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The Big Baby—A Chicago Burger Style from the SW Side

The Big Baby—A Chicago Burger Style from the SW Side
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  • Post #91 - May 28th, 2009, 1:47 pm
    Post #91 - May 28th, 2009, 1:47 pm Post #91 - May 28th, 2009, 1:47 pm
    Deko's in Forest Park, mentioned in today's Trib article honoring local fries, advertises the Big Baby in its front window, making it a contender for one of the more northwesterly locations offering this burger (Mickey's is a few blocks east on Harlem).

    Deko's
    7445 Madison
    Forest Park
    708-366-0992
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #92 - May 28th, 2009, 8:08 pm
    Post #92 - May 28th, 2009, 8:08 pm Post #92 - May 28th, 2009, 8:08 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Deko's in Forest Park, mentioned in today's Trib article honoring local fries, advertises the Big Baby in its front window, making it a contender for one of the more northwesterly locations offering this burger (Mickey's is a few blocks east on Harlem).

    Deko's
    7445 Madison
    Forest Park
    708-366-0992
    Panther in the Den - Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:26 pm wrote:Deko's on Madison east of Des Plaines? Had a sign in the window but way too expensive ($5.00)! No discount for a fry delete either.

    Image

    Mickey's is about a mile north on Harlem and it is the best Big Baby in the hood. :)
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #93 - May 28th, 2009, 8:24 pm
    Post #93 - May 28th, 2009, 8:24 pm Post #93 - May 28th, 2009, 8:24 pm
    Panther in the Den wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:Deko's in Forest Park, mentioned in today's Trib article honoring local fries, advertises the Big Baby in its front window, making it a contender for one of the more northwesterly locations offering this burger (Mickey's is a few blocks east on Harlem).

    Deko's
    7445 Madison
    Forest Park
    708-366-0992
    Panther in the Den - Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:26 pm wrote:Deko's on Madison east of Des Plaines? Had a sign in the window but way too expensive ($5.00)! No discount for a fry delete either.

    Image

    Mickey's is about a mile north on Harlem and it is the best Big Baby in the hood. :)


    Based on today's Trib, you may not want to delete the fries. :wink:

    Now, I have two reasons to stop at Deko's.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #94 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:19 pm
    Post #94 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:19 pm Post #94 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:19 pm
    Hi,

    I humbly submit my nomination for the Big Baby found both north and west: Kojaks in Cary, IL of situated on the eastern edge of McHenry County.

    Please note the receipt states Big Baby:
    Image

    The menuboard with Big Baby listed on the right column, fourth item down:
    Image

    Kojaks has been in Cary, Illinos since 1992. The current owner acquired it a few years ago. Until we talked, he assumed the Big Baby was derived from the Telly Savalas detective series Kojak whose signature statement was, "Who loves you baby." Once I learned the method preparation, I advised this was unrelated to the TV, rather to the SW side burger style. When I learned Kojak's had locations in Burbank (south of Midway Airport) and Worth, then it confirmed the SW side roots of Cary's Big Baby sandwich.

    Image

    Not surprisingly, there was a Mother-in-Law preparation called simply Chili Tamales, which the owner gave me a sample made with Tom Tom Tamales:

    Image

    When I arrived to Kojak's I was dreaming of a one-two-punch: Kojak's followed by Italian ice at Boardwalk Bob's next door. Unfortunately Boardwalk Bob's closed due to issues between the owners. They served novelties like Italian ice, soft serve ice cream and funnel cakes.

    Image

    Kojak's
    130 Crystal Street
    (Route 14)
    Cary, IL 60013
    (across from train station)
    847/516-2244

    Kojack's Drive In
    5600 W. 79th St.
    Burbank, IL
    708-424-8090
    (Kitty corner to Chuck's according to Rene G)
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #95 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:25 pm
    Post #95 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:25 pm Post #95 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:25 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    I humbly submit my nomination for the Big Baby found both north and west: Kojaks in Cary, IL of situated on the eastern edge of McHenry County.

    Please note the receipt states Big Baby:
    Image


    Did you specifically request tomato, or was that put on by default? Not traditional for a big baby, although I think the grilled onion and cheese between the patties are more important than the other toppings. Or is that not a tomato at all?
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #96 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:28 pm
    Post #96 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:28 pm Post #96 - July 23rd, 2009, 6:28 pm
    Hi,

    I called Rene G from the car after I left the restaurant. He quizzed me on the condiments, too. There is no tomato or lettuce, you're seeing the ketchup.

