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Best Italian Beef?

I'll be in Chicago late next month and I'm looking for the best Italian Beef sandwich in the city. I'm staying in Lincoln Park and looking for somewhere within a half hour on public transportation as I will not have a car. Most of the city (but not out in the burbs) should be fine.

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  1. This is a big ol proverbial can of worms. Search the board, you'll find a thread. Here's my vote:

    Tore's
    On Western&Diversey.
    I like theirs with hot giardiniera. Their beef is not over seasoned (ahem, I mean salty,) so the addition of the giardiniera doesn't result in some major sodium bomb. A good amt of folks will say that since you are excluding the neighboring burbs, you are excluding one of the best: Johnnie's. I think Johnnie's beef is ok, but it only makes my cut of GREAT when you make it a combo (add a char grilled Italian sausage.)

    Well, that's a start for you. I'm sure you'll get several votes on diff places. Chicago is a big city with a bunch of beef joints.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Have you been to Tore's in the last, say, 6 months? I think it underwent an ownership change, and the beef has dropped in quality considerably. It wasn't my favorite before, but it was above average. Now it's average or worse. Sad. The fries are great, though.

      I vote for Johnnies, Chickie's, or Al's on Taylor. In fact, for proximity to public transit I'd do exactly what lbs suggests -- Al's followed by Mario's.

      1. re: gleam

        I have not been there in the past 6. Thanks for the heads up tho!
        brattpowered - take my rec for that place with a grain of salt, I guess.
        I'd also endorse Al's FWIW.

        Man, that sucks. I used to really dig on Tore's.

    2. I know some will consider this a sacrilege but I find the italian beef sweet and hot at portillos to be outstanding. you may not get the genuine chicago red hots and beef stand ambience but portillos is much cleaner and when you are in the chicago area you are never far from one.

      6 Replies
      1. re: biga290

        I agree with the rec on portillo's. I don't know if it is the "best" but it is very good. The only negative for some could be it is a bit smaller than other places. Not really small, but not huge. A nice size for most.

        And yes, they are much cleaner than many of the mom and pop joints.

        1. re: Bullit

          portillo's also serves a jumbo italian beef for a couple dollars more that is huge.

          1. re: biga290

            It is NOT an italian beef, but i cannot resist the Beef 'n' cheddar croissant w/ hot peppers when i walk in a portillo's. Beef wise, i like Chickie's, Johnnies and Carms in Hillside. Have a great time

            1. re: cubsrule

              i've never tried the beef n cheddar croissant. is it a buttery or dry croissant?

              1. re: biga290

                Not sure what you mean by dry, so i'll go w/ butter croissant. It's great though

                1. re: cubsrule

                  a buttery croissant would flake when you bite into it.

      2. Al's Beef on Taylor in Little Italy followed up with a lemon ice from Mario's across the street is the best summer time treat.

        1. If you're willing to go to the near suburbs, I, a diehard city resident, recommend Buona Beef. There are a few of them in the near western burbs of Cicer/Berwyn, Oak Park.
          I don't think Johnnie's is the best beef but their lemon ice on a hot summer night... now you're talking.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Debby Pope

            I agree Buona Beef is also very good with a similarly scrubbed atmosphere as Portillo's.