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Sep 5, 2001 06:22 PM

The Slinger (Diner Grill)

  • r

Here is another suggestion for brunch (or late night snack) but I have a feeling it’s not what most of you are in the mood for.

One Friday night I went out for a few beers and a bite to eat. We hit a few places around Lincoln and Lawrence. It was no problem getting some pretty good beer but the food proved harder to find. Everywhere we went had just stopped serving. When I finally headed off to catch the L home it was well after midnight and I was about hungry enough to eat my shoe.

The Diner Grill is not far from the Irving Park stop of the Ravenswood and that is where I ended up. It's a classic diner, open 24 hours a day. Since I was so hungry I opted for The Slinger. All the sign says is: "Slinger--Don't Ask/Just Eat--$7."

When I ordered it, the cook--a beefy guy with a 3 day beard, white shirt, paper hat, and a cigarette--just said "Allllright!" and went to work.

The Slinger is, in its own greasy way, a masterpiece and it comes on a large oval platter. The foundation is a massive portion of hash brown potatoes covered with grilled onions. On top of that is 2 side-by-side cheeseburgers, topped with a couple of fried eggs, sunny-side up. The whole thing is covered with several ladles of chili. Two pieces of toast come on the side. Lord have mercy!

All this is cooked to order, of course, and the grillman has obviously been doing this for a while, so it's a good show. A very large gentleman a stool away watched the whole procedure with great interest. He was very impressed with it all and inquired many times how it was and how I was doing. I think he was even more impressed when I finished the whole thing before he was done with his omelette that he started before I began. Like I said, I was hungry.

It almost makes me ill to recount this story but I'd be lying if I said The Slinger didn't hit the spot. It was exactly what I needed and exactly what I deserved. I forgot to mention that the cook slapped down a large Tupperware tub of a well-aged, homemade, hot giardiniera, swimming in oil. A challenge that I gladly accepted. In retrospect, I'd probably have been wiser if I'd used a little more restraint with that stuff but it was pretty tasty.

The Diner Grill may be worth a visit even if you're not up for The Slinger. Their claim to fame is their ham, sliced off the bone as you watch. You can have it as a sandwich, with eggs, or in an omelette. Not bad at all.

Since I wrote this the Health Department has forced the Diner Grill (and other similar places) to remove the hams from the counter. Looks like the little wire ham stand is a thing of the past in Chicago.

Diner Grill
1635 W Irving Park Rd
open 24 hours

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  1. wow - the slinger really sounds like a force to be reckoned with! FWIW, Le Sabre is another 24-hr diner not far from where you where - Montrose and Damen. decent, plain ol' diner food. good reuben, good soups, you get the idea.

    1. It's a great place, for sure.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cliff

        alas, for those of us who love the 'hopperesque' feel of places like jim's diner, the problem is that those diners always allow smoking. i refuse to have my meal ruined by a smoker at the next stool. the same with many bars, obviously, but i miss the diners and lunch counters more!

      2. v
        Vital Information

        Rene's posting on the Diner Grill practically read my internet mind. Zim's mentioning of the Riverforest Grill reminded me of the all the noirish diners we pass but rarely enter.

        The place that most intrigued me for years, was Dewey's on clark just past devon. After years of vowing to visit, it closed and morphed into a chicken place. Cany anyone report on Dewey's?

        And speaking of places that belong on a movie set, has anyone been to Orange Garden Chop Suey? (Irving Park, just east of Damen) The food sucks, but the place really needs to be landmarked.


        5 Replies
        1. re: Vital Information

          My favorite "look" place is the breakfast/diner place just below the el on the north side of argyle-non vietnamese. Everytime I have walked by there has been an older I am guessing greek woman mopping the floor who immediately shoots me a dirty look.

          1. re: zim
            Vital Information

            Zim, great call on the argyle street spot. I used to pass that place every day on the way to work. That place is not even hopperesque, more like out of a bukowski or jim thompson book!


          2. re: Vital Information

            oh, I totally agree about Orange Garden! That place has such a great look.

            1. re: Vital Information

              Another place that I love from the outside for its combination of look and name is in oak park on harlem just south of the expressway--Tom's Broiled Food. I am hesitant to go in, knowing that i will be disappointed to find things on the menu that aren't broiled.

              1. re: Vital Information

                Hey - don't just look at it! The food is really not bad. Their Ma Po Beancurd, while not exactly classic, is pretty good. So's the Egg Foo Yung.