    I failed to mention it earlier, this was a pretty well made Big Baby.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #97 - July 23rd, 2009, 7:33 pm
    Post #97 - July 23rd, 2009, 7:33 pm Post #97 - July 23rd, 2009, 7:33 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Based on today's Trib, you may not want to delete the fries. :wink:

    Now, I have two reasons to stop at Deko's.

    I couldn't locate that article. What did it say?
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #98 - September 11th, 2009, 12:01 pm
    Post #98 - September 11th, 2009, 12:01 pm Post #98 - September 11th, 2009, 12:01 pm
    In episode 9 of The Cheeseburger Show, Kevin Pang focuses on the Big Baby.

    Image

    We visit Nicky's on Archer & Austin and Nicky's on Kedzie & 58th. Gabutto Burger in the Mitsuwa food court is also featured. Show archives can be found here.
  • Post #99 - September 19th, 2009, 1:09 am
    Post #99 - September 19th, 2009, 1:09 am Post #99 - September 19th, 2009, 1:09 am
    Heading through East Chicago the other night, on our way to see the Gary RailCats in what could be called the World Series of the Northern League, eagle-eyed PIGMON spotted a most unexpected sign.

    Image

    On the front of Columbus Drive Gyros you might just be able to make out the banner advertising Saul's Big Baby Special. Unable to resist seeing Northwest Indiana's take on this Chicago specialty we pulled over and ordered one. Oddly, there's a choice of a Single Baby ($1.99), a Double Baby ($2.99) or a Triple Baby ($3.99). Of course we opted for the double.

    Image

    It strays from the classic Big Baby formula in many ways: no sesame seeds on the bun; cheese on top of (as well as between) the patties; dressed with lettuce, tomato and raw red onion; no grilled onions. This last deviation is, of course, the most serious. Not an awful burger but it ain't no Baby.

    I find it fascinating that the name (if not the recipe) has migrated to Northwest Indiana. The Big Baby must have been added to Columbus Drive's menu quite recently. It's only advertised on two new banners (one inside, one out) but doesn't appear on the main menu board or on the photocopied takeout menu.

    Here are a couple other sightings of the Big Baby well outside the city.

    David Hammond wrote:Deko's in Forest Park, mentioned in today's Trib article honoring local fries, advertises the Big Baby in its front window, making it a contender for one of the more northwesterly locations offering this burger (Mickey's is a few blocks east on Harlem).

    Cathy2 wrote:I humbly submit my nomination for the Big Baby found both north and west: Kojaks in Cary, IL of situated on the eastern edge of McHenry County.

    The Big Baby continues to crawl outward from its birthplace around Midway.

    Columbus Drive Gyros
    502 W Columbus Dr
    East Chicago IN
    219-397-4976
  • Post #100 - September 19th, 2009, 8:18 am
    Post #100 - September 19th, 2009, 8:18 am Post #100 - September 19th, 2009, 8:18 am
    Panther in the Den wrote:Deko's on Madison east of Des Plaines? Had a sign in the window but way too expensive ($5.00)! No discount for a fry delete either.

    Image



    Doesn't the fact that the sign states CHAR-BROILED automatically disqualify it from being a Big Baby?
  • Post #101 - January 29th, 2011, 9:02 am
    Post #101 - January 29th, 2011, 9:02 am Post #101 - January 29th, 2011, 9:02 am
    Image

    99 cents for a Big Mickey at Mickey's in Oak Park on Harlem. It would be hard to find a better burger for a better price.

    [Note: onions are here inserted, with cheese, between the two patties]
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #102 - January 29th, 2011, 9:24 am
    Post #102 - January 29th, 2011, 9:24 am Post #102 - January 29th, 2011, 9:24 am
    David Hammond wrote:Image

    99 cents for a Big Mickey at Mickey's in Oak Park on Harlem. It would be hard to find a better burger for a better price.

    [Note: onions are here inserted, with cheese, between the two patties]



    I've had WAY too many of those over the years. Somehow they never disappoint.
    Regardless of the outrage I'll have directed at me, you can keep 5 Guys - gimme Mickey's.
  • Post #103 - January 29th, 2011, 9:35 am
    Post #103 - January 29th, 2011, 9:35 am Post #103 - January 29th, 2011, 9:35 am
    zoid wrote:I've had WAY too many of those over the years. Somehow they never disappoint.
    Regardless of the outrage I'll have directed at me, you can keep 5 Guys - gimme Mickey's.


