The restaurant is currently under construction, and they have an illustration of what the restaurant will eventually look like, and it looks like an impressive face lift. I had looked this place up before, and I don't remember a website, but there is now the nice, clean website that I linked to above. I didn't ask many questions, so I'm not sure if there is new ownership, or merely a push to upgrade the facilities, but it looks like it will be a nice addition. Otherwise, the current location seems like a pretty simple, older-style fast food restaurant.
They don't have any "value meals" at Nick's, but they do have a daily special. I had tried to prepare during the day for this meal, so I had oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit, and at lunch I'd had a PB&J on Brownberry whole wheat bread, and an apple. I ordered the footlong with chili and cheese and an order of their "natural trim" fries.
The hot dog was a pretty thin wiener, but it had a nice ladling of chili, a fair dusting of cheese (no comparison to the mounds from Skyline) and onions. The chili is fairly standard and, dare I say it, a bit "Hormel-ish" in taste. But, the onions and an addition of some hot sauce helped it. The fries may have had some skin on them, but they certainly seemed to be the frozen-out-of-a-bag variety to me, and while airy and crisp, nothing very exceptional. The meal put be back about $7.15, and I wasn't really full (I also tend to have to spend too much at Skyline, too - so maybe it is me). I considered a bowl of chili to better gauge the chili on it's own without the hot dog, but I passed. Being a mere mile or so from the Long's Donut's on 16th and Lafayette Road, I also considered a stop there... but, I knew I had some cookies and cream ice cream at home, so held off.
The Nick's website touts the slogan "home of the Not Yet World Famous Chili"... and, well, I guess they're being a bit self-deprecating and yet honest at the same time. It has a lot of local lore and followers, but I wouldn't put this chili up there as anything special on it's own. And, I guess you can call me picky, but to pay $7.15 for a footlong, fries and a soda that didn't leave me full, well... I don't think that is very good value either. If I would have added a 5-way, a bowl of chili or just another chili dog, this meal would have been in the $9.50-$12 range, and that is way too much.
The verdict: 2.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Homey taste, but mostly middle-of-the-road.