The recent thread about Merichka's poor boys caused me to realize that there are a number of genuine eateries near Merichka's. I'll describe a quadrangle bounded by Raynor Ave. on the west, Ruby Street on the south, Broadway on the east, and Theodore on the north. Addresses and phone numbers at the end.
On the NE corner of Raynor and Theodore is Smolich's sausage shop. Pretty good Polish, smokies, and Italian.
South on Raynor two or three blocks is Mitchell's, Joliet's premier butcher shop. A vibrant neighborhood grocery.
Very near the NE corner of Raynor and Ruby St. is Thayer Bros. lunchroom, where Ann, the mother of Bears' Super Bowler and broadcaster Tommy Thayer, serves her hearty soups.
Next door is Thirty-Buck, a tavern partly owned by Tommy's big brother, Rick. For most of the 20th century known as The Spa, this bar has built-in coolers of handsome wood with large chrome handles--not often seen anymore.
East on Ruby is Hey! Hot Dog!, which Paul Davis posted on in the Merichka's thread. Formerly an A&W, HHD still mixes its own root beer, served in frosted glasses. Go overboard and have a black cow.
There's a stoplight at Ruby and Broadway (Rt. 53). The last street before Broadway is Hickory. On Hickory a block or so north of Ruby is Andy & Sophie's, a bar run by a Polish couple and known for its substantial lunches such as cabbage rolls.
On Ruby just before Broadway is Taste of Polonia. A Polish co-worker likes the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.
Turning left and proceeding northbound on Broadway maybe a mile and a half, one comes to Theodore. Turn left and go west on Theodore to Merichka's.
In doing so, one will cross Center St. North on Center is Catcher's, a bar which takes pride in its burgers.
Back on Broadway north of Theodore, on the west side before the viaduct, is Marty's, a supper club with a five-stool bar and a dining room the size of a small classroom. Marty's doesn't open until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. My family likes Marty's pork chops and Sunday-only chicken and dumplings. Marty's proprietress, Mary, is almost always on site.
Within this quadrangle are clubs which sometimes offer their ethnic food to the public, such as the Croatian Cultural Club, American Slovenian Home, Moran A.C., and Northwest Recreation Club. Watch for notices in the Joliet Herald News, posters, and announcements in church bulletins. Also in this neighborhood are women who sell potica, strudel, and cakes made in their own kitchens. Ask around at any of the above establishments. The north end is becoming increasingly Mexican: gran bailes are held at places like the Moran A.C. I don't know if Mexican food vans accompany these events. I should look.
The area code is 815 and the zip is 60435 for all of the following.
Smolich Bros. Homemade Sausage
Mitchell's Food Mart
1300 N. Raynor
Thayer Bros. and Thirty-Buck
726-8990 (lunchroom), 723-3030 (bar)
Hey! Hot Dog!
Andy & Sophie's Tavern
931 N. Hickory
Taste of Polonia
Catcher's Tap & Kitchen
1723 N. Center
Marty's Fine Food & Cocktails
2001 N. Broadway