Margie's Beef, one of Chicago's oldest and best beef stands, closed its doors over five years ago
. I'm not sure how old it was; one sign said 1945, another claimed 1927. I tend to believe 1945, consistent with the entry in Pat Bruno's Chicago's Food Favorites
. A few months ago Margie's reopened under new management. For whatever it's worth the new signs say 1927.
Margie's has been completely redone but retains its classic no-nonsense hot dog stand feel. Concrete floor, bare steel walls and counter, red and yellow accents. In a word, perfect.
Food is served in Burger King bags, just like at one
of Chicago's finest doggeries.
Margie's does a lot of things right but unfortunately beef is no longer their strong point. Somewhat tough, not great flavor, soggy roll. I thought the slightly sour giardiniera was great though.
Hot dogs are well executed in the minimalist style. Natural casing, no poppy seeds, no tomato. Margie's sport peppers are much smaller than usual, tender and not very hot. Fries are excellent, right up there with the best.
The best thing at Margie's is the Polish, among the best I've had anywhere in Chicago. Crisp skin, great flavor, perfect condiments and those same superlative fries. I'll go out on a limb and say this is the best Polish-fries combo anywhere in the city.
Sharp eyes will have already noticed the mother in law listed on the menu. These are becoming rare (at least listed as such) on Chicago menus and are virtually unknown north of Madison.
Margie's covers Tom Tom tamales with their own recipe chili. I give them points for making a beanless version but subtract those same points for the harsh, cooked-down tomato paste flavor.
It's good to see Margie's back. Though their beef didn't live up to my fond memories, I consider them a prime destination for a Polish and fries.
1334 N Cicero Av
10am-7am (yes, 21 hours), 7 days a week