Local Treasure: Parky's

Retro for as long as I can remember the place

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By David Hammond

I remember stopping at Parky’s around 1978. I was living in the city, and my cousin and I drove out to Berwyn to help an old Bohemian aunt move out of her two-flat.  My cousin used to live in Berwyn, and he demanded that we stop at Parky’s, a place I’d never heard of before. The place seemed retro even at the time: the kind of sloped roof reflecting an Eisenhower era sense of what the future would be like (clean and sweeping lines, bright colors, lights), but inside, kind of dingy, utilitarian…and maybe a little greasy (like someone had lightly sprayed the interior with a patina of Pam).

I had my first Parky’s dog that day, and although I’ve visited randomly over the years, I have always felt it a guilty pleasure, with guilt taking the slight advantage, so I’d never been a regular.

Last week, it was bright and sunny and I thought, “Excellent hot dog weather.” I biked over to Parky’s.

A smile was hard to suppress when the counterwoman asked me, with genuine concern, if I wanted salt on my fries. I mean really, if you have a problem with sodium, or fat, or carbs, or calories, you shouldn’t be even walking by Parky’s: you’d overdose on those evil things based on vibe alone.

It’s a very good sign when the bag of fries cannot contain the grease they were cooked in. Parky’s, since the first day I visited, has always been generous with fries, and you can see how wonderfully fatty they are by the “grease signature” on the bag (Am I the first to coin that phrase? the language needs a way to describe that mouth-watering sign of deliciousness).

The dog is pretty much classic. Not the stripped-down Depression era wiener of Gene’s and Jude’s, and not the kind of fully dressed wiener you might find elsewhere at fancier dog shacks. Condiments are fresh onions, relish (though not of the radioactive blue-green variety), sport peppers, tomato with celery salt, and mustard.

Parky’s used to have another location on Roosevelt, and like this one, it was connected to a house (would love to know if that was happenstance, or if the original Mr. Parky’s business model was built around the breakthrough concept of a dog stand with annexed living quarters, the better to accommodate around-the-clock dog tenders).

I would have preferred a  little more snap in the dog, a fluffier bun, etc., but for $3.25, I got a dog with everything and fries, ate it streetside under a spreading tree and the upward thrust of the Parky’s roof, beside the sign with the hand holding a naked dog, pinky finger cocked in faux elegance.

Parky’s may not be the most sterling exemplar of the Chicago dog, and it may be a bit funky around the edges, but it’s a local treasure and I’m very glad it’s in my hood.



Reader Comments

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Maureen Thurman from Skokie  

Posted: June 24th, 2017 9:49 PM

Bravo- you describe the Parky's Experience perfectly! The fries! The ambiance (and lack of)- standing under the tree eating cause the parking lot was a hard right and not always in the best shape (flies and bees in the Summer because the dumpsters are right there- coated in grease of course. Just enjoyed reading this ?'?? Former (but life long) Oak Parker. Now I want some Parky's ?

Wild Animal from Serengeti Plain  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 2:31 PM

P.E.T.A = People Espousing Thoughtless Advice.

Aren't there quiet, less annoying vegans anywhere? from OP  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 1:57 PM

@Cruelty Free Consumer: Shut up and take your vegan agenda elsewhere. I'm very tired of being preached to by activist pinheads about your superior life and food choices. Don't you have some pigeons to chase away from the viaduct?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 11:02 PM

Dan, Golda's is the place that used to be on Roosevelt Road near Hines Hospital, right? I very much enjoyed that little dog stand, not just for the dogs but for the gallery of dog-related curios on display. I actually met the original Golda (a former Art Institute student) a few years ago at some food event, and it was good to be able to tell her, face-to-face, how much I liked her place.

Cruelty Free Consumer  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 7:32 PM

@David, that last sentence of yours is the only thing that I have ever agreed with you on.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 7:13 PM

Pushing meat AND boiling my vegetables: http://www.oakpark.com/Dining/Blogs/06-13-2012/Boiling_Vegetables I am, indeed, the embodiment of evil.

Cruelty Free Consumer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:33 PM

Here's the complete link, sorry. http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=3504&catId=8

Cruelty Free Consumer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:32 PM

Another artery clogging article from the meat pusher David Hammond. Hot dogs are one of the WORST things that you can eat but things like health and compassion mean nothing to David. gnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=3504&catId=

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:02 PM

I must amend my post. Mickeys on Harlem used to serve Best Kosher dogs which were great. Now it's Vienna since they stopped manufacturing Best Kosher. And Byrons in Forest Park had a pretty darned tasty Vienna Jumbo Dog. I realize that food is very subjective, but if you like a dog with a kick to it, Parky's has never been the place to go.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 5:59 PM

Nostalgic as one might feel about Parky's (and I do), the sad fact is that the hot dogs are treif. It's not just that they aren't beef or Kosher style, they're just flavorless tubes. You can get a Vienna dog there if you're willing to wait 10-15 minutes. Even the fries are gross -- and I love tasty freshly cut fries. There is no good dog around here since Golda's closed - you've got to saunter up to SuperDawg for a real tasty, all-beef dog with a kick to it (the fries are pretty tasty too).

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 3:54 PM

Or Gene's & Jude's - best hot dog anywhere!

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:41 AM

Why don't you suggest what I should have at Mickey's. I'll try the dog, of course, but any other suggestions would be helpful. I biked by Micky's this morning, and it looks like a cool old place (in biz over 50 years).

Can't believe they pay you for this  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:17 PM

Parky's was gross. The hot dog wasn't even a REAL beef hotdog! Why don't you write about Mickey's in Bellwood?

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