We got a little later start on our trip than I intended due to my doctor’s appointment going a little longer – which I am not complaining about! Our plan was to head north and eat lunch in Lincoln, then head up to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard.
Now where to eat lunch … the only place I knew about in Lincoln only serves dinner, so I went to one of my fountains of information – my mother! I knew she would know, and she did! Funny thing is that Sharon was also doing her research, and they both came up with the same place – The Blue Dog Inn.
I cannot say enough good things about The Blue Dog Inn – with the first thing being so obvious – they love dogs! There are dog pictures and paintings all over the walls – I love it!
The second thing I love about this place is the history – the lady working that day told me the building used to be part of (or maybe just next door to) a hotel that burned down several years ago. Gangsters (think Al Capone) from Chicago and St. Louis would meet at the hotel in Lincoln since it was out of the way plus in-between the two cities, and play cards and drink in the building where The Blue Dog Inn is today. So, when you are there, you are walking on the exact floors that Al Capone or Bugsy Moran may have walked on. Pretty cool!
And the third thing I love is of course the food and service – nothing fancy but really good food! And of course the service was great! We will definitely be coming back 🙂
So onward to Mackinaw Valley Vineyard! Sharon and I had decided on our last road trip that we wanted to take more local roads and less interstates to and from our destinations. It is a much more relaxing way to travel – kick back (unless you’re the driver LOL) and enjoy the scenery and conversation.
I had heard a lot about Mackinaw Valley Vineyard over the years, and I really couldn’t believe I had never been there. My first impression when we pulled in was that it was very organized, and had many spots for people to congregate with friends and family. The grounds are very beautiful and well maintained, with a pond as a backdrop for pictures and lazing around with a glass of wine. They host lots of weddings and usually have a band or some other event on the weekends.
We were greeted by Carly, who we found out later is the owner’s daughter and a winemaker herself! She described all of the wines to us, and gave us some helpful hints about tasting. Tim and I (and Randy and Sharon) each shared tastings of six of the wines. We all like dry wines the best. Our overall favorite was Alexander’s Conquest, which happened to be an Off Dry wine – and Carly does a good job explaining the difference between dry and off-dry wines. Regardless, Alexander’s Conquest was the winner to us, and also a 2021 Double Gold Medal Winner at the Illinois State Fair.
When we finally left, we realized we would be going through Lincoln again around dinner time – and if you are in Lincoln at dinner time you really need to try Guzzardo’s Italian Villa. It is a BYOB place, and conveniently there is a craft beer and wine shop called Spirited Republic located at the entrance to Guzzardo’s. Basically you go to Spirited Republic (located on the square), pick out your wine or have a pre-dinner craft beer, leave through the back, and voila – there is Guzzardo’s!
We were very hungry, so we ordered two appetizers and the each of us got an entree – seriously, this was enough food to feed eight or more people! I think next time we will share an entree, thought it was nice to have leftovers for a couple of meals.
Another fun day out – I think I will keep this retirement gig! Until next time!