BEST MOUTHS: First stop a great stop at Chebanse | Life

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. I didn’t know it wasn’t a new restaurant; it has been open since 2020.

Formerly known as the 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 little confused about the name First Stop. My first thought was a bigger gas station that served food. Was I wrong!

Since Chebanse’s inception in 1854, it has served as the first stop on the Illinois Central Railroad. The interior is fashioned with a railway theme, including a dipped headlight, a large black and white photo of a train engine and more.

The bar is beautiful and welcoming. What caught my eye was the large U-shaped wooden bar; behind was a cooler filled with every drink imaginable. Lots of people were sitting at the bar drinking beer and watching a football game.

If you feel like playing darts, playing pool or even playing slot machines, they have it.

We were greeted by Emily Vega, who made us feel very welcome. The manager, Hope Grutzius, came over to take our drink orders and chat about the restaurant. She explained to us the decor, the context and the services they provide.

We started 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 with a large boneless chicken wing. The other skewer was piled high with a large olive, cheese, sausage, pepperoni and more. The drink itself was excellent.

I chose to 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 homemade fries or potato chips. I tried their crispy and tasty home fries and didn’t use any salt or ketchup. They were awesome.

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

Dave ordered the special Sunday chili burger and, wow, it was huge. A burger loaded with their homemade chili. He was impressed with the chilli. I tried it, and it’s delicious. Be sure to order a cup or bowl when you go.

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

Another highlight is the First Stop grilled cheese. Choose your type of cheese; gifts, which include lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions; then additions such as bacon, ham, fried eggs or pulled pork.

Sandwiches include a Blackened Chicken Sandwich, Jumbo Pork Tenderloin, Southern BBQ Pulled Pork, Buffalo Chicken, or Italian Beef. Sandwich bindings can also be made into packaging.

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

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

The kids also have a great selection of dishes, including the grilled cheese sandwich and macaroni and cheese – an all-time favorite.

They have a takeout menu and check their Facebook page for more information. There are also daily specials.

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

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

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 on Mondays.

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