Friday, July 1, 2011

Fat Tommy's/Original Rainbow Cone

Now that the progeny are getting a little older (Hackknife Jr. is 5, Hackknifette is 2 going on 18), I've found that I reach the stir-crazy level a little faster than I used to, especially during these summer days when Hackknife Jr. is on break from school (I can only mediate so many disputes in a 24-hour period). As a result, I'm trying to get us out more, if for no other reason than to minimize the tumultuousness of staying put at home. What better way to escape the house than to make my children a party to my food obsession?, I say. In that vein, we loaded up the family truckster and headed northeast one fine Thursday morning to visit a couple of eateries on my radar screen, namely Fat Tommy's hot dog stand and Original Rainbow Cone.

Fat Tommy's is the lesser known of the two and is located in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of the city (near 111th and Kedzie), an area not terribly far from us (less than 30 minutes), but one I've never visited (shame on me). The place is pretty nondescript on the outside with a blue-collar vibe in keeping with the neighborhood (I had a little trouble finding the front door); otherwise, its interior resembled the usual hot dog stand decor found almost everywhere here in the metro area. The menu offerings were pretty standard, but offered a couple of interesting items that I went after, such as the "grabber" dog (bacon-wrapped, deep-fried jumbo dog with cheese and Chicago-style toppings, hold the sport peppers) and homemade fries doused with garlic butter, both of which were quite good. My kids enjoyed their plain hot dogs with fries and carbonated lemonade (don't tell Mom) as we all noshed outside on the patio (which we had to ourselves on this nice day - the good folks at Tommy's were kind enough to open it up for us). All in all, I'd have to say that this was among my better hot dog experiences on the South side and will definitely be on my return list.

From Tommy's, we proceeded east to Western Avenue and then north a-ways to the Beverly neighborhood of town to find Original Rainbow Cone (9233 S. Western Ave.), serving mom-and-pop ice cream since 1926. The first stand on this site lasted for 4 years before the current pink-hued building was erected in 1930. At the time, this part of the city was out in the sticks, as they say, and the owners' best customers were people making the drive south from Downtown to visit the many cemeteries in the area. The environment is now quite a bit more urban, with a golf course across the street and residences nearby. As for the famous rainbow cone, it consists of 5 different ice cream slabs piled atop each other (see photo above), with chocolate on the bottom, followed by strawberry, Venetian vanilla with cherries and walnuts (what they call "Palmer House"), pistachio, and orange sherbet, all on a cone with a little drip tray around it to prevent messes (genius). This was a fine way, I might add, to complement a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped hot dog, although the progeny kept it simple, preferring just chocolate to the ostentatiousness of my rainbow cone. Later on, I expressed surprise to Mrs. Hackknife that she hadn't mentioned them before (her family has roots not far from Beverly) and she told me that she'd never been there. Having grown up in the Northwest suburbs, I of course had no clue that such a thing ever existed and was pretty happy w/myself for sussing it out.

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