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Thursday, November 19, 2009


A Tale of Three Diners, and Where We Found the Best Chili in the Valley

My wife and I recently investigated some local "old school" diners in the Valley. Together we tested the popular Third Street Diner in Menasha, George Webb in Appleton, and I also went to the Route 41 Diner (formerly called Bradke's) in Neenah (Green Bay Road and Main Street, with the big sign on the roof that just says "Eat" - a true old-school diner). These all offer low-cost home cooking in an old-fashioned setting. Comfortable, fairly tasty, and relaxed. Down-to-earth folks looking to get value for their money will do well going to any of these places.

For the best experience, I might have to pick George Webb where we had fantastic service and where I really enjoyed their unusual 3-patty hamburger spread across a hoagie bun with terrific grilled onion. The Bomber, I think was the name? But Third Street Diner was charming also and we had exceptionally kind service. We weren't feeling too hungry, so my wife and I were going to share a "smothered chicken" plate. They kindly split it onto two plates without being asked, and gave extra side dishes at no cost. Hey, that was very nice. Thumbs up!

Route 41 is a fun place, especially for breakfast, but the Philly cheesesteak sandwich I tried there lacked flavor in the meat and was thus a little disappointing. But I know there are plenty of other good choices on the menu for next time.

At each place, I tried the chili. I think the Third Street Diner had the best, but they were all pretty good. George Webb had good flavor but the very thin spaghetti noodles were somehow less appealing than no pasta or large noodles for those preferring Wisconsin-style chili. Third Street and Route 41 were pasta-free. Route 41 may have had the best texture but was too mild for my taste.

The best chili of the week doesn't go to any of these diners, but to the fabulous chili we had tonight at the VFW Lounge. It was not made by the VFW folks, but by Boy Scout Troop 67 doing a fundraising event aimed especially at those about to go deer hunting. We bought two hot quart bottles of their chili for $5 each and took it home for dinner (or we could have eaten there). The chili was perfect: beans and meat in a tomato-based sauced with elbow macaroni for Wisconsin-style chili that was tasty and hearty. The touch of thoroughly cooked celery in the chili was just right. Good texture, nicely spiced, and made all of us feel a lot better and warmer on a wet and cool evening. Thank you, VFW, for your support of Scouting and for giving us a chance to have some terrific chili--the best in town, at least for this week.
just a heads up,

The amazing Tony winning Musical 'In the Heights' is coming to Minneapolis from December 1st to the 6th at the Orpheum Theatre.

An awesome video showing the cast members can be viewed here:

Also, here is a contest for two free tickets to the show!

Hope you Enjoy.
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