We're always anxious to try Chicago style joints, because its the food we miss the most about Chicago. Some deliver the real deal and others are poor excuses served up by people that have never even stepped foot in Chi-town.
The Taste of Chicago is located inside Lucky's near Warm Springs/Jones. If you didn't know the kitchen was serving up Chicago style eats you'd expect this to be just another neighborhood video poker bar.
Friends, also from Chicago, joined us for dinner. We were seated in the main dining floor, booths line the walls above those is old photos of the rat pack and such. Next to the main dining area there was a crooner singing old Sinatra tunes. A bit too loud, in our opinion. It was hard to carry on a conversation.
We looked over the menu and decided to try a bit of all the flavors we miss from our old home. We started with sagnaki and mozzarella sticks. The sagnaki was lit tableside, our waiter fumbled a bit to put out the flames. The cheese was floating in liquid so I was expecting it to taste like pure alcohol, but it did not. The sagnaki was good, but the pita bread was a bit stale. I didn't try the mozzarella sticks, but I didn't hear any complaints. Next, our friends had minestrone which was a decent version but served too cold.
The was a lull between our starters and main course. The staff was very apologetic. The owner came by a couple times. We were content and understanding.
Meanwhile, the crooner came by and attempted to hustle for tips. He walked up and made some comment about how his jar was clean and eager awaited a tip. When we declined, he walked off in a huff and said "I'm a cub fan anyway." Okay, buddy, good for you. We would've happily dropped a few bucks in his jar when we finished our meal, but to interrupt us and solicit so rudely, it was unreal. We sat in awe. Did that really just happen?
Then, everything began to unravel. The staff seemed more and more overwhelmed as more diners filled the restaurant. You could hear shouting coming from the kitchen over the tunes playing in the room next to us.
Our gyro, hot dog and fries were brought out, but again we received apologies for the delay on the pizza. It would be up in a few.
It had all the makings of a chicago dog so it had promise, but the hot dog was so shriveled and dry it was not enticing, the bun was stale. Sad to say, but the pickle & sport peppers were the highlight. I love athenian fries, their version called Zante fries were ok. I prefer the feta evenly distributed and heated until melty and bubbly.
I didn't sample the gyro but Frank wasn't a fan. At first, he wondered if tzatziki had been left off because it was just a small dollop underneath the meat, but then he was left wishing it was forgotten, He said the taste was not good at all.
Our friends pizza had mushrooms, onions, and half sausage and pepperoni. The crust was uber thin, similar to some styles in Chicago. The slice I tried lacked any pepperoni or sausage, yet it was very greasy. Mushrooms and onions shouldn't be greasy. The sauce was too sweet and acidic for my liking.
The service was attentive and they tried with the food, but execution was flawed and getting hustled for tips just killed the experience. It was so off-putting. Over the years, Vegas has collected a good number of Chicago style joints, the competition is pretty stiff. Taste of Chicago is going to have to step up its game.