Wonders of Woodstock – The Eateries, Part I of II: Woodstock Square

In the time we are currently living in what’s better than to take stock of what we can’t do right now in Woodstock, Illinois – dine in. But first, I must digress before we digest.

I thought I could stretch this to three parts, but then I’d have to count the McHenry County Courthouse as a place to eat. Trust me it’s not, as the vending machines suck. Plus, the McHenry County Courthouse is where I got my car keyed. You’d think the person who did it would have had enough sense not to do it in a parking lot full of cops, but no, my ex-wife did it anyway. Before you laugh at her absolute awful place to pick? Stop. She got away with it. The McHenry County Courthouse has so many cops around they don’t have cameras in the parking lot. She confessed much later to our kids and that’s the only reason I know. How special.

Thanks for allowing me to get that off my chest. Much better now.

Woodstock Square, cleverly coined by the locals as ‘The Square’ and who knows how long it took them to come up with that gem, is the central focus of Woodstock. OK, The Square should by all means by the actual center of the town but at one point in the past some genius decided to divert traffic away from The Square and onto Illinois 47 (or Eastwood Drive as it’s called as it crawls through town), past the square you can’t even freaking see from 47. Really bad city planning, downright embarrassing.

So exactly what does The Square have that will entice you to spend some time and maybe some dollars on good eats? If you were to check out the official government page for dining https://www.woodstockil.gov/community/page/dining you would note they are in alphabetical order. Of course, that’s what a municipality would do. First on the list is Baskin Robbins. A couple things: a) it’s not on the square so we don’t care – ‘no square no care’ b) Baskins Robbins IS NOT A DINING ESTABLISHMENT. Apologies for the yelling, but the government can often be DUMB. Enough pushing that easy button, let’s hit the restaurants on The Square.

Double Yolk Café – Aside from it being a breakfast joint, it’s interesting to note this place was a location on the show ‘Restaurant Impossible.’ At that time it was Angelo’s. Angelo’s had been there for 39 years before it was given its makeover in 2013. The family-owned place got its fresh ‘do… then closed less than 6 months after because ‘it didn’t feel like the same place.’ Really? No shit. That’s why you did Restaurant Impossible (insert eye roll here). Oh, yeah – the Double Yolk is fine. Have the Fiesta Skillet. That’ll get your day going – when they are open again. They’ve decided to close which frankly may be fatal (insert sad trombone here).

La Placita – Stroll cross The Square straight north from the Double Yolk and you will run right into La Placita. For those with some rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, you’ll know in English ‘La Placita’ means ‘the Little Plaza’ and a plaza is a Spanish square. So, it’s a little square… in a little square. Mind. Blown. La Placita is quite understated enough so you will have to call them to see if they are doing curbside or delivery via their Facebook page. They have all of the Mexican classics. Try the Flank Steak Tacos. Don’t let the menu fool you as it reads ‘Flake Steak.’ Let’s stick to the interior of The Square and triangulate on over to…

Public House – Located in the basement of the original courthouse, Public House is a great moody dark place where you can just sit at the bar and drink yourself silly or get serious and have a delightful meal. You can even do both and have a delightfully silly meal and sit in one of the former jail cells. Here’s a great Trip Advisor review: “seasonal menu not available for download.” What? WHO CARES – you can see it! Download it? Dumb. The Public House is not touting curbside or online ordering or delivery either. C’mon! What are you doing?! They say they are closed until March 30th. Call them after that … and get the Filet Mignon Sandwich.

The rest of the dining establishments are what one calls ‘perimeter’ places. Let’s hit those now, shall we?

Cesaroni’s Café & Deli – A small deli with some great sandwiches. Plus, they have Premier League soccer on Saturdays and Sundays… when open. Right now you can order online but for lunch only, so I’ll recommend the TBM – turkey, bacon and muenster cheese. Support the Cesaroni brothers!

BBQ King Smokehouse – The king’s a thing, really. The Woodstock location is small, but right now that doesn’t really matter now does it? They’ve got all the options – curbside, carry-out or delivery! Yes, more progressive thinking! Hit them up and get some of that sweet-ass brisket or those damn tasty burnt ends.

D.C. Cobb’s – On the same street as Cesaroni’s – Main Street (I know – isn’t Main Street in anytown USA supposed to be the MAIN STREET?! Yes… see comments above re: the insanity of Woodstock city planning). Great place to have a draught (when open but they are delivering drinks!)… plus they have damn fine burgers. Are they doing the troika of curbside, pick-up and delivery? Heck yes they are! Try The Thunder and avoid the Challenger unless you are a professional eater.

Napoli Pizza – Could I get away with not having an Italian place on the list? Of course not, don’t be silly. Do they have pick-up and delivery? Do you know of any pizza joint in America that doesn’t? Of course they do. Pick up the phone and order a pie will ya?

PS, You’ll note during this article stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with food that I never said a word about the wonderfully funny movie ‘Groundhog Day’ starring Bill Murray. Yes this is where it was filmed, yes there are markers where scenes were filmed, and yes they celebrate it every goddamn year. Yes, I have participated. Yes, it is fun but it’s one damn day. The restaurants deserve more than just one day. Now pick up that phone, or click your keyboard and support them!

PPS but Rick, what about the bars and the specialty shops? Relax you alkies and you who love to read or eat fancy chocolate. I will get to those soon in another article. Stop pushing me!

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