Over the years Ive been surprised how often Home of the Hoagy comes up when I ask people their favorite "guilty pleasures." It came up yet again a few weeks ago so I decided I needed to find out what this is all about.
Ordering is simple. Steak sandwich, thats what you want. Hot or sweet peppers? Go with the sweet (trust me). Fries arent included so maybe get an order, with sauce of course. Stand back and wait a while for your number to be called, then pay and grab your sack from the bulletproof turntable.
The steak sandwich ($4.39) is a soft chewy sub roll (Gonella?) overflowing with coarsely chopped beef saturated with a very sweet, slightly spicy reddish sauce. Its garnished with a few tomato slices and chunks and rings of fluorescent green candied bell pepper. Brilliant in more ways than one. This sandwich is a juicy, sticky, addictive mess. Fries come drowning in way too much sweet "steak sauce" but go nicely with the sandwich. Finally I understand.
Now, Im not usually a big fan of sweet sauces and garnishes with meat but somehow it works very well here. As one who usually despises sweet barbecue sauces, Im surprised how much I like this sandwich. The peppers are remarkable, akin to pickled watermelon rind. The other south side steak hoagy shops Ive tried use a similar sweet sauce and similar sweet peppers but theyre just not the same. In any case this is the best--and by far the sweetest--version Ive had.
The Special Hoagy ($3.89) is the same sub roll stuffed with a huge amount of not-so-great cold cuts, lots of raw onion, some tomato, pickle slices, and pepperoncini. The whole thing is served cold, doused in way too much (slightly sweet) oil and vinegar. Not too bad actually but nowhere near as special as the steak sandwich. On Tuesday small regular hoagies are half price. Ham or turkey hoagies, hot dogs, Polishes, and tamales are available but why bother? Also a fair variety of hand packed ice cream.
So is it worth a trip from across the city? Sure it is. Need more incentive? Home of the Hoagy isnt all that far from the Pullman Historic District, worth looking around if youve never seen it. Its even closer to Old Fashioned Doughnuts (11248 S Michigan) for excellent handmade donuts and apple fritters and also I-57 Rib House (1524 W 115th) for very good rib tips and hot links that are truly hot. Both OFD and I-57 were discussed here not long ago. Soak up a little architectural history as well as some grease and sugar all in a single trip.
Home of the Hoagy is take out only although there is a weird round stand-up table with a trash can in the center that I suppose you could eat at if youre brave enough. Finally, just to avoid confusion, these are Chicago hoagies, not necessarily closely related to their east coast counterparts. If you go expecting an Philly cheesesteak, you may be be very disappointed.
Home of the Hoagy
"And the Famous Steak Sandwich"
1312 W 111th St
(CTA: #111 bus from Red Line 95th St stop)
From an interview with DJ and producer, Boo Williams.
Interviewer: "What are your favorite restaurants in Chicago?"
Boo: "Home of the Hoagie and Pete's Italian Beef."
Heres a post on Petes:
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