Ok, I lied again! Sorry but life (day drinking at street festivals mainly) got in the way of writing to you lovely people…….but I’m back for reals this time! And hopefully even BETTER than before. Well, probably not better because you really can’t gild the lily, right?? But I digress! Buckle up, we are driving through the heartland of Illinois on route back to Chicago!
It’s a beautiful day out and we decided to see some wildlife while we were in the backroads of North Central Illinois. Being a city boy the most exciting wildlife I grew up around were squirrels, pigeons, and the occasional deer. So when my friend Becky mentioned there was a heard of bison not too far from our cabins…… I was DTF (Down to Frolic) with some woolly beast. Onto Nashua Grasslands!
Nature Time! Nachusa Grasslands is located near the city of Dixon, Illinois—-probably the most Republican city I’ve ever visited thanks to Ronnie calling the riverside town, home. It’s super red, there are probably more moments to Regan than people living there, but I disagree. So back to the grasslands, they are a prairie lover’s wet dream. Restored to what Illinois looked like prior to the invasion by whitey, the grasslands offer 1,500 acres of roaming grounds for these noble beasts. Luckily when we got there, the herd was so close to the fence that binoculars weren’t needed.
They’re fully fenced off so you don’t have to worry about getting stampeded to death but they make an interesting stopover if you find yourself in the area. I mean you really can’t beat good ole fashioned nature, can you?
However, all that nature has made us thirsty and with my Cocktail Sense tingling, I feel we must move West. So onward! Onward to the Hub City where a newly opened distillery is calling our names, and where we are meeting Becky and Megan.
Kennay Farms Distillery literally opened the week we stopped by. Not only a distillery but they also make beer so you can appease any of your lush friends. The building itself is a treasure too—located in the former Hub Movie Theater, an amazing art deco building in the heart of downtown Rochelle. We heard from the grapevine that this building is the last movie theater still standing on the Lincoln Highway. Take a peek in the former theater auditorium to see the beer tanks and in the lobby, there is an assortment of historical artifacts from the glory days of the theater—including a framed photo of the county’s golden child, Ronald Reagen.
The whole place is lovely, so contemporary you would think you were drinking somewhere in River North or Fulton Market—–but at rural, Illinois prices! What’s even more amazing about Kennay Farms? Its majority run by women!! Check out their badass modern-day Rosie the Riveter-inspired logo.
I ordered a Cranberry Harvest and I was not disappointed. I mean you can put vodka in almost anything and I’ll drink it. It was refreshing, strong and since it had cranberry in it I assume healthy AF 😉
The seating is ample and spacious with a nice mix of people, apparent regulars but also people who wandered into this oasis of booze for a drank (or 5) on route to their destinations. When we were there it was a good mix of younger and older folks and the bar was manned by the husband and wife owners of Kennay Farms. Becky & Megan sampled their vodka and enjoyed it enough to buy a bottle for home—and the owners autographed it! So they may have a collector’s items on their hands in the future.
And so many beers!!! Becky, Megan, and Jared all had beers, I was the classy bitch who ordered cocktails—-HEY! You can take the boy outta private school but not the private school outta the boy! #RealTalk
Rochelle, it’s been a real treat—-I really do love this town! If you travel through the Midwest as much as we have you know a small town in America can be a depressing place. Desolate downtowns with empty storefronts and all the symptoms of typical Rust Belt… BUT not Rochelle!! Downtown is not only quaint but thriving. A definate stop not over for drinking but also shopping and dining. Now on the next leg of our journey—-DeKalb (which is more than a university town)
You knew we would be stopping for booze. Alas, DeKalb has no distillery but Forge Brewery near downtown is a must stop—-this coming from a lukewarm beer fan. As in will drink beer if need be, not a drinker of warm beer, I’m not from the other side of the Pond. But Forge is lowkey, non-pretentious and really was a great place to spend a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon drinking and playing their assortment of board games
Two hours later and many beers drank, we are starting to get hungry. Per the bartender at Forge, if we were headed west we HAD to try Lodi Tap House. Well darlings, when in Rome you do as the Romans so we’ll take a local’s advice and hop into Patti and drive west to the tiny village of Maple Park!
As seen on Chicago’s Best (despite being over 90 minutes outside of the city) Fun Fact: The name Lodi comes from Lodi, Italy, which Maple Park was originally named after for in 1837 before changing their name in 1880. You can use that info on one of your Tindr dates—pointless trivia education makes bitches moister than an oyster. Trust the homo on that! 😉 (Disclaimer I may have given you false information)
So their smash burgers are literally heaven on a plate. Just the right amount of Velvetta (bless my white trash heart) juicy, melt in your mouth AMAZING! I don’t think I had a piece of meat in my mouth that good in a LOOONG time! (giggity) You can even get them with cheese curds instead of fries, in case you didn’t get enough cholesterol in your diet for the day.
How will you leave Lodi Tap House? STUFFED! We literally waddled out and food coma is sinking in fast. Praise Jebus I’m not the one driving so the last leg of the trip will be in a semi dream-like state of chonky bliss.
Until next time!
-Anthony and Jared