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Harry Caray's

33 West Kinzie St., Chicago, IL - (312) 828-0966
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/22/2003 4:49:00 AM
Harry Caray’s is essence of Chicago. Named for the late hall-of-fame baseball announcer whose cry of amazement – “Holy Cow!” – was a virtual mantra for Cubs fans (and who was known for singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during every seventh-inning stretch), it is a great prime steak house, a hugely popular bar (exactly 60’6” long – the distance from the pitcher’s rubber to home plate), and a veritable museum of baseball memorabilia. Items on exhibit range from Harry Caray’s own trademarked giant eyeglasses to one of Sammy Sosa’s homerun balls from June, 1998.

The setting is vintage: a 1895 Dutch Renaissance style limestone building now on Chicago's Register of Historic Places, its interior a luxuriously muscular space of mahogany woodwork and broad tables covered by thick white napery. Although a sumptuous place to which many customers come in pinstriped business suits, there is a democratic feel about this dining room that makes any decently dressed customer feel right at home. Especially for drinks after a ball game, you’ll see outfits that are a far stretch from 9-5 dress-for-success!

Probably the first thing anyone ought to think of eating at Harry Caray’s is steak. It is prime steak, as good as it gets. In particular, consider the New York sirloin grilled with a coat of cracked peppercorns. Talk about big flavor! There are other cuts of steak as well as such familiar Italian specialties as lasagne, veal parmigiana and a risotto of the day. But among the “Italian” dishes is one that we’ve found only in Chicago, and is truly magnificent: chicken Vesuvio. Chicken Vesuvio is several bone-in pieces of chicken, sauteed then baked to utmost succulence, encased in a dark, red-gold crust of lush skin that slides from the meat as the meat slides off its bone. Is it tender? Forget about it! The dark meat in particular sets new standards for chicken tenderness. Piled among the chicken are wedges of potato, long-sauteed in a bath of white wine, garlic, olive oil, and spice until they are soft as mashed inside, but develop crunchy edges.

Even if you don’t get chicken Vesuvio, “Vesuvio” potatoes are available as a side dish to go with any steak or chop. The only problem about ordering them is that you likely won’t also be ordering Harry Caray’s garlic mashed potatoes, which are superb.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Chicken Vesuvio is an Italian dish found only in Chicago. The version served at Harry Caray's, the definitive Chicago restaurant, sets a gold standard.
"Chicken Vesuvio is an Italian dish found only in Chicago. The version served at Harry Caray's, the definitive Chicago restaurant, sets a gold standard."
Michael Stern





Porterhouse steak, Italian style. The bat, mitt, and ball are not on the menu, but they signify the baseball theme that infuses this restaurant.
"Porterhouse steak, Italian style. The bat, mitt, and ball are not on the menu, but they signify the baseball theme that infuses this restaurant."
Michael Stern


Harry Caray's is located in an old Chicago building by the river that started as a varnish distribution plant. In the 1930s, mobster Frank Nitti had a hide-out apartment on the fourth floor.
"Harry Caray's is located in an old Chicago building by the river that started as a varnish distribution plant. In the 1930s, mobster Frank Nitti had a hide-out apartment on the fourth floor."
Michael Stern


Note the old brick walls of Harry Caray's dining room. History surrounds you in this classic Chicago steak house.
"Note the old brick walls of Harry Caray's dining room. History surrounds you in this classic Chicago steak house."
Michael Stern


The potato chips on Harry Caray's bar are some of the best anywhere: good excuse (if you need one) to sit and drink beer after beer. They are thick, spuddy, crunchy and salty, probably a lot like what the original
"The potato chips on Harry Caray's bar are some of the best anywhere: good excuse (if you need one) to sit and drink beer after beer. They are thick, spuddy, crunchy and salty, probably a lot like what the original "Saratoga chips" were like over a century ago."
Michael Stern


Everything about Harry Caray was bigger than life. This huge mural on the side wall of the restaurant captures his, shall we say, outgoing personality.
"Everything about Harry Caray was bigger than life. This huge mural on the side wall of the restaurant captures his, shall we say, outgoing personality."
Michael Stern


Harry Caray's is a steak house, but seafood here is no second fiddle. This is a plate of gnocchi loaded with shellfish.
"Harry Caray's is a steak house, but seafood here is no second fiddle. This is a plate of gnocchi loaded with shellfish."
Michael Stern


Harry Caray's bills itself as an Italian steak house. This is its version of the Chicago favorite, Italian beef.
"Harry Caray's bills itself as an Italian steak house. This is its version of the Chicago favorite, Italian beef."
Michael Stern


As deluxe a dessert as there is: tiramisu
"As deluxe a dessert as there is: tiramisu"
Michael Stern



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