Archive for the ‘Chicago (Brown)’ Category


Under normal circumstances I would not dream of including a review of somewhere that sells Popcorn in the El Stop Food Hunt Project, but somehow I find that I can easily justify talking of my experiences with Garrett’s Popcorn. It has been as much a part of my food encounters in Chicago as my flirtations with Italian Beef and Chicago Style Hot Dogs.

Garretts Loop

The first encounter was during an Open Top Bus Trip around the city,  I believe that this is almost always the best way to learn about a new place and get orientated with it;s major sites and locations. On the trip I went on there was a voucher for a free sample sized bag at Garrett’s, and the rest has been history.

On that occasion the sample was of a mix of caramel crisp and the cheese flavoured popcorn. The caramel crisp was a winner, I did not like and still do not like the cheese flavoured one, it is right up there with those damn pickles as something I actively will avoid.

Cheese PopcornCaramel Crisp Corn

Since then the sampling of Garrett’s Popcorn has coincided with visits from my Mother to the city, so about 3 bags a year. But today I actually went in and bought my first bag with my own money. It was a small bag of the Cashew Caramel Crisp. I like this one the most, sweet, crispy, crunchy, nutty, sticks in your teeth and makes you fat. Excellent!

Garretts BagsGarretts Popcorn

I love the generous sized bag sizes in the place. In my mind the small bag is actually equivalent to a Jumbo bag. I could never even contemplate getting a bag bigger, except for on that brief moment when the last piece of popcorn has been consumed and all the Garrett shops are shut.

garretts near TJ Garretts Plymouth Street

There are quite a few Garrett popcorn chops in Chicago and over the last few years I have frequented all of them, albeit only on those rare occasions that I mentioned before. I was slightly perturbed though on a recent visit to New York city to find a branch close to Madison Square Gardens. Some things should not be allowed to travel out of state. My fave stores to take visitors from out of town to are the one at Navy Pier, just because I love an excuse to go down to the pier, and the ones in the Loop as they are easy to get to from any of the lines.

For Navy Pier 600 East Grand Avenue, get off at either the Chicago Red or Chicago Brown line stops and catch a bus over to Navy Pier.  For the shop at 26 West Randolph Street get off at the Lake Stop, For the shop at  27 West Jackson Boulevard go to the Jackson-Blue, or the Jackson Red stop. On Michigan Avenue just get off at Grand or Chicago and look for a long line.

Garrett Popcorn Shops on Urbanspoon Garrett Popcorn Shops (West Jackson) on Urbanspoon Garrett Popcorn on Urbanspoon



Walking along beneath the Brown Line track between Merchandise Mart and the Chicago stop I came across a sign for the “Burger Joint” pointing me down into a basement resturant. So I felt it would be rude not to take up that invitation so I headed down the steps to see what sort of burgers this place had on offer.

Once inside the first thing that struck me was the wall decorations which were covered with photographs of the El Train from ceiling to floor. That was my kind of wall paper and a perfect combination for me, Elevated train and food combined. But the main question on my mind was could the food match the decor?


For some reason even though I was eating in they wrapped everything up into paper bag, they only use I could find for the bag was to take a photograph of it and since that contains all their contact details I suppose it did have some use. But what about the food you ask, do you sense that I am delaying the story? Given the decor I so wanted it to be the best burger I had eaten or at least really high up on the list. It was OK, nothing was really wrong but I think I would have enjoyed it more if the place was busier, by which I mean that I was the only person in there, my fries were cool and a bit dry . Wrapping the burger up had made it looks a mess, the burger patty was a bit squashed and I was not sure about the contrast of cold salad on the hot burger, it seemed to cool my meat down too quickly. It tasted OK though and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it. There is a poster at the door of an award for a late night eating place. I can see that, it is probably pretty decent late in the evening. but for a Sunday afternoon maybe not the best of choices to visit. Rule 1 was always go where the crowds are.

Located at 675 N Franklin St, alongside the el track as it weaves its way out of town towards the Chicago Brown Line CTA El station.


