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Daily Journal
     February 8, 2022      #63-39 KDJ
Tinker Parker enjoyed the Loaded Bloody Mary and build-your-own burger with homemade chips at the railroad-themed First Stop Bar and Grill in Chebanse.

Daily Journal/Tinker Parker

BEST BITES: First Stop a great stop in

By Tinker Parker

Last weekend, Dave and I escaped for a few hours to visit what I thought was a new restaurant in Chebanse, First Stop Bar and Grill. Little did I know it isn’t a new restaurant; it’s been open since 2020.

Formerly known as Crazy Beaver restaurant, First Stop Bar and Grill is located on the outskirts near a field and is very easy to find.

I was a bit confused about the name First Stop. My first thought was a larger gas station that served food. Was I wrong!

Since Chebanse was established in 1854, it served as the first stop of the Illinois Central Railroad. The inside is fashioned with a railway theme, including a crossing light, a large black-and-white photo of a train engine and more.

The bar is beautiful and inviting. What caught my eye was the big U-shaped wooden bar; behind it was a cooler filled with every imaginable beverage. Many people were sitting at the bar drinking beer and watching a football game.

If you’re in the mood for some darts, a game of pool or even some slot machines, they have them.

We were greeted by Emily Vega, who made us feel right at home. The manager, Hope Grutzius, came by to take our drink orders and chat about the restaurant. She filled us in on the décor, background and the services they provide.

We started out with drinks — Dave, the Evil Horse Holsteiner and myself, the loaded Bloody Mary. When they say loaded — it’s loaded.

A quarter of a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich was placed on a large skewer along with a sizable boneless chicken wing. The other skewer was stacked with a large olive, cheese, sausage, pepperoni and more. The drink itself was excellent.

I chose the build your own burger with a single burger on a pretzel bun with cheddar cheese and bacon. It was fantastic. It also comes with a choice of fries or homemade potato chips. I tried their homemade chips — crisp and tasty, and I didn’t use salt or ketchup. They were amazing.

Because the meal was more than I could eat, I had enough for lunch the next day. Even after storing the chips overnight in the refrigerator, they still were crisp.

Dave ordered the Sunday special chili burger and, wow, it was big. A burger loaded with their homemade chili. He was impressed with the chili. I tried it, and it is delicious. Make sure you order a cup or a bowl when you go.

Highlighted on the menu is the build your own burger. It’s a great step-by-step choice — burger size, bun, cheese, add-ons such as bacon, ham or fried egg and then the extras such as barbecue sauce, Thousand Island dressing, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce or an onion ring.

The First Stop grilled cheese is another highlight. Choose your type of cheese; freebies, which include lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion; and then add-ons such as bacon, ham, fried egg or pulled pork.

Sandwiches include a blackened chicken sandwich, a giant pork tenderloin, a southern barbecue pulled pork, buffalo chicken or Italian beef. Sandwich fixings also can be made into a wrap as well.

Several salads are available, including the grilled or crispy chicken salad or a classic Caesar.

They have wings on the menu that go great with a cold beer and a football game. Or try one of their pizzas in both regular and gluten-free.

Kids have an excellent selection of food as well, including the grilled cheese sandwich and macaroni and cheese — an all-time favorite.

They have a take-out menu, and check out their Facebook page for more information. There are daily specials, too.

I recommend First Stop for several reasons — the staff is fantastic. Hope and Emily were friendly and accommodating. The Bloody Mary is delicious, the food is excellent, and the ambiance is welcoming.

First Stop Bar and Grill is located at 510 S. Oak St., Chebanse. Call 815-697-8009 to order carry-out.

Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. They are closed Mondays.

Tinker Parker is an adjunct communication professor at Kankakee Community College and Governors State University. She can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at bestbites@daily-journal.comTinkerP91@yahoo.com; or Best Bites Hotline 815-802-5101.

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