Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Perry's Deli

180 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 372-7557

Although we've been anything but rapid or on-pace, Adam and I are nevertheless entering the home stretch of the Project, which is to say that (1) we've only got a handful of places that we still need to hit, and (2) we're down to the places that, for whatever reason, we've been putting off for over two years. I just searched my Gmail to confirm that Adam and I have been talking for over a year about getting to Perry's, a Loop deli with hours that make it all but inaccessible to anyone who doesn't work downtown.

Although I don't really have enough experience to justify this, I have a theory that Perry's is the bizarro Stage Deli. Where the Stage is derided by locals, Perry's has a 30-person line going out the door. Celebrities (supposedly) can't leave the Stage alone, whereas Perry's, decorated mainly with movie posters, lacks endorsements, even of the TV-anchor sort. The Stage's sandwiches are expensive and huge due to an overall scaling-up of a multi-meat sandwich; Perry's seems to prefer increasing the amount of a single ingredient to absurdity and beyond. To wit, Adam's "BLT."

Aside from taking treyf to a new level, I don't see what the point of this sandwich is. It probably had 3/4 of a pound of thick, apparently deep-fried, seriously salty bacon on mushy rye with forgettable vegetables---just not what a BLT ought to be. It's almost like Perry's was out to prove something.

Counterpoint: Adam has been to Perry's before and has described their bacon as "the best bacon [he's] ever had on a sandwich," and who am I to tell him otherwise. I just can't deal with bacon as a main course.

My pastrami with swiss; pretty forgettable. The pastrami was of the cut-too-thin, left-sweating-in-a-heating-tray variety and it tasted mostly of grease (andsuchsmallportions). I got maybe two thin deli slices of cheese on there; their contribution was negligable. Perry's takes a Subway-style approach to sandwich assembly, so I have no one but myself to blame for the handful of shredded lettuce on top.

But Time Out Chicago chose Perry's for the quality of their shakes, apparently the third best in the city. Here ya go: a chocolate malt.

As we've mentioned, there's not a lot to say about these. Mine wasn't very chocolatey and it wasn't very malty. This place is not any kind of shake destination. Due to the textural contrast the bits and the rest of it, I've come to believe that Oreo is the superlative shake flavor, and Perry's doesn't even offer it. Because there's a line out the door most afternoons, you have to order your shake with your sandwich, which puts me out. There's a gentleman's disagreement within the Project as to whether it's okay to treat a shake as a beverage: Adam prefers to, I would rather not. That said, it wasn't like I was missing an opportunity: Perry's carries some Dr. Brown's sodas, but not Cel-Ray, which is such an amateur mistake* but not really at issue here.

My beef is not really with Perry's, which has been around forever and has a loyal clientele and, y'know, "could be worse." I just cannot believe that Time Out Chicago picked this place. This is simply not one of the best five places in Chicago to get a shake; I doubt Perry himself would disagree. What about Margie's? Hell, what about Hot Chocolate? Out of all of the weird places we've been sent to, this one irks me the most. It's like giving elaborate, fake directions to a stranger rather than just admitting that you don't know where the CSO is. If I'd purchased the issue, this recommendation in particular would have me writing in for a refund.

*I think even Eleven City Diner has Cel-Ray. Seriously, what's it cost to keep a case collecting dust in the back room? It's not like you're going to offend anyone with its presence.


andshewas said...

hot doug's has Cel-Ray.

Evan said...

I'm 100% with you, Nat. A milkshake is not a beverage. I can just feel shit getting stuck in my throat.

j.dot said...

while i can drink a shake as a drink i rather not...cause then i have to drink water and Lord knows we don't mix well. this is disappointing...i heard such great things about this joint. oh wells...peace.

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Tony said...


I couldn't find an email address for you and I have a question. I just stumbled across your site having recently moved to Chicago and being a fan of all things burgers and fries. My question: I noted in your write-up for Susie's Drive-In that one of you prefers real cheese on your cheese fries and not that nasty cheese sauce stuff - I am of the same mind - where can I find fries with real cheese melted on them? Preferably some good hand-cut fries like at Five Guys/Hot Doug's. I'll look for a response in the comments. Thanks.

NG said...

Tony - I think you can get legit cheese on fries at Hot Doug's? I'm not sure, because I rarely order cheese fries. Take a look at this link:


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Charlie Hills said...

A shake is NOT a beverage: I've just never been able to get into the whole "burgers, fries, and shake" combo, as much as I love the first two items on that list.

Thanks for this great list of Chicago spots. I still have family up there and will add at least a handful of these stops to my todo list next trip!

Cb said...

so, I think you've been pretty dead on on most reviews (at leaset where I've also tried the burgers). Not with you on Smith & whatever, and not real with you on Perry's. Perry's is two and a half meals in each sandwich, and if they're out to prove something, i think they did. Just a fan of the place, I gotta say, and I think they beat Manny's hands down

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