It’s easy to forget that Italian Beef is a Chicago thing – not something you’ll find anywhere else in America (or see done well, at least). Therefore, never, ever take them for granted. Ever.
For those of you who have been around the block and have had many beefs in your day, here’s a list of the top five places. Let me know if you disagree.
For those who have never had an Italian Beef before, you are in luck. Taste one from one of these fine establishments and you’ll be hooked for life. An addict. But, you know, the good kind.
100 West Ontario Street
Portillo’s is easy to take for granted when you live in Chicago. Ask someone who’s moved out of Illinois though, and they’ll tell you just how much they miss it. They have good reason to, Portillo’s has some of the best dogs, burgers and, of course, Italian beefs in the city.
If you want something really superb, get one of their chocolate cake shakes after you eat your beef. It’ll satiate even the biggest gluttons out there.
Scatchell’s Beef & Pizza
4700 West Cermak Road
Cicero, IL 60804-2523
Scatchell’s is a little stand just off of 290 that serves some of the best fast food on the Southwest side. It doesn’t look fancy, but rarely is that ever a sign of good or bad food with places like this. Their Italian Beef makes for the perfect, quick lunch.
666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654-3916
Ignoring the fact that their address is the mark of the devil, Mr. Beef’s food is heavenly (GET IT? DO YOU GET IT???). Next time you’re in the River North area, you should stop by. Their beef sandwiches aren’t dry like the competition, they’re nice and juicy. It is highly recommended by everyone living that you get them with hot peppers. Personally, I’m not a fan, but those who have better taste in food than me say it’s a must.
7500 W North Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60707
Expect your beef from Johnnie’s to come soaked, which is a good thing. I don’t know if I’d recommend eating anything else there, simply because their beefs are so good. Get sweet and hot peppers on the side if you’re into that sort of things. They’ve also got Italian ice for a nice treat after.
6746 Ogden Avenue
What’s with all the great beef places just outside the city? Yeah, I don’t know either. Anyways, it gives you at least one reason to like the suburbs.
Like any self-respecting beef, Novi’s has a nice selection of spices that make their beefs just unique enough to set them apart, without being too overpowering to turn anyone off. If you’re feeling adventurous, get their combination sandwich, which combines their great Italian beef with their Italian sausage – the perfect match!
Mason Johnson, CBS Local Chicago