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Question of the day

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* From an e-mail…

Dear Mr. Rich Miller,

I’m working on a project and wondering if I might ask you for some assistance. I’m a student research assistant working with Peter Ubertaccio, PhD, a professor of politics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. Prof. Ubertaccio may have already reached out to you several weeks ago, but we wanted to send our request along again in case that initial email got lost in the shuffle. The project is at the intersection of political and food culture. At the moment, we are putting together a comprehensive list of the “must go-to” food establishments and events for politicians in each state.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the food establishments (restaurants/diners) or events (annual dinners/festivals/fairs) that a candidate for political office in Illinois must attend? Not a place to just be seen, but an authentic stop for both good regional cuisine and to meet ordinary voters.

Any thoughts or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Three restaurants spring immediately to mind. 17th Street Barbecue in southern Illinois, which was called “Illinois’ true barbecue mecca” by the Tribune, is a regular stop for campaigners. In Chicago, Manny’s Deli is a must-visit. The restaurant is celebrating its 75th anniversary. I also think Valois, on the city’s South Side, should be included.

There are almost too many festivals, fairs and annual dinners to even count.

* The Question: What are some food establishments (restaurants/diners) or events (annual dinners/festivals/fairs) that a candidate for political office in Illinois must attend?

Keep in mind this question is not about the best restaurant to find local political insiders. And please explain your choices and identify the locations.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    Charlie Parker’s is a great stop in Springfield. Haven’t been since the new owner took over but great spot to meet regular voters.

  2. - Anon221 - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    Moonshine springs to mind. Would be a challenge to see if they could actually find the place ;)

  3. - Annonin' - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    GovJunk likes that winery

  4. - Chairman McBroom - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    For Kankakee County - Blue’s Cafe on the west side of Kankakee. Always good conversation, great food, and incredible pie.

  5. - City Zen - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    Breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s
    Lunch at Johnnie’s Beef
    Dinner at Taste of Melrose Park

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    The State Fairs are obvious answers

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    Billy Goat…

    That seems to be a given too.

  8. - The Captain - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    As far as events I would add the two state fair parades, the Twilight parade in Springfield and the kickoff parade in DuQuoin. For Democrats I would add Bud Billiken and the Pride parade.

  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    ===That seems to be a given too. ===

    Keep in mind, they’re in Massachusetts. They don’t know the Billy Goat from Italian Village. lol

  10. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    ===For Democrats I would add Bud Billiken and the Pride parade===

    Republicans march in both.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    1) ” - Anonymous - ” was me.

    2) I was riffing off your “Manny’s” as givens, mocking my own reaching for low hanging fruit.

  12. - Grand Avenue - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    They are all going to MacArthur’s on Madison Street now - it is the go-to spot for West Side campaigning.

  13. - For Real - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    …Insert any establishment in Hyde Park or impoverished communities… Just Sayin’.

  14. - G'Kar - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    17th St. was my first thought as well.

  15. - Grand Avenue - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    Wallace’s Catfish Corner also was a “must” for West Side campaigning, but it is closed now.

  16. - Baloneymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:51 am:

    Portillos as long as you only use ketchup on the fries

  17. - Nick Name - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    In Springfield, maybe where doesn’t matter as much as what: eating a horseshoe. You just gotta get some savory cheese sauce dribbled on your chin.

    Also, Joe Roger’s on Ninth Street for chili. A truly dedicated candidates will finish a bowl of Fire Brand so he or she can get their name on the wall.

  18. - sharkette - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:56 am:


  19. - sharkette - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:57 am:

  20. - illini - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    I have to promote a downstate landmark - The Blue Room in New Minden.

    Housed in a 150+ year old frame building, it has a limited menu but excellent food and plenty of local color.

    Haven’t heard of it - do a Google search and check out the pictures.

  21. - Spliff - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:00 am:

    Kampsville Inn in Calhoun county. Clinton, Obama, and all the rest stop there. Best fried fish in the state.

  22. - Eire17 - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Not sure “must attend” applies but a lot of people in Cork and Kerry–Sox park location–on the night of a Sox home game.

  23. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Magic Kitchen in Springfield–the original one on Veterans. It’s such a dive inside, but the food is outstanding. Small but intimate–perfect for a candidate to meet and greet a limited number of people.

  24. - DrurysMissingClock - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    If you’re traveling to the Quad Cities, Whitey’s Ice Cream is our point of pride.

  25. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    Armey and Lou’s used to be a staple for pols here in Chicago. Sadly, they closed a few years back. I still miss their fried chicken!

  26. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    South side…

    Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream

  27. - SAP - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    Democrat Day at the State Fair… Oh never mind.

  28. - Mr. Smith - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    Saputo’s in Springfield. It’s where the real legislators go… and the food is pretty good, too.

    Joe Roger’s is a must-visit, too. Just don’t forget your antacid.

  29. - Anon - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    In Peoria you have to go to George’s Shoe Shine. Not a restaurant but the mandatory political photo

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    North side…

    The Weiners Circle

  31. - Ginhouse Tommy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    Man they are asking a lot as far as restaurants go. But it is an easy answer. State or county fairs, fall festivals, Octoberfests, Winterfests, Polish-American, Italian-American, Whatever-American fest where there will be alot of people and you can chow down on some great food. That allows the candidate to meet the public and have great photo ops. BTW I have a friend from the Chicago are that says the aroma of food at a Polish wedding is close to heaven.

  32. - City Zen - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    ==The Weiners Circle==

    At 3 AM.

  33. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    ===Whatever-American fest where there will be alot of people and you can chow down on some great food===

    Yep. Endless.

  34. - itsjustme - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    I think the question is not what’s yummy but what makes political hay, right? In Springfield, I think SHG’s Mostaccioli dinner is key. Not sure whether they’re still allowed to buy an ad in the program? Also, in Springfield, City Tournament (not an eatery but it’s a must-attend event).

  35. - Canon - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    Pity the person responsible for advance before a stop to Weiner circle

  36. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:25 am:

    The South Side Irish Parade doesn’t allow politicians unless one of the approved groups invites candidates to march with them. Even so, it’s a must-do.

    Also, Naperville’s 4th of July parade is huge.

  37. - Saluki - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    Alongi’s in DuQuoin and Mary Lou’s in Carbondale.

  38. - Chicago Guy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    I don’t if this counts but I suggest Chicago City Club as a guest or speaker.

    I also think Petterino’s is good because they may put a drawing of the politician on the wall.

  39. - Rosey - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    Billy Goat hands down. It’s also a nice place to go people-watching during Bulls and Blackhawks games.

  40. - FLEA - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    The Midland Inn , Carbondale. Sells more tequila in margarita’s than any bar south of Chicago, maybe the entire state.

  41. - The Captain - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    === Republicans march in both. ===

    Yes, but they aren’t “musts” for Republicans, they are musts for Democrats.

  42. - The Captain - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    Agree with George’s shoe shine in Peoria.

    Also add, get a picture in front of the Superman statue in Metropolis.

  43. - Lt Guv - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    The Aloha Club. . . oh, wait.

  44. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    The macro places are well known from tv coverage. I’m love the micro places. For Evanston/Wilmette, it’s Sarkis. Rogers Park, Heartland Cafe. Jefferson Park, Gale Street Inn. Logan Square to Bucktown, Lazo’s Tacos at Armitage and Western. Park Ridge, The Pickwick.

    Can you get them to send you the list they develop for Illinois?

  45. - Just Observing - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    I think a lot of comments are off-point. It’s not where should a politician go, or where would be a good place for them to go, etc., it’s what art iconic restaurants/fairs that politicians have historically frequented for a campaign pop. Manny’s, Lou Mitchell’s, Billy Goat, etc., are those type of places in Chicago — I can’t speak to other parts of the state.

  46. - OneMan - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    Historically in Dolton, Governor Thompson would hit Nick’s Sports Page after the 4th of July parade every year. It seemed to be the most go place in town for visiting political candidates

  47. - Anon - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:03 pm:

    Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, Alton

  48. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    Harold’s in Chicago.

    Lucca Grill & Avantis in Bloomington-Normal. Lucca is where a ton of long time residents go and a place to run into people with deep connections. Avantis is where everyone goes.

    Hoopston Sweetcorn Festival. I told this to JJJ one time and he looked at me like I was crazy. That’s when I knew he would never be a good statewide candidate.

  49. - don the legend - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    just a quick correction to Steve Rogers. Original Magic Kitchen is on Peoria Rd.

