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Wine at Binny's: what do you like at $10-15

Masonville, in response to your question, stick with Wine Discount Centers, Trader Joes, anything but Binny's. Their prices are too high and their selection has become so pedestrian, you can walk into any Jewel or Dominick's with your preferred card and get a better or equal deal. Being out in the suburbs, I find the best deals at Trader Joe's for wine and Woodman's for wine, beer and liquor. The last 4 times I walked into Binny's, I walked out without buying a thing. I kept hoping they would get better, but they are like the Best Buy of liquor stores. Poor service and loss leader pricing on one or two items while everything else is a buck or five above the competition.

May 21, 2010
imclear in Chicago Area

Good food in McHenry County?

I thought I would join this conversation, but I did not know where I should reply, hope this works.

Personally, I prefer good Thai to Chinese, but I do like good, fresh Chinese. I decided to drop by Asian Cuisine for lunch this week. I opted for the buffet because I thought I could get a feel for the type of food they make and maybe extrapolate that to other items on the menu. I am not a big fan of buffet. My initial take is that I hope ordering off the menu is better than the buffet. I did find that they do not overload the buffet in order to keep it fresh. However, I thought that pretty much all the main courses they had were overloaded in oil. I took enough of all the usual suspects to get a taste, including a noodle dish that I thought would be at least healthy. It was, in my opinion, loaded in oil and I saw no reason why a noodle dish should be so greasy. The only bright spot was a baked salmon that I ate in the hope that the good cholesterol would offset all the bad from the other dishes. I ended up walking all over the outside mall in freezing temps trying to work off the fat.

Probably my fault in trying the buffet. I will go back and get something off the menu and post a review. But as it stands, I would not recommend the lunch buffet.

Overall, I was disappointed, but I am probably spoiled. I moved out here from the city and I am used to great Asian cuisine being just around the corner. Unfortunately, here the standard for Asian food seems to be oily and overcooked.

So far, the best I have found is China Palace near Spring Hill Mall. I usually order takeout, but overall, their consistency and freshness of ingredients and cooking skill verses massive amounts of oil seems to exceed anything else in the area, but that is not saying very much.

Again, I will go back and try from the menu as I am desperate to find something good and close to where I live. Personally, I don't like the mega-asian concept as I think a place that does good Thai or good Chinese or good Vietnamese is better off sticking to the plan. I have found some exception with Thai/Sushi places but the generic Asian places don't seem to get it right.

Wth that in mind, I need to give the new @Bangkok (formerly Lamai Thai) a try (Lamai Thai was OK, but frustratingly slow service), but their prices seem to be a little high for Thai. I am wondering if they have any lunch specials, their online menu at doesn't list any. I might give that a try tomorrow for lunch. If they have any specials I will stay and post a review.

Jan 14, 2009
imclear in Chicago Area


Unfortunately, one of the best Ethiopian restaurants is well north of Lakeview, but easy to get to using the Red Line. Also, I am not sure if you consider this to be an obvious location or a hidden gem. I did not know about it until I moved nearby. Anyway, if you take the Red Line up to Thorndale, walk a block West to Broadway and walk two blocks south you will come to Ras Dashen at 5844 N. Broadway St. There are plenty of reviews on the web. Always good food. During the weekends they sometimes will have small bands or a musician playing low key music. A great atmosphere if you have a group of people. Sorry again that it's so far north, but if you have never ventured to the land of sorta fairly reasonable real estate prices, it might be a good excuse.

Sep 16, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Best Bread in Chicago

This might sound crazy, but...

Beograd Meat Market
2937 W Irving Park Rd

They have a white bread and the ingredients are listed on the bag. I am going from memory, but it's something as simple as wheat, water, yeast, salt and maybe one or two other ingredients.

I used to get this from a European market right next door to where I lived at Lawrence and Damen. The market was on the northeast corner about 3 storefronts in. It's also available at what I would call a "fresh market" right near Devon and Kimball Avenues.

Anyway, my tastes in bread run from a great Pumpernickel to a fresh Baguette, it all depends on my mood. Beograd's bread was a lightly crusted, with a light and fluffy interior that smelled and tasted of fresh yeast (is there such a thing?). I would go down to the European market on Saturday morning, buy a loaf and cut a few slices and toast them. I'd usually eat a slice or two just plain before I could bring myself to toast it. At dinner, it often became a meal-killer because anyone eating this bread warmed up and served with a little butter could not stop eating it until it was gone.

You really have to get this bread the morning of, because come the next day or beyond, you lose just too much of the taste. That said, I have been known to freeze it and then toast a slice or two and be back in heaven.

