The food served at Windy City Beefs ‘n Dogs definitely isn’t haute cuisine. But, wow, is it good.
Hot dogs and roast beef sandwiches are, by definition, pretty plain. Their neutral nature, however, makes them particularly suitable foils for condiments, and those condiments are the main reason they’ve become two of Chicago’s most renowned culinary exports.
Consider, for example, the vaunted Chicago hot dog ($4.50 as part of a combo with fries). It wouldn’t earn the name unless it was Vienna Beef on a poppy-seed bun, "dragged through the garden" with neon-green relish (Why is the relish neon-green, anyway?) and tomatoes and sport peppers and celery salt and mustard, onions and pickle. It’s the combination of all of those diverse flavors — the musky mustard, springlike tomato and relish, vinegary pickle and just-spicy-enough peppers — and textures, the snapping and crunching and squishing, that combine in, if not a symphony of flavors, at least an extremely effective jam session.
If you want to really indulge, you can get Windy City’s Combo No. 4 ($7.95), which includes not only the aforementioned hot dog (and fries) but also a 3-inch beef sandwich. Three inches? Didn’t sound like much, but it was. I got it wet — dipped is the other option — with Pappa’s Giardinera, sweet peppers and a slice of cheese, the latter of which was fairly indeterminate in the face of the giardinera and peppers. The wet meat and bun were a soggy mess, but in a good way, believe it or not, and with the punch and crunch of the vegetables it was so good that I ate every bit. I ate it with a fork, but I ate it.
We had mulled the idea of ordering a basket of chili-cheese fries, but the pleasant and very helpful woman behind the counter told us we could dress our sides that way (50 cents extra for chili, 50 cents for cheese), and we were glad we did. Windy City’s chili has an impressive depth of flavor, and with the melting shredded cheddar, these were the best chili-cheese fries I’ve had since high school.
Service throughout was great. Windy City is a counter-service place, which means you order at the counter and they bring it to your table. Contact with service people is therefore somewhat limited, but the woman who took our money and brought our food was pleasant and cheerful, and though the guy at the grill was more than a little busy, we heard some friendly bantering with customers who were clearly regulars.
And as you’d expect, the interior is all things Chicago, with sports memorabilia, "Chicago is …" trivia and plenty more.
Windy City also serves burgers and sausage and wings and a few other things, in case you’d rather pass on the hot dogs and Italian beef.
But I can’t imagine why you would.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.Review
Windy City Beefs ‘n Dogs, 7500 W. Lake Mead Blvd.; 410-5016
Pluses: Great Chicago-style food.
Minuses: It’s a pretty small place, so be forewarned.