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[From Homepage] In Search of the Jim Shoe

[From Homepage] In Search of the Jim Shoe
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  • [From Homepage] In Search of the Jim Shoe

    Post #1 - July 20th, 2013, 3:39 pm
    Post #1 - July 20th, 2013, 3:39 pm Post #1 - July 20th, 2013, 3:39 pm
    This is an excerpt of an article from the homepage. Read Full Article
    __________________________

    By Peter Engler (Rene G)
    ImagePeople eat differently on the South Side. If you don't believe that, try to find a Mother in Law, Big Baby, or Freddy north of Madison Street.

    Another sandwich, also likely unfamiliar to most Northsiders, is currently spreading around the South Side and beyond.

    Ten or fifteen years ago I found a menu from a South Side sub shop slipped into my front gate. It listed all the familiar local treats: subs stuffed with beef (either "roast" or "corn"); gyros (usually pronounced GUY-ro); and super tacos (ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes, all folded into a pita). But there was also a sandwich I'd never heard of then: the Jim Shoe.

    In the next few years I would notice that name on menus or window signs of other sub shops. Clearly the Jim Shoe wasn't found at only one or two places. After I had completed an initial investigation into the Mother-in-Law (a tamale with chili, usually served on a hot dog bun), I decided to take on the Jim Shoe. Where did it originate? How did it get that peculiar name? Little did I know that after nearly a decade and dozens of Shoes, I'd still be asking those same questions.
  • Post #2 - July 21st, 2013, 10:33 am
    Post #2 - July 21st, 2013, 10:33 am Post #2 - July 21st, 2013, 10:33 am
    Great read Peter--and a very fitting inaugural post for the "new" site!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - July 21st, 2013, 2:33 pm
    Post #3 - July 21st, 2013, 2:33 pm Post #3 - July 21st, 2013, 2:33 pm
    This is masterful; bravo.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #4 - July 22nd, 2013, 10:42 am
    Post #4 - July 22nd, 2013, 10:42 am Post #4 - July 22nd, 2013, 10:42 am
    A great piece of reporting, Rene G. I have to agree that the griddled version is more appealing, based on the photos alone. As to the origins of the name, I am wondering whether the fashion imperative for young people to wear pristine athletic shoes arose in the 1980's, spurred on by the success of the Chicago Bulls. The subs are as big as a shoe, aren't they? And how better to spur demand for the sandwich? Something along the lines of naming a hot dog with Macedonian meat sauce after a place that epitomizes summer fun: Coney Island.

    Another thought: Have you discussed the presence of the "corn" beef with any of the Pakistani proprietors in terms of Hunter Beef?
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #5 - July 22nd, 2013, 11:43 am
    Post #5 - July 22nd, 2013, 11:43 am Post #5 - July 22nd, 2013, 11:43 am
    Of course, living these days in the heart o' Illinois, my first thought was that maybe the Jim Shoe was a strange cousin of the horseshoe, Springfield's heart-stopping culinary delight. But after reading your fantastic post, I know that it is definitely not the case here. Fascinating read, and if I ever find myself on the south side (my family is all northsiders), I'll be sure to try one!
  • Post #6 - July 22nd, 2013, 6:40 pm
    Post #6 - July 22nd, 2013, 6:40 pm Post #6 - July 22nd, 2013, 6:40 pm
    Classic Rene G piece... excellent research and outstanding article...

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #7 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:17 pm
    Post #7 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:17 pm Post #7 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:17 pm
    You mention three places on the Evanston border that offer the Shoe. Can you let us know where?
  • Post #8 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:53 pm
    Post #8 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:53 pm Post #8 - July 22nd, 2013, 8:53 pm
    Thanks for all the kind comments. Just goes to show how few people have tried a Jim Shoe! Actually, if you choose carefully they can be quite tasty.

    bw77 wrote:You mention three places on the Evanston border that offer the Shoe. Can you let us know where?

