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Looking For A True Midwestern Italian Beef Sandwich...Sweet , Or Hot????

I grew up in the Chicago area and miss, oh my God do I miss, a true, really..really GOOD Italian Beef sandwich. I live in the Rancho Bernardo area and have tried so called Italian beefs from so called Chicago owned take-outs. So far...Nothing!!! I know Portillos opened up a place near Disneyland, but that is a bit of a drive. I also know they ship, and I have done that several times. What i want is a place I can go to when the Italian beef hunger hits. Good, and I mean good bread, and that savory beef in the juice...YUM. Then I want to hear, SWEET OR HOT?? I then know I have found the right place. Help Me!!!!!

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  1. An acquaintance of mine has a place doing authentic Chicago dogs up in Mira Mesa. He grew up in Chicago and was a chef for many, many years before moving out here. Let me ask him if he does an Italian Beef Sandwich or not, and if not if he knows anyone locally who does. Give me a couple of days to get hold of him.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sonrisa

      I would love to know the address and name of his place. A chicago dog sounds pretty good also! Thanks, I wait for your future info!

      1. re: CaliforniaCooker

        Well, turns out it's Buster's Windy City in Sorrento Valley. You probably already read the comment below. His wife is now running the joint and he's selling flounder (to the trade, not at the resto) because he got bored selling beef sandwiches and dogs.

        Interesting little tidbit, one of the best selling items at Buster's is actually a tamal smoother in chili and cheese for about $5. I can't speak to his Italian Beef Sandwich, but I can guarantee you that his hot dogs are the real deal, honest to god Vienna Hot Dogs and that the rest of what he puts on it is either flown in from Chicago or brought in especially for him by his vendors. He was a chef, he has connections ;-)

        1. re: Sonrisa

          I will try the dogs, they sound great! Thanks for taking the time to track down all the info!

    2. I took a Chicago transplant with me to Lefty's in North Park. He thought it was pretty legit.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Josh

        Thanks for the info, I will try it!

      2. I saw a place today called Windy City Beef in what I guess is considered La Mesa or San Carlos. It's in the Vons shopping center on Fletcher and Navajo, right nextdoor to a Carvel. I stopped in to get a take out menu and scope the joint. It smelled great, and is a family owned place, run by real transplants. While I was grabbing the menu the lady at the counter asked the gentleman ordering if he wanted hot or sweet peppers. I haven't had an italian beef sandwich since I last visited my family out there in '97, so just the thought was enough to make me stop and go in. If I hadn't already eaten lunch I would have not been able to resist trying it. I am also wanting to try to Lefty's, I keep hearing good things about it.

        Windy City Beef
        2872 Fletcher Pkwy
        El Cajon, CA 92020
        (619) 465-2333

        Let us know what you think if you try it, and I will do the same.

        1 Reply
        1. re: soulshine

          I will try Windy City Beef and Lefty's, and let you know. Thanks for the info.

        2. Pete's Meats in Little Italy (right across the street from the Filippis) makes home made Italian sausages and sandwiches.

          There is a Chicago Dogs place in the Renaissance Center, just one block SE of UTC.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cathy

            Yum, all the choices! Love Little Italy.

          2. We're going home to Chicago for a wedding this weekend and they are catering Portillo's for the rehearsal dinner. I'm so excited about sinking my teeth into a good Italian Beef.

            I'll tell you what I've tried.
            Chicago on a Bun (UTC) = Beef was dry and not thin enough. Flavor was very mild. They use Gonella Bread. Chicago style hot dog and Polish was good though.

            Buster’s Windy City (Sorrento Valley) = Beef was thick but the flavor was good. Got it wet with hot peppers. They use Gonella Bread also. Overall, it was tasty but not the same.

            Lefty's (North Park)= Again, Beef flavor was weak but the beef itself was slighty thinner. Good peppers. Their Stuffed pizza it really good though, as good as home.

            I've heard that Mama Colletti's is worth trying but who has time to drive to Temecula for Italian Beef, well, actually, I do.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rolandyung

              I am going to spend several day's driving from one place to another trying all the Italian Beef's! What a way to spend your summer vacation! YUM. Thank you. Have a great time at your wedding, enjoy the food. We just got back from a family wedding, and the rehearsal dinner was catered by some wonderful pizza place. It was outside with a band and what a great time! The food was the best. Stop by on your way to Temecula, we can swap Chicago stories over a Italian beef!