Pete's is a small but popular chain of Italian beef stands. A sign inside "The Original Pete's" on Stony Island near 79th says they're not affiliated with the Pete's at 113th and Michigan or at 51st and State and thanks us for not patronizing those two. There are several other Pete's scattered around the South Side. Big signs advertise "Home of the 3 Wings for $1 (with Fries and Bread)" but these days the price is up to $1.25. Not too long ago this Pete's used to have a sign--a favorite of mine--stating "We Deliver Expeditiously" but this has been painted over. I'm not sure if they have stopped delivering altogether or simply have slowed down.
The trademark Italian beef ($3.50) is a very large sandwich of almost shredded meat in very salty gravy. I can understand why it's popular but it's not one of my favorites. A generous serving but pretty unidimensional (that dimension being salty meat). Certainly not a terrible sandwich and probably worth a try if you're salt tolerant and interested in exploring the many varieties of Italian beef. Chicken wings are understandably small and are coated with a very salty breading. Crinkle-cut frozen fries and white bread are about what you expect. Not a bad deal but certainly not among the city's best.
Like many other South and West Side places, Pete's serves a Philly cheese steak bearing rather little resemblance to anything you might find in Philadelphia. The sandwich is Italian beef meat and a strong-flavored white cheese that melts when wrapped up in the sandwich. Ordering the sandwich with everything gets you some sautéed green pepper and onion, fresh tomato slices, and a good dousing with sweet barbecue sauce. I kind of liked this thing though it wouldn't make my top ten list and I doubt it would impress too many Philadelphians. It sort of reminds me of some of the "BBQ" sandwiches at Morry's. If I get this one again (and I probably will) I'll be sure to ask for some sport peppers, those would add a lot.
Pete's has quite a large menu with many burger variations (including that South Side fixture, the gyros burger), tacos, nachos, pig ear sandwich (a steal at $2), as well as fried chicken and fish. All fish orders come with spaghetti, fries, slaw, and bread.
A small plaque by the door memorializes "Union" Pete Davis (1951-2000). If Union Pete ate at his place often, it's a wonder he lived that long.
Pete's Italian Beef
7843 S Stony Island Av
(and several other locations)
Open late, take out only