Can an establishment with the word "Chicago" in its name actually thrive in the Milwaukee area?
To answer that question, drive to the intersection of 106th Street and Greenfield Avenue, two blocks east of Highway 100.
Sammy's Taste of Chicago, which has been in operation since 1989, draws big crowds of fans searching for good, inexpensive, comfort-type food served quickly in an unpretentious atmosphere.
Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends, Sammy's attracts a cross-section of customers. You might find men in business suits next to construction workers mingling with a group of dental hygienists.
The place attracts a steady crowd, particularly on Sunday, when hot dogs sell for 99 cents (they're usually $2.25) and bratwurst and Polish sausage are $1.99.
Hot dogs are the focal point of the menu, with the signature Chicago Style Dog ($2.25) -- including the requisite relish, onions, tomatoes and peppers -- taking center stage.
Sammy's also is known for its Italian beef sandwiches, which cost $4.45 for thinly-sliced beef and gravy on a chewy roll. Green peppers, mozzarella and Giardiniera relish are available for 30 cents apiece -- or 75 cents for all three -- and add sizzle to the sandwich. (Mushrooms and bacon cost 75 cents apiece, but seem like overkill next to the other three condiments.
Owner Sammy Bohringer, who gave up his attempts and expand his business with franchise locations a few years back, operated a sub sandwich shop in Menomonee Falls in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The subs at Sammy's ($3.59) are overshadowed by other offerings, but offer a solid alternative to the chain outlets.
Burgers and chicken sandwiches are solid, and Sammy's also offers "freedom fries" for $1.75 (cheese and/or chili cost extra). Onion rings and mozzarella sticks round out the side dishes.
Two hidden items on the menu include the corn dog ($2.25), which is better than your average State Fair offering, and the Sprecher Root Beer Float ($1.95), which takes the notion of "comfort food" to a new level.
Sammy's isn't fancy. If you want to see art work on the wall, you'll have to head to the Milwaukee Art Museum. If you want inexpensive food served quickly in a no-frills atmosphere, head to 10534 W. Greenfield Ave.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.