|Sliders: Why eat just one burger when you can have six?|
Given the ridiculous number of Chicago transplants (count me among the ridiculous) in the Valley, you'd think there would be more eateries specializing in the dietary staples of that great Midwestern metropolis. To my knowledge, there's only a handful: Luke's, Chicago Hamburger Company, and a relatively new addition to the West Valley, Boomer's Sweet Home Chicago
In a strip mall (where else?) on the northwest corner of 59th Avenue and Bell Road, Boomer's tackles those staples -- Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and sliders (mini hamburgers) -- and more in a clean, comfortable, and friendly environment. The inviting space is warmly lit and decorated with dozens of photos of Chicago's famous skyline and world-renowned architectural triumphs, with a smattering of Cubs and White Sox regalia thrown in for good measure. Behind the counter, painted on the wall over the kitchen, are the words "WE ARE CHICAGO."
|Chicago-style hot dog: Leo da Vinci would be proud of this invention.|
True enough. Because the food is, for the most part, right on the mark. For the record, I view the Chicago-style hot dog as one of mankind's great achievements and Boomer's does it up right. For the initiated (or you East Coasters who think Nathan's Famous is all that), a Chicago-style hot dog is a steamed or boiled all-beef dog, served on a poppy seed bun and topped with yellow mustard, kelly green relish (not the dull green sweet stuff usually found at the grocery), a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and celery salt. Once in a while, you'll find a cucumber slice on there. What you will never, ever find on a Chicago-style dog is ketchup. Chicagoans will argue this point to their last dying breath: Ketchup does not belong on a hot dog.
In Chi-town, the preferred dog is made by a local company called Vienna, whose dogs you'll find at the aforementioned Chicago Hamburger Company, on East Indian School Road in Phoenix. However, the number one purveyor (IMHO) of Chicago dogs in the greater Chicago area is a local chain called Portillo's, which has its dogs custom-made. At Boomer's, the dogs are made by the same company that supplies Portillo's. And darn it, Boomer's hot dog is exceptional.
The proprietor/cook at Boomer's is a genial fellow named Mike Rothschild, who chatted up the missus and me and our pal Roger for a bit. The guy didn't have to say but three words and I knew he was a dyed-in-the-wool Chicagoan. Mike's also a big fan of Portillo's and helped the chain open a couple of stores in California. He's also clearly proud to be serving dogs manufactured by the company that also makes 'em for Portillo's. One thing I neglected to ask Mike about was his allegiance: Is he a Cubs or Sox fan? I guess I'd rather not know. I'd hate for his answer to color my dining experience.
|Photos by Roger Cunningham|
|Italian beef: Another born-and-bred Chicago staple.|
The Italian beef sandwich was quite good, too, if not up to the outstanding quality of the hot dog. Kinda like a Philly cheesesteak (minus the cheese, of course), the Italian beef is thinly sliced roast beef on a long roll, topped with sweet peppers. The beef was decent, Mike's roll was fresh and light, and the side of oregano-spiced au jus really stepped up the sandwich a notch.
The basket of sliders was somewhat of a letdown, but not because the mini-burgers were bad. The bun was actually really light and flavorful, and the tiny beef patties were tasty, too. It's just that no one does sliders better than White Castle. And, frankly, sliders are meant to eaten at 2:10 a.m., 10 minutes after the bar closes (or 4:10 a.m. if you're in Chicago). Heck, Mike even seemed to acknowledge this theory. Still, he does a mean slider business on Fridays, when they're 50 cents each. He says that he'll often make 2,000 of them on any given Friday. One Boomer's patron piped in, saying she buys hundreds of them and freezes 'em. So there you go.
I should note the menu includes a couple of salads, chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage, and conventional hamburgers, too. In fact, starting next week, Boomer's will offer a regular hamburger, fries, and drink for $5. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
We had a nice time at Boomer's, and the people of the West Valley should be glad it's in their 'hood. I live about a mile from Chicago Hamburger Company, so I'll probably stick to CHC grub, but if I'm in Glendale, craving a Chicago dog, I'm definitely going to hit up Mike. I hope you will, too.
Boomer's Sweet Home Chicago
5932 West Bell Road, Suite D-109
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.