If you ever find yourself on the North Shore of Chicago and you are hungry or hung over or both, do yourself a favor and hightail it to Central and Crawford and get your hands on a Loretta. Now, on paper, eating at Sarkis sounds like a terrible experience. This place is a total dive. The counter/dinning area is itsy bitsy, despite being in a rather large building, hence the title “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Mafia Fronts.” (There are tons of urban legends swirling around the North Shore about what exactly goes on back there.) It’s always packed and nearly impossible to move, and its a “greasy spoon” joint in the very literal sense of the phrase. Back in high school the Board of Health shut it down for a few months and there was almost an uprising in protest. I’ve never seen so many people so overly eager to get a food born illness…and I was one of them. So now you are thinking to yourselves, “why would Elizabeth eat at such a dump let alone recommend it to her loyal readers?” Simply put the food is insane, I have yet to witness a mafia hit there, and (knock on wood) I’ve never gotten food poisoning.
Plus Sarkis is like an institution in my town and no one questions their slightly odd business practices as long as they get their bacon sandwich and cheesy hash. The greasy breakfast food and the overall “we don’t give a crap” atmosphere in this place attracts high school kids like moths to a flame. In fact when Matt, Bill, and I went here for breakfast one morning we were by far the oldest people in there…ugh were getting so old. Now Sarkis is not your average walk in, get a menu, order from a waitress who tells you her name, be brought your food, have your drink refilled, and receive a check kind of restaurant experience. Instead it’s open the door, be thrust into a sea of North Faces and pajama pants, push the weak looking ones aside, maneuver your way up to the counter, yell your order in Sarkis specific jargon, threaten the life of a New Trier kid if he tries to take that table that just opened up (Ramblers for life!), scarf down a saucer sized plate of bacon, cheese, and hash browns, and of course wash it down with a coke (it’s like an unwritten rule that you drink soda with breakfast at Sarkis). Then maneuver your way back up to the counter, tell the one guy who makes eye contact with the customers what you just had, he yells a dollar amount back, and you pay it (cash only of course). All this madness it completely worth it the moment you start eating. Sarkis is famous for their Lorettas, which are soft loaves of french bread piled high with your choice of breakfast meat, some veggies, and lots and lots of cheese. As you can see I was so excited to get my hands on my “Disaster Loretta” that it only dawned on me 10 bites in that I should document it for the blog…oops. Alongside goes an enormous helping of hash browns smothered with cheese (aka “cheesy hash”) and if you are me you douse them in hot sauce. It’s really, really, really good. Addicting almost and mid-forkful I feel like quoting Guy Fieri…because I would in fact “eat that off a flip-flop.”
*Note: My law student boyfriend would like me to state that I’m joking and that I dont think Sarks is actually mafia front.