Thursday, January 27, 2011

Best of Springfield (IL) 2010: Part Two

Last week I features the multiple-category winners within the Illinois Times' 2010 "Best of Springfield" feature, specifically in the 2010 Food and Dining category. This week, let's take a look at some of the other winners, shall we? Here they are, in no particular order....

Best Outdoor Dining: PANERA
There are at least two locations, but it sounds like the one on South Dirksen has a patio with a stone waterfall that contributes to a calming atmosphere despite being located on quite a busy road.

Best Italian & Best Downtown Dining (oops! I guess this was a multiple too!): SAPUTO'S
Established in 1948, it seems this restaurant has an atmosphere similar to Cheers. I think I've been here once. I shy away from Italian restaurants tho, too easy for me to go hogwild on creamy alfredo/carbonara pasta...!!

Most Original Menu: CAITIE GIRL'S
Accessible via the lobby of the St Nick apartments in the heart of downtown, Catie Girl's boasts a gourmet food menu but where jeans are appropriate. Having been there once, I can say the selection is unusual. I was just a little pissed that the menu we had in hand didn't say that the tricolor truffled fried were sprinkled with bacon (the online menu says it), so I spent a lot of time picking them off the otherwise scrumptious fries. A proper review later, k?

Best Breakfast: CHARLIE PARKER'S
Open only for breakfast and brunch, I think I've been here at least twice but eaten once: the queue was way too long the first time! This does seem to be Springfield's favourite breakfast place.

Best Place to have a Birthday Party for Grandma: MCL RESTAURANT AND BAKERY
LoL what a category! I'd been tempted many times to check this place out, until I finally remembered to check them out online... one look at their menu and I'd say they are just like any other restaurant out there. And *gasp* it didn't seem like they did breakfast! The horror!

Best Restaurant for a Romantic Dinner: BELLA MILANO
It seems this restaurant is so romantically atmosphered (is that even a word?) that there have been many wedding proposals made on their premises in their 5 years of business so far.

Best Restaurant off the Beaten Path: MAGIC KITCHEN
I'm sure they mean the original restaurant... the one that looks a little dilapidated, that's way up there on Peoria Road, that we passed by once an wondered if it was even open anymore! Thing is, we've gone to its twin, Magic Kitchen 2, on Lewis St (just for takeout), and nothing on the menu really stood out. I'll probably drag hubby out tot he original one of these days just we can way we've been.

Best Bakery Items & Best Desserts (oops, another one!): INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS
With a name like that...! I've noticed this place once or twice on my occasional forays down 7th St, and always snickered at the (audacity?) (arrogance?) (optimism?) of naming your establishment in such a manner. I've got to stay away from bakeries though, because it's too easy for me to go hogwild on desserts.

Best Barbeque: SMOKEY BONES
I've been to the one in Urbana/Champaign when they opened, and had their buffalo burger. it was... okay. I'm not a huge fan of red meat anyway so taking me to a steakhouse-type establishment is always a bit of a waste.

I realise I've yet to try this local eatery. They look like a local version of Culver's to me, but I'll not judge until I've partaken of its menu. I'm sure the custard aspect of its menu will be bad nes to be, though (as in, too good to have just once!).

Best Spot for a Working Lunch of 10: DUBLIN PUB
So they have good lunch specials *and* can accommodate medium-sized groups easily. Take not, working folk!

Best Place to East After 10pm & Best Hangover Food: STEAK 'n SHAKE
I've not eaten at any Springfield locations; I assume their menus are the same everywhere. I remember their coffee being really good.

I'll take your word for it. It's too easy to overeat, and on the wrong things, so I'll stay away, thanks!

Best Coffee Shop: STARBUCKS
Really? Starbucks? Well, I suppose with with the free wifi, etc. I'm not a fan of their coffee, I'd rather do Grab-a-Java.. but that's just a drive-thru place, so wouldn't qualify for "coffee shop", eh?

It seems they prepare the beans and the meat separately, so you can easily customise your chili to your own preference. Sounds like something I'd try one day.

