Lou Mitchell's is one of those old-timey places that hemorrhages Chicago charm. From the donut holes and milk duds you're handed when you enter and exit the restaurant, to the signs proclaiming that the restaurant sits at the start of Route 66, the schtick would be almost sickening—if the food weren't so solid. You see, Lou's has figured out how to camp out in that sweet spot between never-change-a-thing and laurel-resting, which means that the regulars stay regular and new blood keeps getting pumped in for the experience.
But back to the food, and specifically the Mitchell's Club House ($9.25, with fries). Thick-sliced roast turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and mayo are layered between sesame seed flecked slices of homemade greek toast. Hand-cut fries are piled in the middle, which leads me to believe that the version served in the nearby Chicago-Kent Spakateria is a bit of a local homage. And for good reason. Lou's take is everything you want a club to be: comforting, filling, and stacked tall enough to require jaw unhinging. If you dig under the fries, you'll be rewarded with a few slices of dill pickle, which help to sharpen all the competing flavors. Pickle slices on a club sandwich might be breaking tradition, but Lou's got plenty to go around. I'm sure they'll let it slide.