This location is now closed.
Following the heads up from readers littleben and ryno below (BTW, I have moved the comments from the old post here for historical purposes), Kim, Kevin and I headed over to Johnny’s Chicago Style Beef and Dogs in Apple Valley, MN for lunch.
I was glad to know ahead of time that their credit card machine wasn’t in, much like what happened at Ronin Sushi Cafe in Lakeville when it first opened, but a handwritten, cardboard sign on the door also notifies you of this before you even walk in the door. littleben said that he was told it would arrive “soon” so YMMV.
We walked in and found the place to be nearly immaculate. Aside from the kitschy shit all over the wall and a gigantic life-sized statue of a Vienna hot dog man in the corner, it looked like a typical diner/hot dog eatery. They had plenty of little things related to Chicago to try and make you feel like you weren’t in a suburban strip mall and were instead in downtown Chicago but it wasn’t doing it for me today.
The menu is sparse and done old-school style, which I liked. After a moment of looking at it confusingly, one of those guys working behind the counter offered a Xeroxed copy of their menu which had subtitles to give you a little more information about what you could order. They have your normal selection of Chicago-style eatery options including hot dogs, hot beef sandwiches (which we later heard a GameStop employee next door say, “I’ve had *a lot* of hot beef sandwiches in my day!” To which I responded by bursting out laughing), fries, soup, random appetizers, and Italian ice. Most of the items were in the $3 to $6.50 range with the majority running under $4.
Kim decided on their Chicago Dog (onions, neon relish, tomato, pickle, sport peppers, celery salt and mustard on a steamed poppy seed bun) which was the most inexpensive main option at a fairly reasonable $2.85. I was surprised by her pick and would have thought she would have picked the Cheese Dog ($3.45) but she shook her head and went what I would consider the “adventurous option” for her. She also picked up a side of cheese fries which are only $2 instead of $2.65 when you order them with something else. I finally settled on the Italian Sausage which the menu claims is great with sweet peppers which set me back $4.25. I figured we’d try the Pizza Puff which is listed as “Johnny’s Favorite! You gotta try it!” and will set you back just under $3. Hey, they said I just had to try it, right? Our total bill came to around $14.50 with only water to drink. Not exactly cheap but definitely reasonable for the amount we ordered.
We went and sat down and I started taking photos and looking around. Plenty of people were streaming in and out of the place and during our visit we saw at least 8 to 10 people come and go with most taking their food out the door with them. They currently don’t offer delivery but they do say on their menu that you can call ahead and they’ll get it all ready for you to pickup (check the hours and telephone number below if you want to go that route). In the meantime Kevin placed his order, quite annoyed that they didn’t have chili especially after they’ve occupied the space since August and knew when they’d be opening.
We all sat down near the front of the restaurant and I found that there was no condiments nearby. They were all down by the cash register which Kim later mentioned to me needed to be moved near the lower counter near the front door. Because of how the line is setup and where the majority of the seating is, it would definitely make sense to rearrange things that way. Kevin was looking for some hot sauce for his hot beef and sausage sandwich that he ordered because they didn’t have chili but they didn’t have any.
Our meals came out and while they forgot our second water, they got everything else correct. Kim really enjoyed her hot dog and Her Three Words (TM) are, “I like it.” She later told me that she could definitely see us returning in the future. Kevin, who spent most of the time while we were waiting for our food saying that he knew exactly what to expect coming here, seemed to also enjoy his meal. Me? Well, I thought the sweet peppers were great and the sausage was fine but the bun was fucking nasty. It was dry and broke apart into a million pieces as I ate. I tried to wet the bun down with a ton of mustard but that did nothing to help the situation. Next time I’ll stick with the Italian Beef sandwiches and probably end up a lot better off. But aside from the bun (which were Vienna’s and stored in a freezer behind the counter), I thought the meal was fine.
Our sides were lame. The cheese fries were soggy and nasty. Both Kevin and I have seen these crispier and I would have expected when they’re going to put chili or cheese on them that that’s exactly what they would have done but alas, not in this case. The Pizza Puff (remember a Johnny’s favorite) was not something I’d order again. It tasted mostly like pizza sauce and I couldn’t see any cheese and it was stuffed with some sort of meat or sausage and as you may know, I do not particularly care for meat on my pizza. If you’re a vegetarian and looking for another option aside from cheese fries, you’ll want to steer clear of this one too.
As I said above, we’ll be returning but it’s not something I’m looking to run right back out the door to try. As it currently stands, if the number of people they had coming through the door today continue, this may end up a successful business. What both Kim and I didn’t really understand is why they had three young kids working today with no obvious owners on site. In this market, at least for the opening few days/weeks, owners should be there daily, working to ensure quality control and to greet customers to try and keep and everlasting impression which will keep their regulars coming back again and again.
Kim and I went back today and was much happier with what I received. The bun wasn’t crumbling, the chili was available, and the french fries have improved and are a bit more crispy. They still don’t have hot sauce but I overheard the owner? tell a customer that she was getting that and sauerkraut. She also said she never uses the frozen buns that are in the freezer that will at some point be filled with Italian ice.
As my comment below states, we will be back. again.
Have you been to Johnny’s Chicago Style Beef and Dogs in Apple Valley? If so, what did you think about it? Comment on, we’d love to hear what you have to say!
Johnny’s Chicago Style Beef and Dogs
15465 Cedar Ave
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
See all the pictures from Johnny’s Chicago Style Beef and Dogs on Flickr here.