My favorite southwest suburban restaurants with political spice
Political columnist Ray Hanania takes you on a quick tour of some of his favorite politically flavored restaurants in the Chicagoland Suburbs, when you can’t go to Manny’s Deli in Chicago’s South Loop. JC’s Pub & Ristorante, Bucks Pit Stop, and JC Georges are the best with great food and prices
By Ray Hanania
There are just some places where political-philes love to hang out and talk politics and life.
The top place to go to enjoy a great meal and rub shoulders with politicians and political journalists is Manny’s Restaurant & Deli on Jefferson Street and Roosevelt Road. Manny’s has the absolute best corned beef sandwiches, latkes and matzah ball soup, that is as good as my wife and mother-in-law make.
Well, I better say “almost as good” just to keep peace in this beautiful marriage I have.
Whenever I go there I see politicians, clients, candidates, other political consultants, and journalists. It’s replaced the old Pump Room where my colleague and friend Irv “Kup” Kucipnet used to hold court.
But you don’t have to drive to Chicago to enjoy a great meal and an atmosphere of politics and journalism.
Here are my three favorite restaurants, just a sampling, when it comes to dining in a political atmosphere and also enjoying a great tasting food menu.
JC’s Pub & Ristorante, 8650 Joliet Road in McCook. This restaurant has great food. It’s easy access, located on Joliet Road at the Route 171 underpass.
The owner, Joe Cistaro, is a legend in political circles, having provided fine Italian dishes to politicians and the public for more than 30 years. He’s at the door every single time I visit welcoming everyone who comes in. You might get a good political story out of him if you chat him up a bit.
I have so many favorite food items there including the small sausage and pepperoni pizza, angel hair pasta with sausage, or a freshly made meatball sandwich.
Buck’s Pit Stop, 6501 Kane Avenue, Hodgkins. I love this place. Very affordable and the wait staff so helpful and courteous.
While the address may not be easy to visualize, it’s basically located east of LaGrange Road and just east of 65th (Lyons Street) and East Avenue at the corner of Lyons Street (65th Street) and Kane Street, four blocks east of East Avenue. (That address sounds like a typical government job title with too many words.)
My favorite lunch item: the pot roast sandwich with mashed potatoes or onion rings. They also have a phenomenal chicken dumpling soap.
JC Georges, 181 Countryside Plaza (59th and LaGrange Road), Countryside.
The owner, John Georges, is a welcoming sort who makes you feel comfortable as you sit down to enjoy their many great meals.
My favorite is the albacore tuna on their specialty great toasted and always fresh bread, with mashed potatoes. They also have phenomenal chicken dumpling soap.
At all these restaurants, you can’t say enough about the wait staff. They are so efficient, courteous and helpful. They share their stories if you ask about work they did in politics or that families member did in politics, but they don’t bother you and give you a lot of room to enjoy the meal with your friends.
THE POLITICAL GRAPEVINE now that we are past the Midterm general elections, the focus turns to Chicago and local election contests. There’s no doubt that voters in Chicago should reject the re-election bid of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She has been a disaster as a mayor not only in failing to protect everyone — she speaks out strongly to defend African Americans and the LGBTQ community, which everyone should. But , when it came to defending White, Arab and Hispanic businesses during the post-George Floyd riots in Chicago, she did absolutely nothing. So many businesses were destroyed and while Lightfoot spoke out on the inappropriate handling of Floyd by Minnesota police causing his death, she said nothing about the businesses and property destroyed by protestors that were owned by White, Arab and Hispanic businesses. They have equal rights, too, Mayor, even if you don’t feel they are worth defending.
Another issue is Mayor Lightfoot’s targeting of Arab and Asian owned gasoline stations. Rather than own up to her misguided policy to deflect from her failure to crackdown on rising street gang crimes, she targeted the Arab owned gas stations so she could say she was doing something, even though none of those targeted stores had anything to do with the gun violence in Chicago.
Two alternatives to Lightfoot at Dr. Willie Wilson and retiring Alderman Raymond Lopez. Can you imagine how powerful the mayor’s office would be with a coalition led by the two of them?
We can only hope.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. A political analyst and CEO of Urban Strategies Group, Hanania’s opinion columns on mainstream issues are published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. His Middle East columns are published in the Arab News. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
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