Best Gyros: GYROS STOP
I am *so* going to have to remember to check them out! Just south of Penny Lane on MacArthur Blvd, I love the sound of $1 daily specials! :)

Best Pizza: GABATONI'S
We went there once, and weren't impressed by the service or the food.

I'll keep that in mind if we have majorly carnivorous guests.

I've only recently heard about this store, but what I heard was only good things. Open only for lunch, they have nothing but soup on their menu. I'm not really a soup person, but I'd give 'em a try.

What's soul food? I guess I should go and find out! :)

Best Subs: HEAD WEST
Not a huge fan of subs, but I keep hearing good things about Head West. One of these days I'll try 'em out, I promise!

Best Vegetarian Food: HOLY LAND DINER
I've partaken of their food twice despite not ever having been to their location (they've catered/had booths at two events I've been to), found it decent. I like the idea of a buffet even though I know the overeating danger is always there, even for healthy vegetarian food.

Seriously? Wasn't there an article recently about Olive Garden's salad being the worst "free" item a restaurant could serve its customers? I've not been in a long long time anyway (see previous comment about Italian restaurants and going hogwild on creamy pasta!).

ohhh whaddaya know, we've reached the end of the Food and Dining category. Thanks for plowing through it wall with me! Next we'll step back and so a spot of analysis of these places. See ya next week!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best of Springfield (IL) 2010: Part One

The Illinois Times has a "Best of Springfield" feature every year. I have yet to vote, because you need submit a minimum number of votes across a vast number of categories, and I didn't know enough to do justice to any of them. Hopefully by the time voting is open for 2011 I might be in a better position to participate.

I've decided that the focus/theme of a malaysian abroad for 2011 will be food... so what better way kick 2011 off than to take note of the winners in the 2010 Food and Dining category? :)

For this post, we first look at the multiple-category winners:

A big winner was Osaka Japanese Restaurant (website), they won the following categories:
  • Best restaurant you discovered this year - they just opened for business in November 2009
  • Best Asian food - they serve not just Japanese but also Thai cuisine, so I *will* have to check them out one day
  • Best Sushi - I always feel sushi is overpriced for what gets served, and am more than happy with what I buy at the south Walmart, LoL!
  • Best new martini/cocktail - go see if the Osakatini is as good as they say
  • Best place for a First Date - I am so beyond this category, LoL!
They are located at 1665 Wabash Ave, phone # 1.217.726.8037. Here are its Yelp and Urbanspoon pages.

Another multiple winner is Xochimilco (pronounced so-she-milco) (website), sweeping these categories:
  • Best Chips and Salsa & Best Mexican - I miss my carne asada tortas from De Pasada in Chicago, I wonder if they have something as good here?
  • Best Waitstaff - well that's always a plus :)
  • Best Margarita - I'm still on a no-alcohol-consumption run, so I'll have to report what the hubby says, if/when we ever check 'em out ;)
They have three locations:
  • 2941 W Iles Ave (1.217.546.3116) [yelp]
  • 3210 Northfield Dr (1.217.544.9206) [yelp]
  • 6901 Preston Dr (1.217.483.1006)

Of the three multiple winners, this is the only one I've been to so far: D'Arcy's Pint! (website) They won these categories:
  • Best Comfort Food - just take a look at their menu... certainly seems that way, choice-wise!
  • Best Horseshoes - my first ever horseshoe was their Gobbler (turkey on stuffing smothered in french fries and cheese sauce), and no other horseshoe has come even close to the deliciousness of this. I missed the Gobbler this year (they only serve it during Thanksgiving week, it seems), so I will be heading there next Thanksgiving for another round :)
  • Best Bar Food - I've not had anything except a horseshoe there, so I can't comment on this. Yet.
D'Arcy's Pint is located at 661 W Stanford Ave (1.217.492.8800). Here are its yelp and Urbanspoon pages.

Sometime over the course of 2011, I hope to have dined at each of the above places at least once, so I can provide my own review of the establishments. In the meantime, I'll just feature the places I have been. But even before that, this post needs a Part Two! Stay tuned!

Note: D'Arcy's Pint and Best of Springfield 2010 images are low-resolution screenshots taken from the respective websites and remain the copyright of the respective owners.