    Sure thing. Sizzlers Pizza & Grill (was Howard Philly & Grill) at 1632 W Howard, Tasty Sub at 2001 W Howard and Sabrina Sub at 7559 N Ridge. Of these, I've only tried Sizzlers and wouldn't rate their "Shoo" highly. I promise to post a large amount of info, including lots of photos, soon. I intended to have it ready before launch but it has turned out to be far more work than I expected. Please stay tuned.
  • Post #9 - July 23rd, 2013, 9:13 am
    Post #9 - July 23rd, 2013, 9:13 am Post #9 - July 23rd, 2013, 9:13 am
    The Jim Shoe marches on. Once restricted to the South Side, it can now be found in Uptown and on Howard Street. Earlier this year (if not before) the Shoe crossed the border and arrived in Milwaukee.

    After a visit to Jake's in October 2011, tatterdemalion and I stopped at a likely-looking "Chicago Style" sub shop in Milwaukee to inquire about the Jim Shoe. Although it wasn't listed on the menu, they were familiar with the sandwich and offered to make us one. We'd barely hosed down after a pastrami dog and Philly corned beef (among other things) at Jake's so had to decline their kind offer. A return almost exactly a year ago again showed no evidence of the Shoe.

    American Sub, June 2012
    Image

    But a year later new signage was in place (peek closely), advertising the Jim Shoe and other new treats.

    American Sub, July 2013
    Image

    Image

    A couple weeks ago I talked with the owner and sampled his Shoe. It's been on the menu only about three months though savvy Milwaukeeans and homesick Chicago expats have been enjoying it for a while.

    Image

    This sandwich would be right at home in Englewood or South Shore. It's not one of the elite Jim Shoes but it's certainly not at the bottom either. Only the cheese—far from uncommon in Chicago—might hint at its Wisconsin origin. It turns out this isn't the only Jim Shoe in Milwaukee, but more about that at a later date.

    American Sub
    1114 W North Av
    Milwaukee WI
    414-264-6500
  • Post #10 - July 23rd, 2013, 10:34 am
    Post #10 - July 23rd, 2013, 10:34 am Post #10 - July 23rd, 2013, 10:34 am
    Nicely done, Rene! Congratulations on your launch piece, and we'll be looking forward to trying out the Jim Shoe soon!
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #11 - July 23rd, 2013, 1:40 pm
    Post #11 - July 23rd, 2013, 1:40 pm Post #11 - July 23rd, 2013, 1:40 pm
    Man...the Jim Shoe has been on my mind for days now since your first post, Rene.

    While I haven't found anything similar in New York, one common junk food treat is the bodega "hero" or "sub" sandwich. Basically a griddled, soft Italianesque long roll (with or without seeds) stuffed with whatever meats you like, usually chopped and gridlled on a flattop. One bodega near my place on Ave. D in Alphabet City (which wouldn't be out of place in some of Chicago's grimier hoods - sans bullet proof glass, of course, cause Chi-Town always does it meaner), does a great "chicken hero" that is basically chopped, marinated chicken breast and thigh, loaded into the aforementioned roll, and covered with american cheese and a squirt or two of mayo or white sauce (the same kind you might find at a chicken and rice place). Done well (as my bodega does it), this is essential drunk/junk/who-gives-a-funk food.

    Looking forward to trying my first Jim Shoe next time I'm in Chicago.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #12 - July 23rd, 2013, 2:57 pm
    Post #12 - July 23rd, 2013, 2:57 pm Post #12 - July 23rd, 2013, 2:57 pm
    Whoops I was playing around with the new auto uploader and guess I hit post on accident. Well anyway what I was going to say was I joined PIGMON for one this past winter at the place across the street from Marquette Park. A regular was adamant we try the taco but understood it had to be sandwich when it was explained that this would be my first Jim Shoe worn. At first I thought what a f'ing mess. We'd just ate Mexican and I wasnt all that hungry so I took a bite not knowing where it would end up. Most likely the trash I believe was my thought. But later that night it was inhaled by me and my brother along with a few brews and I've been craving one ever since. That chopped and griddled one served on toasted bread from Southtown Sub on North avenue looks like my next victim. Excellent stuff as always.

    photo.JPG

    Hocus Pocus try and focus but I cant breathe
    Last edited by Da Beef on July 23rd, 2013, 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #13 - July 23rd, 2013, 3:33 pm
    Post #13 - July 23rd, 2013, 3:33 pm Post #13 - July 23rd, 2013, 3:33 pm
    Rene G wrote:The Jim Shoe marches on. Once restricted to the South Side, it can now be found in Uptown and on Howard Street. Earlier this year (if not before) the Shoe crossed the border and arrived in Milwaukee.


