Restaurant Review – A Side of Spooky Sass at Ed Debevic’s

Nearly 40 years ago, the first Ed Debevic’sopened in River North to rave reviews and the World’s Smallest Sundae. (Yes, really)

The 50’s-style diner served up comfort food like none other…freshly baked buns, milkshakes made with premium ice cream, and freshly peeled french fries. Not to mention their meatloaf, hot turkey blue plate special, freshly baked pies, and other diner delights. For parents, it was a chance to relive memories of their childhoods at the malt shop. 

But the real reason why Ed’s became so popular was because of the obnoxious, costumed wait staff, with named like ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Lenny’ who took snark to a new level, insulting patrons at every turn, and dropping everything to perform seemingly random dances to 60’s hits (loved the guy who played Tom ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ Jones!) I still have memories of one waitress singing Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ to my Dad on our first visit there.

In time, they earned their reputation as the self-proclaimed ‘Chicago’s most famous retro-themed diner.’

Ed’s thrived for a long time, but in 2015, they shut down. Fortunately for Chicago, they reopened in 2020 at a new River North location, ready to make memories for a new generation of fans.

Not much has changed but the prices, it seems.  They are definitely 2022-style. Even their World’s Smallest Sundae is $4.34. But worth it! 

You can have the Ed’s experience for breakfast lunch and dinner. At breakfast, It’s No Yolk is a healthy and flavorful combination of egg whites, spinach, marinated portobellos, roasted red peppers, home fries, and a choice of toast, while hearty skillets include the Tex-Mex, with home fries, choice of egg, Monterrey jack cheese, bacon, atomic mix, guacamole, sour cream, and cilantro. Appetizers include Outrageous Fries…crinkle cut or sweet potato fries with cheese sauce, chopped scallions, crumbled bacon, aged cheddar and parmesan. Fried Cheese Curds areWisconsin’s Finest with your choice of ranch or green goddess dressing. Oooey, gooey sandwiches include Eddie’s BBQ Pulled Pork with coleslaw, choice of classic or tangy Carolina BBQ sauce, and served on a bun, while Rye Me! layerspastrami, deli mustard, and pickle slice, served on rye. Ed’s Mom’s Meatloaf Sandwich isserved with lettuce, heirloom tomato, Ed’s special sauce, and onion strings, served on grilled sourdough bread. 

And then, there are the burgers, in your choice of beef, turkey or impossible meat. 

Besides the usual suspects, there is the  Patty Melt, on grilled rye, with grilled onions, Ed’s special sauce, and American cheese. Or the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, heirloom tomato, onion, pickle slice, bacon, BBQ sauce, and aged cheddar. 

Spooky Saturdays at Ed’s 

Every Saturday during the month of October, Ed Debevic’s invites you to “Come in your best Wednesday Addams & Cousin Itt digs this Saturday as we sing, dance, and get a little creepy. We’ll have a live DJ, trivia, & even some kooky prizes.”

One Google reviewer wrote:

“We came for bottomless mimosa brunch on Saturday morning and were not disappointed. The food was actually really good. The service was horribly good thanks to Grundle, who was so sassy and kept topping off our mimosas to the literal top edge of our glasses. Definitely got our $20 worth of mimosas.”

Restaurant Guru published this fawning tribute:

“(I) Always say dining out is about the experience as much as the food…this is one of my all time favorites. The food and the experience are awesome! I had the bbq bacon cheeseburger. The bun, bacon, sauce, and burger were excellent. The sauce was kind of a Carolina fold mustard style and it makes a mess! The fries were good, but the burger was so big I couldn’t eat many fries. With that messy burger it’s a good thing my waiter threw a few napkins at me. And eventually even slammed down a container of silverware while walking by. The staff is truly snarky…and it’s awesome. We heard our waiter tell the table next to us she ate weird. “ 

Another waiter told some kids waiting to be seated with their parents to “follow me you little brats.” 

And one waitress climbed onto the deejay booth to deliver this message:

“Attention guests, eat and get out has been our motto since 1984. If you’re done eating and you’ve paid your check get out of here. There’s people up front waiting for the same crappy experience you had.” 

Ed Debevic’s is located at 159 E. Ohio Street. They do take pains to tell you that their “hours are subject to change when we feel like it! Maybe call ahead before you get here.” That said, their posted hours are Monday-Sunday, 8am-9pm. Reservations are pretty much required, and can be made by clicking here. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago