Our local restaurants are becoming stars on Chicago television
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:17AM
Given how challenging it can be to find a plum parking spot on a weekend in La Grange and how sidewalk tables are teeming with patrons on nice evenings, I think the secret has gotten out that this is a great spot for dining.
To be sure, La Grange has long been a destination for restaurants. I can remember coming here even when I didn’t live in town, to eat at now-shuttered places like In Cahoots and Café 36.
I also would travel here to get my TCBY fro-yo, back when people actually said things like “fro-yo.”
Arguably, La Grange is more popular than ever when it comes to eating out, and we have a lot of fine establishments to show for it.
Speaking of show, if you’re a fan of the “Chicago’s Best” TV show that airs Sunday nights on WGN with witty co-hosts Ted Brunson and Brittney Payton, you might have seen some familiar sights in certain episodes.
“MOM – LOOK! It’s the Q shirt!” my son yelled at the TV, while he was recently watching the opening credits of the show.
Yes, it might go by in a flash, but there is definitely a shot of the back of the T-shirt servers wear at Q BBQ in La Grange.
Q BBQ was featured on the show a couple of years ago, as owner Michael LaPidus, who opened Q after previously helming a Roly Poly sandwich shop in the same storefront, showed Brunson how he preps and slow cooks all that awesomeness that is the restaurant’s smoked pork, beef and chicken.
“It was great. We were one of their first shows. And I like how they come to the suburbs — they spend time in the city, but really give suburban restaurants their due,” notes LaPidus.
A few months ago, Palmer Place Restaurant and Biergarten was also featured on “Chicago’s Best,” and once again, there was Brunson, along the sidewalk in downtown La Grange and talking about this town is home to some amazing restaurants.
This time, “Chicago’s Best” spotlighted the best burgers and owner Steve Palmer and the chef walked Brunson through their kitchen and their burger-making process. (And once again, one of my kids screeched at the TV, “LOOK! There is Mr. Jasinski eating a burger in the background!” Sure enough, it was a friend of ours in a cameo.)
On June 10, it is Little Joe’s turn in the “Chicago’s Best” spotlight. That 43-year-old Countryside eatery, specializing in Chicago classics like hot dogs, burgers and beef, was touted for its savory Italian beef.
According to Little Joe’s owner Anna Cumbo, Brunson had been in a few weeks earlier to try the food, after the show’s Facebook fans had suggested it as a top place for lunch in the Chicago area.
“Someone had told him about our beef and how it’s fresh and cooked every day. He tried it out and loved it and said he’d be back. Sure enough, he calls a week later,” recalls Cumbo.
Brunson, for his part, says that Little Joe’s is well deserving of the attention.
“It’s a great place, and they are a great family with a lot of loyal customers,” he notes.
And the beef?
“It’s tender and has great flavor, and that’s because they don’t use the cut of beef that’s typically used or Italian beef. I’d actually say it’s in my top three beefs in Chicago,” Brunson declares.
He also has high praise for Palmer’s Burgers and Q’s sandwiches that were featured on the show, and agrees that this community is a hotspot for good food.
“I think La Grange has an eclectic mix of good places. There’s nothing pretentious – it’s pretty laid back. And it has a charming downtown, too,” Brunson says.
As far as the ‘burbs go, he adds, La Grange is right up there with the show’s favorite places to cover.
In turn, both Cumbo and LaPidus say that the notice their establishments receive is great, but that the filming itself was a blast.
“He is so wonderful,” say Cumbo of Brunson, who was at Little Joe’s from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the day of the shoot.
“Ted is great. He comes in and has fun. He loves food and is not a prima donna. He’s one of us,” he remarks.
If you want to check out “Chicago’s Best,” including previously aired segments, visit http://www.cltv.com/blogs/chicagos-best. Meanwhile, you can make your own suggestions for other La Grange restaurants on the show’s Facebook page.
If your suggestion makes it for a future show, let me know. I might just show up and try to get on screen in the background. You know, so my kids can yell, “LOOK, IT’S MOM!” at the TV. Gravy dribbling down my chin and all.
Readers may contact Lynn Petrak by leaving a message at (630) 320-5448 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.