Has there ever been a place so ready for franchising, and yet so overlooked?
With the white clapboard exterior, blazing neon sign and other Americana plastered outside, and an inside wall-to-wall with newspaper articles, kitschy "flair," seats from Comiskey Park and other Chicago-related whatnot, Chicago Joe's seems ready and bursting at the seams to sell "Chicago!" to the world. Or at least it was ready a few years ago - Joe's seems to have settled into a comfortable niche of part comfort-food joint, part seafood purveyor, part festival, and appears to be happy with the bargain.
The menu skews towards all things Mom, as evidenced by (one of) their taglines, that "There's two places to eat - Joe's and Home." The menu is filled with meatloaf, burgers, club sandwiches, sloppy Joes (natch), fish, chicken, and their pride and joy, BBQ ribs in the fall-off-the-bone tradition. Many plates come with a side of steamed veggies, as if to say "finish these and you can have dessert." Cheap oysters and clams feature in daily specials, and the beer list runs from your run-of-the-mill macrobrews all the way to Guinness and Corona, which is to say, standard.
Parking is available when you can squeeze in, standard brunch menu gets served on Sunday, outdoor seating sets you along beautiful Irving Park Road during the warmer months, and otherwise Joe's is a friendly place to spend an hour with a plate of meatloaf and a brew. Nothing will blow you away, but nothing will drive you elsewhere, either. Some might call it "average" or even "unspectacular," but Joe's just screams "comfort" above anything else.
Average cost: $10-$20