Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only: Susie's Drive Thru

"Susie's is a veritable wonderland of grease and the only advice I have is to submit."

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[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Susie's Drive Thru

4126 W. Montrose Avenue, Chicago IL 60641; 773-283-6544‎
The Short Order: Eclectic diner fare, with incredible milkshakes.
Want Fries with That? Absolutely. Don't pass up the cheese fries in the taco salad shell.
Want Ketchup? No one can be a snob here.

Susie's Drive Thru on the northwest side of Chicago must have a perverse sense of humor. It's basically just a stupendously small beef and hot dog stand with three stools and a few picnic tables lined up along a very busy street. But how else to explain something like the corn pole?

It's a Polish sausage on a stick, then battered and fried much like a traditional corn dog, only this one happens to also be filled with cheese. The crispy, goo-laden stick of meat is served with a side of thick Dijon mustard.

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You will hate yourself and everyone else is your vicinity after the first bite. And then, without consultation from your brain, you'll dig in again.

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Susie's is a veritable wonderland of grease and the only advice I have is to submit. Sure, their fries are freshly fried and a nearly perfect combination of creamy innards and crunchy exterior. But you should really get the cheese fries which come piled in a large taco salad shell (which they fry in house).

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Enough gooey melted cheese is poured into to come about a third of a way up the sides. Please only consume this if you have a group to spread out the insane caloric punch.

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Same goes for their Philly sandwich, which, as far as I can tell, has absolutely nothing to do with a Philly cheesesteak you'd find in Philadelphia. It looks like a gastronomic disaster, and comes loaded with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, sour cream and mayonnaise, "special spices," beef, and enough mozzarella to completely blanket a toasted sesame French bun. It's impossible to eat--greasy, and, much to my surprise, addicting. It's really something of a cross between someone's incorrect notion of a cheesesteak and a Midwest grinder.

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Some items work better than others. The hot dog, at first glance, looks like a traditional Chicago dog, but closer inspection turns up sliced green pepper and fresh cucumber. It's an interesting idea but missing the natural casing hot dog, so it ends up kind of flat. But like everything else I tasted here, it somehow manages to make you smile.

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With a menu like this, it's oddly the milkshake that comes across the most balanced and restrained.

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They have well over 40 flavors, and on this visit I settled on the mint chocolate. It's creamy and not too sweet, with a great blast of minty flavor.

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Susie's Drive Thru might not be everyone's idea of a great time, but it's a dive taken to a whole wonderful realm, and in that way it's endearing. It's also open 24 hours day, so you can indulge in the wonders of cheese fries all day long--not that I would advise you to do that.

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