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Best Italian Beef in Chicago


awbrig
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In regards to the giardiniera debate, I hold in my hand a jar of Il Primo Giardiniera imported to L.A. from lovely St. Charles, Illinois. The ingredients are hot and mild peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, pimentos, onions, salt, olives, spices, vinegar and soybean oil.

Great on beef, pizza, sausage or meatball sandwiches, eggs or any dish needin' a kick.

Not however, good on pie. Long story. :raz:

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I've been a little down on Al's (Taylor Street) lately because q.c. has been inconsistent and their prices seem to go up regularly, but I had it again last week and thought it was better than it had been in a long time.

I had a "big" beef, dipped with hot and sweet peppers.  The beef was flavorful, plentiful and lean; the sandwich wasn't overly-soggy.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the sweet peppers which had too much crunch for my liking.  The hot peppers were perfect in flavor and quantity.

Still, it was a noticable improvement over the last time I had it (Aug 2001), when I was so disappointed I swore it would be a long time before I had it again.  Perhaps they're still inconsistent, but at least I caught them on the right day this time around.

=R=                              Until yesterday, my new bride lived on Racine, just around the corner from Al's. After loading up the Jeeps we went in for some food. All i can say is OVERRATED. Two small beefs, fries =$14- no drinks. Tasteless, skimpy sandwiches and a filthy stand-up counter only.Good fries though. Total tourist trap. I can get much better beef at Portillos (or as my co-worker thinks- Por- tee-yos) or even Jimmy's in Arl Hts, where we live.

Al's

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AND there is a Johnnie's opening up on Golf Road in Arlington Hts soon.

Correction, The new Johnnie's is on Arlington Hts Road, just south of Golf.

And it is goooooooooooooooooooood

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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Hey Sweet Willie- thanks for the info! I was wondering who was going in there as it looks like they're getting ready to open a new place. That place has been several beef stands since i've lived here. Johnnies from Elmwood,right?

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I want Mr. Beef now, but I have to go to class.

Then they are closed when I get out of class.

Why do they close so early?

:sad:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Hi all, I happened by this discussion and I'm gettin' all teary-eyed over my beloved Chicago Italian beef sandwiches. Grew up in Chicago and rarely get back from Southern California, but when I do...Ohhhhhh man! Buona Beef, Portillo's, Mr. Beef, Carm's. I try and hit 'em all.

The best I've been able to do out here is to get Boar's Head Italian beef from an Italian deli in Santa Monica, some fresh rolls, and a jar of hot giardiniera and head home. I use beef broth, some pepperocini juice and a few cut up pepperocini. Simmer until barely boiling and THEN put in the beef as to not bruise the delicate texture and taste of the beef. Fellow Chicagoans say it's damn good. I'm so proud.

All in all, I still miss the great beef joints in Chicago. Have a beef for me!!!

Yes, I can relate! I also have found Boars Head beef to be the best I can buy from deli's here in Arizona. May I suggest the addition of dry Basil, a few drops of olive oil and some dry hot peeper flakes to your aus jus. I also reduce the broth a bit to condense the flavor.

I also miss the Chicago Italian beefs :(

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Yes, I can relate!  I also have found Boars Head beef to be the best I can buy from deli's here in Arizona.  May I suggest the addition of dry Basil, a few drops of olive oil and some dry hot peeper flakes to your aus jus.  I also reduce the broth a bit to condense the flavor.

I also miss the Chicago Italian beefs :(

Boars Head is good beef. If you care to ruin it Chicago style might I suggest some garlic and black pepper along with some oregano and sage. This seems to be a close match.

Living hard will take its toll...
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  • 3 weeks later...

It has been awhile since I've been to Mr. Beef, but I'm headed there today for lunch as it seems eG has a love affair with them. (need to give Mr. Beef a try today to be able to stick to my guns about Johnnie's.) :smile:

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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(need to give Mr. Beef a try today to be able to stick to my guns about Johnnie's.)

As mentioned it has been awhile since I last had a Mr. Beef Italian beef sandwich.

Much better than I remember. But I feel confident in stating Johnnie's is the best because after Mr. Beef I drove west on North Ave until I stopped to get a Johnnie's.

Johnnie's is a better beef, has a deeper spice taste. However, maybe as it was towards the end of the lunch rush, but my sandwich had way too many bits/pcs of beef rather than slices. Therefore it was not a firm beef texture like I like. I've been to Johnnie's enough to know my sandwich was not the norm, but if it had been my first time, I would have been disappointed.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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(need to give Mr. Beef a try today to be able to stick to my guns about Johnnie's.)

As mentioned it has been awhile since I last had a Mr. Beef Italian beef sandwich.

Much better than I remember. But I feel confident in stating Johnnie's is the best because after Mr. Beef I drove west on North Ave until I stopped to get a Johnnie's.

Johnnie's is a better beef, has a deeper spice taste. However, maybe as it was towards the end of the lunch rush, but my sandwich had way too many bits/pcs of beef rather than slices. Therefore it was not a firm beef texture like I like. I've been to Johnnie's enough to know my sandwich was not the norm, but if it had been my first time, I would have been disappointed.

Willie please promise us that when you get back to working full time, you'll still go out for multiple lunches and dinners each day and report back to us on all of it. :smile:

Frankly, I like your style.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Willie please promise us that when you get back to working full time, you'll still go out for multiple lunches and dinners each day and report back to us on all of it.

How I wish, there are going to be some major withdrawel symptoms on my part once employed in my cubicle.

Lookout eG, everything one wanted to know about Schaumburg eating!

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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Oh MAN! I live in Southern California and have been drooling reading this thread! I grew up on the Southside (Go SOX!) and whenever I get back to visit my old stomping grounds I get as many italian beef sandwiches as I can. I like them with the hot giardinera and extra juice on the side so I can get real messy! I LOVE italian beef sandwiches so much. It cracks me up because my friends here don't even know what the hell an italian beef sando is! California really sucks foodwise coming from Chicago. I love Mr. Submarine Torpedos too. Okay, So how do you fellow westcoasters make these "homemade" italian beef sandwiches. I saw you get Boar's head beef and then what do you use for the juice? And exactly what do you add to the juice? Do they have anything comparable to the bitchin' Turano bread they use in Chitown? I just ordered 2 jars of Il Primo Giardinera Hot Mix so there gonna get here in a few days and i wanna be ready!

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(Go SOX!)

Thank god there's another Sox fan here. My daughter did the "OOOH-EEE-OOOH MAA-GGGLLII-OOO"cheer for everyone the other night and no one knew what she was doing.

Just to clarify, it is my lack of interest in/disdain for pro sports that left me clueless to your daughter's chant.

I did grow up a Sox fan; Grandpa wouldn't have had it any other way. :smile:

back to topic, the fries did suck at Mr. Beef. thin, wimpy strings w/no crisp to them.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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(Go SOX!)

Thank god there's another Sox fan here. My daughter did the "OOOH-EEE-OOOH MAA-GGGLLII-OOO"cheer for everyone the other night and no one knew what she was doing.

That's because you live on the North Side.

Now if Iris would pat her chest & blow kisses, everyone would recognize her Sammy Sosa Cheer. Well, everyone except people from Bridgeport. :hmmm:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

:biggrin: All right! Here in Southern Californialand, I finally received my Il Primo Hot Mix from www.hotsauceworld.com and I got some roast beef and some Lawry Au Jus mix and tried my hand at a Italian Beef Sandwich. Good news and bad news. I put the basil and oil in the juice which worked like a beaute. But there's no comparable bread to get that right soak out here! Man, I wish Turano would expand thier operations or sell the recipe out here or something. I was forced to use french bread from Ralph's(a grocery store) bakery which is just not doing the trick. Anyways, it was still really freaking awesome! The giardinera made the sandwich and just dipping the beef in the hot au jus for 15 secs, heated the beef up, but still left it delicate and juicy, instead of rubbery like what happened last time when I cooked the au jus with the beef in it (for REAL beef flavor I thought!).

Have a great day in Chicago, don't fret - one of these days we'll beat the Pack.

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Oh MAN!  I live in Southern California and have been drooling reading this thread!  I grew up on the Southside (Go SOX!) and whenever I get back to visit my old stomping grounds I get as many italian beef sandwiches as I can.  I like them with the hot giardinera and extra juice on the side so I can get real messy!  I LOVE italian beef sandwiches so much.  It cracks me up because my friends here don't even know what the hell an italian beef sando is!  California really sucks foodwise coming from Chicago.  I love Mr. Submarine Torpedos too.  Okay, So how do you fellow westcoasters make these "homemade" italian beef sandwiches.  I saw you get Boar's head beef and then what do you use for the juice?  And exactly what do you add to the juice?  Do they have anything comparable to the bitchin' Turano bread they use in Chitown?  I just ordered 2 jars of Il Primo Giardinera Hot Mix so there gonna get here in a few days and i wanna be ready!

Fresser here with an suggestion:

You can get lots of Chicago specialties on-line; try http://www.loumalnatis.com for deep-dish pizza, Vienna Beef hot dogs & such. Also, http://www.portillos.com makes a pretty tasty Eyetalian Beef Samwich.

Unfortunately, Mr. Beef on Orleans does not ship out of state. Too bad--Jay Leno would probably order a bunch. :smile:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 5 months later...

I had Mr. Beef on Monday. I have firmly placed myself on the sweet-and-hot side. Their fries still suck. But you gotta' love the atmosphere.

A little off-topic: has anyone (i.e. Sweet Willie) ever eaten at a little joint on Chicago and Pulaski called Jimmy's? I schlepped down there the other day for a hot dog. I loved the way they did it--onions, relish, mustard--no ketchup! And all bundled up with a bunch of steaming hot and delicious fries. Heaven.

Now--if I can just figure out why they were serving all their food in Burger King wrappers, I'd be happy. :hmmm:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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I don't know if anyone has mentioned Max's on the northside of the city. IMO they have the best beef, dipped with both peppers. They are on north Western avenue like 5800 north. Their fries, almost as big as an english chip, with Merkt cheddar cheese sauce and a large mr. pibb. I feel truly a hidden gem in the city. :cool:

Patrick Sheerin

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I'm jumping into this one a little late but just thought I'd throw my 2¢ in.

I'm more of an Al's guy. I am not of fan of the giardenera that they use at Mr. Beef, which, to me, is an integral part of the Italian Beef experience. BUT, this past weekend I had my first beef from Johnnies. Outstanding! I think it's the best (sorry Al's).

And, btw, I always go with the combo, dipped/juicy, hot.

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A little off-topic: has anyone (i.e. Sweet Willie) ever eaten at a little joint on Chicago and Pulaski called Jimmy's?  I schlepped down there the other day for a hot dog.  I loved the way they did it--onions, relish, mustard--no ketchup!  And all bundled up with a bunch of steaming hot and delicious fries.  Heaven. 

Now--if I can just figure out why they were serving all their food in Burger King wrappers, I'd be happy.  :hmmm:

Jimmy's on Grand near Pulaski/Division is an especially cool place, very old school, and somewhat notorious for its other offerings as the night dwindles towards dawn. I think their fries are outstanding, some of the best in Chicago, but their hot dog is not nearly as good. It sez Vienna but always tastes off to me, like some other brand. For the ultimate in minimal hot dog, Gene and Judes remains my fave.

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