Merichka’s in Crest Hill is a longtime favorite restaurant in the Joliet area.
Say “Merichka’s” and people immediately think of Merichka’s popular poor boy sandwich: a cubed round steak with garlic butter on a French bun. Optional toppings include grilled onions (always a “yes” for me) and mozzarella cheese. I only order a poor boy from Merichka. And I bet a lot of people can say the same.
Merichka has been in my memory and that of my family for as long as I can remember. So whenever we get together as a family, we often head to Merichka, like we did recently.
The food is always excellent and the place has a charm that you don’t find in many restaurants anymore. Merichka’s doesn’t have TVs at every turn, loud music, or sharing plates. The atmosphere is laid back and Merichka’s always covers its tables with red and white checkered tablecloths.
Some fun facts about this legendary Joliet-area restaurant from Merichka’s website:
• Mary (Merichka) Zdralevich and her son Joe opened Merichka’s on April 18, 1933, and the Zdralevich family still owns and operates the restaurant.
• Merichka is a Slovenian translation of Mary.
• All meats are graded USDA choice
• All meats are cut on site.
• All the beef is ground house
• No meat tenderizer is used.
• All burgers and steaks are grilled.
• Merichka had a dance hall and a beer garden.
Back to the poor boys. If you don’t like beef, or have reduced your beef intake for some reason, or are a vegetarian, you can always try Merichka’s Poor Boy. The restaurant also offers grilled chicken and vegetarian dishes. I am a traditionalist and was very happy with my mouth-watering cubed round steak with poor boy grilled onions, complete with hot fries on the side.
Now, one of the diners in our party, who normally orders beef, has decided to try the grilled chicken poor boy, which this restaurant said was “perfectly seasoned”. Grilled onions and mushrooms were thickly sliced and generously garnished the meat.
The chicken was tender. The fries were golden and crispy.
One vegetarian in our group loved the ‘incredibly tasty vegetarian poor boy’ and was happy that Merichka had other sandwich options – like fish or cheese – and a good selection of seafood and chicken for the non- beef eaters. The garlic butter wasn’t too heavy on the sandwich and the request for an extra pickle was met.
The salad, which includes onions, and came with the poor fellow vegetarian, had just the right amount of dressing.
Set to celebrate nine decades next year, it’s easy to see why Merichka’s remains a longtime favourite.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee of Shaw Media. The identity of the diner is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not post a story.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
WHAT: by Merichka
OR: 604 Theodore Street, Crest Hill
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
INFORMATION: 815-723-9371, merichkas.com