One word to summarize the past five months for Ziggy’s Bar & Grill in Marseilles is “challenging.”
A construction project to build an S-curve merging Commercial and Broadway streets downtown began in May. The work has surrounded Ziggy’s in orange-striped cones and barricades, which has decreased dining traffic.
The restaurant has posted multiple reminders on social media to announce they’re still open, and to keep the public informed of fluid hours. Even so, the usual crowds haven’t flowed through the doors. Marseilles leaders have done what they can to support the owners. Mayor Jim Hollenbeck regularly encourages diners to visit Ziggy’s on his social media accounts, and the Illinois River Area Chamber of Commerce designated Oct. 5 as “Support Ziggy’s Bar & Grill Day.”
Unfortunately, challenges persisted a day later. On Oct. 6, construction work cut power to the restaurant for several hours.
A Marseilles friend told me about the restaurant’s recent trials, so I decided it was time to make my first visit. I arranged to meet her there for dinner … and wouldn’t you know it, another roadblock arose.
Shortly after we stepped inside, a server apologized that the restaurant was cash only that evening because an MTCO fiber line had been cut, shutting down internet service for a portion of the city. We weren’t about to let our cashless wallets stand in the way of dinner plans. A 20-minute scavenger hunt for downtown ATMs eventually found one that wasn’t affected by the outage.
Back at the restaurant, I didn’t regret the extra legwork. Ziggy’s food is worth it.
We started with the Pick Three appetizer so we could sample deep-fried spicy cauliflower (her favorite), the mini tacos (my newly discovered favorite) and onion rings. My friend noted she likes that Ziggy’s coats the cauliflower in a Buffalo-style sauce before breading it to seal in the spicy flavor. For dipping sauces, we have to recommend the Ziggy’s sauce – a ranch sauce with a chipotle kick. It paired well with all of our appetizers.
The entree menu highlights a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads and wings. I ordered the pizza burger, which features a spicy Italian sausage patty with marinara, mozzarella and an add-on option of pepperoni. Pizza burgers I’ve eaten in the past used ground beef, but I discovered I prefer the Italian sausage. The sandwich genuinely tastes like pizza on a bun.
My friend ordered two tacos – one fish and one shrimp. These are both a tasty and affordable option sold a la carte for less than $4 each.
Ziggy’s offers indoor and outdoor dining, as well as carryout. Before my friend and I left, we both ordered carryout meals to bring home to our spouses. She took home the loaded nachos for her husband to munch during Monday Night Football, and I brought home a breaded pork chop sandwich with tater tots. Both carryout orders traveled well, and mine stayed hot for the 30-minute drive home.
Don’t let the ongoing construction deter you from visiting. Main Street has plenty of parking spaces on the three blocks between the restaurant and U.S. 6, and the sidewalk remains open to pedestrians, so it’s a quick stroll to the front door.
In light of Ziggy’s challenging summer, I have a challenge for Starved Rock Country diners. Drive out to Marseilles and give them a try, especially if you’re a first-timer through the door like me.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Ziggy’s Bar & Grill
WHERE: 278 Main St., Marseilles