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#1
Posted April 2nd 2008, 10:54am
I remember reading somewhere around here that Chickie's was/is being sold but cant say that is a fact. What I can tell you is the fact of how far Chickie's has fallen since my last visit (late summer '07).

I have always considered Chickie's to be on my "all-beef" first team because of their succulent beef and what I believe to be the best hot peppers in the city. So as I was coming home from the south side the other night I decided to shoot down Pulaski to grab one of my favorite beefs and bring it home.

Im not a big fan of the beef joints that dont have at least a water fountain to wash my hands (I hate touching my driving wheel with gravy laced hands) and since it was so cold I decided I would order a beef, dry with hot peppers to go, fries and an RC. Everything had seemed the same as I was handed my order and I walked out to my car to head home. Upon sitting down in my car the beef,-wrapped in tin foil, a huge NO NO, slipped though the brown bag and laced gravy all over my passenger seat. I was mad, I said to myself WTF, how can this thing be so wet I ordered it "dry" and why is it wrapped in tin foil and the fact they didnt give me any napkins really pissed me off. I proceeded to calm myself down and get home ASAP to eat the beef I was so craving for.

When I got home I opened the beef and was again shocked to see that the hot peppers that made the place so good had changed...it was basically all bits of celery with a few pepper seeds and oil, "hot celery" if you will. I ate the sandwich and the bread was at least a day old while the beef lacked any real flavor, still better than alot of places but nothing close to what they used to be and definitely not worthy of its starting spot on my "all-beef" team. Long story short...Chickie's is not dead yet, but they seem to be in a coma, clinging onto life support. I hope they survive itd be a shame to lose another classic.

Chickie's
2839 S Pulaski Rd
(between 28th St & 30th St)
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 277-2333
Last edited by Da Beef on October 6th 2008, 4:45pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2
Posted April 2nd 2008, 11:44am
This is troubling news, and you're not the first I've heard it from.

I've been told, though I wouldn't call the information reliable, that Chickie's was sold to a family friend who intended to keep everything as-is. But I've gotten a couple of reports from people that they're headed downhill, though you're the first who's provided any detail.

I'm still holding out hope that these are a few isolated reports, but now my worry has become full-blown panic.
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#3
Posted April 2nd 2008, 12:20pm
I ate there two years ago on a tip from GWiv and found it mediocre. the fries were the best part of the meal.
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#4
Posted April 2nd 2008, 12:24pm
Octarine wrote: the fries were the best part of the meal.


Oh forgot to mention that those didnt seem the same either. I remember enjoying the fries and these were below average.
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#5
Posted April 2nd 2008, 2:20pm
The Chickie's place on Cermak in Cicero has been closed for a few months. Looks like trouble in River City for Chickie-aphiles.
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#6
Posted April 2nd 2008, 6:21pm
Damn!
Chickies was always my number 1. (Only because I have to drive a little to get there and Johnnie's is only a few blocks away) Last time I was there, (just before the ownership changed) I had a nice talk with owner. He said he was very dissapointed with what the buyer did with the Cicero store and didn't want that to happen again. He told me that one of his employees family was buying the business and that his long time manager would still be running things day to day. He said after 45 years he was ready to quit.

Sounds like another one bites the dust. I would bet that the menu will eventually change to include Tacos and other Mexican staples.

He also said that he always went to Johnnie's for Sausage sandwiches as his were not charcoal broiled.
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#7
Posted April 3rd 2008, 9:51am
Octarine wrote:I ate there two years ago on a tip from GWiv and found it mediocre. the fries were the best part of the meal.


Two clarifications:

Octarine, your experience two years ago has nothing to do with the recent issues. Last Fall, the son of the current owner had started to be active in order to assist with the sale/transition, he intimated. But at that point everything was unchanged.

I wonder if he ended up taking over.

The other thing: the Chickies on Cermak has not had anything to do with the one on Pulaski for a long time, maybe 10 years or more. Different product, different ownership, and nothing in common. So the closing of that place is unrelated.

Now, serving Chickies in foil, and changing the fries, that is a big problem. I am an emotional wreck, in fact. :cry:
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#8
Posted April 4th 2008, 7:21pm
I went to Chickie's today and things have changed a bit. It's not terrible, but it's definitely different.

