The appeal of Johnnie’s is perplexing as it is undeniable. At any given point in time, this old-school fast-food shack will have:
a) A gigantic line of customers streaming out of the building
b) A line of cop cars parked out front on their lunch or dinner break
c) An assembly of teens and/or twentysomethings socializing by their cars nearby
d) All of the above
Why is there such great demand for a place that—let’s face it—isn’t the prettiest eatery around? I’m not sure, but I can venture a good guess. What I do know is that Johnnie’s has excellent Italian beef and great Italian ice, and in an area with a good dose of Italian lineage, that’s a winning formula. Again, the Italian beef is arguably the best in the Chicago area. Johnnie’s is also unique in that it’s got a bit of Seinfeld-esque “Soup Nazi” thing going on, because when the line is long, you better know what you’re ordering and not hold up the line (both regulars and employees will give you evil looks for any unwarranted delays). I presume this efficient, direct service only adds to the place’s vintage appeal. If I had out-of-towners looking for the best Italian beef in Chicago, this is where I would take them.