    Micky's hamburgers are much juicier than Five Guys, with the advantage of being lightly seasoned with the gyros meat that's warmed on the same griddle. :wink:
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #104 - January 29th, 2011, 10:22 am
    Post #104 - January 29th, 2011, 10:22 am Post #104 - January 29th, 2011, 10:22 am
    LOL -
    I was gonna update this thread with some somber news. In my recent Clipper Mag, it seems the new advertised priced of the Big Mickey is...
    Gulp...
    :cry: :cry: :cry:
    <regainingcompusure>

    $1.19! :evil:
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #105 - January 29th, 2011, 5:26 pm
    Post #105 - January 29th, 2011, 5:26 pm Post #105 - January 29th, 2011, 5:26 pm
    zoid wrote:I've had WAY too many of those over the years. Somehow they never disappoint.
    Regardless of the outrage I'll have directed at me, you can keep 5 Guys - gimme Mickey's.


    No outrage here. Mickey's opened up about 1.5 blocks from my parents' house when I was in junior high, I believe. The number of Big Mickeys (and other menu options) I had there just through high school alone would be disturbing, but I have no complaints :)
  • Post #106 - February 5th, 2011, 5:30 pm
    Post #106 - February 5th, 2011, 5:30 pm Post #106 - February 5th, 2011, 5:30 pm
    I tried the "Big Mickey" at the Mickey's on Cicero in Oak Forest today. It was not the juicy burger described above. The grilled onions were inserted between the 2 very thin patties as described but the onions hadn't spent very long on the griddle and were nearly raw. The patties had spent too long on the griddle; they were fairly dry and the burger as a whole was somewhat of a chore to get through. Also, does the Big Mickey in Oak Park come with lettuce and tomatoes? This one did. Still, if I'd paid $0.99 or even $1.19 for the burger I'd feel like I got my money's worth I guess. At $2.25, the most positive thing I can say about it is that it was not McDonald's.

    Mickey's Gyros II
    15221 Cicero Ave
    Oak Forest, IL 60452-2403
    (708) 687-1400 ‎
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #107 - February 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
    Post #107 - February 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm Post #107 - February 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
    JimTheBeerGuy wrote:I tried the "Big Mickey" at the Mickey's on Cicero in Oak Forest today. It was not the juicy burger described above. The grilled onions were inserted between the 2 very thin patties as described but the onions hadn't spent very long on the griddle and were nearly raw. The patties had spent too long on the griddle; they were fairly dry and the burger as a whole was somewhat of a chore to get through. Also, does the Big Mickey in Oak Park come with lettuce and tomatoes? This one did. Still, if I'd paid $0.99 or even $1.19 for the burger I'd feel like I got my money's worth I guess. At $2.25, the most positive thing I can say about it is that it was not McDonald's.

    Mickey's Gyros II
    15221 Cicero Ave
    Oak Forest, IL 60452-2403
    (708) 687-1400 ‎

    Nope. No salad and no $2.25 price.

    Also, juicy as pictured (and reported above).
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #108 - March 1st, 2011, 5:15 pm
    Post #108 - March 1st, 2011, 5:15 pm Post #108 - March 1st, 2011, 5:15 pm
    I was running errands last night and stopped in for a Big Mickey at the Harlem location in Oak Park.
    I'm happy to report it's as good as ever, and at $1.19 the phrase "bang for the buck" has rarely if ever been more appropriate.
  • Post #109 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 pm
    Post #109 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 pm Post #109 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 pm
    zoid wrote:I was running errands last night and stopped in for a Big Mickey at the Harlem location in Oak Park.
    I'm happy to report it's as good as ever, and at $1.19 the phrase "bang for the buck" has rarely if ever been more appropriate.


    The price is right, but crap, it's not a Big Baby: condiment disposition is all wrong! Two layers of cheese? Onions in the middle?

    Why did I not notice this before today at lunch?

    Whatever.

