The Daley Question

Grill gone but not forgotten

Ramova's counter and booths on display at Benton House

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"Food Lovers Guide to Chicago" by Jennifer Olvera

The mother-in-law sandwich at the now-closed Ramova Grill was so good that it merited inclusion in Jennifer Olvera's "Food Lovers Guide to Chicago." (HANDOUT / June 30, 2011)

Q: Would you know if the Ramova Grill is still in operation? It was located at 35th and Halsted not too far from the Ramova Theater. Also is the theater still there?

—Alice Bowen, North Olmsted, Ohio.

A: The Ramova Grill closed in 2012, ending a storied run that began back in 1929. The small, no-nonsense restaurant, located at 3510 S. Halsted St. in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, was noted for its chili and its mother-in-law sandwich, a corn tamale tucked into a hot dog bun and blanketed with chili. It was the latter that was included in 2011's "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago" by Jennifer Olvera.

But closure isn't necessarily the end of the Ramova Grill story. Literal pieces of the Ramova Grill that have been preserved and are on display at Benton House, a neighborhood social service agency. The grill's counter, stools and booths are in a large classroom space in Pearse Hall, the agency's gymnasium and activities building at 3034 S. Gratten Ave., says Ben Noetzel, youth programs coordinator at Benton House.

"We thought it would be a really, really cool addition to the space,'' Noetzel told me. He says the curious are always welcome to stop by and take a peak.

Are there places in Chicago offering Ramova-style food today? Kevin Pang, my Tribune dining colleague, suggests Ricobene's at 252 W. 26th St. or Nicky's The Real McCoy, at 5801 S. Kedzie Ave.; 2400 S. Cicero Ave., Cicero; 11524 S. Pulaski Road, Alsip. I'd certainly welcome other suggestions from readers.

As for the Ramova Theater, it is still standing but has been long closed. There's an effort underway to save and restore the 3518 S. Halsted St. landmark. You can find out about it on the Ramova Theater page on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ramovatheatre.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

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