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#1
Posted August 11th 2008, 12:37pm
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.

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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.

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Food is served in Burger King bags, just like at one of Chicago's finest doggeries.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Margie's Beef
1334 N Cicero Av
Chicago
773-287-6700
10am-7am (yes, 21 hours), 7 days a week
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#2
Posted August 11th 2008, 1:00pm
I made it here a month back and found the IB to be...It was served on a S. Rosen's roll and the beef was flavorless. I still finished the whole thing so it wasnt inedible just not worth getting again. I left wishing I had gotten a dog and/or a mother-in-law, now I wish I got a polish.

There is a beef recipe out there on the net that claims is the recipe for Margies that I have been meaning to try.
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#3
Posted August 11th 2008, 1:15pm
That polish looks to have some real possibilities. I'll be there to check it out real soon. Nice find, ReneG!
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#4
Posted August 11th 2008, 1:16pm
Rene G wrote: Margie's reopened under new management.


Food is served in Burger King bags, just like at one of Chicago's finest doggeries.




I glad it has reopened. Any other places use the burger king bags? (besides burger king ,that is)
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#5
Posted August 11th 2008, 2:05pm
gp60004 wrote:I glad it has reopened. Any other places use the burger king bags? (besides burger king ,that is)


Jimmy's was for a while. They are now using bags from some chicken place that I have never heard of.
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#6
Posted August 11th 2008, 2:19pm
Rene G wrote: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.

Polish and fries look and sound terrific, can't wait to give Margie's a try.
stevez wrote:Jimmy's was for a while. They are now using bags from some chicken place that I have never heard of.

As of just a few days ago Jimmy's was using bright yellow bags from Giant Fried Chicken and Baker's Inn Bags, neither place I've ever heard of.

Jimmy's Red Hots
8.8.08

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Enjoy,
Gary

Jimmy's Red Hots
4000 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60651
773-384-9513
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#7
Posted August 11th 2008, 2:24pm
Bakers Inn is actually a grocery store bread. I think I bought it once or twice. My kids didn't partiularly like it, but then again, they don't like much these days.

Suzy
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#8
Posted August 11th 2008, 2:28pm
G Wiv wrote:As of just a few days ago Jimmy's was using bright yellow bags from Giant Fried Chicken and Baker's Inn Bags, neither place I've ever heard of.


FYI--For what it is worth, "Baker's Inn" is not a place---That bag is used for a retail product line of bread made by the wonderful ( although bankrupt ) folks at Wonder Bread ( IBC )

P.S.-- Gary, I love your spice rub!
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#9
Posted August 11th 2008, 2:57pm
Da Beef wrote:I still finished the whole thing so it wasnt inedible just not worth getting again.

That's just how I felt. It's a shame because I remember Margie's beef being in the top tier.

stevez wrote:That polish looks to have some real possibilities.

Just so you know what you're getting into, I don't think the Polish is quite up to Wolfy's standards. The fries, though, are infinitely better. Plus they're included in the price ($3.33), making it a much better deal than Wolfy's (Polish with fries: $4.78).

gp60004 wrote:Any other places use the burger king bags?

I don't know but I find it amusing. There was a time that some hot dog stand (Jimmy's?) used airsickness bags. That was my favorite. And for a while the Max's at Ontario & Orleans wrapped the sandwiches in butter wrappers (the kind used for pound blocks).

stevez wrote:Jimmy's was for a while. They are now using bags from some chicken place that I have never heard of.

Above, I linked to an old post with a picture of the BK bags at Jimmy's. The folks at Jimmy's like to mix it up to keep things interesting. On August 1, I received my red hot in a BK Pokemon bag.

G Wiv wrote:Polish and fries look and sound terrific, can't wait to give Margie's a try.

I'll be curious to hear what you think. Even if people don't share my enthusiasm, it's another late-night grease option that's useful to know about. The hours I posted above (10am-7am) are correct but note that from 7pm to 7am the "dining room" is closed and it's drive thru service only.
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#10
Posted August 11th 2008, 3:14pm
Rene G wrote:Above, I linked to an old post with a picture of the BK bags at Jimmy's. The folks at Jimmy's like to mix it up to keep things interesting. On August 1, I received my red hot in a BK Pokemon bag.


I'm willing to wager that Jimmy's buys printing overrun bags at a discount... or maybe they fell off the loading dock at the printer. :wink:
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"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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#11
Posted August 11th 2008, 3:24pm
Rene G wrote:There was a time that some hot dog stand (Jimmy's?) used airsickness bags. That was my favorite.


No . . . you're kidding, right?! That's hilarious. Someone at that stand either has a wicked sense of humor or well-honed sense of practicality. (Or both, I suppose.)
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#12
Posted August 11th 2008, 4:27pm
aschie30 wrote:
Rene G wrote:There was a time that some hot dog stand (Jimmy's?) used airsickness bags. That was my favorite.

