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in Edgewater or Granville on the Red line

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Patio Beef

View Map6022 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 764-8500
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Editorial Review of Patio Beef

What looks to be a rural fast-food shack awkwardly situated on a busy stretch of Broadway is actually Edgewater's best kept secret. Ominously located across from a health-food store, Patio Beef is a den of blue-collar camaraderie. The menu displays a solid understanding of Chicago's four food groups (cheese, meat, bread, potatoes), making this little mom-and-pop joint the best of the grease-laden lot.

The drill is easy: strain your neck choosing from the giant menu, order it up, go fill your fountain soda, and wait the short-order three minutes for your meal. Wet or dry, the Italian beef is done particularly well here, as is the everything hot dog. Be sure to order a side of perfectly crisped and salted fries. If you're feeling particularly feisty, ask for the Cajun fries, a side that's usually unlisted on the menu, but always available. With most entrees under the $5 mark, a reasonable person would expect this place to be filthy. Not so. The main dining room resembles a hospital cafeteria, with tiled floors clean enough to eat off of. Brick walls and a row of plants separate the tiny annex, which features benches with enormous patio umbrellas; while not exactly practical interior decor, the umbrellas are a charming ode to the joint's name. Colorful benches are built right into the outside of the building, right next to a sizable parking lot. Usually packed around lunchtime, Patio Beef is a fast-food destination that's perfected the simple pleasures of American fare—an accomplishment that's garnered it many loyal customers.

Average cost: <$10

Centerstage Reviewer: K. Tighe

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10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday

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chicago, metromix