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May 24th, 2002

Cheap Eats

Pingers, what’s your favorite place to get cheap, good food?

I’m half-expecting Ryan to come up with a slew of diner answers – which is fine – but I’m curious if you have a local joint that serves up something good for a fair price.

Me? There’s a little carry-out place near the school where I teach (and, thus, the school I once attended). They used to be across the street, in a very small but long building. It was cramped, poorly-lit, and felt weird in the middle of a parking lot… but the food was fantastic. And so cheap! This year they moved across the street, though, usurping the location of a greasy spoon.

I go back because I can get a grilled cheese, fries, and a drink for a few bucks. The grilled cheese is never perfect, the fries are sometimes lacking, and the drinks are… ordinary. The service is very Chicago, though, and I think that’s something that draws me back. Miss picking up your order and expect to get barked at – just a little. This isn’t the Weiner’s Circle, a place known for its rude staff.

Good, cheap, outside-of-the-home food. Got a favorite?

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 8:22:46 am
Vienna Inn - Vienna, VA- Old "roadhouse" dive where you can still get a wonderfully greasy chili dog, fries, and a soda for under $5.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 8:25:21 am
My very favorite cheap food place is The Varsity in Atlanta GA. At one time it was the world's largest drive fast food restaurant. 2 Chili Dogs, onion rings and a Varsity Orange Drink was under $5 bucks last time I was there (1998)

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 8:50:58 am
I know it's not the fanciest Chinese food in the world, but... I still love China King. There are various locations in the area, and I'm happy to have one right here in town. The chicken with cashew nuts is heavenly. And the people working there always seem so incredibly unhappy to be there. It's great! And extremely cheap.

FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 9:23:09 am
Hey, hey, hey now Paul... that Greasy Spoon that got usurped, it didn't happen to be "Thai" did it? LoL If so, I loved that place!! ::pouting:: hehe Nothing better than Sunny (Korean guy I worked with, awesome guy) and I grabbing a plate full of Basil Rice with Chicken (or in his case, beef) and heading back up to the 3D Model Shop (also Product Design) to sit and make all of the classmates where I worked drool and pout. I tell you, the basil was so strong that once you brought it in the building... you could smell it from the front door to wherever you parked it. Ahhh, I miss that...

One of the most hysterical times I had at Columbia was when my boss at the time, Brent Gutzeit ( for his record label) and I decided we wanted to order some stuff from Thai Spoon. I told him I'd take my usual, and he ordered some wierd Thai soup and something on the side. Anyhow, he phones the order in, and tells me when to go pick it up. I go down there, figuring he put it in "MY" name, but realize it wasn't in my name so then I asked for "Brent". The older Thai gent. behind the counter says in his broken English "No, No Brent or Marcus, got order for Steve (or something like that) with what you order". I'm like "Steve?" Well, after 5 minutes of discussion and deliberation, we assume there's a mixup and I take the order upstairs, explain it to Brent who responds "Yeah, I ordered it as Steve." I'm like "Uhhh, why?" He's like "I just always do."

I still haven't figured that out... LoL

Otherwise, I love Golden Wok over here in Brookfield. They have two locations, and got to have some of the best Chinese food around. I love going and getting an order of Szechuan Beef from them, as the quality of the beef they use is better than just about any Chinese restaurant I've ever found. Believe me, as someone that loves Chinese, I've tried a ton.

There's also an interesting little Chinese place on the North side called "Gui Long's" (Gooey Long's). I don't much care for their egg rolls, but I tell you... there's something pretty awesome about Chinese Spaghetti. Just be forewarned, don't order "spicy", because Mild is enough to put you in the emergency room.

For hot dogs, there's a toss-up between the quintessential Gene and Jude's if you're ever out in the Rosemont/Melrose Park area, they're pretty much known as the hot dog place of hot dog places. As always, don't ask for ketchup, you'll get beaten. In my area, I usually opt for "Hey Viv's" on Ogden a few blocks West of First Ave on the South side of the street. Home cut fries and Garden Dogs (hot dog with pickle spear, cucumbers, relish, mustard, onions, and celery salt) being the specialty.

