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Maxwell Street Polish Sausage w/Fries

Item Purchased: Maxwell Street Polish Sausage w/Fries
Location Purchased: Maxwell Street Express Grill / 1260 S. Union Ave. / Chicago, IL
Price: $2.60 + tax

Review: Oh my god, two sausages in two days. Pretty soon, I’m going to bloat up to the 300 lbs. I weighed in high school and everyone who doesn’t believe I was ever that big will go back to saying “You’re not fat, you’re big boned!”

But really, folks, when you work as close to the Maxwell Street Express Grill as I do, you can’t ignore it forever. This place is a landmark in Chicago…sort of. See, unlike it’s current location, it started in the ’50s on Maxwell Street, right next to the equally historic Jim’s Original Polish stand. Both establishments are run by men who are related to each other, and both stands still stand right next to each other. Though throughout the years, they have moved several times, the (not-so)friendly competition is part of the charm. As you approach Maxwell Street Express Grill, it is not unusual to see a head or two hanging out of the walk-up windows of Jim’s screaming at you that they make a better polish. I’m here to tell you that they both get their food deliveries at the same time from the same vendors. So the selling point has to be the carnivalesque show that each establishment’s workers put on.

Or if you are me, you are convinced that Maxwell Street Express Grill makes their fries better than Jim’s. It may be simple delusion on my part, but I swear the fries from Maxwell are crispier and greasier. And as any college student knows, crispy + greasy = good times.

Both establishments are cheap and both of them now face the Roosevelt Rd. on-ramp to Chicago’s Dan Ryan expressway. The ever-changing neighborhood attracts a circus-fare of loiterers and hangers ons. Most of them try to sell you a bootlegged porno or a pack of socks while you grab your ultra-quick lunch. Some beg for change. Most shoot you dime-store compliments. Due to the crowds of people hanging out around the stand, I have made it a point not to smoke while walking up to get my polish. If you do so, there is what I like to call a cigarette tax inflicted upon you. The cigarette tax consists of five to twelve young males surrounding you, each requesting a cigarette of their own or the end of the one you are currently smoking.

In my opinion, anyone living in Chicago who hasn’t been to Jim’s or Maxwell Street to get a hot dog or a Polish doesn’t have the right to call themselves a citizen of this fair city.

The sausages are juicy, big and cheap, and the 3-minute lunch experience is one you will remember for the rest of your days.

Note (11/10/05): Woah now! Two Maxwell Street Polish already this month. I need to take it easy if I don’t want the heart to rupture, thus ending my enjoyment of Chicago’s best/worst forever. Also, I took a short nap at my desk at work after eating this meat-mixture behemoth. Nitrate overload!

Note (11/23/05): I thought I would start out the holiday gorging right with the unhealthiest lunch I could think of. This time, the fries tasted dry and bland with my order. It was almost as Maxwell St. Grill and Jim’s traded friers for a day.

Note (04/06/06): Due to changes in Jim’s Original’s food preparation, the praises I once sang about Maxwell Street Grill are now null and void. Please read this review for more info.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

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