    Rene, where in Uptown can you find this sandwich? I may have missed it in the article, but I've got to give it a try.
  • Post #14 - July 23rd, 2013, 8:35 pm
    Post #14 - July 23rd, 2013, 8:35 pm Post #14 - July 23rd, 2013, 8:35 pm
    I'm right here. Oh wait, you said Jim Shoe, not Jim-Bob.
    :(
  • Post #15 - July 24th, 2013, 9:11 pm
    Post #15 - July 24th, 2013, 9:11 pm Post #15 - July 24th, 2013, 9:11 pm
    "I spent my whole life in Chicago and never heard of the Jim Shoe. This is a life changer." I expect many people's reactions will be somewhat less enthusiastic after their first bite. Here are mini-profiles of a couple dozen places offering the Jim Shoe. Note that I don't particularly recommend many of these Shoes; in fact I'd recommend avoiding a fair number of them. In most cases the sandwiches were simply ordered "the usual way" to get an idea of the house style. I've come to the conclusion that almost every Shoe is improved by giardiniera (even more when it's mixed in as the meats are griddled) so I think I'd recommend asking for it as a matter of course. This is by no means a complete list; there are many more Shoes to be sampled.

    In alphabetical order . . .

    Agee's Pizzeria & Grill, 1118 W Wilson Av

    Image

    Not a lot of Shoes on the North Side so that alone makes Agee's unusual. The restaurant is adjacent to the Wilson Red Line station, making it easy for many to get to.

    Image

    As far as I can tell, the Jim Shoe isn't listed anywhere inside the restaurant, only on the printed menu (this one from late 2012). That's unusual. Earlier this month I noticed the Jim Shoe is no longer listed on the printed menu but I'm pretty sure they'll make it on request.

    Image

    The sandwich is unusual too, with its definite South Asian seasonings. When asked, "Do you want spice?" the answer should be yes. Not your typical Jim Shoe experience for a number of reasons.

    Attock Submarine, 3006 E 92nd St

    Image

    Perhaps not the most inviting exterior . . .

    Image

    . . . or interior for that matter. Note Jim Shoe toward bottom of wall menu.

    Image

    Attock's Shoe is straightforward, with simply sliced meats, minimal veggies and gyro sauce only. Nothing special.

    Best Subs, 3156 W Chicago Av

    Image

    Fairly typical exterior.

    Image

    Jim Shoe displayed on the official menu board.

    Image

    This one came so loaded with mayo I could only manage a bite.

    Big Mike's Gyros, 7859 S State St

    Image

    Big Mike's is a newer place alongside the Dan Ryan.

    Image

    Unusually large menu has "Big Mike's Gym Shoe" listed under Italian Submarines. Note absence of bulletproof shield.

    Image

    Sandwich of cold sliced meats and waxy cheese ranks very low. Big Mike's doesn't seem to understand the concept of the Jim Shoe.

    Champ's (closed; see Snapper), 1951 W Garfield Blvd

    Image

    Even though the menu still says Snapper, the business had been renamed Champ's. The new owners inherited the menu board as well as the Gym Shoe spelling. The business is now Happy Fish & Chicken. I don't know if they still offer the Shoe.

    Chicago Philly Steak (closed), 502 E 47th St

    Image

    This location is now an AP Deli branch.

    Image

    Jim Shoe is listed only on a temporary menu sheet.

    Image

    A thoroughly average Shoe, sliced style.

    Commercial Sub, 8904 S Commercial Av

    Image

    Yet another South Side sub shop that many probably wouldn't give a thought to entering.

    Image

    This fine old hand-painted menu might be from the early days of the Jim Shoe. Note the distinctive (and correct!) use of an apostrophe after "corn."

    Image

    Commercial (or is it Commercial's?) is somewhat unusual in offering seating.

    Image

    One of the better sliced-style Shoes on much better than usual bread. A pleasant surprise.