First of all, the beef now comes in two sizes: 4-inches (for I think $3.75) and 6-inches (definitely for $4.50). Both prices are tax-included. Peppers are an extra 50 cents. I don't remember this being the case before, and it seems odd to me for a beef place to charge extra for peppers, because sweet or hot peppers are traditionally part of a complete Chicago Italian beef.

I ordered the beef, hot, dipped. Unlike Da Beef's experience, my hot peppers were plentiful. But they weren't quite the same Chickie's hot peppers. My problem was there wasn't enough celery, and the celery that was there was sliced much thinner than usual and had no crispness whatsoever. I remember the crunch and fresh celery flavor being a nice counterpoint to the soft Chickie's beef.

I had no major problems with the bun, but I did notice the beef itself is a little different. Chickie's beef--at least all the times I've been there--always had a texture somewhere between sliced and shredded, and usually more towards the shredded end. That's one of the things that made it quite different for me than other beefs in Chicago. Today, the texture was much more typical beef--sliced and moist, but definitely with a different texture than I remember.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try the fries, so no comments there.

Final verdict? Well, it's certainly different, but it's not terrible. It's still the best beef in my general area, but it's not as good as it used to be.
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#9
Posted April 4th 2008, 9:48pm
I can't think of a beef stand that didn't charge extra for peppers, at least in recent memory. Where can you get them for no charge?
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#10
Posted April 4th 2008, 10:15pm
Mr. Beef on Orleans doesn't charge for hot peppers that I recall. I had a combo extra hot for lunch today. :) Also Max's on Western just has jars of giardiniera sitting on their tables for people to use. But it does seem like they are the exception rather than the rule.
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#11
Posted April 4th 2008, 10:30pm
Cogito wrote:I can't think of a beef stand that didn't charge extra for peppers, at least in recent memory. Where can you get them for no charge?


Hmm...Did Chickie's have a charge before? I don't remember there being one. Anyhow, the Nicky's by my house doesn't charge for peppers, and most beef stands I've been to in this neighborhood include hot or sweet peppers in the price.

Edit: Looking online, I guess it does seem that most places charge for the peppers. I'm a bit surprised, because I've never noticed this in the past.
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#12
Posted May 1st 2008, 8:14am
I'm a die hard Chickies devotee, so I went back with great trepidation, expecting a "different" chickies.

Here's what I've found since the change - the Giardinara is exactly the same. Down to the stainless bowl on the prep area holding the fresh celery and hot peppers. The Fries are identical, fresh-cut, gorgeous golden with points darker golden crispiness- still some of the best around.

The Beef itself was the same aggressively spiced profile, one of its strong points. But here's the big change I found: they seemed to have changed the slicing - its thicker and a touch tougher than before (Reminded me of Torre's or Max's). But being that the spice profile of the beef is the same, I'm not sure what they changed - perhaps a different brand of beef? Maybe they just adjusted the cut?

Either way, I found nothing that made me feel like Chickies was falling off in terms of quality. Still a top-3 beef place for me, and the fries are still my favorite in the city.
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#13
Posted June 16th 2008, 5:41am
I've long thought Chickie's serves one of Chicago's top beefs. I've visited many times before the sale in late 2007 and five times since April of this year. I still rank it near the top, without question. Comments about its downfall seem greatly exaggerated.

Except for some alterations of signage the exterior hasn't changed much.

July 2007
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June 2008
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The menu, too, is much the same, the main changes being higher prices and the addition of a smaller sandwich. The pepper surcharge has risen from thirty cents to fifty.

July 2007
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May 2008
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The way the sandwich is wrapped has become inconsistent. In my five recent visits, twice the wrapping was foil-backed paper, once the sandwich came in several layers of waxed paper (as in pre-sale days), and twice both types of wrapper were used.

To me the wrapping makes little difference since I always eat my (always dipped) beef immediately. I can see how foil wrapping might be a problem for take-away sandwiches (but in my opinion that's a mistake to begin with). They still have the old-style deli paper so those who care should be able to request their favorite wrapper.

The sandwich is similar but not identical.

