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Humble Greaseries in Chicago & Indian (near downtown)

I'm a big fan of shot/tall boy joints that open at 6am and the best greasy burger/hot dog/wings you can find where you can find them.

I know Chicago is the kind of place that has the real deal unlike my hometown San Diego, which rolls up at 10pm (but I'll take the weather).

Where do I need to go in Chicago next week? What is not to miss?

I'm also planning on going to Cumin one night for an Indian fix - am I wrong to make this my one stop for curry?

I'm there for five nights. Staying at the Omni with no car. I have one long sleeved shirt but am planning on layering.

Thank you very much Chow!

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  1. Um... I don't know what to say other than if you think one long sleeved shirt (even with layering) is going to keep you warm in Chicago next week it is best that you stay in your hotel/motel/friends place and plan on ordering out!

    1. I love Cumin, but in full disclosure it is Nepalese and I am not a huge fan of Indian food. Cumin is however relatively close to the central tourist area where you are probably staying.

      Those who love Indian food go to the Devon Avenue area which is a good 10 miles from that area. It is accessible by public transportation but without a car and without some seriously warm clothes (not sure what you mean by layering, but it's going to take more than a sweater and a sports coat next week), Cumin's location probably makes it a good option for you.

      1. Layering?! Are you kidding? I'm from Chicago living in LA many years. I once went to San Francisco for Labor Day weekend and forget my winter coat. I "layered" meaning I wore every stitch of clothes I'd brought! That won't work in a Chicago winter. Bring a winter coat (go to the Goodwill) or you will be miserable or suffering from hypothermia. While you're at it, pick up some gloves and a scarf!

        My favorite hot dog stand is Carl's at 1957 East 83rd Street, Chicago 60617 https://plus.google.com/1083545242400...

        1. My son, who lives in Bucktown loves Cumin. I've not eaten there, but I trust his food recommendations.

          And, piling on, you absolutely will need a winter coat. In my experiences, visitors from SoCal on a normal or even warmish January day in Chicago -- say high temps in the 20s or low 30s -- are unaccustomed to the cold and uncomfortable. Next week the forecast is for unusually bitter cold, with some days when the high temp will be in negative figures. Even experienced Chicagoans dressed head to toe in appropriate outer wear will be cold. There is no way that anyone, much less someone unaccustomed to cold weather, would be able to venture outside in layers without a real winter coat.

          1. ok ok, I bought a coat, long johns, gloves and everything. Now where do I go to drink all day and eat greasy awesome food?! I'll take a cab, whatever. From the Omni downtown.

            Thank you everyone!

            1 Reply
            1. re: stangoldsmith

              So glad to hear that you got religion but even with your purchases this is a bad time to be in Chicago. Drinking and eating all day is relatively easy but eating awesome greasy food is a little more challenging. I've eaten many a burger at the Mr. J's Dawg & Burger (referenced by TasterChicago) when I was a youngster but haven't been in many many years. I do remember that the owners/workers were particularly kind and generous to us regulars from the nearby law school and treated all of us to a wonderful drunken feeding frenzy in Greektown. The kind of places you seem to desire are not exactly flourishing around the Omni. Places I go to when (frequently) the spirit moves me include Big and Littles Seafood on Orleans. Really good quality and a little bit of everything. No liquor however. There are some great taquerias on and just off Ashland but since you're from San Diego and don't have a car that's probably not your thing. There are other places that I like but none that I can think of convenient to your location without a car.

            2. Look, real Chicagoan's know it gets bad a few times a year... this happens to be one of those times. When the private schools shutdown, it's officially terrible out.
              That said, Downtown dogs provides the grease for the Pippens bar near water tower place (maybe 4 or 5 blocks from where you are). Stop into Pippens for a pint and order all the dogs & burgers you want.
              Mr. J's at 822 N. State is pretty good, and just down the street from there is Johnny's Grill, but I don't think Ive tried that one. If the weather is super bad when you actually decide to strike out, I wouldn't feel bad about giving the places a call and make sure they got to work.