    Anyway, Ryan Poli of Little Market Brasserie just alerted me on FB that he's going to be serving the Big Baby at this new place, which represents the first cross-over, as far as I'm aware, of this low-end food to fancy-pants environs (not sure it's actually on the menu yet).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #110 - January 29th, 2013, 10:19 pm
    Post #110 - January 29th, 2013, 10:19 pm Post #110 - January 29th, 2013, 10:19 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I humbly submit my nomination for the Big Baby found both north and west: Kojaks in Cary, IL of situated on the eastern edge of McHenry County.

    Please note the receipt states Big Baby:
    Image

    A noteworthy finding; Big Babies in the outlying suburbs, are not very common. Three and a half bucks (three and a half years ago)? Suburban pricing for sure. Note the ketchup (and mustard?) on top, not under the patty stack as Nicky taught his disciples. This reinforces my belief that the farther from Midway, the lower the probability of finding a proper Big Baby.

    David Hammond wrote:The price is right, but crap, it's not a Big Baby: condiment disposition is all wrong! Two layers of cheese? Onions in the middle?

    Why did I not notice this before today at lunch?

    Ah, but you did notice (at least the onion placement):

    On Jan 29, 2011, David Hammond wrote:[Note: onions are here inserted, with cheese, between the two patties]

    Mickey's is ten miles from Midway, far enough that deviations are not surprising, but close enough that they ought to know better.

    David Hammond wrote:Anyway, Ryan Poli of Little Market Brasserie just alerted me on FB that he's going to be serving the Big Baby at this new place, which represents the first cross-over, as far as I'm aware, of this low-end food to fancy-pants environs (not sure it's actually on the menu yet).

    I notice this burger comes dressed with spicy mayo (in addition to the proper condiments) and costs $13.50. That would give some southwest siders a good laugh. I have to say, though, it looks awfully good (even if the cheese placement isn't quite by the book). Scofflaw doesn't exactly qualify as fancy-pants but Chef Mickey once offered the Big Baby as a special. I can't seem to find a photo but it was a real beauty.

    I thought I'd add a couple Baby pictures from the last year. Anthony's is a classic Chicago Greek fast food joint near the southeast corner of Midway. I believe the owner, Anthony Vassiliou, got his start working for Nicky, the father of the Big Baby. As you might expect the burger is properly assembled.

    Image

    The patties may be a bit smaller than is ideal but at $2.29 it's difficult to complain too much.

    Not far from the opposite corner of Midway is Nicky's at Archer & Austin, the source for the best Big Baby. It's one of the original Nicky's and the building hasn't changed much. Jim Lilas, who runs the place with his son, also got his start working for Nicky. The Big Babies are made the way they always have been.

    Image

    I have a feeling if Nicky himself came back from Greece and tried one he'd nod and say, "Yeah, that's pretty good."

    Anthony's
    4720 W 63rd St
    Chicago
    773-585-7180

    Nicky's
    6142 S Archer Av
    Chicago
    773-585-3675
  • Post #111 - January 30th, 2013, 6:52 am
    Post #111 - January 30th, 2013, 6:52 am Post #111 - January 30th, 2013, 6:52 am
    We're probably headed to Little Market this weekend for a Big Baby, and I'm expecting it to be quite good, though I'm not crazy about the double layers of American cheese. And the onions are in the center (it happens). Still, I'm guessing this may be the tastiest version of the BB we've had.

    Is the Little Market version the first example of the BB in a higher end restaurant with a price in double-digits?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #112 - January 30th, 2013, 8:00 am
    Post #112 - January 30th, 2013, 8:00 am Post #112 - January 30th, 2013, 8:00 am
    David Hammond wrote:We're probably headed to Little Market this weekend for a Big Baby, and I'm expecting it to be quite good, though I'm not crazy about the double layers of American cheese. And the onions are in the center (it happens). Still, I'm guessing this may be the tastiest version of the BB we've had.

    Little Market Brasserie to Midway: 12 miles. Yes, it's understandable. It really ought to be called a Big Mickey. It's almost an exact copy of the Oak Park burger, isn't it? I'm just having a little fun with it; I'm sure it is a very tasty burger and it's cool that Chef Poli put it on the menu.

    David Hammond wrote:Is the Little Market version the first example of the BB in a higher end restaurant with a price in double-digits?

    Scofflaw's eight-dollar Big Baby was the priciest version I'm aware of.
  • Post #113 - January 30th, 2013, 8:44 am
    Post #113 - January 30th, 2013, 8:44 am Post #113 - January 30th, 2013, 8:44 am
    Rene G wrote:it's cool that Chef Poli put it on the menu.

