It’s just not possible for me to go to Chicago without getting an Italian Beef. Let me back up for a second and tell you why I was in Chicago. You see, my brother and sister-in-law are having a baby! They’re set up to make Thursday morning the latest possible day the doctor would let the pregnancy go, so I hoped on an Amtrak and headed home. The Amtrak doesn’t quite make it home though. In fact, I’m still an hour and a half short. So, once I got to Union Station (an hour late. Thanks, Amtrak!) I had a thirteen block to Millennium Station to catch a METRA train to get a little bit closer to home. From there, my dad would have to pick me up and drive me the rest of the way.
So, like I mentioned, Amtrak screwed up my plans and I missed the 12:30 Metra out of town. I had to wait for the 1:30 and I was starving. Now, there are a ton of places to eat in the theater district where Millenium Station is. In fact, J and I had a great date one night just down the road at a place called Petterino’s (review HERE) before seeing Wicked at the Ford Theater. I didn’t have time for anything like that. I needed a sandwich shop. I walked a few blocks from the train station then turned around to head back and eat at one of the 6,546 Subways in the three block area. As I was crossing the street, I noticed a sign for a hot dog shop a block off of Randolph on Wabash Ave.
Gold Coast Dogs is a small Chicago chain with locations at the airports, train stations and a few stand alone shops all in Chicago. This particular Gold Coast Dogs shares a building with Popeyes Chicken. It’s a very bland, strip mall looking store front. Not very inviting. I could see the menu from the sidewalk and I saw they served Italian Beef so I went in.
Confusing set up. There’s a sign that says “Order Here” on the Gold Coast Dogs side, but there’s also a roped off bullpen area near the cash register. I walked up to the “Order Here” sign and the girl behind the counter told me to get in the roped area in an accent I could barely understand. Once I did what she said, the same girl then became pleasant and asked what I wanted. Stupid set-up. I ordered the Italian Beef value meal. Again, couldn’t understand a word she was saying to me, so there were no onions or mozzarella on the sandwich. I did manage to understand her asking me if I wanted it dipped or dry. Duh. Dipped! Not smart when eating on the run, but you can’t eat a dry Italian Beef.
Another guy rang up my order which came to just under eight bucks. I grabbed my sack and headed back towards the train station on Michigan Avenue. I needed to make some phone calls while I ate, so I set up a make shift table on top of the newspaper box on the corner. The Beef was freakin delicious. I didn’t have high hopes, but apparently, they’re one of the top hot dog shops in Chicago. My sandwich was classic Italian Beef, dripping with au jus and the bun was so soggy, it was falling apart. I scarfed it down very quickly hoping I’d never get to the end. The fries were OK. Nothing special, but the beef….wow!
Gold Coast Dogs was something I needed. It was quick and it’s classic Chicago style food. God, I miss this stuff in Mid-Michigan. There are so many great dog places in Chicago that very few stand out. Gold Coast doesn’t quite jump out on it’s own, but it holds it place in a very crowded field.