Sep 8, 2019

Going for the dogs (and fries) at Nicky’s

Whenever the words “Chicago style” are mentioned in a conversation about food, two things inevitably come to mind – pizza and hot dogs.  And as with pizza, every Chicagoan has their favorite local fast food joint that serves up not only dogs, but other favorites – burgers, Italian sausage, Italian beef, gyros, and even pizza puffs.  The choices are seemingly endless, but I’m always up to the challenge of trying a new hot dog joint every time work takes me to the Chicagoland area.     

Nicky’s was the first one I found when I was working in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, close enough to Midway Airport that you can hear (and sometimes see) the airplanes approach to land.  

The reviews were steadily positive, and it didn’t take long for me to see why once I found the one on the corner of Archer and Austin (there are two other locations nearby).  As you can imagine, parking at Nicky’s was quite limited, so I found street parking around the corner and joined the crowd inside.

The vibe inside Nicky’s recalls a time when fast food didn’t need to be franchised. Service is quick and no-frills.  Payment is cash only, but at Nicky’s prices that should never be a problem.  The place smells of fried goodness.  Two Chicago-style hot dogs and fries cost me just $4 and change at the time of my visit. 

The few counter seats inside are inevitably filled, so you’re probably best off placing your order to go.  I passed the short time waiting for my order watching the cooks roll through the orders.  

Once I brought my order back to the car, I started digging into what may be the largest side order of fries I’ve ever seen in a combo meal.  They were piping hot and perfectly crisp, but I had to set some aside to make sure I finished both hot dogs. 

The dogs were good, obviously helped by being filled to the brim with the necessary toppings, but I missed that char-grilled texture I prefer.  The sport peppers Nicky’s uses were exceptional, though.  They certainly don’t cheat you on the pickle spear, either.  

Nicky’s relish was missing that signature neon glow you find on most Chicago dogs, but it tasted excellent otherwise.     

Altogether, Nicky’s was a perfectly enjoyable and affordable fast food throwback.  If I ever make it back, though, I’m definitely trying the “Big Baby” burger that so many believe to be Nicky’s star attraction.  With a pizza puff.  Or a tamale.  I’ll never be able to finish the fries.

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