Gallery: Serious Eats Chicago Visits Ed Debevic's So You Don't Have To

Ed's Regular Hot Dog ($6.45)
Ed's Regular Hot Dog ($6.45)

If you're here against your will, the only merely decent item was Ed's Regular Hot Dog ($6.45). Though the sign outside mentioned Eisenberg hot dogs, the menu claims that they serve Vienna Beef hot dogs. Whatever. The skinless 1/4-pound wiener wasn't as beefy as I'd expect, but the rest of the ingredients you want on a fully-loaded Chicago style hot dog are here, making for a somewhat satisfying bite.

Time to Dance
Time to Dance

This faux-diner in River North employees a fleet of young waiters who dress in 50s garb (think Happy Days), adopt an intentionally surly attitude, and occasionally jump up on the counters and start dancing.

Inside Ed Debevic's
Inside Ed Debevic's

There's no downtime at Ed Debevic's. Every encounter with the waitstaff, from ordering drinks to getting your food, is an event. This is no place to play it cool. We donned the hats, clapped our hands, and tried to get into the spirit of the place.

Kitchen Sink Nachos ($9.95)
Kitchen Sink Nachos ($9.95)

From there it gets hairy fast. In general, each is doomed by mediocre ingredients put together with little care. This is neatly summed up with the kitchen sink nachos ($9.95). Now, I have something of a soft spot for a big messy plate of nachos, but what I can't abide by is cold, unmelted cheese. Yet, that's what completely covers this plate. Honestly, anonymous orange cheese sauce would have been preferable. Of course, the greasy ground meat and bland salsa didn't help.

Route 66 Burger ($10.45)
Route 66 Burger ($10.45)

Do not, under any circumstance, order the Route 66 Burger. It may be labeled as "Ed's favorite!" on the menu, but something truly sinister lurks in between those unevenly toasted slices of sourdough. The mix of bacon, guacamole, and Monterey Jack cheese tastes off for some reason, and no amount of ketchup or mustard can save the experience. I mostly blame the beef patty, which was oddly soft and mealy.

Cheeseburger ($9.85)
Cheeseburger ($9.85)

Compared to the Route 66 Burger, the Cheeseburger ($9.85) is actually edible, though there's still the issue of the meat. It certainly lacks a sear from the griddle, but that doesn't quite explain why the burger is so mushy. Perhaps I don't want to think about the beef any further.

Ed's Mom's Meatloaf ($10.45)
Ed's Mom's Meatloaf ($10.45)

But how can I stop when ground beef comes in every dish? Second only to the Route 66 in the realm of terribleness, Ed's Mom's Meatloaf ($10.45) features more of the beef, and once again it's mushy and bland. Actually, Dennis described it best as "spongy, tasteless, mushy, and just sort of off." That's about right.

6-Way Windy City Chili ($5.75)
6-Way Windy City Chili ($5.75)

You know what? The bowl of 6-Way Windy City Chili ($5.75) might be worse. There's a noticeable slick of grease, which would be fine if the chili had any flavor, but as Josh commented, "nothing ever materialized."

The Ultimate Black Cow ($4.50)
The Ultimate Black Cow ($4.50)

I can go on. The root beer in the The Ultimate Black Cow ($4.50) was warm, and if you tried to cool it down with the scoop of ice cream, the liquid just spilled out the side.

Double Chocolate Milk Shake ($5.35) and Chocolate Malt ($5.65)
Double Chocolate Milk Shake ($5.35) and Chocolate Malt ($5.65)

The Double Chocolate Milk Shake ($5.35) and Chocolate Malt ($5.65) weren't so much bad as boring.

Does it Matter?
Does it Matter?

And yet... we still managed to have something like a good time. It helped that we were all in costume and tried to make the most of the experience. Elliot, Josh's son, seemed to genuinely enjoy the show.