Don’t be fooled by the look: the cheap but good Moon’s Sandwich Shop shines above other diners

Moon’s Sandwich Shop, 16 S. Western, has a sign outside that’s barely readable after decades of city wear and tear. But as we all know about the best holes-in-the-wall, like a book, we never judge it by the cover.

It turns out that Moon’s is hands-down one of the best diners in the city, possibly even the Midwest.

Moon’s is a bona fide chop shop in a city full of dinky imposters and one that’s usually packed to brim with saucy characters.

I stumbled across this Mecca for all things greasy and delicious last year in one of my infamous blaze-about-the-city-and-see-what-I-find foraging trips.

After I spotted the place, I pulled over and watched intently as hungry patrons plowed in and out. Not wasting time, I jammed inside to see what the heck was being served up. Let’s just say I’m now a regular of epic proportions.

I know the meatloaf sandwich ($4.25) sounds simple, but the flavors of a perfectly cooked slice of homemade meatloaf between two soft pieces of white bread oozing American cheese and dribbles of extra mayo is really something special.

Another breathtaking winner is the mustard-laden corned beef sandwich ($5.88), a house favorite. At least a half-foot of tender, thinly sliced, cut-to-order corned beef is piled mile-high on a couple slices of white rye bread.

It’s topped with crisp lettuce, thick tomatoes, peppery mustard and homemade pickles. Insane to look at and even more nuts to polish the whole thing off!

I also often go for two eggs over easy, grits and a perfectly executed stack of pancakes. That’s another plain-sounding dish that’s been destroyed many a time at sub-par establishments.

At Moon’s, though, it’s all about the tiny details: The fat chunks of butter placed between each flapjack, and the way jumbo fried eggs are gently nestled into a mound of buttery grits. When you add sugar to the butter and grits, it’s like eating a creamy corn dessert.

You get the feeling that most of the eccentric clientele comes from the wrong side of the tracks. But when you’re at Moon’s, sharing the newspaper or filling your neighbors water glass from the pitchers on the counter is commonplace. It’s just one more way to never judge that book by its cover.

THE FINAL RAVE: There used to be a free parking lot next door and it was recently bought up for more condos. Great, there goes the neighborhood.

KEEP IT GOING:

READ IT: Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli, 1141 S. Jefferson
The menu is long and sometimes so is the wait. And even though the food is well worth it, all I’m gonna say is Moon’s trumps Manny in the corn beef department. Sorry.

DRINK IT: Glenn’s Diner, 1820 W. Montrose
Some call it a fish shop, some call it a homey breakfast haven. Either way, breakfast or dinner, you’ll find a sunny, never-too-busy eating-house that has mastered diner food. You can also BYOB morning, noon and night.

EAT IT: Salt & Pepper Diner, 2575 N. Lincoln
With several outposts in the city, this diner does it up right. The only item not really worth revisiting is the so-so French toast, but save for that, everything else is a champ.

GET CRAZY WITH IT: Moody’s Diner (moodysdiner.com)
I found this iconic diner on one of my food-hunting jaunts and I’ve yet to find a coconut cream pie that beats theirs. I’d certainly drive straight back there for it. When you’ve got the goods, you’ve got the goods.

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