    He gives a big baby shout-out to you on his blog
    http://ryanpoli.com/
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #114 - January 30th, 2013, 1:24 pm
    Post #114 - January 30th, 2013, 1:24 pm Post #114 - January 30th, 2013, 1:24 pm
    Great homage by Chef Poli. Brings me back to 8th grade and my frequent trips to Mickey's on Harlem for their version, The Big Mickey. $.99 for a wax paper-wrapped mound of greasy goodness.

    Classic counter guy too....best order taker/caller ever.

    "Two Big Mickeys no pickles, on order fries with cheese, one lake michigan, for here to stay please."

    Flawless every time.
    Anything worth doing is worth overdoing
  • Post #115 - January 30th, 2013, 1:49 pm
    Post #115 - January 30th, 2013, 1:49 pm Post #115 - January 30th, 2013, 1:49 pm
    cheffjeff wrote:Classic counter guy too....best order taker/caller ever.

    "Two Big Mickeys no pickles, on order fries with cheese, one lake michigan, for here to stay please."

    Flawless every time.


    I still fondly recall the old Greek proprietor of the Kojak's on the west side of Harlem, a bit south of 111th. They had a cheap hot dog special when we were kids, and grandparents took us frequently as a result. Every time somebody ordered one, he'd thrice call out the name in rapid succession--"BigBabyBigBabyBigBaby!"--with such gusto.

    Always wondered how the various Kojak's stands were related. Alas, mine is gone for some years now, but this thread keeps its memory alive.
  • Post #116 - January 30th, 2013, 2:08 pm
    Post #116 - January 30th, 2013, 2:08 pm Post #116 - January 30th, 2013, 2:08 pm
    Hi,

    I met the guy own owns the Kojak's in Cary. Until I explained the origins of the Big Baby to him, he thought it was a sandwich homage to Telly Savalas.

    The old location of Chuck's had a Kojak's within a block or so. I never paid attention to it until I was in the Cary location.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #117 - January 31st, 2013, 9:50 am
    Post #117 - January 31st, 2013, 9:50 am Post #117 - January 31st, 2013, 9:50 am
    cheffjeff wrote:Classic counter guy too....best order taker/caller ever.

    "Two Big Mickeys no pickles, on order fries with cheese, one lake michigan, for here to stay please."

    Flawless every time.


    Growing up, my brothers and I were always fascinated with the guy at the counter at the Mickey's in Oak Forest. I remember hearing him recite an order perfectly that it took the customer about 2 minutes to finish.
  • Post #118 - January 31st, 2013, 10:22 am
    Post #118 - January 31st, 2013, 10:22 am Post #118 - January 31st, 2013, 10:22 am
    Does the method of preparation make a difference in taste versus a "regular" double cheeseburger with grilled onions. An In-N-Out double cheeseburger prepared "animal style" has a very distinct taste and texture due, probably due to the mustard grilling. Is the same true of a Big Baby?
  • Post #119 - January 31st, 2013, 10:38 am
    Post #119 - January 31st, 2013, 10:38 am Post #119 - January 31st, 2013, 10:38 am
    ld111134 wrote:Does the method of preparation make a difference in taste versus a "regular" double cheeseburger with grilled onions. An In-N-Out double cheeseburger prepared "animal style" has a very distinct taste and texture due, probably due to the mustard grilling. Is the same true of a Big Baby?


    My theory, more on "assembly" than "preparation" is that because condiments – mustard, ketchup and pickles – are on the bottom heel of the bun, when you bite in, these flavors hit your tongue more immediately and completely than they would if they were on the top, as they usually are.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #120 - January 31st, 2013, 11:14 am
    Post #120 - January 31st, 2013, 11:14 am Post #120 - January 31st, 2013, 11:14 am
    David Hammond wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:Does the method of preparation make a difference in taste versus a "regular" double cheeseburger with grilled onions. An In-N-Out double cheeseburger prepared "animal style" has a very distinct taste and texture due, probably due to the mustard grilling. Is the same true of a Big Baby?


    My theory, more on "assembly" than "preparation" is that because condiments – mustard, ketchup and pickles – are on the bottom heel of the bun, when you bite in, these flavors hit your tongue more immediately and completely than they would if they were on the top, as they usually are.


    Would I achieve the same results for a "regular" double cheesburger with grilled onions if I flipped it and ate it upside down? :lol:

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