- 3321 Stadium Drive
- Kalamazoo, MI 49006
- (269) 903-2788
- No Known Website
There has been a big box truck in a parking lot on Stadium Drive that has been taunting me for weeks. Seriously. Taunting me for weeks! How can you put a sign on a building with the words Chicago, Taste, Coming, and Soon and not expect me to drive by often hoping to see the “Now Open” sign.
That day finally came. Earlier this week, we were driving by on our way to downtown and I finally saw the sign I was looking for. The “Now Open” sign was finally there and the lights were on inside. Unfortunately, we already had lunch plans. We had a gift certificate to Honeybaked Ham that had to be used before the end of the year and I was already in the mood for some delicious smoked turkey.
A couple days later, J had an early doctor’s appointment. Since I had to get up anyway, I asked if she wanted to go check the place out for lunch. We had some time to kill between the appointment and the restaurant’s opening so we did the Meijer thing while we were waiting.
At 11:00 sharp, we pulled in to the parking lot of the new Chicago Taste. It’s in the strip mall on Stadium Drive which is also home to Jet’s Pizza. As long as we’ve been on this side of town, that space has been empty so I’m not really sure if there has ever been anything else there or not. The surprising thing to me was the size. It looks like the restaurant actually takes up two spaces in the building. There’s a rather large dining room off to the east side of the space.
The first thing both J and I noticed was how much the place looked like the Chicago-style joints we’re used to see in Chicago. There is a cheap, plastic, Pepsi menu board above the cash register with most of the menu items, but they also print out and laminate specials and highlighted menu items on a regular piece of white copy paper. More prominent specials are on larger posters that are known to plaster the walls of Chicago style joints. I have a feeling this is because they actually ARE from the Chicago area. When the charge showed up on our debit card, the address for Chicago Taste was in Orland Park, IL, a Chicago suburb, and sure enough, there’s a store on 159th and Wolf Road with the same name.
Ordering is done at a cash register in front of a small window that gives you a glimpse in to the kitchen. There’s no doubt what I ordered. Hell, I barely even looked at the menu even though I had just read a number of great reviews on several menu items from a friend on Twitter.
My sandwich of choice every time I’m in a Chicago-style is the Italian beef. I got it with hot peppers…the only way to eat it 🙂 I was never asked if I wanted it dipped or not and I was curious to see what the standard is, so I didn’t ask to have it dipped. I chose not to make it a meal because I didn’t want the pop even though they have Pepsi on the fountain. I did, however, add fries.
J ordered the chicken fingers meal which came with fries and a drink. She was debating between that and a Chicago Hot Dog, but the chicken fingers won out.
Our bill was just over $15. The wait for our food was a little bit longer because the people in front of ordered 9 gyros plus sides so they had a pretty big order to fill. About ten minutes after we ordered, we grabbed the greasy paper bag and headed home to eat.
I was very excited for what I found when I unwrapped the wax paper containing my Italian beef. The soft, flaky bun was overflowing with a thinly sliced Italian beef and topped with a true Chicago giardiniera with jalapeno’s, carrots, and so much more. The beef was tender and juicy and the bun was deliciously chewy. Next time I will definitely ask for it dipped as it needed just a little bit more juice to make it perfect.
J’s chicken fingers were delicious. The large pieces of white meat chicken were fried to a delicious, deep, golden brown. She’s still talking about them a couple days later.
The fries were a little bit of a disappointment. They were typical crinkle cut restaurant fries. When I think Chicago-style, I think fresh cut, skin on, super greasy fries. The fries at Chicago Taste were more like Portillo’s whereas I go out of my way to go to Al’s because their fries are so much better. The fries at Chicago Taste were good, they’re just not what I really like in Chicago fries. J thought hers were a little soggy. Had they been cooked a little more, she probably would have liked them. The order is really large and almost a meal on their own. Not a huge complaint, just a preference thing.
Chicago Taste being right down the road is going to be super dangerous. I can now get a pretty authentic Italian beef whenever I want. As a Chicago (area) (sort of) transplant, I’m really excited about Chicago Taste and can’t wait for the next time I crave an Italian beef (which is actually right now…….)