Feb 28, 2023

A commoner drinks at Whiskey Ridge Saloon, Breckenridge, Ill.

Central Illinois Small Town Bar Tour – 2023 Edition

If there’s anything that’s sure to break the monotony of winter in Central Illinois, I’d place my bets on a small-town bar tour.  There’s something about the tenacity of the taverns, dive bars and road houses found in and around these communities, villages and wide spots on the road that you have to appreciate.  They’re often the last of the original businesses keeping the town functioning and the town folk together.  Or, they may be revamped versions of longtime favorites, building on their legacy to keep locals coming and bring in new business.  Either way, when you visit one, you’re only a stranger for the first round.    

Punky and I love taking these daylong road trips, especially in February when the calendar gives us a couple of extra days off resulting in three-day weekends when we can beat the winter blues.  And that’s exactly what inspired what I’m calling the “Central Illinois Small Town Bar Tour – 2023 Edition.”  Together with our friends and tour guides Danielle and Greg (Danielle has vast knowledge of the backroads we were using, and Greg is allegedly part bloodhound), we mapped out a loose plan of attack and headed east out of Springfield on Ill. Route 29 toward our first destination – the recently opened Whiskey Ridge Saloon in Breckenridge. 

Feb 20, 2023

Frankie and Johnny’s – a true find in New Orleans’ West Riverside neighborhood

I love exploring New Orleans’ various neighborhoods.  Each one has something unique to offer, which is why Punky and I try to get a little more familiar with a different one on each trip we take to NOLA. 

I am also passionate about po-boys, which are perhaps the definitive New Orleans sandwich (sorry, muffuletta).  So, we also look for a new po-boy shop (or at least a menu with po-boys prominently featured) on each trip to the Big Easy. 

When you put these two interests together, it’s easy to understand what made our discovery of Frankie and Johnny’s in the city’s West Riverside neighborhood such a great find. 

Feb 9, 2023

A commoner dines at the Ishnala Supper Club, Lake Delton, Wis.

In Wisconsin’s food scene, supper clubs still rule as the ultimate dining experience.  And the king of them all may be the one perched high on the edge of Mirror Lake just outside of Wisconsin Dells – the Ishnala Supper Club. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...