North Center's premiere destination for solid dogs and pseudo-grumpy service (admit it – surly service gives you that warm, homey feeling), Mangi's fast food restaurant has all the obligatory eccentricities you look for in a neighborhood dive. Relatively greasy comfort food and a couple of beers help make Mangi's inviting, but it's the staff's curt service toward first-timers and warm camaraderie with regulars that solidify the stand's status as a neighborhood hangout. When this reviewer ordered a lunchtime BLT, the guys behind the counter looked incredulous. "This guy wants a BLT?" they said to each other, completely befuddled, as if I had ordered foie gras at 6 a.m.
All the regular staples are here: hot dog & fries ($2.75), Polish & fries ($3.50), cheeseburger & fries ($3.75), fries & fries (if that's your prerogative). Ice cream, shrimp and pizza offer a little zany variety, but there's nothing out of the ordinary greasy American cuisine. Unlike a majority of fast food joints, Mangi's offers a couple of brews to complete the trifecta of burgers, fries and booze (if you're too young, never fear: there's Hawaiian Punch!), serving up Miller Lite, MGD, Icehouse, Budweiser and Bud Light at $2.50 a bottle.
Mangi's unsophisticated appeal emanates from other sources as well. It could get a little hot in there – the rickety old air conditioner unit appears to not have been inspected since 1987. A large Illinois scratch-off lottery machine gleams with the hope that your meal could be covered by the government. A number of cheesy old posters are funny in and of themselves, but the ones for Corona and Coors Lights are especially curious, seeing as it doesn't appear that Mangi's sells them. A semi-dingy restaurant with semi-rude service – sometimes, this is everything you could ask for in a fast food dive.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert