An authentic taste of the Windy City and it’s right here in our own back yard

Over the past 20 years, we have covered the comings and goings of countless local eating establishments, including some really good ones. For the most part, the really good ones are still here and worthy of consideration when you’re thinking of an enjoyable meal out.

Few, though, have been more intriguing than Windy City, a onetime Wingers-turned-Denny’s that sprung back to life a couple of years ago on Elliot Road just east of McClintock Drive in south Tempe.

Partly due to the resolve of its new owner, partly to the affable staff, and partly—and this obviously is the big part—a result of the range and quality of every dish on the menu, this place seems already to have garnered a lasting place among our Kyrene Corridor dining spots.

Now, if you go, don’t be surprised by the fact that there’s not much in-your-face Chicago décor. Sure, there are photos here and there, and bits of Windy City memorabilia, but what sears itself into your Chicago psyche is the food itself.

I’ve been to Chicago only a few times, but I do remember the food. Need I say more? Because Chicago-style cuisine here in Arizona seems to manifest itself more in name than in substance, this place turns out to be a pleasant surprise indeed.

Owner David Najor oversees the preparation of every item on the signature menu—and every item, it seems, has his signature. Want a hot dog? You’ll get a Vienna-brand beef sausage with Trappey’s sport peppers and some hearty spoonfuls of neon green relish, slathered on a Vienna poppy seed bun.

Chicago Italian beef sandwich? Top round roasted slow and low, seasoned with authentic Chicago-recipe seasonings and a generous sampling of homemade Giardiniera.

Add in Devanco and Fontanini Italian meats, great breakfasts, homemade soups and a huge selection of authentic Midwest cuisine—all at happily affordable prices—and this may become your No. 1 home-away-from-home favorite.

Beyond what we’ve already told you, here’s what to expect at this place, our Kyrene Corridor version of a Windy City dream come true:

An owner who is absolutely bonkers about making sure that, if you go with hopes of bringing back memories of the comfort food you got back home two weeks or 20 years ago, you won’t be disappointed.

Top quality ingredients prepared by accomplished chefs, watched over, begrudgingly no doubt, by a proprietor who’ll demand that a burger ordered medium-rare comes off the grill, in fact, medium-rare.

Food that’s as nice to look as it is to eat. Where else can you find a house-specialty West Loop burger with a bun, topped by a natural Angus beef patty, topped by pieces of lean bacon, topped by slices of avocado, topped by Swiss cheese—sitting on a plate opposite lettuce, tomato and pickles, all for $8.99, including soup or salad and, in our case, a side of seasoned waffle fries. All cooked to your and the proprietor’s (see above) order.

While Windy City’s hours have thus far been limited to breakfast and lunch, the place is now open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, with more days to be added as the dinner (and after-$3 theater?) crowd expands.

Information: Windy City Café, 1815 E. Elliot Road. Hours: Breakfast and lunch, 6:30-3. (Dinner Fridays and Saturdays ‘til 8). 480-345-2233


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