South Side Cheap Eats: Bridgeport Restaurant

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 3, 2006 6:40PM

2006_04_Bridgeport Restaurant.jpgEven before the question was asked, Chicagoist knew that its readership was opinionated about diners. Our new infatuation with Eleven City Diner was cut short by a power outage Saturday, so we decided to stick close to home yesterday and head down to an old neighborhood standby. The Bridgeport Restaurant was as close as we got to The Ballmall Formerly Known As Comiskey - we had tickets to Wrestlemania. The combination of springing the clocks forward and an early evening imparting our knowledge of alcohol to Dutch jazz musicians left us a might peckish and our first choice, the Ramova Grill, taken out of play by our desire to stay in bed.

If the deli is the domain of good kosher cooking, a great diner should be owned by Greeks (we'll now take a pause for some ancestral pride). The Hellenic-owned Bridgeport Restaurant is one of many places to get a quick, filling meal in the home of the World Champs. When he was alive and mobile Negro League legend Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe was a frequent customer. Our usual meal here is a bowl of chili, the chicken parmesan dinner, and a glass of Pepsi: free refills. The pasta is almost always overcooked, and we have to stifle our gag reflex when we inadvertently bite into a bay leaf, but what the chili and entree are lacking in flavor is more than remedied by copious amounts of hot sauce. Specials are listed on a dry erase board by the cash register.

Thanks to the smoking ban our recent visits to the Bridgeport Restaurant have been a roller coaster ride of new smells. As the aroma of stale cigarette smoke fades like memories of drunken last call futility, we're picking up scents we hadn't noticed before: ferns; anti-bacterial sanitizer from the restrooms; the body odor of regular customers; the residue of salt in the coffee pots as an abrasive. This is the diner culture Eleven City should be striving for. Experience it for yourself . The Bridgeport Restaurant is located at 3500 S. Halsted. Their phone number is (773) 247-2826