Take the Red Line south to the end of the line for an "original" experience. Sure it's a mission, but so was the mission young "Jimmy" Stefanovic made from the former Yugoslavia in 1939. His trek brought Chicago its most famed dog stand, Jim's Original, a Maxwell Street pearl. Since the days of grilled onions choking up the air surrounding the South Loop
stand, the name since expanded to the South Side
on 95th Street, off the Dan Ryan, offering the legendary – and often-imitated – Polish sausage and bone-in pork chop sandwich.
Just like its big brother, this Jim's presents the same menu, walk-up-and-order design and 'round-the-clock hours. The stand never sees a slow moment with the wave of commuters and CTA employees. Third-shift policemen and truckers drop by and refuel. A lack of "original" competition helps keep lines long; you'll find mostly tiresome franchise fast-food restaurants in the area.
The walk-up approach means mostly customers on foot patrol who perhaps then consume their meals pitched beneath a maple tree in the sprawling Abbott Park across the street. Those whose cravings brought along their vehicles may have a hard time finding street parking; however, a small lot can be utilized for ordering and dashing.
Because Jim's serves 24 hours daily, assistant manager Betty Domagla insists the food is always fresh, never frozen, and delivered daily. French fries, imported from Canada and signature to the brand, come free with the purchase of a sandwich. Of course, the Polish sausages and pork chop sandwiches sell well, however you'll uncover a mouthwatering cheeseburger made to order and recent inductions like the fish and chicken breast sandwiches.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez