When Cindy and I were in Chicago recently, we tried to get into The Berghoff for a mid-afternoon lunch. The line, however, to get into the building stretched out the door and about 30 feet down the block (and this was BEFORE they announced they were closing at the end of February).
Long ago, I learned that when Cindy's hungry, she needs food. I don't even fight it any longer. Cindy needed food and she wasn't willing to wait in line - even for The Berghoff.
We began to walk down the street and we're standing at a street corner contemplating our options. Cindy said, "OK, 'Mr. Chicago restaurants'. Where are we going to eat?"
There was a couple standing in front of us and they overheard us. The lady turned around and said, "You guys looking for a good place to eat lunch? We just ate at a place down the block and around the corner called Exchequer. It was very good. We highly recommend it. It was recommended to us by a doorman at our hotel."
We thanked her and went back down Adams St. looking for it. We took a right on S. Wabash and about half the block down was the Exchequer Pub (see map).
Named after the National Treasury of England, Exchequer (pronounced EX-checker) is in the heart of the Loop and the financial district in downtown Chicago. The Mannos brothers have run the restaurant since 1982, but the building has housed restaurants since the mid-20's. Rumor has it that it also housed a "speakeasy" during the height of Prohibition, and was frequented by Al Capone who lived not too far away.
The place is spacious - it has a bar up front, and dining in the back and in a side room. It was full around 2:45 the Tuesday afternoon we were there. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. That's OK, because the bar was nice and they had cold Beck's on tap. I didn't mind the wait, but Cindy was getting hungrier.
The Exchequer Pub is famous for their deep dish pizza and their ribs - neither of which we got. Although their thin crust pizza looked and smelled great. I almost pulled the trigger on getting one of those. But then I remembered that we'd be eating dinner later in the evening and if I got a pizza at 3 p.m., I wouldn't be eating dinner.
Cindy opted for the hamburger, medium-well. I got the "Chicago Dip" a variation of a French Dip sandwich, except the waitress told me to order it with some mozzarella and hot giardineira on top. I said, "So, it's like a Italian beef sandwich, right?"
She said, "Well, sort of, but we don't cook our roast beef in spices and herbs like a real Italian beef sandwich."
But it was very good, nonetheless. There was a lot of beef on the sandwich - usually restaurants that charge $8.00 for a beef sandwich skimp on the meat. Not the Exchequer, there was a lot of meat on the sandwich.
Cindy said her burger was good, too. She said even though it was cooked through, the meat patty was very flavorful. I'll have to try it sometime.
After we left the restaurant, we're walking up Wabash and coming right at us was the couple that suggested we try the Exchequer. The guy lit up when he saw us. "Did you try the Exchequer," he asked.
I said, "I was just telling my wife that I wished I would have gotten your name and address so we could send you a 'thank you'. It was very good."
And it was very good. Just like the couple that turned us on to the place, I highly recommend it, too. In fact, the next time I go in I want to try the thin crust pizza. It looked great.