              2 Replies
              1. re: TasterChicago

                Johnny's Grill, which I liked better than Mr J's, closed in November.

                1. re: delk

                  I'm really trying to keep up with openings and shutterings, so I appreciate the heads up. It's gotta be hard running a greasy spoon in this town these days.

              2. Thanks TasterChicago and everyone.

                I know the weather isn't fun but I have to be there for work.

                Pippens sounds like a good place to lie low and skip out on the big meetings.

                1 Reply
                1. re: stangoldsmith

                  I'll 2nd Pippins. I'm based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul. When I visit, I usually start at The Billy Goat for a couple of pints and then walk down to Pippin's while the War Department (read: Wife) destroys the family credit rating over on Michigan Avenue. It's probably a half mile between the two bars and you won't get better people-watching in Chicago IMO. Pippins is low-key, good dogs and burgers, and friendly staff.

                  You should work in a trip to Mr. Beef too for an Italian Beef. It's over on Orleans.

                2. Reading this on the 13th I would seriously like to hear a trip report from the OP. Even we permanent residents, equipped with everything down to electric underwear, last week of the Polar Vortex barely opened the door. Stangoldsmith, did you really go out meandering and looking for a good hamburger when the wind-chill was equal to Antarctica? Tell us your adventures.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Querencia

                    Yeah, curious to see how the experience was. Hopefully he remembered to pack something warmer than the one long sleeved shirt and managed to have some fun despite the Polar Vortex.

                  2. Thanks everyone!

                    Wow the vortex was really insane. There was a dagger like chill into my dna.

                    Luckily Chi-town had plenty of warm spots!

                    Mr. J's - just what the dr. ordered - greasy chili dogs, pizza puffs, everything.

                    Elephant and Castle Pub (near hotel) - really great fish and chips and nice tap selections

                    Purple Pig - amazing, especially the $29 pig out selection of salumi

                    deep dish pizza at giordano's on rush - while a touristy place for sure, the pizza did not disappoint! it was really good and i got to get my own mini and create a giardinara/garlic/sausage wonderment

                    chili dog at portillo's, awesome plus goblet of beer = good, another touristy chain place but they delivered (area relatives took me to both giordano's and portillo's)

                    shawarma at benjyehuda - it was ok, nice that they have a rotisserie chicken shawarma but a bit overcooked, i liked their salad, hummus bland, fries were awesome (and they came with a side of melted cheese (only in Chicago can you get a side of melted cheese for your fries at a Middle Eastern restaurant? I love it))

                    what won the game for me was Wrigleysville dogs - chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries, perhaps that it was 5am and we'd been in smart bar all night across the street had something to do with it, but it was phenomenal

                    now am on a vegan diet because I am still alive after eating all of that

                    vortex survived via -

                    1 - long john shirt
                    1 - long sleeve polo
                    1 - sweater
                    1 - hooded sweatshirt (no zipper)
                    1 - coat
                    1 - scarf (covering mouth and face)
                    1 - winter hat (with hood from sweatshirt on top of it)
                    2 - leather gloves with rabbit lining

                    1 - long john pants/thin camping pants
                    1 - pants
                    socks and shoes

                    (and multiple taxi dashes in and out and lots of time indoors)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: stangoldsmith

                      Thanks for reporting back; was curious how things worked out. Glad you were able to still get out there and enjoy yourself despite the insane weather. Hopefully Mother Nature will be more hospitable for your next visit.

                      1. re: stangoldsmith

                        Stangold, glad you survived. And thanks for mentioning Elephant and Castle, which has several locations and which somehow I never think to post for visitors. These E&Cs are basically English pubs with multi-beer taps and pub food eg fish & chips, Shepherd's Pie, Ploughman's Lunch, etc. There's one a block east of Michigan at Huron & St Clair, in the heart of the Mag Mile neighborhood.