Coffee At O’o Farm


I participated in the cycle of coffee today. This gives me some insight into how much goes in to a cup of coffee and will make me savor every cup from now until I die.


Maui Day Four In Food


We have a new leader in the clubhouse for best meal of the trip. Sansei, right up the street from the Ritz-Carlton was some of the best pan-Asian/sushi we’ve ever had.


Maui Day Three In Food


After a stressful but beautiful drive along the tight, little traveled roads of northwest Maui, we continued on to Paia and stopped at the Paia Fish Market. It was quite a scene. There was a line to the door about 30 seconds after it opened at 11am on this beautiful Saturday.


Maui Day Two in Food


Star Noodle in Lahaina was the star of the day. Gail and I agree that it will be tough to top this. Clockwise, we went with the Hot ‘n Sour, Pad Thai, Bikini Blonde, and Malasadas. Great experience.


Maui Day One In Food


Our first full day in Maui was a decent food day. We stayed pretty local, got a great lead on a farm lunch outing, and wrapped it up with wine and cheese on the balcony.


Marion Street Cheese Market


There are a lot of dining options in Oak Park. One of the best, without question, is the Marion Street Cheese Market. Don’t let that name mislead, it’s much more than cheese and much more than market (but Marion and Street are what you would expect). It’s a few blocks south of the main drag just across from the el tracks, don’t skip it.


Butcher and The Burger


Butcher and the Burger has vaulted into the darling of Chicago burger places. For good reason I guess – it has a catchy name and received national acclaim from Men’s Health magazine as the “manliest” burger. Huh? Insert “whatever” here. It was good, maybe even great, but “manliest” is one of the last words I’d use to describe this culinary treat. I guess that’s what you get from Men’s Health magazine.



DeLux Burger

Did you ever fantasize about having a place down the street where you can get a good burger and watch sports? Well, I think I’m living out that fantasy because the local bar, all of one block away, has a killer burger and lots of TVs and really nice people. I didn’t discover this until about a year ago, but now my arm hurts from pinching myself. Also, my jaw hurts from laughing so hard at my own jokes.


Epic Burger

Epic Burger 600x800

This was a completely different experience from just about all of my recent burger excursions, which may have made it seem better than it actually was. I was blown away, which surprises me because I have a bias for charred half pound burgers – this was a fried, thin, sub-half pound burger. Go figure. My depth and range sometimes astonishes me. #imlying #imshallow

Pictured above is the Epic Burger single with lettuce, pickle, tomato, onion, and special sauce on whole wheat. I used this picture because the meat really shares the glory in this sandwich. Everything else is so on point (as Guy Fieri would say) – including just the right amount of special sauce, the full pickle slices, and the whole wheat bun encrusted with oats – that the relatively small size of the meat patty works perfectly. I’m always at least a little conscious of overdoing it and the double would have been messy and, quite simply, too much.

Epic Burger patty

I don’t want to short the meat on accolades though. Check it out. It’s full of nooks and imperfections and a crisping on the edges that adds a lot of flavor. It has a large diameter and is pressed thin so it’s almost exactly the same diameter as the bun.

And the bun, that’s something special. The whole wheat gives it a strong flavor and the oat topping adds a crunch. It’s also considerably fewer calories than the white bun. They’ve given this thing a lot of thought. This makes two burgers recently which highlight the bun and use something smaller than the half pound patty (see Paradise Pup) and I’ve really loved them. I’m beginning to rethink certain parts of the burger code and welcoming these options.

Speaking of options, my wife had the chicken sandwich and loved it, just loved it. The fries are luscious, skin-on, golden brown, and fresh. You also have options for a fried egg, bacon, and different cheeses to top your burger. I’ve never tried their malts but I will next time. There are a handful of locations in the region so there’s a good chance I’ll blow by one soon. I think they’re here to stay. We have so many great burger chains in this town. I really love going to burger places.

Here’s their napkin if you’re interested.

Epic Burger Napkin

It’s not cheap, at $5.99 the burger is pricier than the double at comparable local chain M Burger, but I like Epic Burger a little better (trying something different soon though at M Burger). Note also the slick calorie counter Epic has on their site. Nice touch. Nice job.


Paradise Pup

Burger at Paradise Pup Des Plaines, IL

Okay, this burger stage I’m going through could be akin to a mid-life crisis. Maybe I’m looking to the juicy beef to fill some sort of emptiness elsewhere in my life. Or maybe burgers are just great and I live in a great burger town and having one burger a week is perfectly normal. Crisis averted! Moving on.

We have some TV stars amongst our hamburger culture here folks. Paradise Pup is famous enough to have been in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I can’t find an official website, which isn’t surprising, but follow that link it will give you whole back story on this place. It’s small, crowded, and off the beaten path, and great.

I’ve been here twice in the last few months and been torn both times. The quandary: My norm is to order the house condiment stack that comes free so I can compare it to other burgers, but these guys have this Merkts cheddar burger that I want to try. Since I’m in the midst of this comparison stage, I just went with the bare minimum; I had the single, 1/3 lb burger with the posted standard of ketchup, mayo, pickle, tomato, and grilled or raw onions (did raw once and grilled once, love the free grilled).

It’s near perfect. We’ll get to that.

So my buddies and I finished 18 holes at The Bridges of Poplar Creek (great golf, review forthcoming) a few Saturdays ago and made the detour to Des Plaines for this place. We hit it at about 10:45 and there were maybe seven or eight people milling around waiting for the 11:00 opening. By the time we got our food at around 11:15, the line was out the door to the back of the building, maybe 20 people. Remember, this place is only open from 11–5 Monday through Saturday. But man, they churn out a lot of burgers.

We ate it on the picnic tables outside, which is the best option. They have maybe five seats inside. It’s small, really small. I guess during the winter time it’s just a takeout place huh? It’s gotta be.

Let’s talk bun first. They describe it with words like “egg twist” and “bakery fresh,” both of which are highly accurate. It’s fluffy yet very substantial. I think this bun could hold up to a double without batting an eye, which may make you think it could overpower a single 1/3 lb patty. Looking at it, that was my impression, but I was wrong.

I actually think the bun contributes to a perfect, no-mess burger even with pickles, raw onions, and tomato. I picked this thing up and put it down multiple times and it stayed together with zero condiment leakage. It’s a tribute to the dude who prepared as much as it is to the bun. They place the condiments meticulously, perfectly centered and using natural juice barriers. I had zero lower bun saturation. Zero.

It’s quality beef, never frozen, and perfectly uniform.


It may be hand-packed, but I missed a little of that hand-packed randomness. You can’t have it both ways though. I’m guessing that the burger maker is just as conscientious as the condiment placer. Everything is sized perfectly, including even the tomato slice and the raw onion. It’s a joy to eat and could easily be consumed in the presence of a really attractive member of the opposite sex.

The crinkle-cut fries are great and the shakes are decent. It’s hard to get my head around where this ranks. I’m going to get all of these in a list and rank them, but I need some time to reflect.

This is a must-visit if you’re a burger hound. Just do it.