    Gyros 47, 350 E 47th St

    Image

    One of the newer spots in town, Gyros 47 is directly across the street from Bronzeville's old shop, Maggie's. The window signs read "Jim Shoe" . . .

    Image

    . . . but inside it says "Shoo."

    Image

    A standard chopped-and-griddled ("kat-a-kat style") Shoe.

    Howard Philly & Grill (closed; see Sizzler's), 1636 W Howard St

    Image

    This was probably the northernmost one in Chicago . . .

    Image

    …but they called it a Shoo.

    J&B Gyros, 733 W 79th St

    Image

    One of several J&B Gyros, this one is in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

    Image

    The classic Jim Shoe menu presentation.

    Image

    An average Shoe, somewhat unusual for the hot peppers added without being requested.

    J&B Gyros, 1206 W 51st St

    Image

    J&B's newest store, opened in 2012. Inclusion of the Jim Shoe on permanent exterior signage is highly unusual (tip o' the hat to eagle-eyed PIGMON for this sighting).

    Jeffery Submarine, 2020 E 71st St

    Image

    Classic sign advertising the three components. Looking at these old signs, the Jim Shoe seems almost inevitable.

    Image

    Jim Shoe gets its own heading on Jeffery's menu.

    Image

    Pretty good gyros and ripe tomato wedges put this one well above average.

    King's Gyros, 7904 S Vincennes Av

    Image

    Kings is a large shop . . .

    Image

    . . . with a large menu. It's spelled Shoo on the menu card . . .

    Image

    . . . but the more common spelling is found on the main menu.

    Image

    A pretty good chopped version that includes giardiniera.

    Maggie's Gyros, 349 E 47th St

    Image

    Maggie's advertises the Jim Shoe in the front window . . .

    Image

    .. . . and on signs in the shop.

    Image

    A generously portioned Shoe marred by large tough chunks of corned beef.

    Maggie's Gyros, 5458 S Halsted St

    Image

    Maggie's opened another store in 2012.

    Image

    As tatterdemalion pointed out, these specials seem disturbingly targeted at the single diner as they come with only 1 can pop. Jim Sh? Was the sign maker trying to decide between "oe" and "oo"?

    New Baba's Famous Philly Steak & Lemonade (closed), 7900 S Lafayette Av

    Image

    This Baba's offered the unusual opportunity to buy a Jim Shoe at a gas station.

    Image

    No Shoes on the regular menu, only on the specials sheet.

    Image

    Shaved meats with gyro sauce and mustard, mild sauce on the fries. Below average.

    Sammy's Grill & Restaurant, 6359 S King Dr

    Image

    Sammy's is a shiny new shop offering all the standards.

    Image

    All ingredients were thoroughly chopped and mixed, almost to a paste.

    Sizzlers, 1632 W Howard St

    Image

    This is the old Howard Philly & Grill, under new management.

    Image

    Exactly the same menu as before.

    Image

    Tastes as good as it looks.

    Snapper Fish & Steak (closed; see Champ's), 1951 W Garfield Blvd

    Image

    They advertise their "Gym Shoe" on a large outdoor sign.

    Image

    As usual, no mention of the Shoe on the old-fashioned menu board inside.

    Image

    An unusual (and very good) Shoe: sliced meats were griddled but not chopped.

    Southtown Sub, 240 E 35th St

    Image

    Southtown is a clean, friendly shop in Bronzeville.

    Image

    Yet another newly-added sign advertising the Jim Shoe. Pickles and onions are somewhat unusual additions.

    Image

    An exemplary Shoe, made with care.

    Stony Sub, 8440 S Stony Island Av

    Image

    Stony Sub never closes but Whips & Hips never opens.

    Image

    There's some classic southside food art on Stony's south wall, including this demonic catfish.

    Image

    Even the regular is huge (that's half of one).

    Image

    Lots of giardiniera and very juicy. One of the best.

    Sun Submarine, 5542 W North Av

    Image

    A newer place with eye-catching sign and awning.

    Image

    Interior seems almost posh compared to other sub shops. Note Gym Shoe spelling.

    Image

    A nice sandwich with toasted roll, nicely crisped meats and a judicious amount of giardiniera.

