When someone told me there was a Chicago-style deli just blocks away from my apartment, I was there in a Windy City minute. While I’m grateful that Portillos has slowly franchised its way throughout the area, there’s something about a local small-town deli that had my mouth watering for home. Indy has some great restaurants of its own, but sometimes a girl just wants a drippy beef sandwich she’ll have to be careful not to get on her blazer. In better words: some good ol’ street food.
In order to have a “thorough” experience at Fat Dan’s Chicago Deli, I’ve visited it several times over the past few weeks. (Hey, I’ll use any excuse I can get to eat a hotdog.) I’ve brought a number of different guests with me, and I’ve annoyingly asked them their opinions about the food while they were still chewing. The general consensus is this: Fat Dan’s is the best thing to happen to Chicago food since they took ketchup off its signature hotdog.
Listen to me: you have to try the Dirty Tots. Everyone who I talked to about the restaurant raved about them—they’re like perfect nuggets of potato covered in a cheese sauce and brisket. You heard me right: brisket. The entire restaurant gives off a homey “Chicago sports bar” vibe and while they do serve your food on butcher paper, it helps contain the beef drippings and keep the table clean—both very good things.
They have tons of beer specials and a variety of menu options. They even have Mr. Pibb, a Chicago favorite. In my opinion, the best things on their menu are the “Fatty Melt,” the Chicago Dog, and (of course) the Dirty Tots. They serve all their sandwiches and burgers with a side of Ruffles which makes the meal a little salty, but when paired with a thick slice of dill pickle, it’s heaven.
Fat Dan’s really goes above and beyond to create a Chicago vibe—their website is even designed to look like Wrigley Field! Between the food, décor, and the atmosphere, it really feels like home. Plus there are two locations: one in SoBro and on Mass Ave, so there’s no excuse to not check it out!
Alexandra (“Alex”) Sumner is a Chicago native who relocated to The Indy City. A current 3L at IU McKinney School of Law, she loves reading, writing, and binge-watching the Food Network. When she’s not nose-deep in a textbook, you can find her thrift shopping, sleeping, or wishing she was at brunch. @baby_lawyer_alex_