No . . . you're kidding, right?! That's hilarious. Someone at that stand either has a wicked sense of humor or well-honed sense of practicality. (Or both, I suppose.)

No, not kidding. It's even confirmed by a Yelper.

In the Jimmy's Red Hots page on Yelp, Chris H wrote:Watch as those angelic, tatooed hands dump freshly lard-fried fries onto the wax paper; the effortless flick of the salt canister; the crispy cacophony as your hot dog is wrapped and deposited into the perfectly congruous United Airlines doggybag.

Um, Chris, I don't think airlines have doggy bags.
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#13
Posted August 11th 2008, 7:32pm
My point about the BK bags was that if Jimmy's uses the bags and Margie's uses the same bags and Margie's is under new management then the Jimmy's people are running Margie's???

Just trying to connect the dots.
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#14
Posted August 11th 2008, 7:41pm
gp60004 wrote:My point about the BK bags was that if Jimmy's uses the bags and Margie's uses the same bags and Margie's is under new management then the Jimmy's people are running Margie's???

Just trying to connect the dots.

Gus,

Most likely it's nothing more than they both shop at the same restaurant depot outlet. I remember Don Outlet on Elston having ashtrays and glasses from many different restaurants and bars for sale at ridiculously low prices. 10 Maggiano's ashtrays for $2 for example.

Enjoy,
Gary
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#15
Posted August 11th 2008, 7:44pm
It's one of the things I enjoy about shopping at Devon Market, too. You never know what bag from Value Pygmy in Massachusetts or Abe's Sav-U-Betcha in Colorado Springs your goods will be bagged in.
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#16
Posted August 11th 2008, 11:47pm
Never heard of a mother-in-law sandwich, but man, does it look delicious. So, I googled it, and man, does it look delicious.
Experiencing one is now high on my to-do list. Is Margie's the spot? Anybody have a favorite version to recommend? Thanks.

G Wiv, that isn't ketchup in the above Jimmy's picture, is it? :wink:
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#17
Posted August 12th 2008, 4:12am
RAB wrote:Never heard of a mother-in-law sandwich, but man, does it look delicious. So, I googled it, and man, does it look delicious.
Experiencing one is now high on my to-do list. Is Margie's the spot? Anybody have a favorite version to recommend? Thanks.


Thanks to Rene G, here's everything you need to know about the Mother in Law including the name and address of Fat Johnnie's, which is probably where you should go for your first one.
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#18
Posted August 13th 2008, 1:29pm
I had lunch at Margie's today; a polish and fries. The polish was served in the Burger King bag shown upthread, accompanied by an orange soda served in a Quizno's cup. That's the closest I've come to eating at a fast food chain in years! :lol:

The polish itself had some real possibilities, with the only downside being that despite the fact that the polishes reside on the grill and are brown and delicious looking, the guy behind the counter threw mine in the deep fryer for a couple of minutes before putting it on the bun with some nicely grilled onions, mustard and sport peppers. But I digress. The polish had a nice snap to the thick natural casing and a bit more smoke flavor than the Wolfie's polish (still my favorite), but it avoided the (in my opinion) over-smoked flavor of Jim's and Maxwell St. Express. Next time, I think I'll ask to skip the deep frying step. So far, the jury's still out on the polish AFAIC.

The fries were very good. Firmly in the same family as Jimmy's, however not quite as greasy (in a good way) as Jimmy's. The fries are easily in the top tier of frydom in Chicago.

One note to drivers coming from the north on Cicero: Margie's sign is partially blocked by a tree in the front yard of the house next door. If you're not paying attention, you can easily miss the parking lot entrance.
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#19
Posted August 13th 2008, 11:40pm
Da Beef wrote:I made it here a month back and found the IB to be...It was served on a S. Rosen's roll and the beef was flavorless.

I stopped by today and they have switched to french bread for the IB sandwiches. I thought the beef was good, and the fries were excellent. I spoke briefly with the cashier who said they have only been open for a little over a month, and are still working out the usual startup glitches, etc., which included replacing those rolls with french bread. They seem interested in "getting it right," and I hope they do since there aren't many late night spots available for an IB fix.
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#20
Posted November 19th 2008, 10:56am
Stopped by for a Polish, beef and sausage with MikeG on the side. My Polish looked significantly less delicious than ReneG's in the original post: much drier looking (and appearances were not deceiving), probably due to the final fry step that stevez mentions and vows to avoid. Fries were comparable to Jimmy's.

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This was probably the least comfortable dining experience in memory. Despite the company, eating standing up in a corrugated steel bunker with a door stuck open and cold north winds sweeping in is about as pleasure-defeating an eating experience as I can remember.

