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Nov 9, 2008 10:18 AM

Good Italian Beef and fresh cut fries in Gurnee area?

Having lived in the city until 5 years ago, I admit being spoiled having quick access to some of the best Italian beef joints. In fact, I even worked at Roma's while attending college on Cicero avenue, which I still feel is the best place. You can't go wrong with the fresh cut froes either. Now, I love in the Gurnee area, and have yet to find a good homemade Italian beef. Every place I visit says they buy the beef from a supplier. And the french fries are frozen, not fresh like they serve at Roma's. Does anyone know of a good place in this area?

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  1. You are in luck! Last year a we had a new place open up in nearby Round Lake Park (about 4-5 miles west of Gurnee)

    It's called Big Jacks, and it's at the corner of Washington & Hainesville Rd in Round Lake Park, trust me, its the place you seek.

    They have homemade Italian Sausage & fresh cooked on premises daily an Italian beef that is in a league with any of the top city places. I put this place right there with Johnny's in Elmwood or Al's on Taylor. They make fresh a fantastic hot gardiniere, which is so fresh that the veggies are still firm & crunchy while bathed in a high quality oil .

    The french fries are hand cut and fresh fried upon ordering, so none of that double/triple refried crap like allot of other places do.

    The polish sausage is about as close as you'll find to the real thing here in Lake County, they also have descent burgers and dynamite hot dogs (Red Hot Chicago) wrapped in those fresh cut fries just like Gene & Jude's does.

    Hope you get there soon, and let us know your opinion-

    Big Jacks
    507 N Hainesville Rd, Round Lake, IL 60073

    5 Replies
    1. re: abf005

      They say a picture is worth a 1000 word's, here's 2000 about Big Jacks...

      1. re: abf005

        Thanks for the pic and info. I like how they mix the different colored peppers. I can't wait to go and will let you know this weekend how it went.

        1. re: abf005

          Here is a Big Jacks combo and fries.. Makes me wanna order another one now.

        2. re: abf005

          Thanks so much for the recommendation. I consider this one of the best Italian and sausage combos I've had. I really want to thank you for letting me know. I actually live 10 minutes from Jacks, and never knew about it. Guess I need to get out more often.

          A few things that make this place special:

          The beef was tender, cut thin and not stringy or chewy. Nor was there any gristle. As far as seasoning goes, one of the things I really despise is a chef who is heavy handed with the salt. There is no reason for it, period. And I've had my share of an Italian beef that was way too salty. This beef was seasoned just right. There wasn't any taste that was overpowering. And the salt content was perfect, just the way it should be.

          The sausage was outstanding. I could tell right off it was homemade. The texture was superb, a bit chewy on the outside, yet moist and flavorful on the inside. Some places ruin the sausage by cooking it in advance, then reheating it, making it as dry as a rawhide. This sausage was cooked on the spot, so it could remain moist. I also liked the added heat from the bits of red pepper flakes. I didn't notice an overpowering flavor of fennel. I think too much fennel ruins the sausage. Also, the ends of the sausage were a bit charred, which gave the sausage more character, without it being dry.

          Oh and those fries. They rank right up there with the best I've ever had a.k.a Romas and Gene & Judes. The fries weren't greasy, and were right out of the fryer fresh.

          I was also impressed with the giardinara. I really can taste the store bought type. This giardinara was fresh, with little bits of peppers, carrots and cauliflower. Overall its top notch.

          Overall, I'd rank this as an 11, on a scale of 1-10.

          Anyone who is looking for top-tier beef, and or combo with fries MUST go to this place and try it out. Admittedly it might be out of the way if you are visiting Chicago. But, if you plan to do some holiday shopping near Gurnee during a visit, you could get there by cab. Sure it might cost more to get there by cab, but its really well worth the effort.

          1. re: my3cflvi

            my3cflvi - I'm so glad you finally made it and that everything meet your discerning pallets desires! From your write up I can tell your an expert on beefs and can truly appreciate the finer details of the great food Big Jacks is turning out, I'm glad to have been of help.

            Truth is, since they opened up, I've been finding less and less reasons to trek down to the city for pretty much anything that Big Jacks offers, since they seem to do it as good or in most cases better.

            BTW: When spring rolls around you've got to try the Italian ice, it's simply amazing..

        3. Big Jacks is just ok. I would consider it Lake County good. Their fries, while fresh cut, are not as good as Gene and Judes. They often cook them twice, and cook them too far the second time. While it may make it crispier, it often makes them absorb too much of the oil flavor. It loses the potato softness inside to contrast the crispiness outside.

          NO WAY is this place on par with Johnnies or Al's on Taylor. No freaking way.

          Born and bred in the city, moved up here 8 years ago. Sorry, but those two places are on a higher tier. This place is pretty good, but not on par with those other two.