July 2007
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May 2008
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June 2008
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The beef seems prepared in similar fashion: thinly sliced so that much of it falls apart into shards when immersed in the gravy. I'm not sure I can detect any changes in the gravy. It's always been one of the most robust and tastiest versions in the city.

I've always been a fan of Chickie's hot peppers: a thinly sliced, still crunchy mix of jalapeños, celery and oil. I think these might have changed slightly, with a slightly more cured texture and flavor. They're still some of my favorite peppers. One difference is that they tend to add more peppers (and often more oil) to the sandwich. This is not a problem for me.

The other consistent change is they serve the sandwich much juicier than before. Take heed of the new sign next to the menu: The Wetter The Better. When you order without specifying it comes wet; ask for it dipped and it comes swimming. Again, not a problem for me but those who want it drier should make their desires clearly known.

When John T Edge was in town recently we took him to Chickie's. He was very enthusiastic about the sandwich, and even commented on its juiciness in this terrific piece for Gourmet.

Chickie's
2839 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago
773-277-2333i
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#14
Posted October 6th 2008, 4:45pm
Formerly the thread "RIP Chickies (on life support)"

I am happy to report that Chickies is back to full strength and doing very well. I got in there today and had the best beef of the year thus far and Ive been on a tear for a little thing im doing about them. This was the beef that I had on my first visit when I found it a few years back thru folk of the forum.

My first report never said it was really bad, it just happened to be an off day. I was just mad because I though one of my favorite sandwiches was going downhill...no no. All is well in chickieville. I still consider them to be one of the top five beef in the city.

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Maybe the only thing different this time was the sign on the side telling you to go "sweet and hot"

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fries are still some of the best

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beef with their signature hot

Chickie's
2839 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago
773-277-2333
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#15
Posted October 6th 2008, 9:33pm
Oh man, does that giardineira looks great.
I gotta get back there.
Wonderful post.
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#16
Posted October 8th 2008, 11:09am
Da Beef wrote:I am happy to report that Chickies is back to full strength and doing very well.

This is terrific news!
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#17
Posted July 9th 2010, 12:13pm
Went to the new Chickie's in Tri-Taylor today for lunch. It's excellent, same hot peppers and fresh cut fires as the original. A beef with hot, fries, and a can of soda is priced at $6.25 before tax. I rode my bike from the Loop, it's nice to have another great beef stand in a more accessible area. Definitely recommended if you're in the area.

Chickie's
2253 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL
60612
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#18
Posted July 9th 2010, 12:36pm
dizzy wrote:Went to the new Chickie's in Tri-Taylor today for lunch. It's excellent, same hot peppers and fresh cut fires as the original. A beef with hot, fries, and a can of soda is priced at $6.25 before tax. I rode my bike from the Loop, it's nice to have another great beef stand in a more accessible area. Definitely recommended if you're in the area.

Agreed. The beef and fries at the new Chickie's on Taylor are virtually the same as at the one on Pulaski. Taylor Street now has three of my top ten beefs—Al's, Chickie's and Patio. Keep in mind Chickie's on Taylor closes fairly early (7pm most days, I think).

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Chickie's
2253 W Taylor St
Chicago
312-226-0977
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#19
Posted July 9th 2010, 2:35pm
This is great! Taylor St is truly Italian Beef Street now. :) I had Chickie's on Pulaski once and it was excellent. At the same time this presents a slight problem - which of the three to go to?!
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#20
Posted July 9th 2010, 8:36pm
Ram4 wrote:This is great! Taylor St is truly Italian Beef Street now. :) I had Chickie's on Pulaski once and it was excellent. At the same time this presents a slight problem - which of the three to go to?!

You could easily do a beef crawl. You just have to decide where to start. Start at Chickie's and finish with Al's and a lemonade from Mario's or start at Al's and finish with Chickie's, which fortunately has a public bathroom.
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#21
Posted July 9th 2010, 9:18pm
dizzy wrote:You could easily do a beef crawl.

We did it already but I wouldn't say it was easy.

dizzy wrote:You just have to decide where to start. Start at Chickie's and finish with Al's and a lemonade from Mario's or start at Al's and finish with Chickie's . . .

