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Sep 30, 2005 01:09 PM

Chicago Pizza/Hot Dogs/Beef Sand in Tampa

  • r

I have a friend coming from Chicago, please help me find some good Chicago Pizza/Beef Sandwhiches and Chicago Hot Dogs. He doesnt think they exist here in Tampa.

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  1. Well, the place I go to for italian beef sandwiches is Fat Boy's at 1136 94th Ave. N in St. Petersburg. I have been very happy with them.

    Chicago pizza, I don't think there is anyone in the Tampa bay area that is making deep dish pizzas. There used to be an Uno's on Dale Mabry but that closed years ago.

    I'll let someone else pipe in on Chicago dogs. But I will put in a recommendation for Coney Island Dogs on 9th St. N near downtown St. Pete. This place looks like a lunchroom from the 20s. They primarily serve coney dogs at $1.19 last I checked.


    8 Replies
    1. re: RibDog

      I agree Fat Boy's is very good, but a tad expensive. If you do an Italian Beef add cheese onions and peppers with a drink you're pushing ten dollars

      1. re: Don

        With cheese & onions, you're talking more about a Philly cheesestake than a Chicago Beef. Cheese and onions are not even offered at an authentic Chicago beef stand. Fat Boy's is offering up a phoney!

        1. re: FrankT

          I checked out Fat Boys, and they are AUTHENTIC. By far the best, stuffed with Italian Beef, dripping with Juices, and they give you a side of extra to dip or pour on your Beef...go ahead and add the sweet or hot peppers...this stuff is GOOD!

          1. re: Tom

            The best dogs are at Mels in Tampa on Busch next to Busch Gardens. Mel has been there for years. A Lane Tech grad. Have not found a good dog on this side of the bridges.

            Beefs are hard to find, but FatBoys is decent. John has his own recipe.
            He has added free fries with your beef due to customer complaints.
            Try Chicago Deli on 66th st in Pinellas Park. That has been there for over 15 years. His beef is very good.

            Pizza(thin crust) at Pauls Pizza in the Countryside area of Clearwater is the real thing.(McMullen Booth) close to Ruth Eckerd hall. We go there before concerts.
            Paul got his recipe from Pizza Villa in Dekalb. I know NIU as I spent 5 misspent years there.
            You will thought you were back in the city.

            Gotta go I am getting hungry!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. re: RibDog

        Another old place in Carollwood was Keegan's Pizza named after the gritty northern suburb Waukegan but adjusted to sound Chicago-Irish. It was good, but I think it's long gone. I could be mistaken, but I think there is a connection with Windy City, which might still be there.

        On, a Chicago food site, we have exhaustively studied the Italian Beef. I can tell the other posters with certainty that onions are not a beef condiment. Mozzarella cheese, on the other hand, is an unusual but sometimes offered addition. It's identified as a "cheesy beef" on menus. Purists say no way.

        Extra juice on the side is generally not offered. You specify either "dry" or "wet"/"juicy" which means the guy dips your entire sandwich into the vat of greasy beef "gravy." For this to work, you have to use a chewy, sturdy bread. In Chicago, this means a roll from Gonella, Turano, or, if you are lucky, D'Amato's. Most other breads would fall apart. Coincedentally, the Cuban bread from La Segunda is pretty similar.

        The really old-school places will have few choices. The beef will be seasoned, roasted, sliced, and then simmered in the juice *daily*. The giardinera -- hot peppers (either "sports,"/a/k/a pickled Serranos, or Jalapenos) mixed with olives, celery, cauliflower, etc. and spices in olive oil -- will also be house made. The menu will be limited to beef, Italian sausage and possibly hot dogs. Italian sammy choices are limited to a "beef" or a "combo" -- ie, a beef with a great, charcoal grilled Italian sausage on the same roll. You pick wet or dry and say whether you want "hot" and/or "sweet" peppers. The pepper lingo is a bit misleading: "hot" means giardiniera only while "sweet" means the entirely different sauteed bell peppers (preferably red but usually green). That's about it. No condiments such as ketchup or mustard are ever used.

        Pizza places that also sell beef will sometimes offer cheese, per my comment above, as well as tomato sauce and garlic bread. Not good, IMO. This is similar to a "pizza steak" in Philly, also not so good to me. A few old spots will offer what I call "grease bread": a cheap and filling roll dipped in the juice but without any fillings. This is sort of like the "sauce buns" sold at some East Coast and West Virginia hot dog stands. (When you can't afford a hot dog, you are in trouble.)

        As an example, here's my order at, say, Johnny's or Al's:

        "Combo, juicy with hot and sweet."

        1. re: JeffB

          What a terrific and informative post! I appreciate the education.

          1. re: JeffB

            You sir are a true aficionado of a "Chicago Beef" sandwich. I think you cocvered all the bases, and quite well I might add. Hopefully your posting will enlighten others as to a true "Chicago Beef".

          2. re: RibDog

            Where are the real beef coney dog joints in Tampa, St.

          3. Check out Windy City Pizza or Cappys Pizza for authentic Chi town pizza in Tampa.
            Mel's Hot Dogs is the Place for Chi town Dogs.
            Not sure about the Chi town Beef in Tampa?
            Maybe some other posts will reflect on the quality of my above recommendations.

            1. Check out Ed'S Chicago Hot Dogs, 250 107th Avenue in Treasure Island (727-360-6001). Excellent dogs and they list Italian beef on the menu, though I haven't tried it. They also have a spicy onion sauce that, while maybe not a Chicago thing, will singe your eyebrows. A tiny place, just a few tables inside, a couple outside.

              Cappy's on S. Howard Ave. in Tampa has an excellent Chicago pie with a good bottled beer selection (and a kid-friendly atmosphere, with long lines on Friday nights).

              And as much as I like Coney Island in downtown St. Pete, it's the genuine retro atmosphere that draws me, and the chili that goes on the dogs, but the dogs themselves (and the buns) are disappointing. Not the Chicago stuff you crave; really rather bland. Still, worth a visit (the menu says they charge an extra nickel if you order ketchup on your dog!) It's an institution, in the same place since the 1920s; not many restaurants in Florida can honestly make that claim.

              1. You can get the beef and the dogs in downtown tampa, Windy City Grill I think? A brand new place right on Tampa Street, near Spain restaurant. I haven't tried either but my friend ordered a chicago hot dog today and it looked great.

                1. For some Chicago red hots, the best place is the "Chicago dog house" on Ulmerton Rd in Largo.

                  Nothing I have had in Chicago is better.

                  Love the fries . . .