But to dismiss Phil's would be a mistake. I'd been hearing about it for months from the discriminating staff at Bar Deville who have been skipping over the fine fare to be had at Odge's Old Fashioned Red Hots right across the street and hying due west on Chicago ever since Phil's opened back in February. This ain't owner "Fat" Phil Ashbach's first rodeo. In the early 70s he co-owned the venerable Herm's Hot Dog Palace in Skokie before quitting the game. But early this year he hooked up with the folks that run Lockdown and grabbed the spot. Ashbach's a hands-on, larger-than-life type obsessed with own bulk, as his personal home page attests. If he's regularly snarfing down Jumbos it's easy to see why.
But he puts out a truly excellent, snappy char dog—scored on the ends and along its length so the edges of the natural skin casing pick up an irresistible crisp from the flames. He's also pushing sloppy Los Angeles-style burgers (a la In-and-Out) called, of course, Fatsos. While this is perhaps my least favorite style—putting Thousand Island dressing on a burger is akin to putting ketchup on a hot dog—the char grilling makes all the difference.
And the shrimp that load that po'boy? Fat jumbos fried crisp to rival the good ones at Red Hot Ranch. I couldn't finish a pound. I wouldn't have a prayer against that sandwich.
Phil's Last Stand, 2258 W. Chicago, 773-245-FATS