We started at Al's. On to Carm's, Patio, Mr Beef and then to Chickie's (on Pulaski). Not close to done, we continued on with Scatchell's, Freddy's and Johnnie's. Also managed to squeeze in a stop for fried shrimp at Troha's. Oh, and some espresso at the very end. Excellent way to spend a day.
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#22
Posted July 10th 2010, 1:25pm
dizzy wrote:
Ram4 wrote:This is great! Taylor St is truly Italian Beef Street now. :) I had Chickie's on Pulaski once and it was excellent. At the same time this presents a slight problem - which of the three to go to?!

You could easily do a beef crawl. You just have to decide where to start. Start at Chickie's and finish with Al's and a lemonade from Mario's or start at Al's and finish with Chickie's, which fortunately has a public bathroom.
Whaddya mean "could" do a beef crawl? I did a beef crawl last October hitting Chickie's, Patio, Al's, Mr. Beef, and Boston's all in a row for a slightly heartier lunch than usual. :wink:

But I'm just saying if I only wanted one beef, then I'd have to pick one of them. Then again, no... If I am down on Taylor St, I AM going to at least two of them.:twisted:
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#23
Posted October 18th 2010, 9:23am
Hopefully I'm wrong, but I made the trek down to Chickies last week with some excited co-workers, and it was shut down. Looked closed-closed. Equipment missing.

Am I late to this?

It was a gut-punch to me, the only acceptable 1A to Al's in my book. I'll mourn its loss. First C'n'D, now Original Chickies.

I hope the "new" chickies starts producing a better beef. The Fries and Giardinera are the same, but the sum of its parts was significantly lesser.

RIP Chickies
Last edited by ab on October 18th 2010, 1:05pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#24
Posted October 18th 2010, 1:01pm
ab wrote:Hopefully I'm wrong, but I made the trek down to Chickies last week with some excited co-workers, and it was shut down. Looked closed-closed. Equipment missing.

Am I late to this?

It was a guy-punch to me, the only acceptable 1A to Al's in my book. I'll mourn its loss. First C'n'D, now Original Chickies.

I hope the "new" chickies starts producing a better beef. The Fries and Giardinera are the same, but the sum of its parts was significantly lesser.

RIP Chickies


I just called and they seem to be open.
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#25
Posted July 20th 2011, 11:00pm
It appears the Pulaski branch of Chickie's is out of commission. I've noticed this the last two times I drove by it, and I just hoped they were on some summer hiatus. Alas, they appear to be gone, since late May, no less. They do have a relatively new location on Taylor Street, though. Haven't been there so can't comment on comparisons to the Pulaski site.

This is bad news for me. Not only was one of my favorite beefs just a couple miles down the street from me, it also had one of my favorite hot dogs in Chicagoland. And those fries... :(
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#26
Posted February 18th 2012, 1:24pm
Sadly, Chickies is no longer "alive and well" -- the location on Taylor Street is closed.
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#27
Posted February 20th 2012, 9:06am
Amata wrote:Sadly, Chickies is no longer "alive and well" -- the location on Taylor Street is closed.

Wow, I never even got a chance to go to this location. The original one Pulaski was one of best beefs I can recall. It was a tiny dive, but it was great. Hope they can make a comeback somewhere else.
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#28
Posted February 20th 2012, 11:12am
I have been meaning to try Chickies since reading about it in the various forum postings. I was sad to see the Pulaski location close as I've driven past it numerous times with the thought "maybe next time." Eachtime I drove by, it wasn't convenient - too early, too late, not hungry.

While driving home the other day, I noticed a sign advertising Chickies Express coming soon. The location was on Cermak, near 59th Ave, in Cicero.

When it opens, I plan to finally try it.
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#29
Posted April 16th 2012, 10:33am
Looks like Mario has opened Chickies at 5836 W. Cermak Rd, Cicero, Ill. 708-222-9000 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chickies ... 9187809716
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#30
Posted April 16th 2012, 6:20pm
I did stop by and the beef was very good! Tender beef with a flavorful gravy.

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Mario was a long time employee of the old location on Pulaski and was involved with the Taylor St location is committed to maintain the standards of the old owners. He mentioned that the old owners grew tired and retired and sold the Pulaski location to the last owners and they kept downgrading the products.

He roasts and slices the beef in house.

My go to spot if I am heading in that direction!
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