Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Pat and Sheila, For Your Next Date...

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Pat and Sheila, For Your Next Date...

Gov. Quinn and My-Dad-Was-Lt.-Gov. Simon: we’re so glad you had your first date at Manny’s Deli right here in Chicago. We hope you enjoyed the corned beef. We also hope Toni Preckwinkle didn’t feel like too much of a third wheel while you pair chattered about all the fun you’re going to have in the next seven months. (Sheila, we know you’re still giddy because hundreds of people were desperate to go out with Pat, but he picked you.)

You kids are going to be going on a lot of dates, all over Illinois. So here are some restaurants that represent their towns just as much as Manny’s does Chicago.

Krekel’s Custard - Decatur: Krekel’s specializes in greezy hamburgers that stain a brown paper bag, and soft ice cream that melts all over your sticky hands on the 4th of July. But it’s most famous for the Chicken Car, a vintage Cadillac with a rooster head on the roof, a tail on the trunk and feathers painted on the quarter panels. If you two take it for a ride, have it back by midnight.

Jim’s Rib Haven - Rock Island: Just blocks from the Mississippi River, Jim’s ribs and chicken are steeped in a raunchy, tangy, smoky sauce that you’ll still taste when you burp an hour later: the true test of good barbecue. Eating barbecue in a river town somehow feels more Southern than eating it on the South Side of Chicago.

Norb Andy’s - Springfield: Norb Andy’s is the place to go for that Springfield delicacy, the horseshoe sandwich. To make a horseshoe, set a beef patty on a slice of toast, cover it with french fries, then ooze cheese sauce over the concoction. Popular in Central Illinois, the horseshoe has been called "an abomination" by visitors. Bonus: you may get a free meal. Norb Andy’s is full of lobbyists who love to pick up the check.

Nu Diner - Cairo: The Nu Diner is a Cairo legend, just because it’s open. At  7 a.m., this is the only place to eat in town. Sheila, you don’t need reminding that Southern Illinois means Southern, but Pat might. The waitress will ask if you want your tea sweet or unsweet, and you can order biscuits and gravy with your fried eggs.

Underbrink’s Bakery - Quincy: Not a restaurant, but you two can split a radio roll, a flat, round pastry topped with maple icing, so named for its resemblance to the dials on the radios in every parlor when Underbrink’s opened in 1929.

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