Chicago's Pride: The Best Italian Beef In The City
Chicago is a city where being 'the best' runs through the blood of the people on the streets. I say this with no exaggeration: native Chicagoans believe, rightfully, that they offer an elite form of everything under the sun. From the Chicago Blackhawks and Michael Jordan's legacy with the Chicago Bulls all the way to deep dish pizza and beachfront fun on Lake Michigan, you will always find yourself exposed to Chicago's pride. Due to the working class nature of the city most people don't ever take the time to realize that Chicago can be a culinary delight outside the realm of pizza. One beloved Chicagoan food that doesn't get nearly enough recognition is the Italian Beef sandwich. Thankfully we're here to show you where you can pick up some of the best Italian Beef sandwiches in the city.
Whether you are traipsing through Chicago for the first time or you're a hardened native, you need to find your way over to Al's Italian Beef at some point in time. There are three of these restaurants in the city with our favorite being on South Wabash. Al's has been in the game for a long time. In fact, the franchise is the oldest and most widely known Italian beef shop in the Windy City. Al's has a legion of fans that walk city blocks to get their hands on the charcoal grilled sausage that is shoved in between the buns of their Italian Beef offerings. The price is steep here but if you are going for quality then you can't complain about the price. However, if you do decide to be a little more price aware then we have a delicious option coming up for you.
Let's say that you've spent all of your extra money on Cubs tickets and you just need a cheap place to eat that will leave your taste buds in flavor heaven. Sounds good, right? In this situation we'd suggest checking out Jay's on Irving Park Road. Where Al's Italian Beef is focused on giving you a luxurious sandwich, Jay's is more interested in leaving you filled and satisfied. Italian Beef sandwiches are affordable here and they come filled to the brim with those sweet, sweet red peppers to top it all off. Bring yourself a napkin and a fork to dig your way through this beefy monstrosity. There are locations in Wicker Park as well as Harwood Heights.
We've talked about the high end and the low end of price in Chicago when it comes to Italian beef. Let's skip consideration of money now and just talk about the best Italian Beef in the city: Buona Beef. Buona Beef has been a cult favorite in Chicago for a long time despite their long history in the city. The first Buona Beef shop sprouted up on Berwyn about thirty years ago by owner Joe Buonavolanto Senior. Joe literally put his house on the line in order to fund the restaurant and he dug up the foundation itself. When a man puts his life on the line to create a product, you know he is creating something he believes in. The Italian Beef here has been refined over the past thirty years and it stands tall thanks to its crisp, sturdy bread and thick cut slices of beef. You've got your traditional giardiniera mixed in with a nice twist of chopped olives, giving you a balanced flavor at the end of your bite.
Nobody will ever tell you that living in Chicago is easy. Chicago is a city of hardnosed, opinionated, tough individuals who care a lot about their reputation. So you know when Chicagoan's stand behind something it is because they believe in it. That's why we are completely comfortable sending you out to check the aforementioned Italian Beef spots for yourself. Happy eating, friends.