With the second generation of Ziampara grill masters at the helm, Bucktown's bright, unassuming hot dog spot has been charred meats and charming customers for more than 55 years.
Over the course of time, a few things have changed: the fašade got fancier, the interior was rehabbed, and pizza puffs and breakfast specials were added to the menu. But owner George Ziampara hasn't changed his style. It's first-come, first-served, and your food doesn't hit the grill until you order it.
Vienna Beef hot dogs, sausage and brauts are the main attractions for hipsters in hoodies, boot-clad workmen, firemen from the 14th District station and parents with toddlers in tow. But of the dozen or so $5-$6 specials, all "delicious" according to a procession of handwritten signs, the gyros are the tastiest. Hot off the grill, messy and stuffed to the point of bursting, they're some of the best you'll find outside Greektown.
On my last visit, I tried the Grecian Chicken Salad, which Ziampara calls "A Taste of Heaven." No doubt, the enormous bowl of veggies, feta and palate-pleasing poultry was filling and, at $7.50, worth the extravagance.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak