizza, Chicago, IL

While many restaurants jacked up their prices during the pandemic, Mr. V’s at 5285 N. Elston Ave, Chicago IL., kept theirs reasonable. You can get their neighborhood-style pizza in this establishment that dates back to the 1960s. The pizzeria is small, and most of their business is carry-out, but there’s a picnic ground about three blocks east of them on Forest Glen (the less busy road) at that intersection.

Mr. V’s has more than just pizza. It’s also has burgers, Chicago-style Italian beef, and a great garden salad. There pasta dishes are excellent and include a side salad and garlic bread. Many of the offerings are under $10, and the most expensive thing on the menu is the full slab of ribs that comes in at near $24 (as of August, 2023). I strongly recommend their pan-fried chicken (their Tuesday special). It’s far less greasy than your typical fast-food chicken, but you’ll have to wait. The food is prepared when ordered, not in advance on a hunch. They feature a creative burger of the month, and they have daily specials that can be found online. Expect to pay about $15 per person, less if you stick to the main course and don’t give into temptation and order their yummy sides. If you’re on a budget, bring your own sides and sodas and eat in the nearby picnic grounds (about three blocks east).

Birchwood Grill, Kenosha, WI

Not too many buffet restaurants successfully weathered the pandemic, but the Birchwood Grill Northwoods Eatery and Bar at 7515 125th Avenue., Kenosha WI is one of them. The salad bar is open from 11am to 9 pm, and it’s impressive. Monday through Thursday, their outstanding lunch buffet is just $16 per person, as is their Friday lunch fish buffet plus tax The buffet fun continues on Friday at $19 for dinner after 3 pm. There’s weekend morning breakfast ($15), and brunch buffet $17. These prices exclude tax and are current as of August, 2023). In addition, they have pasta Wednesday, Mexican Tuesday, and if you like it spicy, outstanding chili.

It’s about one min off the highway on the south side of the street. When you’re stuffed, cross under the highway and go grocery shopping at Woodman’s, and employee-owned supermarket. If you like cheese, they have a selection that can only be described as Nirvana. If you’re passing through Wisconsin, you can pick up your cheese there at a fraction of what you’ll pay at the touristy places–assuming you can make up your mind which ones to buy.

Lambert’s Cafe, Sikeston MO

Lambert’s is the “Home of the Throwed Roll.” When I first heard that slogan, I assumed they had some special kneading process. But no, they actually throw the rolls at you. If you want one, you’ve got to catch it! If you leave Lambert’s at 2305 E. Malone Ave hungry, it’s your own fault. Not only do you get your meal, but the waitstaff constantly ply you with Southern goodies (pass arounds) including excellent fried okra, fried potatoes, and black-eyed peas. (Definitely not diet oriented.)

Lambert’s is located at 2305 E. Malone Street in is about 3-4 minutes off Interstate 55 from exit 67 in Sikeston MO. It is an old Route 66 attraction, and one of the few restaurant’s I’ve visited that has a thriving souvenir shop. As of August, 2023, their online menu lists meals ranging from about $15 to about $29 for the ribs. (Their rib-eye steaks are adjusted for the market price.)

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