Like all great cities should, Chicago has a collection of dishes that were invented within its borders and that you can't get anywhere else. I decided to create this list to help keep track of them all.
'Polish sausage' on Serious Eats
In a city where most stands serve the exact same brands in exactly the same way, Parse's deserves a visit. The northwestern stand serves an incredible Polish sausage from nearby Harczak's Sausage shop.
In Chicago, our most prominent permanent restaurant showdown takes place on South Union Avenue, where two Polish sausage joints, Jim's Original and Express Grill, stand shoulder to shoulder. For people driving north on 90/94 into the city, this pairing is the last thing you see before you arrive downtown. Ever since I moved to the city, I've wondered which one was better. I decided to order every item on both menu and find out.
There's a reason some Chicago institutions stick around. And I'm willing to bet that no matter what happens to the crazy intersection of Division, Ashland, and Milwaukee, Podhalanka will still be around.
As you can tell, Al's Under the "L" Hot Dogs & Polish isn't literally underneath the L, but the whole building does shake when the train rolls by, and that's good enough for me. Featuring a menu of Chicago classics, including minimalist-style hot dogs and Polish sausages loaded with caramelized onions, Al's feels like the kind of place that's been around for years.
When you mention Maxwell Street, most Chicagoans have one food in mind—a massive Polish sausage in a bun topped with mustard and caramelized onions. Jim's Original is considered the originator of the dish, and it is still the most famous practitioner in the city, but it is definitely not the only one.
Since 1924, Long Beach locals have been flocking to Joe Jost's, a mellow bar that serves up beers at 29 degrees (they even have a thermometer showing the current temperature) by the schooner along with pickled eggs, chili peppers, peanuts, pretzels, and a delicious little sandwich called the "Joe's Special." For $2.95, bartenders will give you a Polish sausage wrapped in a fresh slice of rye bread, served with Swiss cheese, a pickle and mustard.
"I'm not a native of the region, so my introduction to the sausage came through Chris Farley's antics on Saturday Night Live." Jim's Original 1250 S. Union Ave, Chicago IL 60607 (map); 312-733-7820 The Short Order: Perfectly grilled polish sausages...
This week's Cartoon Kitchen features Serious Eats' cartoonist in residence Larry Gonick's spin on a sausage dish. —Ed Levine...