-Grubbing in Da 'burbs
Where the locals eat.
I grew up in Lincoln Park and have fond memories of the places I ate at as a youth. I was fortunate to have both Demon Dogs (RIP) and Branko's (still rolling) withing walking distance from me as well as other places but none that I frequented as much as those two. Everyone has a place or two like these spots where you not only ate but hung out in. If you grew up in Wilmette or another Northshore suburb nearby that place is where we're headed today, the Chuck Wagon.
a locals favorite in Wilmette, IL
The Chuck Wagon is a little piece of this town and has been since 1972. Located right next door to the movie theater they've been as much of a symbol of the suburb as most any other person or place. Inside it's what some would call cozy while others would say its small. Both are true as is the case with the menu. The walls are covered in photos of past and present customers who showed their love, most likely throughout their high school and college years.
The menu as mentioned has only a few options. Again there's such little space that if anything more than what they had was available it would have to be freezer to fryer so you go here knowing what your going to get. The menu includes gyros, burgers, fried hot dogs and Polish sausage too as well as grilled cheese sandwiches and I believe a fish and chicken option too. But you go here to get one of two things. Neither of which is going to help your heart rate which is why it's the high school kids that can live off this. The Chuck Wagon might have only a few options but a few of them are offered together such as the Niki Special. This is a cheeseburger with gyros meat on top. Try a 'Losh' which adds bacon too.
The Niki Special (Cheeseburger with gyros meat on top)
The other most popular option is a sandwich that could only come from Chicago. Something so bad for you but so damn good. It's not a genius 'Top Chef' type idea either but a grilled cheese sandwich with gyros meat is brilliant and something I loved to get at the now gone CND Gyros. At The Chuck Wagon this sandwich (a gyro melt) is called 'the waitress special'.
I get a craving for one of these super unhealthy delights at least a couple times a year and not surprisingly so, I just got the itch. As all advocates of this hangover helper would agree, it really is better than the sum of it's parts. Gyros meat from the cone which is made and found throughout Chicagoland is the best damn filling for a grilled cheese sandwich your going to find. Get it with everything at Chuck Wagon which includes the other crucial filling, some tomato along with grilled onions and also side of tsatziki sauce. It's easy to see why the youth of the Northshore love this place. It's great (I assume) after a few bong rips down in Bryce's basement and even better the morning after the party put on by Peter who's parents are traveling on their yacht all winter.
The Wilmette Chuck Wagon
1120 Central Ave
Wilmette, IL 60091