10-15 customers a day: "You guys got *grilled* onions?"
And, yes,of course, as any self-respecting burger and dog place should, I do have grilled onions.
They're usually referred to as "grilled", but they're technically sauteed. Most places do theirs on the flattop, which perhaps explains the moniker. (I've never understood why people would call cooking on a flattop "grilling", but that's a different post).
The thing about doing grilled onions, though, is that they should be allowed to cook relatively slowly, so that they can fully soften and then caramelize. I've been places and ordered grilled onions only to see them start cooking the raw onion after I've ordered. Not good. One time I even saw a guy try and cook onions in one of those conveyor toasters the sub places use. Blech. Those aren't grilled onions!
The slow cook allows you to coax all the sweetness out of the onions as they slowly stew in their own juices on the griddle and eliminates all the hot, crunchy rawness that onions can have. They're great.
We use our grilled onions in the patty melts, of course, on the portobello mushroom sandwich, on whatever upon request, and on the classic Maxwell Polish, which is scored and charred on the grill, then slathered with yellow mustard and grilled onions. It's a true Chicago original.
"Maxwell" refers to Maxwell Street, where the old market used to be, and two places down there are still churning them out as they have been for years; Jim's Original and Maxwell Street Express Grill, which are right across the street from each other.
Both do a great Polish as well as the somewhat-less-famous pork chop sandwich. My dad loves to talk glowingly about how good the Polishes used to be at one or the other of these places, and he swears up and down that one day, when he asked the guy working the griddle what made the grilled onions so good, the guy showed him; he pulled out the trough under the griddle where all the scrapings and excess oil ended up, and carefully poured it over the pile of onions that was sizzling on the back of the grill.