Just some quick vital info:
Thai Grocery (5014 N Broadway St., Chicago), the source for all things Thai food, and repository of the finest curries (head straight back, choose three from six or so, with rice for $4.50) is closing. They are having a retirement sale now. The always smiling man behind the counter (what's his name Erik M?) will use his laser pointer to show you his favorite fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, mushroom sauce and more amongst the array crammed into his store. While contemplating the curries, other good things you'll find in the back include mash-ups of herbs, spices and peppers called nam prik, battered fried ribs that hold up better to time than someone's corn dogs, and house-made sausage. This is a place who's departure will be sorely missed.
In Melrose Park, at Abruzzo's (1509 Division St, Melrose Park*) when you hear "How ya doin' Bobby", six heads turn. When my wife and I first tried the buffet at Abruzzo's, we were the only ones in the crowd not named Bobby. OK, maybe not everyone was Bobby, but amongst the Tony's, Nickys and such we were the only ones not known to each other. It did not make a difference. The staff appreciated our visit and the food made us return. An Italian wedding spread still exists Monday through Friday, lunch, in Melrose. There's a pasta or two, the lasagna noodles are house-made, the salad has that kinda delicious vinaigrette that I can never figure out how to make myself. Once it was Chicken Vesuvio, heavy with dried spices; another day nearly the same type of baked chicken was smothered with pickled hot peppers, olives and artichoke hearts and called hunters's. There's things like bite sized sausage and simmered greens and beans. The bread from Labriola is amazingly good, and to finish, there's slices of pound cake, three varieties per day. The food is refilled as needed. For roughly $8, a great lunch option in the Near West suburbs.
*Don't let the address fool you. It's the same Division but Division does not run through from Chicago/Oak Park/River Forest. The easiest, pretty much the only way, to get to this place is off of 15th Avenue (see this Google map). It's worth the schlep not just for the classic Melrose Park Southern Italian fare, but it's a short jaunt then to Caputo's Cheese Market on the other side of North Avenue on 15th.