Archive for the ‘Montrose Blue’ Category

Some days missing the train can be a blessing and some days a pain, but on this occasion with the sun shining in the brisk cool air I was happy enough and spotted a IHOP sign in the distance and thought…why not? It is not really somewhere that I would ever have planned to go to, in fact it is more like I have actively planned not to go there. Despite the somewhat amusing name of International House of Pancakes, shortened to IHOP, which is often enough to make me curious. I never have been thus far.


But I was hungry, there is nothing else up by the Montrose stop that I have not already tried, and this just seemed a chance to make the most of a bad situation. The picture actually looks tastier than it actually was. I still cannot believe that I have the audacity to even blog about it. But I had to suffer the plateful so I just need to share a little of the pain. It wasn’t that bad, just a bit pricy for something so basic. At least now I can say that I have been. There are so few options up at the Montrose Blue stop that its probably this McDonalds or something from the gas station.

IHOP Restaurant on Urbanspoon



Posted: March 15, 2012 in Montrose, Montrose Blue, off track - Chicago

The sun was shining so instead of catching the CTA 78 bus between Montrose Blue Line and the Montrose Brown Line stations I decided to walk and see what food I would chance upon on the way, 25 minutes later a ramshackle hot dog shack came into view.

Inside I was slightly disapointed not to meet a “Murph” behind the counter, instead a smiling elderly chinese lady was there to greet me.  She was so tiny she could barely reach across the counter top to take my money and serve my food. I opted for the Maxwell Street Polish special for $4.95. I didn’t know much about this hot dog but apparently it was supposed to have been invented  by Jimmy Stefanovic, a Macedonian immigrant in 1939 at a shop, now called Jim’s Original,  located at Maxwell and Halsted in Chicago’s old Maxwell Street market district. Nothing like a quick google to learn some hot dog history.


I only really wanted a hot dog, but when it arrived it came with fries and a drink. I felt obliged to eat some of the fries and decided not to log them into the weightwatchers counter or at least swop my activity points earned by walking here. Ahem slightly defeated the object of the exercise, but it worked for me in my head at least.

The bread roll was nice and toasted and it was filled with a fried polish dog, topped with slightly burnt onions, a yellow mustard sauce and tomato, lettuce and quite interestingly a few slice of cucumber. It also had a large pickle but I quickly discarded that.

It was tasty, even though the lettuce did look a bit dubious and the deep fried dog was decidedly unhealthy in nature. OK what did I really expect?

It was worth the experience and the brightly painted, slightly fading and crumbly facade had a charm of its own.

Located at  3930 W. Montrose Ave on the 78 bus route half way between the blue and brown Montrose CTA stops

Neighborhood:Irving Park/Avondale


Murph's Place on Urbanspoon


Suzie’s ‘drive through’ appears to have had a good deal of press and acolades over the years, even being featured on “Chicago’s Best” so I felt I had to try it out even though it is not directly on a CTA El Stop, it is on my daily walk home down Montrose Avenue between the Blue and Brown Montrose stations.

Inside was very small and the counter boy not particularly pleasant, if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to blog about something that day, I think I would have given this place a wide berth, but hey lets not be too hasty I hadn’t even eaten anything yet. I reluctantly resisted the tempatation to give the youth behind the counter a ticking off for his brusk “whaddya want” approach and went for a “Polish with everything on it” for $3.62. I was going to go for one of the items in an edible bowl as featured on Chicago’s Best, but they were sitting flaccidly in a glassed box on the counter and to be honest looked dreadful, and I have eaten everything from snake to brains and all between and even I baulked at this eyeful.

Despite everything and even due to everything for all the wrong reasons I quite enjoyed the hot dog. I wouldn’t come here again unless I was extremely drunk. The mustard was nice, the onions good, but the dog dripped with fat as you bit into it, now that should in itself should have been a negative, but I kind of like my dogs that way. If you know its bad for you it then makes it even better! When you walk away needing more napkins and think that you have mustard all over your face, you know you have been at a hot dog stand.

Located at 4126 W Montrose Ave (between Elston Ave & Kedvale Ave), you can utilise the 78 bus or walk (a long way) from either Montrose station (Brown or Blue)

Susie's Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Nobody told me there would be days like these

I am pretty sure that I will discover more food deserts on my quest to eat along the El Line, but as starts on the next stage hitting the blue line this was a pretty souless activity. The Montrose Blue Line stop, like many, is slap bang in the middle of the freeway, accessed by bridge and is pretty much ‘fridge is empty’ city ‘bring on the hunger’ state USA , not even a hot dog cart in sight, on days like these I miss the smell of onions and cheap hot dogs from the stalls in New York City or what they call  a “dirty-water dog,” ‘a hot frank plucked with tongs from a metal vat full of warm, salty liquid.’

In all honesty in future I will plan ahead for trips like this and bring sandwiches.


So what options were there? over a couple of treks I did my best, but Montrose Blue did not do it’s, although I found a couple of places eventually. On first inspection the only possibilities seemed to be eating from the gas station on the corner of Montrose and Cicero, although they do sell water at $1 including tax so that was a good find, the next opportunity was a McDonalds on Cicero and about 15 mins walk, West then South from Montrose Blue, but NO it might not be going well but it has to get better than that. Across the road almost camouflaged by the storage facility I spied something that looked like a food outlet, but it could have been the office, playing a almost deadly game of human Frogger through the freeway bound rush hour traffic I found myself standing outside Roma’s Italian Beef and Sausage.


Inside it was ‘local’ and friendly, Italian Beef seemed to be the choice of the day for most, so I went with the flow and did the same. I had an italian beef au jus, with sweet peppers, and some hand cut fries for about $8 with tax.

Not the greatest, a bit tasteless to be honest, but texturally good and it slid down nicely, the fries were freshly cut and cooked so that was something. Located at 4237 N.Cicero Ave.

Roma's Italian Beef & Sausage on Urbanspoon

OK so that was day 1 of the search, the next attempt I decided to head East back along Montrose Avenue with the explicit intention to eat at the first open place that I found. 20 mins later I reached “Beef and Burger” at 4148 W Montrose Ave.

To be fair this place wasn’t that bad, but it was so far away from the Montrose Blue, I was practically half way back to the Montrose Brown so not sure that I could really count it, but it was the closest I could find open.

In the end I played it safe and went for a Polish with everything and fries.

The fries were good, and it came with a pickle as big as the dog itself, to my amazement the guy sitting next to me was so enthusiastic about his fare that he pronounced “this is so good make me another one”. It transpired that he was the owner or at least in charge, even he seemed slightly amused as I proceeded to discreetly attempt to photograph my food or was that bemused. Still not sure. Anyhow it only set me back $4.50 and the fries and drinks were included so not bad value in pure financial outlay, and another good walk to rid myself of the unhealthy calories although that part of the meal was the best bit.

Still tommorrow is another day and I am ever hopeful that the next stop on the Blue will be of  “great success..yes”