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Sep 1, 2000 04:47 PM

Chicago Institutions

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Will be in Chicago and not interested in fine dining. I want to know of the crustiest old time places (heard about Berghoff's), the casual and cheaper the better. Also ethnic, like what's the funkiest in Greektown? Can provide same for LA.

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  1. Crusty eh? Berghoff is a good start but the restaurant's gone a little south - but wait - the bar is still great for a hot corned beef sandwich and a Berhoff beer (standing only) and the restaurant is good for spotting 80-year-old waiters carrying 8 entrees arm-service. Greektown crusty: most certainly The Parthenon. On a Saturday night the line of waiters bringing on the flaming saganiki is awe inspiring. Italian - I've mentioned Vernon Park Tap before. An institution for Chicago I-talian. Leon's B-B-Q is crustarific - although, a take to the car and drive north meal is recommended. NOT real safe, but crusty in the crustiest sense. Is it Phil's Italian Beef? Not sure but perhaps another chowhound will know. Better than Mr. Beef or Bueno Beef by far. Up on North Avenue in Melrose Park. Get it hot and wet and be prepared to make yummy noises from start to finish. Gold Coast Dogs for a char-dog - dressed Chicago style. Yum. Hope this helps you.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bryan

      Bryan, thanks for those tips, it all sounds fabulous. Can't wait.

      1. re: bryan

        Vernon Park Tap--definitely; pork chops with peppers and potatoes. The Parthenon--roast baby lamb on spits, and the most impressive saganaki service on the globe. Leon's? Not bad, although Lem's is the real goods.

        But Gold Coast? C'mon! Their specialty is being tourist-adjacent. Much better to head to Fluky's or Byrons (or Poochie's) for the real dog deal.

        Some other institutions that would seem like musts: at least one breakfast at Lou Mitchell's, home of the double-yolk eggs; boned and buttered perch at Phil Smidt's, just across the border into Hammond, IN; Polish roast duck and pierogis at the Orbit; and the summertime combo of Al's italian beef sandwiches and a lemon ice from Mario's Italian Lemonade across the street.

        1. re: Pepper

          Please note: CHAR DOG. Regular - I'm with Bryons all the way. You have to admit they're good. Go on. Now don't you feel better?

          1. re: Pepper

            Over in Hammond, Zel's makes a heck of an Italian beef sandwich. I think it's on Columbia Ave, and there are other locations around NW IN.

            There are some great burger joints in NW IN as well: Miner Dunn and Schoop's come to mind.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch


              Can anyone confirm the Schoop's hamburgers being Silver Diner type buildings.

              Since there are more than one Schoop's, can anyone replying give the city location of the Schoop's.

              Also, it would be even greater if you could reply to my email.

              This is so that the American Diner Museum can update their database.

              Thank you


              1. re: Mike Engle

                The original (at least I think it's the original) is in Munster. There's a branch in Crown Point. I'm not sure where else. They're just storefronts. Nothing remotely like a Silver Diner.