Made my semi-annual pilgrimage to Chicago and the 'burbs a few weeks ago and wanted to submit a report as a follow-up to the Beefathon's that I missed.
I was intending to take my wife and 2 kids out for a regular stop for lunch at Johnnie's in Elmwood Park on 7/5...followed by reliving my childhood memories at Kiddieland. Well, neither happened. At 12:30 on a Monday, Johnnie's was closed. Yikes! What up with that? Not sure if they are always closed Mondays ( I would think not) but they were re-paving the parking lot. Kind of a rude thing to do to me after traveling 2000 miles from SoCal! Kiddieland was suffering from overcrowded quasi-holiday conditions so we were on our way back to Downers Grove for other activities when it hit me...Carm's! Having never been there, for some reason recent postings and such stuck in my mind, as we found it without stopping.
Nice place, some may say too nice. Room for 15 or so to eat inside with a few tables outside as well. Menu is more extensive tham Johnnie's...we got a beef and a combo (both wet, no pepps or giard) an burger for my son and a slice of deep dish sausage pizza. The food in total was a bit pricey IMHO, but other than the so-so pizza (cold, overpriced at $4.25 a slice) the food was impressive. Both the beef and combo were right on flavor and texture-wise...maybe a bit milder tasting than Johnnie's. We were on the way out and aalmost forgot...what about the italian ice? I went back and got a large cup to go...very different from Johnnie's...but incredible! More like pure italian lemonade...much creamier looking and tasting...may even have some egg whites in it.
Johnnie's is legendary and still reigns supreme (argh, the audacity of them being closed!), and when people say the sandwiches are too small, I say bull...at $2 something for a beef and $3+ for a combo they are an outstanding value...get 2 if you are hungry for gosh sakes. And the hot dog and fries for under $2 is one of the best food values anywhere! But back to Carm's. Heck, with better seating, more menu options and closer to the base in DG we may have found a new "home". We will definately be back in December!