The Original Maxwell Street Station – S. Cicero, Chicago

27 09 2009
  • 6659 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60638
  • (773) 581-3500
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
The Original Maxwell Street Station on South Cicero in Chicago.

The Original Maxwell Street Station on South Cicero in Chicago.

My brother loves Chicago Style hot dogs.  You would think that someone who lives so close to Chicago would have access to a Chicago style dog, but you’d be wrong.  Where he lives, just an hour south of the city, no one does them right.

My whole family packed up and headed north for the weekend.  Once we got checked into our hotel, we went looking for lunch.  We went for a walk.  There was a little shack right across the street from our hotel that had everything we wanted.

The Original Maxwell Street Station on the corner of South Cicero and West Marquette Road is one of a handful in Chicago.  The building is very tiny and is really the kind of place I love.  There is very little seating inside the bright yellow building.  There are no tables.  Just a counter that overlooks the kitchen with a few bar stools.  Since we had my one year old niece, my brother decided that wasn’t a good idea.  The only other option is a couple picnic tables right outside.   Again, it was very close to the very busy Cicero Avenue and that made him a little nervous.

It just so happened that the special for the day was 2 Chicago Style Dogs and 2 Fries.  That was perfect.  My brother wanted two dogs and I would take one of the fries.  My dad did the same and my mom took the other order of fries from his order.  They both got the dogs without the tomato wedges that are common on Chicago dogs.  What my brother really likes is the sprout peppers and the poppy seed bun. Read the rest of this entry »

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Al’s Beef – Oak Lawn, IL

24 09 2009
  • 5128 W. 95th Street
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60435
  • (708) 422-2333
  • Website
  • Menu
Als Beef on 95th in Oak Lawn.

Al's Beef on 95th in Oak Lawn.

It only took a day and a half this time.  Operation Bridesmaid Pickup is in full swing and J, her mom, and the one out-of-town bridesmaid headed to the hotel to unload a bunch of stuff for this week.  I was left at the future in-laws house to shower and run a couple errands.  Of course, it was lunch time and of course, I wanted a beef. 

Al’s Beef is a Chicago legend.  They claim to be the inventors of the sandwich.  In recent years, they’ve expanded quite a bit around Chicagoland with franchise locations.  One of those franchises is in Oak Lawn not too far from where I was staying.

The Oak Lawn Al’s Beef is on 95th Street in a new strip mall in the downtown area.  It’s actually a dual store with Nancy’s Pizza.  The inside is missing the one major thing that makes Al’s Al’s.  The counter.  Actually, I was quite confused with the store. Not only did it have tables instead of stand up counters, but when I walked in the door, I had no clue where the order area was.  You can’t see it at all from the doorway.  There’s a wall that sort of leads you around to the counter, but I walked into the dining area before I finally saw where I was supposed to go.  I had to go back to the entrance and walk inside the wall to get to the cash register. Read the rest of this entry »





Nicky’s Carry-Out, Crestwood, IL

14 09 2009
  • 14001 Cicero Avenue
  • Crestwood, IL 60445
  • (708) 388-4626
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Nickys Carry-Out in Crestwood, IL

Nicky's Carry-Out in Crestwood, IL

Months before I started dating J, I was sent up to Chicago to shoot a high school basketball game at St. Xavier University on the south side.  I didn’t know then that I’d be spending so much time on the south side of Chicago and when I got off the Interstate on Cicero Avenue, my first order of business was finding some place to get an Italian beef. 

The first place I came across was Nicky’s Carry-Out in Crestwood, so I stopped and got a beef.  I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a Portillo’s right down the street.  If I had known that, I probably would have waited, but I’m sort of glad I didn’t. 

I haven’t been back to Nicky’s since then even though we do drive by it quite a bit on our way to J’s parents’ house.  On my last trip home by myself, I had to make a stop at J’s parents on the way back to Lansing to pick up some things we forgot on our last trip home. 

I left my parents in kind of a rush because I slept much later than I had intended.  After a quick stop at my brother’s, I headed towards Chicago….hungry.  I could have stopped at Portillo’s, but since I was by myself, I decided to stop at Nicky’s to see if it was what I remembered now that I’ve been formally introduced to Chicago cuisine. Read the rest of this entry »





Rosie’s Drive-In – Oak Lawn, IL

15 06 2009
  • 10235 S. Cicero Avenue
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 636-7717
  • Website
  • Menu
Rosies Drive-In on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

Rosie's Drive-In on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

I’ve been in the Chicago area for three days now.  I’ve had two pizzas, but no Italian beef.  J and her mom got up to go do some wedding planning that I didn’t need to be there for, so I slept in.  When I got up, I was hungry.  I wanted an Italian beef…..bad.   J’s parents have recommended a little place just around the corner.  They have Italian beef and it was close, so that’s where I went.

