Thanks HJ – don’t think i will be able to get to Johnny’s 🙂
How is Buona superior to Mr Beef?
Oh, and is the guardinia (spelling may be off) a necessary part of the italian beef experience, or is it an option?
Same question: cheese on the sandwich?
Buona Beef has a place downtown at 162 Superior. Johnny’s is way out on North Avenue (about 16 blocks north of Sears Tower and 100 blocks west).
Got directions? reachable from Near Sear’s Tower? 🙂
In Chicago, it is referred to as an Italian Beef sandwich. Mr Beef is OK, but I prefer Buona Beef, actually a combo with mozzerlla and/or hot peppers (on the side). Johnny’s is also outstanding but hard to get to or find for most tourists.
Question: I’m going to be in Chicago for 5 days in a couple of weeks, and A Chicago beef sandwich is most definitely on my "to eat" list thanks to learning of them on this site.
That said, I see the "Chicago Beef sandwich" talked about but also the "Italian Beef".
1) Are these two terms interchangeable?
1a) if not, can someone tell me about the differences?
2) Suggestions other than Mr Beef (which I intend to stop at) as the place to go to get these sandwiches? Keep in mind that this will be a "first time" experience for me, but that I am comfortable walking/bussing/subwaying to whereever within reason
I think I will hit Lou Malnatis and the Billy Goat Tavern for two other Chicago experiences — I’m not big on Hot Dogs/Sausages
I agree there are a lot of tourists and celebrities at Mr. Beef. Luckily, that hasn’t caused the food to change. I’ve been going there since about 1980 and the beef is as good as ever. Also, the atmosphere is pretty much the same. They haven’t prettied the place up a bit. I do like the addition of the "formal dining room," which they built in the late 80’s or early 90’s, and tend to eat in there so I can talk with friends, rather than at the counter. But if I’m alone, I still stand at the counter.
One complaint – the price has gone up and the sandwich doesn’t leave me full. I sometimes feel like ordering another after finishing the first. Anyone else find this to be true, or am I just a glutton?
The beef selections (Mr Beef and Al’s) for Chicago seem a bit touristy (is that a word?) I would suggest Johnny’s in Elmwood Park. Lots of local color and lines out the door (there must be a reason!)
let your disappointment be at an end….
TJ, I know it was over a year ago but I just read through this whole thread and I was disappointed not to see how your trip went and whether or not you got try everything suggested here. Maybe you covered it on another thread and I missed it but I would be interested to know how you liked the beef.
For some reason we have Papa Charlies here in Chicago. Nothing compared to the real deal. Look for some Giardinara down there and also a crusty loaf of bread. This will help. Also you can get pretty good Italian Beef from http://www.portillos.com Hunt around the site for the packages. It’ll cost WAY more than four bucks though. I like Portillos and Johnnies, but was not so impressed with Al’s #1 on Taylor St.
Having read this thread I was of course intriqued about an Italian Beef sandwich but of course they aren’t readily available in florida…So there I am perusing the selections in the frozen foods section of the local super walmart and BEHOLD! Papa Charlies Italian Beef.. After following the package directions the gravy looked a little thin so I let it simmer a bit longer, then drenched a roll in gravy and stuffed it with the meat.. Darn good sandwich!! The meat was surprisingly tender the sauce nicely flavored and for under 4 bucks there was enough for 3 sandwichs! I’ll probably never get to enjoy the real thing but I’ve found a new staple for my freezer!
The best beef stands I know are Johnny’s in Elmwood Park and Bounas in Berwyn and wherever else they’re building the things. Carm’s was really good but that was a long time ago. My favorite beef stand of all was on Laramie between Washington and Lake, as you can imagine that was a LONG time ago, the 1960s. Portillo’s is OK. Al’s is OK and I never had Mr. Beef; I don’t go to the North Side or Downtown for Italian beef.
I don’t care for wet beefs, I like the bread to be snappy. If the bread is good it will be snappy not chewy. If you get the bread soggy you might as well have the sandwich on Wonder Bread.
Boz’s Hot Dogs are still in operation in Illinois & Indiana (Dyer, Hammond, Griffin, & Columbia City). They also have a catering business.
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