I've also come to find that South Loop Club (tip to Paul) has an "AWESOME" Bratwurst (huuuuuge), and their Crazy Onions are pretty good too. My one friend is attending the Illinois Institute of Art down near Columbia and lives in the same building so her and I frequent there sometimes. Don't have quite the selection of brews that my watering hole ( ) has, but the food is a lot better (although Doc's onion rings and chicken sandwiches can hold their own).

Best hamburgers... Lyon's Cave on Ogden, right near the curve, bit East of Lawndale. They used to do burger's of the month, and I'd place an order with Mary while I worked at Keen Edge Co. in Lyons. Excellllllllllent burgers, with awesome potato wedges.

Favorite fast food chain? Sonic. No question, for good burgers when I head down south, it's always the place of choice. Love getting a Rt. 44 sized order of Chili Cheese fries, and a Peanut Butter Fudge shake; usually with a #2 burger.

Hey, can someone pass the Pepto? ;-)

FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 9:26:44 am
"Home cut fries and Garden Dogs (hot dog with pickle spear, cucumbers, relish, mustard, onions, and celery salt) being the specialty."

Ummm, dang, forgot the tomato slices and hot sport peppers. :-\ Oh well, they come on 'em too...

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 10:50:37 am
There's a place on Cary St in Richmond I've enjoyed in the passed called, simply, the Eatery. It smells like frying grease all the time, and the menu offers everything from burgers to fried chicken to Chinese food. The bean curd homestyle is about $4.75 and almost more than I can eat in one sitting, which says quite a lot.

FROM: Scott R
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 7:44:08 pm
Sycamore Restaurant- Bethel, Ct. It's like a blast from the past- the place is set up like in the 1950'2, and they have a classic car show once a year, and in the summer the waitresses come to the car in rollerskates. The best place ever. The fod is great and not greasy, the prices are low, and the rootbeer truely comes in a frusted mug. Great stuff.

FROM: Elizabeth [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 9:29:16 pm
In Fort Collins, I loved to eat falafel at Yum Yum's, a family-owned and operated middle eastern place. In St Paul I love the Taco House on the West Side (excellent burritos and bun~uelos).

When fast food is necessary, I'll do a veggie sub from Subway.

In Kankan, Guinea, where I will be moving one month from today, you can get a plate of rice and veggies with peanut sauce at a restaurant for thirty cents. Not too bad a deal.

FROM: chantal [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 10:58:53 pm
awesome place.. 5&diner. they have the little real working juke boxes at each table, and all the guy waiters part their hair to the sides. the booths are sparkly red, and i love this.. the bathrooms say 'guys' and 'gals' te he. aweesomee!! great great great food! i dont know if this is exactly on the cheap cheap side, around 6.00 for a REALLY great sandwhich (bbq chicken, buffalo chicken, burgers etc..) french fries/chips, and a coke. mmm! anyone else been there

FROM: fresh
DATE: Saturday May 25, 2002 -- 1:07:20 am
well folks we should all be a little bit happier seeing how we all got a free copy of mackeys, How to Write the Longest Ping Ever (in stores june 8th!)

FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Wednesday May 29, 2002 -- 7:23:08 am
Hey fresh, if you bring me by a copy of that I'll autograph it. Y'never know when something like that may be worth something. Y'know?

FROM: Sancha
DATE: Thursday May 30, 2002 -- 10:34:13 pm
Yeah really it reads:your comment,not your life story

FROM: big fat lizard
DATE: Monday June 17, 2002 -- 2:08:44 am
My town is about to put in a new wendy's and it's almost finished - Not sure what the service will be like yet...probably depends on what the management is like and what kind of MOOD THEIR in!

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