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South Side Cheap Eats: Popper's

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 17, 2006 3:00PM

2006_04_poppers1.jpgWhen Chicagoist started its "South Side Cheap Eats" series, we did so in order to shine a light on the untold culinary landscape of our side of the city. The stories we tell should be treated as cautionary tales, like the "war wound" stories of your flighty uncle. This is one of those times.

You see, we woke up yesterday with a hankerin' for some good Polish food and headed down Archer Avenue with a goal of gorging on some sausage and pierogis from Bobak's. But, our plans were shot to hell when we found the restaurant closed for Easter, Bobak's being - or at least employing - good Polish Catholics. We didn't want to let a trip that far west go to waste and decided to drop in on the closest place that was open. The specialty at Popper's is broasted chicken. Chicagoist is taking an educated guess on this; it's printed in bold on the front and back of their take-out menus. Popper's ownership goes so far as to state that "caring is cooking only with cholesterol free vegetable oils." We would add that "caring" would also be preparing foods with some semblance of flavor. We only have ourselves to blame for not ordering the chicken.

2006_04_poppers2.jpgChicagoist opted instead for the "number 5" Italian beef combo with a bowl of chili (total cost: $7.63). The beef was bone dry with absolutely no seasoning, which we found curious since we requested the sandwich be dipped in au jus. "Caring" must also mean just the slightest hint of sweet peppers and giardinera relish when we ask for "both." Apparently they must be worried about giving their customers heartburn. The chili tasted like an odd blend of sage and flour. No amount of hot sauce or mustard we added could cut that mix. The customer service is friendly, even though the girl manning the cash register made the now obligatory "you look like Jim Belushi" reference regarding our appearance. The rest of the menu is what one would expect - hot dogs, burgers, sammitches, and the like.

As always with our reviews, we ask that you not just take our word for it, unless it's a really good place. If you have a craving for broasted chicken made with care then Popper's is located at 5341 S. Archer. They're open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 12:30 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.