Lucky’s Sandwich Company, Chicago
As far as sports bars go, it doesn’t get much better than Lucky’s, located within walking distance of Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. There’s just something about being located in Wrigleyville that makes a sports bar that much cooler, unless of course you happen to be a fan of the Chicago White Sox or St. Louis Cardinals, who probably see nothing cool about it.
Sports-wise, it doesn’t stop at baseball. Lucky’s is also a destination for Chicago Blackhawks fans, so it does know some sports success with the Hawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup, despite being in the shadow of a ballpark where you walk in and realize just how much history hasn’t happened there (Wrigley Field was built in 1914. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908) in its long career.
But Lucky’s is more known for its culinary success. Basically, this is the restaurant that brings the taste of Pittsburgh to the Midwest in the form of the overstuffed sandwich. For those who aren’t familiar with the Pittsburgh institution Primanti Bros., it created the overstuffed sandwich when it added fries and cole slaw to its sandwiches, giving people who needed to use one hand a chance to eat with the other by putting the sides on the sandwich.
Lucky’s got its start when a Pittsburgher came out to the Windy City and brought the food he loved to his new hometown. The result was that Chicagoans got yet another food to be proud of in a city that boasts the Chicago hot dog, deep dish pizza and the legendary pizza puff.
Like at Primanti Bros., all sandwiches at Lucky’s come with your choice of meat, along with cheese, cole slaw, tomatoes and french fries placed on the sandwich. It’s 4 ounces worth of standard deli choices, with selections such as turkey, ham, roast beef, pastrami and capicola dotting the menu, all of which is grilled before being added to your sandwich. Fish, bacon and chicken can also be had, and so can a two-bagger, which includes pastrami and corned beef.
Not only do some people swear by that sandwich, but it’s also one that isn’t on Primanti Bros.’ menu, one of the subtle differences between the original and the Midwest version. The biggest difference between the two is the type of bread they use to hold all of their ingredients together. While Primanti Bros. goes for a standard-cut Italian bread, Lucky’s opts for a thick cut of French bread, which holds the sandwich together quite well and goes very well with the ingredients.
Another small difference is the Lucky’s Challenge, created when a drunk stumbled into the building with an appetite and began consuming sandwiches. In an hour, he put down three sandwiches, and Lucky’s walls are now filled with pictures of those who have performed the same feat. I do not recommend trying this, because these sandwiches are huge. Personally, I’m just fine knocking down one sandwich, but any beyond that and I’d be in trouble. Those with smaller appetites, like my girlfriend Amy, will struggle to finish one. During our trip to Chicago in the winter, she finished about half a sandwich.
Should you decide to try it, you’d be given the option to choose whatever three sandwiches you wish, usually with an egg added to them along with the standard sandwich. I do recommend the egg, because it adds another element of flavor, and at just 50 cents for it, it’s worth the price. I’ve had the ham and cheese and the turkey and cheese, each time with the egg, and it’s definitely been a great addition.
If you want the original, you’ve still got to go to Pittsburgh. But for an imitator, Lucky’s has done quite well for itself, turning into a beloved part of its chosen city in its own right. Imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, and Lucky’s form of flattery does its originator justice.
Time to go: That depends on what kind of atmosphere you want. If you want it loud, busy and raucous, go on a Cubs game day. If not, check the baseball schedule first and avoid days when the Cubs are at home.
Wait during my visit: Lengthy during a visit when the Cubs played at Wrigley, minimal when I returned in January. Basically, how long you wait is determined by whether or not the North Siders have a home game.
Location: Lucky’s main location is at 3472 N. Clark Street in Chicago, specifically Wrigleyville.
Parking: Dream on. Wrigleyville does not have many places to park, as it’s a neighborhood in Chicago. Your best bet is to take the CTA L train’s Red Line to Addison and walk to Lucky’s. It’s about a quarter-mile walk from the CTA station.
Cost: Almost all Lucky’s sandwiches are $7.50.
Specialty items: Overstuffed sandwiches.