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Doing Chicago proud

Posted 10:51am on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008

Sweet Home Chicago Restaurant

Want to get out of Fort Worth for a meal? How 'bout a trip to Chicago?

If you live in south Fort Worth, point your car toward Sweet Home Chicago, a little slice of the Windy City in a strip mall south of Interstate 20.

The food of most cities with distinctive cuisine doesn’t usually translate well to other areas; what you usually get is a pale imitation at best. But this little diner is more than its collection of Chicago-abilia; food-wise, it’s the real deal.

Witness the Chicago-style jumbo dog: a hefty, flavorful Vienna beef frank on a fresh poppy-seed bun ($2.99), piled with pickle, tomato, mustard, mildly hot little "sport peppers," the requisite neon-green relish and a light sprinkle of celery salt. It’s impossible to eat without spillage, but you will eat it all. (If you want a bigger one, you can get a foot-long for $3.99, or a 6-ounce Dogzilla for $4.29.)

Take note: You’d better come to Sweet Home hungry, because its portions are as big as its namesake city. It’s obvious from the moment you walk in that proprietor Slavko Gromovic is a generous soul, not just big-shouldered but big-hearted.

Gromovic left his native Yugoslavia in 1986 for Chicago; in 1999 he moved to Fort Worth. He’s in his third location now, and he has plenty of regulars.

The $7.99 "Yugoslavia Dinner" — an unusual sandwich called plescavisca — is among the specialties; "I gotta have something from my country," Gromovic says. It’s a dinner-plate-size patty of spiced ground beef, cooked to a flavorful well-done, topped with crumbled feta (and, if you want it spicy, pickled jalapeño and bits of hot pickled carrots) and sandwiched between two thick rounds of pita bread. Alongside this brawny sandwich come perfunctory fries and a tasty little Greek salad of onions and juicy tomato wedges.

The menu lists Greek and Indian dishes too, though they’re not always available. And Grom` ovic has a stone oven for both thin-crust and deep-dish pizza, for which he makes the dough and the sauce from scratch.

You need to allow an hour for the Chicago-style deep-dish pies; Gromovic takes no shortcuts. It’s printed right there on his window for the world to see: "Everything is made to order. No microwaves or heat lamps in this joint."

Cuisine: Chicago-style sandwiches and pizza; a few Greek, Indian and Yugoslavian dishes

Essentials: BYOB, smoke-free, wheelchair-accessible, major credit cards

Entree cost: $3-$8 (large deep-dish pizzas $17-$25)

Signatures: Chicago hot dog, Polish sausage and Italian beef sandwiches; "Groma" sandwich (Polish and Italian sausage, sweet peppers, grilled onions and mozzarella, $7.99)

Recommended for: Nostalgic Chicagoans or wannabe Chicagoans; anyone in the Edgecliff Village area looking for a filling, interesting, inexpensive diner lunch or dinner

Good to know: If you want pizza, call and order ahead; the menu advises allowing an hour for the deep-dish. This review originally appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Friday, July 20, 2007.

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