Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old Chicago

10300 SW Washington
Happy Hour: Daily, 4 - 6 and 10 - Midnight

I'm not the biggest fan of chain restaurants. I actually refer to them as "homogenized" due to all of the processing that goes on. I've seen the Domino's truck pull into the parking lot just down the street from my house. I know that the majority of the ingredients come straight out of gallon-sized bags. Sure, it makes it easier to do all the prep work in advance, at an outside facility, and truck things to where they need to be. Even the good places--like Grand Central Bakery--have certain locations where the baking takes place, while the rest of the bakery locations are there just to sell. Homogenized places offer a good amount of flavor security. Big Macs taste like Big Macs no matter where you are. It's safe. I still enjoy an occasional Frosty, I do like the salsa at Chevy's, and I've been known to eat dinner (and enjoy the leftovers that come with the giant-sized portions) at Old Chicago...but I do my best to support the local restaurants, especially those that are obviously family-run. I prefer to know that the ingredients came from the area, that the menu was created by the chef, and that the money I spend will stay in Oregon and not make its way back to the corporate world of chains and franchises. With all that said, I also know that most places had to start somewhere.

Old Chicago started in Colorado in the late seventies. They happened to be successful enough to spread through the state and then made their way across the nation. They aren't in every state...but there are a few in Oregon. Most are in the suburbs (quite appropriate, I say) and are equally situated in the West (Beaverton), the East (Gresham), and the South (blocks north of Clackamas)...but one does exist in the city limits. It's near Mall 205 and happens to be a great location when driving back into Portland from school.

We decided to hit up this homogenized pizza place as a large group (invites went out to the whole staff--something that might not go over too well at a smaller, locally-owned restaurant) after school last Friday. I called ahead to make sure that there would be plenty of space. And there was. The bar itself is pretty small, but Old Chicago serves happy hour throughout the entire restaurant, making it a family-friendly event (there were two babies at our table that night).

Old Chicago is known for their long list of beer offerings. They have more than 100 beers at ALL times...and--assuming it's still available--you can join the official club, checking off beers as you go, earning shirts and hats for all that you consume. I, however, am not a beer drinker. So instead I ordered a gin and tonic. My usual, especially at places like this. It's safe, you know.

With such great discounts on food and plenty of options to choose from, one could easily make happy hour an early dinner out. They have salads and pizza, nachos and a hummus plate, and so much more.

I went for a side salad and a personal-sized pizza. It's the perfect match. The side salad at Old Chicago is one of my favorites around. I think it's the sliced almonds that makes it so tasty. The lettuce itself isn't too impressive and there's usually just the one grape tomato...but the carrots, almonds and croutons always make me happy. It's got good crunch. I once even ordered a double-sized salad, making it dinner, since the main course salads on the actual menu are all topped with meat.

My mini pizza was topped with pineapple. I could have paid extra for additional toppings, but pineapple pizza has always been one of my favorites. It's small, of course...but there was a good amount of cheese and the crust was perfectly chewy.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets (especially if you want to watch sports on TV)
Value: Meets


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