  50. - Nick Name - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    During Lent, any parish fish fry. Springfield is loaded with them, but the fish fries at Blessed Sacrament and Little Flower are two big ones. Politicians do stop in regularly.

  51. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    JV’s Bar and Grill. Dowtown Waterloo. One block from courthouse. Working class to the super wealthy. Farmers, business owners to lawyers(yuk).

  52. - Ginhouse Tommy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    Any pizza place in the Chicago area. I was told that pizza is a religion in Chicago.

  53. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    FYI. I will buy any of the candidates for gov pork rinds at 17th.

  54. - Robert J Hironimus-Wendt - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    Club 41, St, Augustine.
    Cerar’s, Monmouth (but pricy).
    The Red Ox. Macomb.

  55. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:52 pm:


    You eat where the votes are.


    These photo-shoot restaurants are 20th Century. 21st Century politicking means McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and KFC.

    That’s where America eats. Brand these places with your candidate’s image. Make it a point of pride. Know the cost of every chain item. Master it. Work the counter. Work the drive through. Give away free DQ cones. Reference these places in speeches. Ever work at a fast food place growing up? Got an old photo? Bonus points if you have.

    Wear every uniform. Wear every hat. Have a blast.

    Norman Rockwell is dead. Long live fast food. Go where America eats. Avoid grandpas at old diners. Avoid places over 20 years old.

  56. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    Doh! Thanks don the legend. Peoria Road is correct. Ever since they completed the Veterans loop, it seems more like Veterans than Peoria Road.

  57. - morningstar - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    For the current political climate, Ed Debevic’s would be a good choice — when it opens again.

  58. - Northside Southerner - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    DePue Boat Races!! Barack visited in 2004

  59. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    Moonshine is a bit out there, but another Southeastern/Central Illinois stop should be the original Burger King in Mattoon

  60. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    The original BK was in Jacksonville Florida.

  61. - Ginhouse Tommy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    Any fund raiser for Catholic schools in the Chicago area is bound to have a heavy turnout. Great places to be seen with local TV coverage that will be covering it.

  62. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    VanillaMan -
    Where do you get that?

  63. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    ==The original BK was in Jacksonville Florida.==

    You’re obviously unfamiliar with the story. It’s a pretty we’ll known and often cited Intellectual Property case.

  64. - Been There=== - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    ===The South Side Irish Parade doesn’t allow politicians unless one of the approved groups invites candidates to march with them. Even so, it’s a must-do.===
    Actually not true anymore. They started allowing any pols to march when they came back from their hiatus and needed to raise money for security. They charge them a boat load of money for an application fee though.
    But you are right about it being a must do. Especially next year when it will be 2 days before the primary and the downtown St Pat’s parade won’t be until after the primary.

  65. - Regular democrat - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Max and Bennys for grest gnosh and chat. Fir Dems and Repubs

  66. - DuPage - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Red Apple in Carol Stream comes to mind. I’ve seen a few local officials eat there. Nothing political, they were just there to eat lunch.

  67. - Annie - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    Blo-No’s Lucca Grill.

  68. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    You’re right.
    I never heard of that place, the Intellectual Property case, the town of Mattoon, or anyone else who heard of it.

    Because we’re normal and don’t wear pleated pants either. Or drive an Oldsmobile.

  69. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    Any home town festival that features flying cow pies.

  70. - Named 5th best city in Illinois - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 5:30 pm:

    John’s place downtown Peru.
    Four star restaurant exit 75, Peru.
    Igloo, route six Peru
    City Hall, we do it all down City Hall.

  71. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 6:05 pm:

    Rip’s Tavern in Ladd, Mona’s & Capponi’s restaurants in Toluca. They seem to attract a lot of politicians, meetings, political event, etc.

  72. - Been There=== - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 8:36 pm:

    ===Especially next year when it will be 2 days before the primary and the downtown St Pat’s parade won’t be until after the primary===
    I need to correct myself. The primary is March 20th so it will be after both parades.

  73. - Sonny - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:17 pm:

    Cool list. Seriously so many of these places look awesome.

  74. - Robert M Roman - Tuesday, Aug 1, 17 @ 5:18 am:

    For lefties, in Chicago the annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner and in Springfield the annual Mother Jones Dinner. Also the annual commemoration at the Union Miners’ cemetery in Mt. Olive.

  75. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 1, 17 @ 7:09 am:


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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