    Sunny Sub, 380 E 71st St

    Image

    The Jim Shoe is only advertised on the new menu card, not on the tired old board above.

    Image

    Really an awful sandwich; nothing tasted fresh.

    Super Fast Food, 2247 E 71st St

    Image

    A somewhat nondescript South Shore spot with a bit of nice gyros art.

    Image

    Inside, the Jim Shoe is featured on an unusually fine hand painted wall menu. Note the repeated use of the apostrophe in corn' beef. I have a feeling this was done by the same sign painter who did Commercial's menu.

    Image

    One of the better sliced-meat Shoes I've had.

    Super Sub, 3943 W Roosevelt Rd

    Image

    Yet another yellow sub shop.

    Image

    As I recall, there was no mention of the Jim Shoe on their extensive menus but they were happy to make one without needing any explanation.

    Image

    Kind of a gnarly looking Shoe, but not a bad one.

    Super Sub & Gyro, 2810 W Marquette Rd

    Image

    Almost across from the Darius & Girenas monument in Marquette Park (see it!) was this striking yellow building. It has since been painted tan, perhaps to stand out from the crowd.

    Image

    They have standard Jim Shoes of course . . .

    Image

    . . . among the best in town . . .

    Image

    . . . but another reason to come here is their innovative Super Jim Shoe Taco. One of the more amusing variants—a hybrid of two southside classics, the Super Taco and the Jim Shoe. One wonders what further innovations the future might hold.
  • Post #16 - July 25th, 2013, 9:40 am
    Post #16 - July 25th, 2013, 9:40 am Post #16 - July 25th, 2013, 9:40 am
    Rene G wrote:Image

    Tastes as good as it looks.



    LOL -- submarine roadkill.

    Thanks for a most impressive survey.
  • Post #17 - July 25th, 2013, 11:00 am
    Post #17 - July 25th, 2013, 11:00 am Post #17 - July 25th, 2013, 11:00 am
    Josephine wrote:Another thought: Have you discussed the presence of the "corn" beef with any of the Pakistani proprietors in terms of Hunter Beef?

    A little bit. The hunter beef sandwich at Spinzer on Devon bears more than a passing resemblance to a Jim Shoe.

    Image

    I was startled by the similarity when they served me this sandwich. Making it even more interesting, tatterdemalion tells me this is unlike any hunter beef sandwich he's seen in Karachi. I'd like to believe there's some connection between this Devon sandwich and the Jim Shoe but I didn't uncover much with a brief discussion at Spinzer. We shall see. There's some more information and photos in the Hunting for Hunter Beef on Devon thread.

    Da Beef wrote:At first I thought what a f'ing mess.

    Well, that's not an inaccurate analysis. I've often thought the same thing. I couldn't tell from your photo if that sandwich had giardiniera (it's not easy to see with all that lettuce). Definitely have giardiniera on your next Shoe, wherever it's from. It seems like it might only add to the mess but somehow it pulls everything together.

    Dlongs wrote:Rene, where in Uptown can you find this sandwich? I may have missed it in the article, but I've got to give it a try.

    You probably saw it already in the long post above but if not, the Uptown place is Agee's on Wilson. Not a typical Shoe however.
  • Post #18 - July 25th, 2013, 1:24 pm
    Post #18 - July 25th, 2013, 1:24 pm Post #18 - July 25th, 2013, 1:24 pm
    Rene G wrote:Image

    . . . but another reason to come here is their innovative Super Jim Shoe Taco. One of the more amusing variants—a hybrid of two southside classics, the Super Taco and the Jim Shoe. One wonders what further innovations the future might hold.


    That thing is so awesome. I definitely need to make another trip out to Super Sub soon. I mean a jim shoe on a pita? Who could ask for more.

