Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
Considering I sit on my ass all day, I should probably eat salad for every lunch during the work week. But sometimes—say, on Fridays—I fall right into what I like to call my "recreational eating" habit, where I eat what I want, and not what I should. Micky's Chicken & Fish is one of those guilty pleasures, and if you're hell-bent on making yourself unproductive for the next four hours, boy, do I have a place for you. It's also handy if you forgot your chapstick at home, because that oil will keep your lips covered in the terribly rough climate of your cubicle.
Micky's is a really small place. The only places to sit are little countertops, so it's pretty much a carryout restaurant. When you walk in, this is the first thing you'll see:
This giant beverage dispenser you see is filled entirely with...hot sauce! Next to it is a plastic filing cabinet with little plastic cups and lids. I've only seen these dispensers at churches. Nothing like a giant mug of hot sauce to get you going.
Micky's Chicken & Fish is known for, well, chicken and fish. Almost the whole menu is fried stuff. The best sellers on the menu are the chicken fingers, chicken wings, and fried perch. You can get them in all sorts of combination meals, fingers and fish, wings and perch, etc. And all of it comes with the same sides, which are your french fries, of course, and a white bread roll. I like to consider the bread my "vegetable" of the meal.
This is the perch and wing combo meal ($7.95 for 3 pieces of each). I watched them hand-bread it and toss it in the fryer until it came out golden brown and steaming. The crust is crisp and flecked with black pepper. Because it's dredged in flour and not a batter, the exterior is thin, and I like it better that way. It's delicious and healthy because it's fish, right? Right.
Growing up in Chicago, pizza puffs were a pretty common item on menus, even in the cafeteria at my high school. I didn't know they were nonexistent outside of Chicago until I read Adam Kuban's post about pizza puffs. For those of you outside of Chicago, a pizza puff is just a fried pastry containing mozzarella, tomato sauce, and usually ground Italian sausage. They are always very oily.
This is the interior, in case you non-Chicagoans were curious. And I have to admit, I actually like these things. Considering this one was $3.50 including fries (they're usually cheaper at hot dog stands), they aren't expensive and also fun to eat. The bold fennel from the sausage somehow makes this puff taste distinctly like Chicago pizza.
But the chicken ($7.95 for 3 wings/fingers) is what I really come for. Pictured here is the chicken fingers made from the breast meat. Chicken breast fingers. Breast fingers. Ha. I'm 12. In this photo, they are tucked under the wings and hard to see, but they are huge. If you're of the moderate appetite, order the three finger meal, and if you're very hungry, order five. Like the fish, the crust is very crunchy, thin, and the breast meat is surprisingly juicy.
Those beauties on top are the chicken wings. When ordering them, order the jumbo wings. It's an extra dollar, but well worth it. The crust is the same one that comes on the chicken fingers, and adhered to the skin of the chicken wing, you get a sublimely salty, crunchy, moist, and oily (in a good way) wing. All chicken orders come with barbecue sauce, which is the overly sweet and vinegary tomato-based kind, which is actually perfect for the fattiness of these wings. Mix the barbecue sauce with the hot sauce, and you're a pro.
Now that you've had your fried chicken, you can go from sitting on your ass all day in a cubicle to sitting on your ass all day on the couch for the whole weekend. Which is exactly what I did.
Micky's Chicken and Fish
408 S. Clark, Chicago IL 60605 (map)
About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.