Windy City Grille

(Grand Rapids, MI) Every so often, a visitor to will suggest a place we should review. Sometimes it’s the chef, inviting us to try their cuisine, or it’s a fan of the restaurant. Not long ago, someone submitted Windy City Grille in Wyoming, Michigan. We’re always up for a new place, so we headed there for lunch on Saturday...

He Fed:

I have a confession to make: Up until this review, I have never had a Chicago style hot dog. It’s part of the reason I decide to review Windy City Grille, because they claim to have authentic Chicago dogs and I want—nay, need—to fill this gap in my foodie logbook.

The restaurant is tucked into a strip mall with many others. It’s kind of a wonder that they would be able to make it with so much competition around! Inside, it’s clean and simple with sturdy furniture clearly catering to the quick deli lunch crowd. Photos and maps of Chicago line the walls. Top 40 plays on the loudspeaker. There are only two other tables occupied.

We head to the counter, where a nice gentleman points out what is popular, what is good. But I only have eyes for the Chicago Style Vienna Beef Hot Dog. He gives us cups for self-serve fountain drinks and says he’ll bring out the food in a couple minutes. We choose a table in the center of the dining room to wait. A few minutes later, a woman comes out of the back and starts to sweep the floor. She notices we have no paper napkins, and brings us a stack. She seems nice and I begin to wonder if we should tip. It’s a little awkward, ordering at the counter and getting our own sodas, but then having them bring us the food and napkins. In the end, we do not leave a tip.

A short time later, here come the two hot dogs I ordered! They look delicious, topped with all the authentic ingredients. Clustered at one end of the basket are crispy french fries. Time to dig in. My first bite of a hot dog is glorious. I get mustard, onions and the neon-green relish with just a nibble of beef. My second bite I get everything, including the spicy peppers, tomato, and dill pickle. I don’t even notice the celery salt or the poppy seed bun. Everything is fresh and crisp...but, the hot dog is slightly disappointing because it is so small. Nestled at the bottom of the bun, it is difficult to get a bite of beef along with everything else all at once. I really have to work at it.

The fries are pretty good. Crispy, not too greasy, but rather plain. I smother them in ketchup and polish off about half. Portions are generous, though taste is nothing too out of the ordinary.

That sums of the experience as a whole: friendly, laid-back deli atmosphere with solid lunch fare that encourages you to eat quickly. Given Juliet’s experience with her gyro, I would like to head back to try some other Greek dishes.
She Fed:

Windy City Grille looks like a typical strip mall restaurant filled with little tables, a self-serve soda machine and a small counter with cash register where you place your order. The walls are adorned with photos of famous Chicago landmarks and skyline shots.

We arrive a few minutes past noon and there's only one other occupied table. The owner is standing behind the cash register and greets us. The menu is short, offering Chicago dogs, gyros, Italian beef and a few pita sandwiches. I opt for the gyro, hold the tomatoes but with the addition of feta for a buck more, a side of fries and a medium drink.

I fill up our cups—me with Diet Coke and a splash of regular Coke (it's my new thing)—and we pick a table in the center of the room. Our food arrives a very short time later, well under 10 minutes and I fear this will be a ho-hum meal. Anytime my food appears almost instantly I assume it's been languishing under a heat lamp or nuked.

My gyro is humongous. Over half a foot long, the pita bread is stuffed to the gills with shaved gyro meat, slivered white onions, cucumber sauce and a big pile of Feta crumbles. The pita is accompanied by an equally large pile of piping hot French fries. I dig into the fries first, trying to think of a way to tackle the gyro without getting it all over me. The fries are crispy, but not greasy. Usually I'm not a ketchup girl, but these hot little babies are begging for a quick dip in the cold ketchup.

I soon realize there's no graceful way to eat the beastly gyro, so tuck my napkin in and prepare for battle. The meat is flavorful and juicy, the onions have some bite, but not too much and the cucumber sauce is thick and creamy. I lose most of my pita crumbles, but dab at them with the pita and my fries. Clearly made fresh to order, this is one of the best gyros I've ever had. But I fill up quickly and I end up leaving nearly a quarter of the gyro and the fries behind.

Three times during lunch, the owner and another employee (his wife maybe?) stop by our table to make sure everything is alright. It's not cloying and actually refreshing to see such great customer service.

Based on the food and service, Windy City Grille merits a repeat visit. I love a solid gyro and since this place is near Jeremy's office, I can see us enjoying some take away on our deck a few times this summer.

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