Maxwell Street Depot – Bridgeport
- 411 W. 31st Street
- Chicago, IL 60616
- (312) 326-3514
- No Known Website
The end is near. I know most of you haven’t cared, but here it is. The last of my vacation blogs. The last (for a while anyway) of non-Michigan blogs. I spent a great 10 days away from Kalamazoo. I got to spend time with my wife and kids, my parents, brother, nieces, nephews, aunts, in-laws and my best friend from elementary school. It was nice to get away. It was nice to check out new cities and places from my past.
The vacation wrapped up with a yearly tradition. My dad, my brother, my childhood friend, and I get together once a year to go to a White Sox game. This year, we also got together for a game in St. Louis, but that was an add on, not a replacement. I don’t think the other three really liked it, but I pushed to have the two games on back-to-back weekends. I wanted to bookend a vacation with baseball.
The game isn’t the only part of the tradition. Tailgating is a big part too. This actually started in 2009. I wanted my bachelor party at a ballgame. My brother got tickets and I found an amazing wing place. After that, the group was cut down to four guys, but the wings stayed. We had to find something else for a couple of years when our go-to wing place went out of business then came back with a different owner, but it was always wings from somewhere.
I wasn’t thinking when I pushed the back-to-back weeks the first week in June. Our White Sox game was going to be a 1:00 start. Our wing place doesn’t open until noon. Parking lots open at 11:00. We had a little bit of a conundrum. Where to get wings?!
J had a good idea. Get the wings on Friday night and just heat them up in the oven Saturday morning. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good option and the only way we were going to get the wings we wanted.
L and I were still at my parents about an hour south of Chicago until late in the evening. My nieces had a softball game at 6:00 PM and I wanted to see them play. We left for Chicago at a little after 7:00…getting to L’s parents around 8:30. By the time I got L in bed, settled down, and asleep, it was after 9:30. The wing place is open until 4:00 AM, so I had time, but it’s not in a great neighborhood. Still, I wanted wings.
I called in my order in the driveway of my in-laws then headed in to the city to pick them up. I had a little bit of a wait when I got there so they gave me some fries and a pop for my troubles. That would have been enough for dinner…if I didn’t have other plans.
After picking up the wings, I headed over to the area near U.S. Cellular Field. I was in the mood for some good, greasy Chicago food and there’s a spot over there that I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time.
Maxwell Street Depot on the corner of 31st and Canal in Bridgeport is one of a couple Maxwell Street Depots in the city and part of the larger Maxwell Street Polish. The building is all kitchen with a walk up window right on the sidewalk on 31st Street. There also appears to be a small inside space with an order counter, but the outside window was open and that’s where the line was. This is also one of the rare places in Chicago that has a parking lot. There’s a big lot right next to the building actually on the corner of 31st and Canal. You don’t have to try to find street parking to find good food. There’s a long window looking into the kitchen and a counter that you can use to eat on if you either don’t want to take it home or eat in your car. There’s no seating at this location and that’s what makes it uniquely Chicago.
The menu at Maxwell Street Depot is small. It’s all sandwiches, including the famous Maxwell Street polish, but what I was looking for was something unique to Maxwell. The pork chop sandwich.
I actually ordered the Double Pork Chop sandwich and all of the sandwiches come with fries, so I had a full meal. The sandwich was $8.50 out the door, but I threw the other $1.50 from my 10:00 in to the tip jar. I don’t believe any of the Maxwell Street locations take credit, so I knew going in I needed to have enough cash to get what I wanted.
The pork chop sandwich comes with mustard and onions. I asked for the onions to be left off, but they’re kind of like White Castle burgers in that they chops are grilled on top of the onions, so they scraped off what they could and I ended up scraping a few more off when I got home to eat.
The two large chops were placed on to a cheap white bun and wrapped up them dumped into a paper sack with the fries. I was able to start with the fries on my way back to the suburbs. They were nothing special. Just crispy restaurant style fries with a little bit of salt. There wasn’t a lot of them but that’s ok considering they’re included in the price of the meal. If I wanted more, I could have gotten a side order but I knew I had enough with the sandwich.
The pork chop sandwiches at Maxwell Street Depot are unlike anything in the world. Why is that? They’re bone-in pork chops. Seriously, you have to eat around the bone while you’re eating a sandwich…and I had two pork chops, so I lined the bones up under the bun so I wouldn’t accidentally bite into one. I actually knew that going in, but a lot of people wouldn’t and might be surprised. Why do they use bone in? Who knows, but bone in things are usually more flavorful than non-boned things. This sandwich, you could tell, comes from a grill that has been used for many man years. There is just a little bit of searing and whole lot of flavor from those little brown bits. The sandwich itself is pretty basic. The bun is a cheap white bun that you can get at any restaurant.
Places like Maxwell Street Depot in Chicago are made for good, cheap, greasy, fast food. This isn’t a gourmet dining experience, but it is an authentic Chicago street food experience. The polish’s are what most people go to Maxwell Street for, but the pork chops are a close second. It’s something that’s unique to this restaurant chain and it’s those unique things that I go looking for when I make trips in to Chicago’s neighborhoods looking for delicious, authentic food.