I cannot think of other places off the top of my head. But if you are looking for what might be the simplest bread in the city with the freshest taste, give this a try.

Beograd Meat Market
2937 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL

Sep 14, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Farmers markets with good produce - NW Suburbs

Just wanted to update this. I went to the Crystal Lake Farmers Market which is every Saturday (until I think Oct) from 8am to 1pm. It's located at the Metra Station in Crystal Lake at a location I think is called Depot Park. This is another great market with lots of fresh produce and some very organic vendors. I bought some cantelope that is the best I have tasted all summer, among other items. Probably found the best green pepper ever in my life as well. Lots of other stuff that I went into shisk kabobs (OK, some items such as the steak, mushrooms and asparagus were from Caputo's in Algonquin) for that night's grilling session. Overall, a good market but the prices seemed to vary wildly from vendor to vendor which was a surprise. The organics seemed to be quite high although their potatoes (can I put an "e" here Dan Q?) were second to none.

Sep 08, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Any Food Suggestions for far NW burbs?

This link has always been helpful to me. I think you will have to travel outside of Woodstock for the most part, but at least not all the way into Chicago. I would contribute to this discussion more, but every place I would mention is already in here. I hope this helps.....

Sep 05, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Farmers markets with good produce - NW Suburbs


Thanks for the tip! I went to the Huntley market on Saturday and it was just what I was looking for. Great produce from a variety of local vendors. I was so happy to find this I had to buy a little bit of something from just about every vendor there. You are right, there are only a handful of vendors, but the produce was outstanding!

Sep 02, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Farmers markets with good produce - NW Suburbs

I have been to the "farmers markets" in both Dundee and Algonquin and have been very disappointed. Both of these are more like flea markets. A bunch of stands with people selling trinkets and other garage sale type items, but produce stands are rare. The ones that are there, well, I suspect that some of the items were purchased at the local grocery store. For example, the cherry tomatoes at one booth, I swear, were just bought at Jewel and then they cut the lids off to hide the label.

So... with that said, anything nearby that has decent locally grown produce?

Oh yes, I am new to the suburbs so any pointers to good locally grown produce stands in the area is much appreciated as well.

Thank you for any help.

Aug 22, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Really sick of bad margaritas - Where's the real deal?

I would recommend La Fonda Latino Grill up in Edgewater at 5350 N. Broadway Ave. I used to live near there and the food is excellent and they have a gold or some other higher-end Margarita that I thought was fantastic. I am not sure what was in it, but it tasted simple, probably much like the recipe in the first post, but with something better than Triple Sec (headache inducer). The Sangria is also some of the best I have found in the city in my opinion. Food is very good as well. Columbian, not Mexican, so you are going to be ordering something more fancy (and much better) than a soggy super-burrito. Hope you enjoy.

Jul 07, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Best Steak in Chicago?

A little over a year ago I went to the Pump Room with a group of people for dinner. Not my choice, a little old school for me. However, I do have to say that after all this time, I still remember that filet as the best I have had in quite some time. Nothing too fancy, just a great cut of steak. If there was any seasoning on it, I did not taste it, just really really good beef. Personally, when a restaurant loads on salt, seasoning and blackens the heck out of steak (or worse yet, slathers it in blue cheese or similar) I have to question the quality of the beef. In this case, it was simply good steak.

Apr 01, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Moving to Chicago, no Thai?

I second the Thai Pastry recommendation. Great restaurant, nothing fancy, but good fresh Thai food. It's BYOB.

Up the road, in Edgewater, there is another great Thai restaurant:

Indie Cafe
5951 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60660

Also great Thai food along with a Sushi bar. I know, sometimes when I see that a restaurant does Thai + Sushi I think they might not have focus on one or the other. In the case of Indie Cafe, they are able to provide great Thai food with great presentation. I have never had their Sushi, but other diners love it.

Try both of these for lunch if you are in the neighborhood. Thai Pastry especially has great lunch specials.

Apr 01, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area

Chicken Fried Steak?

When I lived in the city, I would spend an afternoon at the beach and then ride my bike over to Stanley's Kitchen and Tap on the corner of Lincoln and Armitage. They had a great Chicken Fried Steak and their mashed potatoes were some of the best. I lived in Atlanta for 10 years and had acquired a taste for Chicken Fried Steak. Stanley's is at 1970 N. Lincoln Ave in Lincoln Park. More of a college bar/restaurant so it's not pricey.

This is in the past tense because it has been a few years since I have been there.

Mar 09, 2008
imclear in Chicago Area