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Windy City Beef in El Cajon is gone

It has been replaced by Chicago on a Bun. They are in the midst of their soft opening. Chicago on a Bun (one of three in San Diego) has Italian Beef Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, pasta, and ribs, all from Chicago. I had an Italian Sausage Sandwich, my wife had an Italian Beef sandwiches - both of which were very good. My wife thought it was a great improvement over the former Windy City.

2872 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, CA 92020 (in Von's/JoAnne's shopping center) (619) 465-2333.

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  1. Nope. Windy City Beef was family owned and run and when you walked in, it smelled like the corner deli in Chicago. The pizza dough was made from scratch daily. The beef sandwiches were far more authentic and richer tasting than Chicago on a Bun makes.

    Chicago in a bun is essentially a chain with standardized ways of cooking everything. They bought the location because Windy City had a loyal following from back East. The family got overwhelmed after day to day operating for two years.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      What a shame, I hate to see good Mom & Pop places go under.

      1. re: cstr

        Yeah hate to see them go but at least something somewhat comparable is opening in it's place instead of something completely opposite. Chicago on a Bun isn't horrible. San Diego County still has a great void when it comes to hot dogs and sausage.

      2. re: Cathy

        First I'm not sure what you mean by "Nope." "Nope" what? That his wife thinks it's an improvement? Do you know his wife and does she not actually think it's an improvement.

        Second, what's a chain? The first Chicago on a Bun was opened in the UTC area by a retired Chicago couple. It brought the first good quality Chicago hot dog to San Diego. Attempts had been made and they all came up greatly short. Now they have opened a couple of more. It does not in anyway qualify for a chain.

        Third, "standardized ways of cooking." I hope so. I want the same tasting food from them in all of their locations. Consistency is actually a good thing in cooking.

        Fourth, "it smelled like the corner deli in Chicago." The corner deli is not where the great Italian beef sandwiches come from in Chicago. Go to the Chicago Chowhound site to confirm this. I can also confirm this as a 37 year resident of the Chicago.

        Fifth, "The beef sandwiches were far more authentic and richer tasting than Chicago on a Bun makes." This may be true, I was never at Windy City. In Chicago the great hot dog stands are not necessarily were the best beef sandwiches are found. I think of Chicago On A Bun as being the pinnacle of the Chicago hot dog in all of SoCal--including Orange County and LA.

        1. re: The Old Man

          The original Chicago on a Bun owners sold the place two years ago. From that point forward, the original Chicago on a Bun has drastically changed. They had a good product and were consistent anytime that I went there. The new owners thought that they could keep the place going but wanted to change everything. Not a good idea. They bought two other places and closed one since. Now they bought Windy City Beef because they had a following. Well, Chicago on a Bun had a wonderful following. After the new owners took it over the place changed the people changed and the food changed for the worse. Their other location in Rancho Bernardo has mediocore pizza and beef sandwiches to say at least something a little nice. Buying Windy City is a shame. They are pushing out all of the original owners who really cared about their customers and they cared about serving an exceptional product. We can see a decline in Windy City Beef within the next year unfortunately. It's too bad that these people are ruining the original mom and pop businesses.

          1. re: chicagofoodgal

            Thank you for the info. However I'm a little confused about this, "They are pushing out all of the original owners who really cared about their customers and they cared about serving an exceptional product. We can see a decline in Windy City Beef within the next year unfortunately. It's too bad that these people are ruining the original mom and pop businesses."

            First it's not pushing them out if they chose to sell the place. Second they are also a mom and pop organization. Having a few restaurants in not like being a corporate company like Domino's or McDonald's.

            I go to the UTC Chicago on A Bun. I've been going there since it opened and knew the owners (through the restaurant). Due to distance I do not go often, but the two times I've been there in 2008 I thought it was pretty much the same.

            1. re: The Old Man

              Unfortunately I had been going to the original Chicago on a Bun when it was in Mission Beach so I've been going for a long time. When ownership changed (and it was very sad when the original owners did sell) they made many changes and I feel not for the better. The food has been changed. the portions have been made smaller, the prices are higher and it was really no where close to how it used to be. My favorites were the beef sandwich and their chips -- sorry, they are not the same and they are no where near as good as they used to be under the old ownership. For the people who frequent Windy City Beef, I hope that you won't be disappointed. I hope that these new people will not change things. Better would be good but time will tell.

              1. re: chicagofoodgal

                The pizza crust was made with 'Grandma's secret recipe' and I have been trying to duplicate it for 2 years now... something about the combinationof sauce and dough that makes me crave it...

                I haven't liked/craved Chicago on a Bun ever since I started going to WCB.

      3. I've been going to the one next to UTC for years, since they opened.
        Basically the only thing I order there now is the Italian Beef sandwich, stuffed with as many different peppers as I can get them to give me!!

        1. Sorry to hear about the change but I will give the Chicago on a Bun place a try. WCB had the best rolls for their sandwiches. I never really saw many people in there so I wonder if the new place will have much more luck in drawing people in...

            1. re: timsd

              Lefty's pizza is awesome. It is well worth a drive to North Park to get one. Plus their hot dogs are great too.

              1. re: chicagofoodgal

                I will have to agree with others who have been long-time regulars at Chicago on a Bun...sadly it's no longer what it once was under the new ownership.

            2. The website for Chicago on an Bun points to the web address of Buster's Windy City Dogs, is that the family running it now or did they buy out Buster's, too?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Freddie Freelance

                Freddie Freelance you are correct. Chicago on a Bun bought Buster's Windy City Dogs. They are now out of business. Need I say more? WCB or the original Chicago on a Bun or the place out in RB - good luck everyone.