I had a "lime green" beverage that, I swear, tasted like disinfectant, as though they had accidentally slapped the wrong canister of liquid into the soda machine.

Not at all writing this place off, but I wouldn't consider going back to Margie's before the geese come back to the Midwest. I mean, this is a cold damn place to eat, though the people behind the counter were very warm and friendly (if only they carried sidearms, this place might be a suitable candidate for a GNR :D).
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#21
Posted November 26th 2008, 5:05pm
David Hammond wrote:My Polish looked significantly less delicious than ReneG's in the original post: much drier looking (and appearances were not deceiving), probably due to the final fry step that stevez mentions and vows to avoid.

Yeah, that doesn't look so great. Looks like something that got lost on the previous shift. I don't think the dryness is only because of deep frying; my Polish pictured above was also fried. It's a time-honored Chicago way to cook a Polish. Some places griddle, some grill, some fry.


There's more to the Margie's Beef story. Margie's was one of the pioneers of Italian beef and anyone interested in Chicago food history ought to stop by. Kind of like having a pizza at Uno or Due. In August 2004 Pat Scala spoke at a Culinary Historians of Chicago meeting. George R has summarized his talk here.

After World War II a few places began to serve Italian beef sandwiches. Among the early ones were Carm's BBQ and Marg[i]e's BBQ, both on Cicero Avenue. Carm's was about 1/2 mile south of Madison. Marg[i]e's was some distance north of Madison.

As discussed above, the Margie's Beef on Cicero & Kammerling is the old location but it has new owners. But practically around the corner on Chicago, the old owners have opened a new location of Margie's. As I understand it they sold the name with the building so had to use a slightly different name for the new location.

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The beef is solid, though not as good as I remember it. The giardiniera, however, tastes exactly as it used to. It has a sour tang and a good hit of red pepper, vaguely reminiscent of Al's. Among my favorite giardinieras.

David Hammond wrote:Not at all writing this place off, but I wouldn't consider going back to Margie's before the geese come back to the Midwest.

I haven't yet tried a Polish at G&T Margie's. Passing through Washington Park the other day, I noticed thousands of geese wandering around the cricket grounds so maybe that was a signal.

G&T Margie's
4646 W Chicago Av
Chicago
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#22
Posted November 27th 2008, 9:00am
I used to work near Cicero and North a long time ago and remember stopping at a place somewhere in this stretch and perhaps Margies was the place.

Awesome beef sandwich and I seem to remember the beef gravy had a red tint to it.

But then again I seem to remember that the storefront was painted red too.

Maybe it was the rose tinted glasses I was wearing back then? :)

Edit: Just checked the map and it had to be it. I hope they get the beef back to it's old greatness! It was awesome!
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#23
Posted February 12th 2009, 8:27pm
I drove by Margie's one day last week. It was closed. Don't know if this is permanent or temporary.
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#24
Posted February 22nd 2009, 8:35pm
They are closed for remodeling and should be open in a week or so.

Out for a Sunday Drive with my bride and happened to be heading up Cicero so we stopped for a few photos and some intel...

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The For Sale sign did not fill me with hope. :(

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The sign in the Window however did. Being in the modern age and happening to have a phone in my pocket I gave the number a call and the owner made the statement that they should be reopening in a week or two.

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Menu seems about right for a good place.
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#25
Posted February 24th 2009, 10:30am
Stopped for a sandwich about a month ago and the lady behind the counter clutched her chest in pain several times while I waited. I told her that she should call 911 as she may be having a heart attack but she didn't.
I found the owner or manager outside and mentioned this to him and he seemed cold and un-fazed.
I left wondering if I should call myself, or would he call. Heard sirens a couple minutes or so after so I guess she got help. Hope she is all-right.

Wierd
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#26
Posted March 17th 2009, 11:07am
Panther in the Den wrote:They are closed for remodeling and should be open in a week or so.


No sign of activity
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#27
Posted March 18th 2009, 4:01pm
I thought I recently internally noted a soon to open place named Margie's Beef on Grand W of Harlem last week. I wonder if there is any connection or I could be remembering the name wrong.

-ramon/m
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#28
Posted March 18th 2009, 4:23pm
Ramon wrote:I thought I recently internally noted a soon to open place named Margie's Beef on Grand W of Harlem last week. I wonder if there is any connection or I could be remembering the name wrong.

-ramon/m

Nope. Connie's Beef
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#29
Posted June 18th 2009, 1:28pm
We drove by on the way to the zoo and Margie's is boarded up and looking very closed.

Jen
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#30
Posted March 9th 2010, 11:11pm
I drove by the Margie's on Cicero today and there seems to be signs of life again. I noticed that their driveup window appeared to be covered, and I saw some signage mentioning "hand-made burgers" and a couple other items. There were some guys working in the lobby.
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