Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Michael Stern
Italian beef is as fundamental a marker of Chicago’s culinary character as deep-dish pizza, shrimp de Jonghe, and red hots dragged through the garden. I think of it as the signature dish that embodies Chicago’s personality better than any other: brawny, intense, symphonic and, for all its apparent disarray, audaciously composed. As sandwiches go, it is brash and impertinent, but it demands savoir faire in its ordering and eating. And nobody does it better than Johnnie’s.
I answer “yes” to the question Roadfood reviewer Phillip Roth asked about Johnnie’s beef: “Is this the ultimate Chicago sandwich?” (Indeed, I think of it as not just a taste of Chicago, but the Alpha and Omega of American street food.) Johnnie’s beef is soft and fairly softly seasoned – just garlicky enough to halo its protein magnitude. Add Johnnie’s vibrant giardiniera and you have a taste-buds epiphany. Get the beef in a “combo” (with a length of chewy, char-cooked Italian sausage) and, as Mr. Roth said, “you will hear angels sing.”
To accompany Italian beef or to savor its afterglow, Johnnie’s makes Italian ice that is a tantalizing balance of sweet and tart.
Service is eat in the rough, cash only, tote-your-own. While not quite soup-Nazi gruff, the staff does not go out of its way to make customers happy. They don’t need to. The food does that.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Thursday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Friday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Saturday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
- Sunday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|