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Local Flavor: Bottoms Up – sounds like a bar; eats like your favorite restaurant

Bottoms Up

Bowtie Surf and Turf is one example of the Local Flavor in a menu full of house-made specialties

by Melanie Jongsma, with Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 23, 2023) – “Comfort food” is not quite the right term to describe the menu at Bottoms Up. The flavors are more complex and the options are more varied than standard comfort food. The “comfort” comes from knowing that whatever you order will be reliably good and made by hand. From the special-recipe soups, to the hand-breaded seafood, to the made-to-order pasta sauce, Bottoms Up serves local flavor to all who visit.

Owner Diane Glowacki bought the Lansing location 30 years ago and later opened White Rhino in Dyer, Indiana, which uses the same recipes. A couple of other restaurant concepts are in development, but the Lansing location is the origin.

Bottoms Up contact info
Address: 1696 Thornton-Lansing Road, Lansing IL, 60438
Phone: 708-418-3877
Website: bottomsuponline.com

Signature starter: House-made soup

There are approximately 20 homemade soups in the Bottoms Up rotation, and the soup of the day is chosen by the chef, who is sometimes influenced by customer requests. During our visit we enjoyed a cup of spinach artichoke soup and meatball tomato rosmarino soup, both of which were rich and flavorful. According to staff and customers alike, it is not uncommon for people to drive miles to Bottoms Up to purchase a quart of whatever soup is available — it reheats well and makes an easy next-day lunch.

Bottoms Up
The spinach artichoke soup is creamy and flavorful. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

We were also served a house salad, and even the salad mix is made onsite. “We buy our own romaine, slice our own cucumbers, shred our own carrots,” said general manager Gayle Pischner. “We even make our own croutons.” Many of the dressings are also homemade. We tried both the homemade blue cheese dressing and homemade ranch, which were smooth and mild options that paired well with the crunchy salad components.

Bottoms Up
The Bottoms Up salad mix is made onsite, and the homemade croutons are lightly salted and firm without being hard. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Signature dish: Bowtie Surf and Turf

Pasta was added to the Bottoms Up menu about 15 years ago, a menu that currently includes three pasta options. The most unique of these is the winner of the Local Flavor Award: the Bowtie Surf and Turf — a massive bowl of bowtie pasta mixed with chicken breast, andouille sausage, and shrimp, all tossed in a house-made “southwest Alfredo sauce,” and topped with parmesan cheese and spices.

The southwest Alfredo sauce has all the creaminess you’d expect from a homemade sauce, with the addition of a cajun spiciness that’s bold but not overpowering. Pischner put it well when she called the sauce, “Alfredo with a kick.”

Bottoms Up
The Bowtie Surf and Turf at Bottoms Up includes large shrimp, andouille sausage, and chunks of chicken. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Atmosphere

The exterior decor of the Bottoms Up building has something of an industrial vibe — steel beams and bricks at the corner of an industrial area on the edge of town. Inside, the vibe is “neighborhood bar,” though there is far more restaurant seating than bar seating.

Bottoms Up
The exterior of the building has a rustic, industrial vibe. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Bottoms Up
The large interior has more restaurant seating than bar seating, and an outdoor patio is accessible through the back doors. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Other notes

  • Bottoms Up offers catering options for those wishing to bring their favorite dishes to a party or gathering.
  • During our trip to Bottoms Up, none of the food portions we saw coming out of the kitchen could be described as anything less than “generous.” The portions are more than enough to satisfy even the hungriest of diners — and the average eaters often have leftovers to bring home.
  • The parking lot on the west side of the building is spacious but unmarked, so it can be difficult to know exactly where to park. When that lot is full, parking is available in the gravel lot across the street.
  • Outdoor seating is available when weather permits, along with giant Jenga, giant bean bags, and Bocce Ball.

Additional info

During the second year of the pandemic, Bottoms Up worked with LARC to transform their traditional fundraising dinner into a carry-out fundraiser:

Bottoms Up celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2018. The Lansing Journal documented the event:

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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.

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