I wasn’t planning on eating lunch in Chicago today. My dad and I went to the Chicago Auto Show, so I put on a post on Chow.com asking if there was anyplace to eat within walking distance of McCormick Place. Most of the replies said no, but someone replied this morning and J happened to see it so she texted me with details. About 2:00, dad and I were getting hungry so I thought, what the hell. It’s only a half mile or so away, so I called J to get directions and we went for a walk.
Kroll’s South Loop is on the Near South Side at Michgan Avenue and 18th Street. It’s a little, corner neighborhood bar. They have the menu posted outside and prices looked reasonable, so we went inside to grab a bite to eat.
When you walk through the door, you come in to the bar area. There are some tables in there, but I noticed a hostess station in the middle of the room so we headed over there. She led us to a table in the dining room near the windows. The dining room is a two level space with exposed brick walls, exposed heating and cooling ducts, and soft, red lighting hanging from the ceiling. The chairs we sat in were all leather bucket seats. It was really comfortable and felt good after a long day walking around McCormick Place.
The menu is pretty much pub food which was good for us. When the waiter came over for drink orders, he started off by saying “Welcome back, gentlemen” assuming we had been there before. We both ordered Pepsi’s. When he came back, he said, “I’ll give you gents a few more minutes to get situated.” We stopped him from leaving because we were both ready to order.
I went with the Original Kroll’s Cheeseburger. It’s only a 1/4 lb patty which I could have gotten doubled for a couple bucks more. They butter the burger while they’re cooking it over a live fire charcoal grill then top it with sharp cheddar. The burger is then put on a toasted bun and wrapped in butcher paper to keep the juices in. The burger was delicious. The bun wasn’t just toasted, it was damn near grilled. It had a great crunch to it. The unfortunate thing was that it was so small. I had it eaten before I knew. The sandwich came with fresh cut fries. They were cooked all the way through, but they were limp. Still, they were really good.
My dad went with the Original Kroll’s Hamburger. It was the same as mine except he got the ketchup, pickles, and onion on his. He actually questioned me if the burgers may have been precooked. I didn’t think it tasted like they had been sitting, but they did come out really, really quick. It couldn’t have been ten minutes after we ordered. He also said it had a different taste to it. I asked good different or bad different and he said good, but not like anything he had tasted before. He gave me some of his fries to help make up for the small burger and my big appetite.
We had expected to spend an hour or so at Kroll’s, but it was barely a half hour. Our bill for the two sandwiches was a little over $18. That’s not bad at all for a meal in the city. Kroll’s was a neat little neighborhood bar. The family has been in business since the 1930’s in the Green Bay area. It’s kind of funny that they would move in just blocks from Soldier Field, but they did. There’s not much within walking distance of Soldier Field or McCormick Place and Kroll’s was a good suggestion.