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Diner: Bar None

Good meals can be found at east side, west side bars

By Annie McManis · September 21st, 2000 · Diner
I can't count the number of times I've found myself enjoying a cold and frosty beverage at a bar and in need of a little edible accompaniment. It used to be that one could consider herself lucky to scrape up a bowl of stale nuts or pretzels.

Fortunately, today's bars are more than mere watering holes. Many offer full menus -- and some are even pretty good.

Making the cross-county trek to sample fare at both an east side and a west side establishment, we discovered one can find a pretty tasty meal at a reasonable price in some of the city's neighborhood favorites.

Millions Café
Just off the square in Mount Lookout sits the recently updated Millions Café. New owners Steve and Stephanie Sykes, owners of The Echo restaurant in Hyde Park, refurbished the unused and outdated kitchen and added a simple but satisfying menu last November.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, we found the place half-full with folks watching football on the many TVs scattered throughout the charming, neighborhood tavern.

When it came time to order, we were stumped. Our pitcher of ice cold draught beer arrived before we could make a decision on one of the many appetizer selections. We ordered what any undecided group would: the Combo Basket ($6.50). This one comes with halibut strips or chicken tenders, plus steak fries, onion rings and cheese sticks -- a deep-fried smorgasbord. We fought over the halibut strips. I loved the crispy beer batter and tasty homemade tartar sauce. The fries, rings and sticks were also good but nothing out of the ordinary. Next time I'll be brave enough to sample the Fried Pickles ($3.50), one of the "house specialties" according to our server, served with ranch dressing with dill and garlic.

The rest of the menu features typical fare: burgers, chicken sandwiches and the like. I opted for the "newly added" Veggie Burger ($4.25), and, although it's tough to find a perfectly grilled veggie burger -- it's tough to grill those frozen patties all the way through without burning the edges -- this one was good.

Mine came out crispy on the edges and not too soggy in the middle, topped with crisp cucumber slices, tomato and lettuce.

Our companion felt the same about his Black Bean Burger ($4.25), another new menu item. His packed a little more spice than my veggie burger and was equally delicious. He added a House Salad ($1.75) to his meal and, except for having to fumble with plastic utensils, was happy with the selection. The small but fresh salad was full of iceberg, cucumbers, tomatoes and The Echo's homemade croutons.

My husband also liked his "X"-treme Burger ($4.50) seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with real bleu cheese crumbles. He wimped out on the bleu cheese after a while and removed most of it, but managed to finish the burger with no complaints. Completely satisfied, we were surprised at just how cheaply we were able to chow down. Including our pitcher, the three of us walked away for under $30.

Delhi House
Prices are just as cheap on the west side of town at the historic Delhi House. This Sayler Park landmark has been in operation for more than a century, serving home-style fare as well as its famous cod to multiple generations of westsiders.

Although the front of the building houses the bar, a separate back room is just for dining. The main dining room seats several dozen, and additional seating is opened up on the second floor for busy nights. The walls are covered with framed memorabilia highlighting the tavern's history and local color.

The crowd here is different than the young singles and couples at Millions. Here you'll find whole families ranging from toddlers to grandparents, more than likely attracted by the varied and extensive menu. Typical bar fare is featured here, as well, including several types of burgers, starting with a Basic Burger ($.69) up to and including a Half-Pound Chopped Sirloin Deluxe ($2.95). Hoagies ($3.25-$4.50), made-to-order pizza and usual appetizers, such as wings ($3 for eight) and potato skins ($4.50 for four), are abundant as well.

But what's made this place famous is fish -- lightly breaded, deep-fried cod served a number of ways: as a sandwich ($6.95), a dinner with side dishes ($9.95) or as Fishettes ($9.95 dinner, $6.95 basket), smaller chucks of cod served with tartar sauce.

My husband and I recently scarfed down a Fishette dinner with a couple of ice cold Hudy Delight draughts ($1), French fries and a cup of delicious, homemade chunky vegetable soup. By adding on a Tossed Salad ($1.85), we actually ordered more than we could finish. On previous trips, we've also enjoyed the Chicken Fajita Roll Up ($5.25) and the Fried Mushrooms ($2.75) as tasty starters.

Our cross-county trek proved what we'd already known: The beer is just as cold on the east side as it as on the west (though you won't find Hudy Delight on tap in Mount Lookout). And the food's tasty and reasonably priced.

For a hearty meal to accompany an icy beverage, look no further than your local neighborhood.

Delhi House
Go: 6344 Gracely Drive, Sayler Park

Call: 513-941-5888

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday

Prices: Inexpensive to reasonable

Payment: Major credit cards

Vegetarian Friendliness: Nachos, skins, spaghetti, pizzas, salads, grilled cheese

Other: Upstairs room available for private parties of 20-100. Carryout available.

Millions Café
Go: 3212 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout

Call: 513-871-1148

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Inexpensive to reasonable

Payment: Major credit cards

Vegetarian Friendliness: Black bean burger, veggie burger, fried pickles(!), house salad

Other: Live music late on weekends. Carryout available.



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