Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Politics on the menu at these eateries

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By Ray Hanania

There are just some places where political-philes love to hang out and talk politics and life.

The top place to go to enjoy a great meal and rub shoulders with politicians and political journalists is Manny’s Restaurant & Deli on Jefferson Street and Roosevelt Road in Chicago. Manny’s has the absolute best corned-beef sandwiches, latkes and matzah ball soup that is as good as my wife and mother-in-law make.

Well, I better say “almost as good” just to keep peace in this beautiful marriage I have.

RayHanania 1

Ray Hanania

Whenever I go there I see politicians, clients, candidates, other political consultants, and journalists. It has replaced the old Pump Room where my colleague and friend, Irv “Kup” Kupcinet, used to hold court.

But you don’t have to drive to Chicago to enjoy a great meal and an atmosphere of politics and journalism.

Here are my three favorite restaurants, just a sampling, when it comes to dining in a political atmosphere and also enjoying a great tasting food menu.

  • JC’s Pub & Ristorante, 8650 W. Joliet Road, McCook. This restaurant has great food. It’s easy access, located on Joliet Road at the Route 171 underpass.

The owner, Joe Cistaro, is a legend in political circles, having provided fine Italian dishes to politicians and the public for more than 30 years. He’s at the door every single time I visit, welcoming everyone who comes in. You might get a good political story out of him if you chat him up a bit.

I have so many favorite food items there including the small sausage and pepperoni pizza, angel hair pasta with sausage, or a freshly made meatball sandwich.

  • Buck’s Pit Stop, 6501 S. Kane, Hodgkins. I love this place. Very affordable and the wait staff so helpful and courteous.

The address may not be easy to visualize. It’s basically located east of LaGrange Road and just east of 65th (Lyons Street) and East Avenue at the corner of Lyons Street (65th Street) and Kane Street, four blocks east of East Avenue. (That address sounds like a typical government job title with too many words.)

My favorite lunch item: the pot roast sandwich with mashed potatoes or onion rings. They also have a phenomenal chicken dumpling soup.

JC Georges, 181 Countryside Plaza (59th and LaGrange Road), Countryside.

The owner, John Georges, is a welcoming sort who makes you feel comfortable as you sit down to enjoy their many great meals.

My favorite is the albacore tuna on their specialty great toasted and always fresh bread, with mashed potatoes. They also have phenomenal chicken dumpling soup.

At all these restaurants, you can’t say enough about the wait staff. They are so efficient, courteous and helpful. They share their stories if you ask about work they did in politics or what family members did in politics. But they don’t bother you and give you a lot of room to enjoy the meal with your friends.

THE POLITICAL GRAPEVINE: Now that we are past the midterm general elections, the focus turns to Chicago and local election contests.

There’s no doubt that voters in the city should reject the re-election bid of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She has been a disaster as a mayor for failing to protect everyone. She speaks out strongly to defend African Americans and the LGBTQ community, which everyone should. But, when it came to defending white, Arab and Hispanic businesses during the post-George Floyd riots in Chicago, she did absolutely nothing. So many businesses were destroyed and while Lightfoot spoke out on the inappropriate handling of Floyd by Minnesota police causing his death, she said nothing about the businesses and property destroyed by protesters that were owned by white, Arab and Hispanic businesses. They have equal rights, too, mayor, even if you don’t feel they are worth defending.

Another issue is Lightfoot’s targeting of Arab- and Asian-owned gasoline stations. Rather than own up to her misguided policy to deflect from her failure to crackdown on rising street gang crimes, she targeted the Arab-owned gas stations so she could say she was doing something, even though none of those targeted stores had anything to do with the gun violence in Chicago.

Two alternatives to Lightfoot are Dr. Willie Wilson and 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez. Can you imagine how powerful the mayor’s office would be with a coalition led by the two of them?

We can only hope.

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

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