Some eating joints are okay, passable, really not that bad
but they excel in one area they do one thing really well.
Case in point: Eriks Deli in Oak Park (107 N. Oak Park Ave, just north of the El stop). The sandwiches they specialize in are all right: last night, I had a chicken salad club with perfectly engineered lettuce, a crisp completely symmetrical layer balancing the walnut-laced poultry paste, and bacon you can taste.
But thats not why I went to Eriks.
I went for their potato chips, which they make, daily.
When they fry up the chips, they leave the skins on, cut them middling thin, and fry them just right (tan, and a little brown around the edges). Theyre probably the best chips Ive had as natural-tasting as Jays, but without the oiliness; dark and crisp as the many kettle-fried varieties, but fresh, really fresh. Also, as Pee Wee Herman might have said, theyre very potato-ey. But heres the best part: theyre FREE. Thats right. You can just walk in and fill a paper boat of them (I saw this done while I was eating there last night). They have a big bowl across from the checkout station, and people just load up (usually, though, after theyve bought something).
They have a load of okay sauces to dip chips into (hot, bbq, sweet mustard, and of course catsup), and if you order chips with your sandwich (as I did), you get a container of sour cream and green onion for further dipping and dapping.
My guess is there are many places that share this characteristic: they may have a full menu, but they prepare one item (maybe just a side, maybe a whole entrée) very, very well, and thats what draws us back.
Id be interested in knowing if anyone else has taken a ride on a one-trick pony lately.