Otto’s Place

Sometimes you just fall in love with an eating establishment.  Well, this happened to me in Galena Illinois.  The place is called Otto’s Place.

What a kick this place is.  Located right next to the railroad tracks and just a few yards away from the Galena River, it stands by itself.

Galena is a town in northwestern Illinois that at one point in its history was larger than Chicago.  Today Galena has 3,200 residents.  It is known for its historic section of downtown; many artists make this their home, and it was the residence of Ulysses S. Grant prior to his service in the Civil War and when he was elected President in 1868 and for the next 8 years.

But Otto’s is something else.  The key to Otto’s is the service.  The help, the waiters, the staff and the owner are just the most engaging, sweet, kind and hilarious people you could hope to meet.

To give you some idea of this, let me introduce you to Bryan, one of the waiters.  They don’t come any nicer than Bryan.  But, he has a devilish streak in him.  Catch the apron that he is wearing in the picture below.  I have tried to understand what it is trying to say, but I still don’t get it.  Help me out.

The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, with a last seating at 1pm.  It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. They ask you to wait outside, rather than stand inside on the first floor which would interrupt the dining experience for the guests that are sitting at 5 tables that fill up the first floor.

There are stairs to the second floor which has some 10 tables.  The kitchen is on the first floor in the back.  So, a waiter gets a heck of a workout going up and down the stairs serving food and bringing back used plates, glasses and coffee cups.  One waiter told me that it is not unusual for him to get 30,000 steps in one day’s work at Otto’s.

And I have not even mentioned the food, which is great.  Had the quiche one day and loved it.  then on the second day had a quinoa bowl.  The reason I ordered it was that the menu said that it included corn.  Yes, corn!  And as you know from my previous blog about corn in the Midwest, it is almost impossible to find corn on any menu.  So, I was bound and determined to order a dish that included corn.  As you can see below it was wonderful.

But the thing that really struck me about Otto’s Place was the purposeful effort they put into transmitting to each customer and sharing with each individual who walked into their establishment their philosophy of life.   Their philosophy is very simple: ENOUGH.  Their motto is “We wish you enough.”

Their coffee and tea cups on the back say…

I Choose…

  • To live by choice, not by chance
  • To make changes, not excuses
  • To be motivated, not manipulated
  • To be useful, not used
  • To excel, not compete
  • I choose self-esteem, not self-pity
  • I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinion of others

Isn’t this what the Midwest is all about?



4 thoughts on “Otto’s Place”

  1. Otto’s sounds like a lovely experience. However, quiche and quinoa bowels are not historically Midwestern breakfast dishes. When I hear you tell me about about munching biscuits and gravy, flapjacks, bacon and eggs, friend potatoes, oatmeal and toast with strawberry jelly and washing it down with coffee or sweet tea, I will know you are eating traditional food from where I grew up.

    I do admire you eating so healthy.

    1. rich,

      fair point. however, the story was not about the food, it was about Midwestern people and values.


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