Rosie’s Drive-In is on South Cicero Street at 103rd in Oak Lawn.  It’s not a Drive-In in the traditional sense.  There are no speakers in the parking lot and no car hops.  It is a small building that does most of it’s business with carry-out and drive thru. 

Since I hate drive thrus, I chose to park my car and go inside.  To my surprise, there was seating inside the building.  I didn’t think it looked very big from the outside, but there are a handful of tables so you can actually sit an eat.  Since J’s parents live right around the corner, I chose to take my sandwich with me.  Read the rest of this entry »





Niro’s Gyros – Urbana, IL

28 03 2009
  • 1007 W. University Avenue
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217) 328-6476
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Niros Gyros on University Avenue in Urbana.

Niro's Gyros on University Avenue in Urbana.

The Italian beef craving set in again.  I’m just not going to go back to Illinois and not get one.  I left Illinois Field on my lunch break and headed towards Green Street to get lunch like I always do.  Problem is, when I got there, everything was closed.  U of I is on spring break and everything closed up with them.  I panicked a little.  Where else was I going to go?  I was driving around and I came up to University Avenue.  Then it clicked.  There was a little Greek place up the road where I could get my Italian beef.

Niro’s Gyros is located on University near Lincoln in Urbana.  Niro’s has several locations in the Champaign/Urbana area and there are even stores that I know of in Bloomington, IL.  I have no idea why Greek places tend to have Italian beef in Illinois, but it’s fairly common.  Places like Niro’s are almost cookie-cutter to the extent that you know what’s on the menu before you get there.

There’s not much to this Niro’s location.  There’s a drive thru which I should have used and a walk up window.  There’s no seating inside.  They have some concrete tables outside, but that’s it.  When you walk in, there’s just enough room for a menu board and a window. Read the rest of this entry »





Pluto’s Original Beef & Hotdogs – Oak Lawn, IL

5 01 2009
  • 10341 S. Cicero Ave.
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 425-2222
  • Website
  • Menu
Plutos Original Beef and Hot Dogs on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

Pluto's Original Beef and Hot Dogs on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

Did you think I would go to Chicago and not get an Italian Beef?  It doesn’t matter how short of a trip it is, there’s a place on every corner, so I will get an Italian Beef eventually.

Right before J and I left for Michigan on Sunday afternoon, her mom offered up one more meal.  The night before, we were talking about the best burger on the south side when her step dad brought up Pluto’s.  We drive by Pluto’s every time we go to her parents and any place with the word “beef” in the title is appealing to me. 

J’s parents order from there quite often, so they had a menu at home and the lady working knew her mom by name.  I passed on the burger and went straight for the Italian Beef.  J’s step dad ordered the special which was three hot dogs and three things of fries, so I didn’t have to order fries.  J got a homemade chicken fingers which came with fries and a chocolate malt while her mom got a salad.  They also got an order of the jalapeno poppers for all of us.

After about five minutes, we piled in the car to go pick it up.  We didn’t all need to go, but I always feel bad making someone else go after my food, so J and I went with her mom to get it.  We pulled up to the drive through and J’s mom told the intercom who she was.  The lady who knew her answered and told her to pull around to the window.  The food wasn’t quite ready, but it was close.  Read the rest of this entry »





Mr. Gyros – Oak Lawn, IL

25 12 2008
  • 10806 S. Cicero Ave.
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60435
  • (708) 741-4014
  • Website
  • Menu
Mr. Gyros on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

Mr. Gyros on South Cicero in Oak Lawn, IL

I can only take so many cookies.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas cookies, but usually by dinner time on Christmas day I’m craving some real food.  J and I made it back to her parents in the south suburbs of Chicago and went on a hunt.  Surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot open.  We drove around for ten minutes or so before finding Mr. Gyros open.

Mr. Gyros is in a small strip mall on Cicero near 108th.  Neon signs filled the front window and there signs for their specialty, the “Big Pappa.”  J and I went in to find a counter and a small dining room.  There were a few other people who had the same idea we.  Most of the tables were full and there was even a guy sitting at the bar along the wall.

Mr. Gryos must have brought the whole family in to work Christmas Day.  We were met at the counter by a kid who couldn’t have been very far into his teens.  He asked what we wanted and started writing down the order.  J asked for a grilled cheese and fries then I ordered the Special #5 which is an Italian Beef, fries, and a pop.  I think we confused him.  He wasn’t writing as fast as we were talking and he got all confused.  He thought the #5 was the grilled cheese and it took some explaining to straighten things out.  Finally, it must have sunk in.  I got my beef without peppers and onions, but I did add mozzarella.  In another weird twist, J ordered a Diet Coke to add to her sandwich.  After we paid, the kid turned around and grabbed a can of Coke out of the cooler for me then got J a fountain Diet.  That was bizarre.  Why they have both cans and fountains and why one comes with the special over the other beats me. Read the rest of this entry »