When the sun shines even if it is cold I love to hit the shore and one of my favorite locations to wander to is Navy Pier, especially out of season when there are no crowds. Now I am not going to try and kid anyone that I come here for the gourmet experience, I come like a kid in a candy shop to indulge in some guilty pleasures such as Bubba Gump and on this occasion a Cheezborger at the Billy Goat Tavern.


For those non-chicagoans and undevotees of Saturday Night Live I suggest you check out their website for the history and back story.

I always get caught out by the ‘no fries – chips’ sign, “mmm now when they say chips do they mean chips as in English chips… oh no they meant crisps or chips…dammmit!” I didn’t want a packet of crisps. But now writing this I do want a bag of chips or fries.. even writing this is making me hungry. Concentrate.

SO back to Billy Goat, I am a simple man with simple pleasures so I just went for a Cheezborger – plain and simple and a coke (diet of course..ahem)

To be honest I was a little disapointed or maybe I have been spoilt by some of the gourmet burgers I have had such as those from Etno Grill. The bread was a little dry and it really needed to be a bit more juicy, if I did not have the coke to wash it down I may have struggled. Sacrilige I know but there it is. The best thing about this place is the place and the iconity as opposed to the burgers.

If you want to use the El to get here, I usually ride to the Brown or Red Chicago stops then jump on the 66 bus that rides all the way there.

Billy Goat Tavern on Urbanspoon

I picked this place for brunch mostly due to its proximity to the Chicago Brown Line el station so that I could add another notch onto the project objective. I know that it is part of a small chain, but we just don’t get places like this in the UK.  Maybe we do in London, but up in Nottingham my home town this sort of place wouldn’t thrive, we  like ‘greasy spoon’ cafes where lorry drivers and students mix together to eat bacon butties and beans on toast, or trendy quaint gourmet overpriced places that you can’t get a table at and not because you are fighting with a Michelin inspector just because they only have 4 tables with mismatched chairs.

If I had the cash I could make a killing opening somewhere like this in England, it would be a generic breakfast emporium to confuse the masses and make them believe in glass and chrome to distract them ‘eggs is eggs’ after all.

I had an “Irish Benny” English muffin, grilled corned beef hash, and sauteed tomato topped with two poached eggs and home made hollandaise sauce, served with red diced potatoes and fruit for $9.99. The eggs were good, everything else was just generic, but I learnt that at breakfast you replace the place on the plate where salad goes with random fruit.

My dream “Just use a smaller plate”, leave all the garnish and I would be happier.

This version of Yolk is at 747 N Wells Street, webiste

Yolk on Urbanspoon

Haute Sausage Food Truck

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Chicago (Brown), Food Truck

Oh Twitter you are a beast, you taunt me all day with your updates of Food Trucks circling the city and you know full well from your “Where are you” feature that  I am many miles away working in the North Suburbs.

But occasionally a small window of opportunity presents itself.

Like a Storm Chaser watching the radar for touchdowns, a tweet comes in that “Haute Sausage” will be at Kingsbury and Erie between 5.30 and 8pm. I figure that with a combination of Metra, CTA bus and Brown El line I can make the 1hr journey down there from work. Ninety minutes later I exit the Chicago brown line El station and walk the 2 blocks over to Erie Park to find the Haute Sausage Truck parked up.


Seriously? All this for some food trucking lovin?

I went for the two sausage combo trying the Sheboygan Brat – a Wisconsin Brat with mustard seed sauerkraut and Merkts cheddar cheese, and the Borewors Chakalaka -a Beef and Lamb sausage with Chakalaka which is a spicy South African mix of onions, tomatoes and beans for $7.

Very tasty, such a shame that the chicago trucks are not allowed (yet) to cook on board as I reckon these would be even better fresh from the grill.

Still was it worth the trek downtown? Of course, strolling along with a hot dog in 70 deg temperature IN October, Oh my yes!


Haute Sausage on Urbanspoon