Jim’s Original in Chicago: Polish Sausage and Pork Chop

Burgers, pork chops, sausages, and mountains of onions on the grill
Jim's Original, serving the Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich since 1941

Jim’s Original, serving the Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich since 1941

If you are looking for the best polish sausage in Chicago, you come to Jim’s Original. This institution has been serving the Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich since 1941. When something has been around for that long, you know it has to be good.

Everyone seemed to recommend that I try Jim’s Original at least once on my trip to Chicago. They said it’s the best place for a sausage in the city. Hours after landing in Chicago, I dropped off my bags at the hotel and headed over to try a Polish sandwich for myself.

If you plan on eating right away, you will have to stand and eat at the narrow metal counters

If you plan on eating right away, you will have to stand and eat at the narrow metal counters

Jim’s Original is a unique place. There were no tables or inside seating, only narrow metal counters to stand at and eat. There’s something special about eating on a sidewalk with views of downtown Chicago with the sounds of passing cars speeding by on Interstate 90.

There is usually a line of people waiting out front to order. If the counter seating is full, you might see people sitting in their cars devouring a sandwich or two.

What’s even better about Jim’s is that you can get your fix of a Polish or pork chop sandwich at all hours of the day. They are open 24 hours day.

Jim’s Original Menu

Jim's Original menu

Jim’s Original menu

The bright yellow Jim’s Original menu on the wall was hard to miss.

The menu was simple. You had an assortment of sandwiches with different proteins. Polish sausage, beef Polish sausage, pork chop, burger, cheeseburger, chicken, Vienna hog dog, and fish. Besides sandwiches, you had fries and cheese fries along with a few drinks including soda, juice, and water

Order a sandwich? You get free fries with that.

Burgers, pork chops, sausages, and mountains of onions on the grill

Burgers, pork chops, sausages, and mountains of onions on the grill

For first timers, I recommend the Polish sausage and/or pork chop depending how hungry you are. Most people order one or the other.

When ready to order, stand in line and place your order with the person in the window. It’s a good idea to know exactly what you want to order before you reach the front of the line. The person who takes orders is somehow also watching all the food on the grill.

All sandwiches can be customized to your liking. You can order with everything on it or without onions, mustard, or peppers.

Immediately after I ordered, my food was sitting in front of me. It really was that fast. No long waits for food here.

Polish Sausage

The famous Polish Sausage, Jim's Original, Chicago, IL

The famous Polish Sausage

Jim’s Original is where it all started. The Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich ($4.70) was served the same way it has for over 70 years. Jim’s Original, considered by many to be the best Polish sausage in Chicago, has many loyal customers.

To be honest, I haven’t had too many Polish dogs in my life. I might not be the best to back up this claim but when it comes to food, I always give my honest opinion.

The sandwich was simple. If you order everything on it, you will get a sausage with grilled onions, yellow mustard, hot peppers, and white bread.

The pork and beef sausage, grilled on a flat top grill to perfection, had just the right amount of crunch and bite. The oversized sausage had a wonderful smoky flavor with the perfect amount of oily, greasy goodness. Each bite was juicy. Quality was important and it showed. Jim’s has been using the same distributor for decades which has ensured a consistent product.

The sausage was placed in a simple yet fluffy steamed white bun. The bun was nothing special but worked well with the other ingredients.

Topping the sausage was a thick layer of sautéed sweet Spanish onions. The thinly sliced grilled onions were tender but cooked to the point where they still had texture left. This texture gave each bite an added crunchy dimension.

Bringing the sandwich together was a thin layer of yellow mustard. The yellow mustard was, well, just simple yellow mustard. The tangy mustard complemented the rich and smoky sausage and sweet onions.

I almost forgot about the peppers. You can’t forget about the peppers. These spicy and crunchy pickled peppers seemed to bring the whole sandwich together. They added just the right amount of tangy, salty, and spicy goodness.

This Polish sausage sandwich served at Jim’s Original might have seemed simple but it was truly satisfying. I could eat this thing at two in the afternoon or two in the morning. Especially after a long night of drinking.

So does Jim’s Original serve the best Polish sausage in Chicago? Maybe. You can find similar dogs at almost any stand in the city. So what makes this sandwich so special? It’s hard to explain. There’s just something different about eating a Polish dog at Jim’s Original. The flavors just seem to taste better at a place that has been in business, serving the same thing, for over 70 years.

Order of fries

Order of fries

Still hungry? Each sandwich order came with a free side of fries.

The fries, which came out hot and crispy, were delightfully crunchy on the outside while soft on the inside. I found myself unable to stop myself from eating them.

My only complaint was that they could have used some salt.

Pork Chop Sandwich

A thick pork chop sandwich in between two pieces of white bread

A thick pork chop sandwich in between two pieces of white bread

I have had countless pork chops in my life, but I can’t remember ever trying a Pork Chop Sandwich ($5.25).

Just as with the Polish sausage, this sandwich was pretty simple. A pork chop, grilled onions, and yellow mustard. Other than the pork chop, and shape of the bread, the ingredients were the same.

The mustard was tangy, the grilled sweet onions were tender but with texture, and the bread was a simple steamed white hamburger bun.

What made this sandwich stand out was the thick bone-in pork chop.

Both sides of the pork were grilled to perfection. The caramelized brown crust added a nice contrast of taste and texture.

For the price, I was curious how tough the piece of pork would be. I was expecting it to be tough and fatty. Surprisingly, the pork was cooked perfectly. Tender and juicy, the meat almost melted with each bite. The cut was lean with a perfect mix of rich fatty flavors.

Just watch out for the bone. You definitely don’t want to bite down on it.

My only complaint was how the seasoning was almost non-existent. A little salt would have gone a long way.

Service

I had this idea in my head that the service would be cold and unfriendly. Just order your food and move on. Often, with food institutions that have been around for ages, the workers can be a little on the rough side.

This was not the case. Even though you can feel a little rushed, the service was fast and friendly. The man working the grill had a big smile on his face and was cracking jokes with each guest. He even let me peak inside and snap a few photos. Even being a first time visitor, I felt welcomed.

Conclusion

The debate about whether Jim’s Original serves the best Polish sausage in Chicago is up for discussion.

What I do know is that this place is special. There’s just something special about eating food served the same way for 77 years. Something special about eating shoulder to shoulder with other people who have been coming to Jim’s for decades. I now understand why everyone recommend that I must eat here.

Maybe there are better, but you can’t replicate the taste and experience of a Polish dog at Jim’s Original. Come and try it out for yourself.

Pros

  • Food was ready as quick as I ordered it
  • Considered to be the best Polish sausage in Chicago
  • Historic food institution in business for over 77 years
  • Friendly service
  • Open 24 hours a day

Cons

  • No indoor seating
  • No tables to eat at

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