Sometimes, you just want something simple and unassuming for lunch. Something better than fast food that doesn’t feel fancy, stuffy or overpriced. Pittsburgh Willy’s in Chandler is the answer. Located in the corner of an antique mall just south of the Warner/Arizona Ave. intersection, it’s the kind of place that you could drive by every day and never notice, but once you’ve eaten there, it’s all you can think about.
Our staff initially ventured out to Willy’s on a Wednesday – notable for being the only day each week that they serve homemade pierogi, an Eastern European dish that is a Pittsburgh tradition. Ravioli-like dumplings are filled with potato and cheese and smothered in butter. Pittsburgh loves its pierogi so much, there are grown men in pierogi costumes who run around Pirates games after the fifth inning of every game. And Willy’s loves Pittsburgh so much, he brought the best of it to the East Valley. The restaurant is teeming with Pittsburgh paraphernalia – from sports banners, action figures, and signed sports souvenirs. Our tablecloth listed famed Pittsburgh residents – did you know Andy Warhol was from Pittsburgh? We didn’t either.
Although pierogi was our main mission, our visit fell on an unusual Wednesday when no pierogi were to be found due to back-to-back special events off-site that kept the Willy’s team too busy for the time-consuming task of cranking out pierogi by the hundreds. At one of these recent events, they were crowned “Valley’s Best Hot Dog” by country radio station KMLE 108 FM. So all four of us opted for the award-winning “Pittsburgher” – a delicious all meat dog on a soft, fluffy bun smothered in ham that had been sauteed in butter and topped with freshly grated cheddar cheese. It was easily the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten in my life. Forget the hot dogs you ate when you were a kid, or the lifeless tubes of meat that you may have partaken of at a ball game – this is the real deal.
The rest of the menu ranges from the basic (The Big Willy) to the gourmet (The Red White & Bleu) and there’s also sandwiches, if you don’t feel like a dog. A variety of soft drinks are available in bottles and cans and there is also a pretty extensive dessert menu. Follow Pittsburgh Willy’s on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pittsburghwillys for up-to-the minute information on menu changes and specials.
For great, local food in a spot that’s perfect for grabbing a quick lunch, Pittsburgh Willy’s can’t be beat. It’s an East Valley gem that is deservedly getting more and more popular through word of mouth – get there before noon to avoid the big lunch crowds.
1509 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler
M, T, TH, F: 11 am to 3 pm
W: 11 am to 7 pm
Sat & Sun: 11 am to 4 pm