    Great, thorough post, Peter. Really impressive stuff.
  • Post #19 - July 25th, 2013, 2:03 pm
    Post #19 - July 25th, 2013, 2:03 pm Post #19 - July 25th, 2013, 2:03 pm
    I had an excellent lamb gyros taco at Big & Little's yesterday. One can only hope that they catch the Jim Shoe wave and add a high end lowdown shoe to their extensive list of outstanding, offbeat tacos.
  • Post #20 - July 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm
    Post #20 - July 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm Post #20 - July 25th, 2013, 3:03 pm
    Beautiful work, Peter. Since you remarked on the number of "Yellow Submarine" shops, have you explored the reason? I assume it started in the 70s in reference to the song, but probably has continued beyond that with owners who no longer know anything other than that many sub shops are yellow and it helps them to stand out and attract more business. Just a hypothesis, though, so I am wondering if you asked anyone in your visits.

    Thanks. Now I need to decide where to go have my first shoo.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #21 - July 25th, 2013, 3:52 pm
    Post #21 - July 25th, 2013, 3:52 pm Post #21 - July 25th, 2013, 3:52 pm
    I must commend the OP for his exhaustive scholarship on the "Gym Shoe", something that I had never heard of prior to his story. For me, the combination of ingredients (which I love individually) don't excite my tastebuds when combined in this fashion. Personally, it looks like a hot mess.

    Half kidding / half serious-- I wonder if the sandwich obtained its name based on the fact that your breath would smell like a "gym shoe" after consuming it. A gyro sandwich (on its own) sends me looking for the nearest bottle of Listerine after finishing one--
    "Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don't want no horsin' around on the airplane?"
  • Post #22 - July 28th, 2013, 3:37 pm
    Post #22 - July 28th, 2013, 3:37 pm Post #22 - July 28th, 2013, 3:37 pm
    I've been hearing about the Jim Shoe for a long time, though I've always opted out of the exploratory excursions. This culinary oddity, as fondly recounted by PIGMON always sounded, as cito says, like a hot mess. A few months ago I casually mentioned to Rene G that if tatterdemalion came to town, I'd eat my first Jim Shoe. Last week tatter was in town and Rene G did not cut me any slack. They drove me straight to Super Sub and ordered up a Jim Shoe with giardiniera. When I unwrapped the horrifically moist shoe, the sight of gyro sauce (a major source of Jim Shoe anxiety for me) oozing out of the ends turned my stomach. But when I took a bite, I was shocked by how delightfully un-awful it was. I pre-judged the Shoe, and I was wrong.
  • Post #23 - July 30th, 2013, 7:48 pm
    Post #23 - July 30th, 2013, 7:48 pm Post #23 - July 30th, 2013, 7:48 pm
    While we'd (mostly Rene G & PIGMON) been searching hither & tither for Jim, the search for The Shoe is not a terribly challenging endeavour as one can see above. I'd started getting cocky about being able to spot southside Shoe-slinging subshops and it was only a matter of time before striking out. Sho'nuff, we popped into what appeared to be a deadringer Shoe-slinger, and asked the highly animated black owner for one to which he replied, "I don't sell that Ā-rab shit." Further support for the Pakistani hypothesis, I suppose. Wonder if Ol' Eagle Eye Rene G has spotted an iftar Shoe this month.

    trixie-pea wrote:...unwrapped the horrifically moist shoe...


    Image

    We definitely got a soaker wearing that Shoe.
  • Post #24 - July 30th, 2013, 10:01 pm
    Post #24 - July 30th, 2013, 10:01 pm Post #24 - July 30th, 2013, 10:01 pm
    Map
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #25 - July 31st, 2013, 9:39 am
    Post #25 - July 31st, 2013, 9:39 am Post #25 - July 31st, 2013, 9:39 am
    Over the last 4 or so years, I had the good fortune (or gastronomic misfortunes) of accompanying the ever intrepid Rene G on numerous Jim Shoe excursions. Talk about a true culinary education! If you really want to have a food-related purpose while visiting many neighborhoods you usually only read about, experience a Jim Shoe or two. The highlight for me, though, had to be hearing Laikom’s northside foodie friend proclaiming after finishing his first Jim Shoe that it was, “a life changer!!!”

    If, after reading Peter’s great piece, you find a need to discover new Jim Shoe sources around town, make sure your general rule of thumb is to seek them out within roughly 200 yards of any CPD blue light camera. And if you not talking through a bulletproof window with a Pakistani guy, chances are you’re barking up the wrong tree. But please don’t let these minor irritations discourage you from enjoying the hunt for the next great Jim Shoe. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed digging into a food-related research project more.

