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South Side Cheap Eats: Howie's

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 23, 2006 2:45PM

2006_03_howies1.jpgWhile Chicagoist awaits the imminent opening of Eleven City Diner and breaking in the on-duty soda jerk they're promising we decided to walk two blocks south to a place that's been serving up affordable food for over two years. Nestled in the middle of a packed block for dining that includes the trendy Opera, Gioco, and Zapatista, proprietor Howard "Howie" Stein advertises his eponymous restaurant as "the South Loop's neighborhood joint." While Howie's doesn't have the pretension level of its neighboring restaurants, the atmosphere is perfect for enjoying a quick nosh; the quality of the food is impeccable for a fast food joint; and, compared to its neighboring restaurants, the prices are affordable enough to fit any budget.

2006_03_howies3.jpgHowie's serves basic sandwiches, appetizers, soups and salads in semi-self serve style: after you place your order you take your seat and the food is brought to you while you gather your condiments for the meal. Prices range from $2.25 for a jumbo hot dog - Howie's proudly serves Vienna Beef- to $10.95 for a Maryland crabcake sandwich with fries. All sandwiches come with a pickle wedge and coleslaw; for two bucks more you can make it a combo. Our first visit to Howie's netted us two hot dogs with fries for around six dollars. The fries were home cut and full of flavor while the aforementioned hot dog was served hardcore Chicago style. Sport peppers rule.

2006_03_howies2.jpgYesterday we left work early and ordered the grilled buffalo chicken sandwich as a combo ($8.70), along with a small bowl of chili teeming with seasoned meat ($3). Between the chili and the sandwich Chicagoist more than received its share of capsaicin for the day. The sandwich comes with a sizeable side of blue cheese sauce, the remainder of which we utilized for the fries. Sitting at the counter with nowhere to go, we ate in total leisure.

Howie's serves breakfast all day long, has both a soda fountain and soft drinks in bottles. Beer and wine is also available for those of us who still practice the dying art of having a cocktail with our lunch. If you live in the South Loop or near south side Howie's delivers: their delivery area stretches from Congress Blvd. to 26th Street and Halsted to the Lake (that's right: Bridgeport rates!!). So if you live or work in the South Loop try Howie's for a quick bite. Howie's is located at 1310 S. Wabash and their phone number is (312) 461-0944.