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 2007June 2008
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 2007May 2008
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 2007May 2008June 2008
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
2839 S Pulaski Rd