    If you think that you have only one Jim Shoe experience in you, I’d go for the chopped style topped with giardiniera. The sliced versions, when assembled properly, meaning not slathered in GUY-ro sauce (ersatz tzatziki) or some sort of slightly fermented pseudo-bleu cheese/ranch dressing culture, can also be a treat. But if my recollection serves me correctly, they tend to cool off quicker than the chopped versions. And one of the last things you want to eat is a cold Jim Shoe…even though I heeded Rene G’s advice and took one with me on a flight to Raleigh, NC as a plane nosh (“Boy, everyone around you will be so jealous of what you’re eating…”). That really didn’t work out too well.
  • Post #26 - July 31st, 2013, 11:16 am
    Post #26 - July 31st, 2013, 11:16 am Post #26 - July 31st, 2013, 11:16 am
    I'd call this masterful, but that would be an understatement and a disservice to ReneG's doggedness and genius. Many thinks for this enriching exploration and exposition.
    Just curious - are there any versions with egg?

    Wondering, based on the Pakistani proprietor angle, if this came about as an extension or bread-y variation of a wrap of say hunter beef and gyro - and so a convergence of the italian beef and subcontinental 'roll' (in paratha) filling. I remember finding lettuce awkward in my ersatz 'roll' at Bismillah, a while ago.

    Isn't gym shoes or some phrase that includes that a connotation for 'everything' (hence the inclusion of all meats in house)?
  • Post #27 - July 31st, 2013, 4:49 pm
    Post #27 - July 31st, 2013, 4:49 pm Post #27 - July 31st, 2013, 4:49 pm
    sazerac wrote:Just curious - are there any versions with egg?


    I know what I'm asking for next shoo I get!
  • Post #28 - August 1st, 2013, 10:56 am
    Post #28 - August 1st, 2013, 10:56 am Post #28 - August 1st, 2013, 10:56 am
    tatterdemalion wrote: Wonder if Ol' Eagle Eye Rene G has spotted an iftar Shoe this month.


    Banner quote material, Nab!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #29 - August 1st, 2013, 6:57 pm
    Post #29 - August 1st, 2013, 6:57 pm Post #29 - August 1st, 2013, 6:57 pm
    I love your anthropological unearthings of Chicago's sandwiches.
    "To get long" meant to make do, to make well of whatever we had; it was about having a long view, which was endurance, and a long heart, which was hope.
    - Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
  • Post #30 - August 2nd, 2013, 7:54 am
    Post #30 - August 2nd, 2013, 7:54 am Post #30 - August 2nd, 2013, 7:54 am
    fropones wrote:That thing is so awesome. I definitely need to make another trip out to Super Sub soon. I mean a jim shoe on a pita? Who could ask for more.

    But you should ask for more. Super Sub will give you more! Last year these guys started making the Crispy Philly—sort of a deep-fried Philly steak burrito.

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    I don't think a Crispy Jim Shoe would be an unreasonable request. That would go beyond awesome, no? Marquette Park's Super Sub & Gyro really seems to be pushing the boundaries of Chicago-style junk food.

    In the mood for something healthy? How about a Jim Shoe salad? I'm not making that up.

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    You can get it at Flavor Shack, 2305 W Devon. I had a sandwich there (see below) but not a salad.

    JeffB wrote:I had an excellent lamb gyros taco at Big & Little's yesterday. One can only hope that they catch the Jim Shoe wave and add a high end lowdown shoe to their extensive list of outstanding, offbeat tacos.

    It will be interesting to see who makes the first "upscale" Jim Shoe.

    dicksond wrote:Beautiful work, Peter. Since you remarked on the number of "Yellow Submarine" shops, have you explored the reason? I assume it started in the 70s in reference to the song, but probably has continued beyond that with owners who no longer know anything other than that many sub shops are yellow and it helps them to stand out and attract more business. Just a hypothesis, though, so I am wondering if you asked anyone in your visits.

