This past weekend my wife and I were out on Saturday afternoon. We weren't doing Christmas shopping like many others, but were meeting a daughter and son-in-law for a non-holiday task. After we had finished, we all went to Salem's in Homewood for a late lunch since only one of the four of us had eaten.
We all piled into one car to make parking easier when we got there. Once at Salem's, despite the many shoppers who were out, we found a space close to the front door. Upon entering Salem's we discovered a nearly full house. We had to wait a couple of minutes for a table for four to open up. I was a little surprised, but pleased to see how busy they were after 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon.
We were immediately given a warm greeting and the assurance that we would be seated quickly. Once we were seated we were given menus so we could make our selection. This time I decided to try something other than a hot dog. The other guy in our group ordered a slaw dog, fries and a drink which he thought was very good. He even commented on the good fries. One of the ladies had a hamburger and drink, while another ordered a special that day, Santa Fe soup. This time I decided to try the Philly cheese steak sandwich with a side of fries and onion rings. The Philly cheese steak sandwich is something they take great pride in and can justifiably be called their specialty. I will join the voices of many others who praise that sandwich as prepared at Salem's. A word about the onion rings; I love onion rings when they are done right. These were perfect. They were fresh, firm and thick, served hot and make a great side. On their combos they offer fries, onion rings or some of both. With on my hot dog excursions I usually order chips; but since I decided to try a different sandwich it just seemed right. The the fries and rings are a good choice at Salem's; and next time I have a hot dog there I'll get them instead of chips.
Places like this where they that have decided to include a few other choices along with their dogs can be really good, especially when part of your group wants to branch out.
There were no complaints from anyone at our table. As we were finishing up I saw a little break in the business at the counter and took the opportunity to talk for a few minutes with Wayne Salem, the owner. He was really in his element having a good time interacting with a steady stream of customers while overseeing his efficient staff. Most of the customers seemed to be regulars which created a good atmosphere. When I told him about this blog he told me how proud he is to have such a high rating on the Urban Spoon website. We talked about his father's drive in's (Ed Salem's) and how many of the wall hangings came from there. He is quite proud to be the son of the famous football star, Ed Salem.
A few minutes later, Wayne appeared at our table with a sample for each of us of his home-made banana pudding. This treat doesn't even appear on the menu but seems to be there for the asking. Our samples were all quickly consumed and were the perfect end to our meal. I know I wouldn't have ordered it, but really enjoyed the small portion I had. When you go to Salem's be sure to look for the hand made signs offering items not on the printed menu and be sure to try the deserts.
I noticed that they serve breakfast starting at 6:30 and started wishing this place was somewhere convenient for me to stop for breakfast every now and then. Maybe I can do that soon anyway.
Below is a painting of the old Ed Salem's drive in that was on 26th Street North not far from the Neighborhood where I grew up.