Chuck Wagon has been gracing the streets of Wilmette, IL since 1974 and continues to be a staple in the town. Having only recently discovered the Chuck Wagon about 5 years ago, when I moved to Evanston, I still don’t go in there as much as I would like. It’s not that the food isn’t memorable, because, in fact, it’s just the opposite, it’s just because since I don’t venture into Wilmette very often, it tends to slip out of my mind. But after coming up in conversation over Labor Day at my parents house, it was fresh in my mind when I was looking for somewhere to grab lunch this week.
Chuck Wagon is a super small place located on Central next to the Wilmette theater in downtown Wilmette… that’s downtown Wilmette right? Anyways. When I say super small, I mean super small. There’s a counter that has maybe 10 stools on it that opens up to the kitchen, and behind that a row of stools that belly up to a small, rail-counter, and looks directly into a wall. It does tend to get a bit crowded, so if you’re looking to sit down and eat, either get their early or have a backup plan.
The Niki Special
I admit that I don’t think I’ve had anything other than “The Niki Special” up until today; that includes fries. Today was the first time I think I’ve actually gotten cheese fries, which were decent. I’d say that the cheese fries at Mustards Last Stand, down the street for me, are better, but these did the job. However, the meat and cheese of Chuck Wagon is The Niki Special, which is a cheeseburger topped with gyro meat. The picture above doesn’t even do it justice (paper plate not included, I took it to go), however I will say that it’s much more gyro meat than it is cheeseburger. The cheeseburger portion of the special gets totally lost underneath the heaping piles of delicious gyro meat. Not that that’s a problem, because the gyro meat is so good, but the gyro taste does sometimes overpower the burger taste, which leaves you feeling like you essentially just ate a gyro on a hamburger bun; but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If you’re looking for something that’s not quite meat on meat, you can opt for the “Waitress Special” which is a grilled cheese with gyro meat. So it’s essentially the Niki Special without the burger part, or a gyro with american cheese, however you want to look at it. I’ve personally never had it, but I can only imagine that it’s quite delicious.
So if you live in the area and you’ve never made it over to Chuck Wagon in Wilmette, do yourself a favor and stop in for lunch one day. I promise you won’t regret it… well, you won’t regret the delicious tasting food, you might regret having to spend an extra hour in the gym the next day though.