    Nab asked me the same question when he was in town recently. I have no definitive answer and I never thought to ask any shop owners (just inquiring about the Jim Shoe was often struggle enough). I think yellow has long been associated with Chicago fast food, partly because it's bright and stands out, partly because it's long been used in Vienna Beef signage (and Vienna Sausage before the company changed their name). One might even trace the connection back to 1929, when Oscar Mayer (a Chicago company then) began putting yellow bands around their frankfurters. Anyway, hot dog stands and other fast food places were often painted yellow or other bright colors and I think some of today's sub shops are simply following in that tradition. I'm sure the Beatles' 1966 hit didn't hurt. Here's a long-gone sub shop on Archer that likely was influenced by the song.

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    dicksond wrote:Thanks. Now I need to decide where to go have my first shoo.

    How's the Jim Shoe scene in Naperville? That's not (entirely) a joke. I've hardly explored the suburbs at all and I expect there will be a surprise or two.

    trixie-pea wrote:When I unwrapped the horrifically moist shoe, the sight of gyro sauce (a major source of Jim Shoe anxiety for me) oozing out of the ends turned my stomach. But when I took a bite, I was shocked by how delightfully un-awful it was. I pre-judged the Shoe, and I was wrong.

    I have to admit that I was a little concerned when the Shoe was unwrapped. I'd never seen one so "juicy."

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    Here's trixie-pea after her first bite of a Jim Shoe, trying to reconcile the delicious taste with her negative preconceptions. I was relieved (and a little surprised) when she announced, "It's good." Followed by, "Shocking."

    tatterdemalion wrote:Sho'nuff, we popped into what appeared to be a deadringer Shoe-slinger, and asked the highly animated black owner for one to which he replied, "I don't sell that Ā-rab shit." Further support for the Pakistani hypothesis, I suppose.

    I've speculated the owner was bitter that he was one meat short of a Shoe.

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    tatterdemalion wrote:Wonder if Ol' Eagle Eye Rene G has spotted an iftar Shoe this month.

    Well, last week I sat down at a place on Devon about 20 minutes after sunset and ate a halal Jim Shoe (my first, I think). Does that count?

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    I had convinced myself that Flavor Shack was closed, so I really wasn't expecting to eat a Jim Shoe when I visited Devon to pick up some spices.

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    Very crispy. Extremely salty. The guy behind the counter told me the Jim Shoe was selling well.

    Panther in the Den wrote:Map

    Nice. Did you intentionally omit Sunny Sub on 71st, the worst Jim Shoe I had? That one truly deserves the red flag.

    fropones wrote:
    sazerac wrote:Just curious - are there any versions with egg?

    I know what I'm asking for next shoo I get!

    You'll have to choose your sub shop carefully if you want a Jim Shoe à la Holstein. My impression is that few places offering the Jim Shoe also serve eggs. Fried chicken wings are as close as you'll get most places. If it can't be deep fried, a lot of shops don't want to be bothered. Reviewing my menus and photographs, it looks like Jeffery (2020 E 71st) and J&B (733 W 79th) list eggs on the menu. Also Fire 'n' Ice (1000 W 63rd), one I haven't mentioned before, has a fairly extensive breakfast menu. Stony Sub (8440 S Stony Island) has a skillet of eggs painted on the front but I don't see anything resembling an egg on their menu. It never hurts to ask, but be prepared for disappointment.

    sazerac wrote:Wondering, based on the Pakistani proprietor angle, if this came about as an extension or bread-y variation of a wrap of say hunter beef and gyro - and so a convergence of the italian beef and subcontinental 'roll' (in paratha) filling. I remember finding lettuce awkward in my ersatz 'roll' at Bismillah, a while ago.

    Almost everything I learned suggests the Jim Shoe originated on Chicago's South Side (maybe even before Pakistani ownership of sub shops was common) but surely the current sub shop owners and workers are familiar with traditional meat-filled parathas. Actually makes one wonder why the Jim Shoe taco (or burrito) isn't more common. Probably only a matter of time. It's fascinating watching this evolve.

    sazerac wrote:Isn't gym shoes or some phrase that includes that a connotation for 'everything' (hence the inclusion of all meats in house)?

    Like "the kitchen sink"? I'm drawing a blank but if someone could fill me in, that'd be great.

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