Johnny's rises above a stretch of State Street packed with non-descript greasy spoons and upscale-casual eateries. Its rather ordinary counter and 25-seat dining area is slightly cleaner but otherwise indistinguishable from the scores of downtown grab-and-go lunch establishments favoring convenience over cuisine. But Johnny's serves up both, advertising 20 lunch and dinner specials on its big board that range from meat in encased and patty form to grilled and barbequed chicken to rib tips, tacos and shrimp. Most reliable are the Greek specialties, including the tasty chicken pita, gyros, kabob and spinach pie.
Johnny is around most days to take your lunch order, warmly greeting a crowd of office workers, Loyola University folk and construction crews. Open tables are scarce between noon and 1 p.m., but you can call ahead for pick up or take out.
Johnny lets you substitute rice for your fries, if you'd like to tone down the assault on your arteries. No matter how you order them, most combos cost less than $7. The breakfast menu ranges from the healthy vegetarian omelet to a gluttonous special—two pork chops served with eggs, hash browns and toast. Better make that wheat toast.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak