by Jennifer Olvera - 3381 Reviews - 45 List
Whether you take them for granted or gospel, Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches are an integral part of the city's restaurant scene--much like hot dogs and deep dish pizza. The difference being, you can't get the beloved Italian beef anywhere else, which means Chicagoans? love affair borders on obsession, and opinions about the best one run strong. It's understandable, though: a good Italian beef?with chewy bread and a jus-y interior piled with aromatic, tender meat and peppers--is truly a work of art. Here, in no particular order, are our five favorite Chicago Italian beef sandwiches. (Photo: Portillo's)
Updated: June 14, 2010
To call this restaurant a mainstay would be an understatement. Order its hand-held Italian beef, topped with giardiniera and sweet peppers, alongside salty fries and the famed, fruity Italian ice, and you'll find eating here to be a near-ethereal experience.
A roster of famous folks (Jay Leno included) frequent this fabled stand when in town. It's no surprise, really: Its headily scented, full-flavored Italian beef beats the pants off of most. Sure, it's sloppy as all get-out, but it's well worth the investment in stain remover come laundry time.
A unique, slightly sweet potion flavors this meat, giving it a unique taste. Love it or hate it, this is where many blue and white collar-types roll up their sleeves, rub elbows and proclaim--with greasy hands--their love for this institution and its iconic Italian beef.
The service is surly, the line is perpetually down the block and the narrow, standing room setting is smoky-from-the-grill institutional. But after one bite of the perfectly seasoned slivers of beef--dipped and ordered in combo form with charred Italian sausage--all is forgiven. Go all out and snag a mounded cup of lemon Italian ice, too.