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Best Italian Beef
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  • Best Italian Beef

    Post #1 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:01 pm
    Post #1 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:01 pm Post #1 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:01 pm
    I have tasted a lot of italian beef in the Chicago area and have to say Johnnie's Beef in either Arlington Heights or Chicago is the best. A close second would be Mr.Beef on Orleans. Luke's beef is decent but hit or miss, a lot of times its seasoned, other times its not.

    Also Johnnie's has a great sausage, prob almost as good as the beef.
  • Post #2 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:06 pm
    Post #2 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:06 pm Post #2 - February 22nd, 2005, 2:06 pm
    You'll find quite a bit of discussion on LTH re:various beefs around the area. Here's a few links from past Beef tastings:

    Original Beef Tasting
    Beefathon II report
    Beefathon III recap

    Best,
    Michael / EC
  • Post #3 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:04 pm
    Post #3 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:04 pm Post #3 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:04 pm
    The original Johnnies on North Avenue is quite probably the best. I would not put Mr Beef in anywhere near the same category. It is okay, but nothing more, IMO.

    The next tier below Johnnies is Al's (to some it is the best, to others it is terrible), Chickies, and then maybe Max's, Patio, and some like Carm's in Hillside (not the same as Carm's in the city). Mr. Beef might come in at the same level as Patio and Max's, but I am not sure. The problem with that place is the reputation and atitude that far exceed the quality of food, as I see it anyway.

    Unfortunately, to those that are interested, there continue to be problems finalizing the Beefathon III sandwich ratings, but I am working on it.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #4 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:52 pm
    Post #4 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:52 pm Post #4 - February 23rd, 2005, 4:52 pm
    brschwartz wrote:I have tasted a lot of italian beef in the Chicago area and have to say Johnnie's Beef in either Arlington Heights or Chicago is the best. A close second would be Mr.Beef on Orleans. Luke's beef is decent but hit or miss, a lot of times its seasoned, other times its not.

    Also Johnnie's has a great sausage, prob almost as good as the beef.

    how is the Johnnies in Arlington Heights compared to the one one in Chicago?
  • Post #5 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:17 pm
    Post #5 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:17 pm Post #5 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:17 pm
    Pat Bruno has a fairly decent primer on Italian beef in the current issue of the United Airlines in flight magazine. His list of favorites includes Johnnies (Elmwood Park, there is no Johnnies in Chicago and the Arlington Heights one is recent), the original Buona, Al's, Boston's (!), and Mr. Beef.

    Surely, more solid work has been done by more folks on this board about beef than just about any food.

    Please, do search and get the historical perspective. Those who ignore the Italian beef past are doomed to repeat it.
  • Post #6 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:44 pm
    Post #6 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:44 pm Post #6 - February 23rd, 2005, 5:44 pm
    To add to what Jeff just said, here's the link to UAL's Hemisheres Magazine online....just go to "Roving Gournet" for the article by Pat Bruno on Italian Beef.
    http://www.hemispheresmagazine.com/home.htm
    Bob in RSM, CA...yes, I know, it's a long way from Chicago
  • Post #7 - February 23rd, 2005, 6:43 pm
    Post #7 - February 23rd, 2005, 6:43 pm Post #7 - February 23rd, 2005, 6:43 pm
    How is the Arlington Heights Johnnies? First off, I'm not a huge beef fan so I'm not the ultimate judge of such things. But it struck me as a very close simulacrum of the original, and at least as close as the Al's in Rosemont is to Al's. So... you could do a lot worse.
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  • Post #8 - February 24th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Post #8 - February 24th, 2005, 9:12 am Post #8 - February 24th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Mike G wrote:How is the Arlington Heights Johnnies? First off, I'm not a huge beef fan so I'm not the ultimate judge of such things. But it struck me as a very close simulacrum of the original, and at least as close as the Al's in Rosemont is to Al's. So... you could do a lot worse.


    thanks..yea I was wondering how it was in comparison to the one in ELmwood Park..I ate at that one growing up and but its a bit of a trip for me now...I pass the one in AH all the time though
  • Post #9 - February 26th, 2005, 11:17 am
    Post #9 - February 26th, 2005, 11:17 am Post #9 - February 26th, 2005, 11:17 am
    I'd say its just about as good as the Chicago one if not the same. Sometime's the beef there seems a lot more spicy then others but just depends when you go I guess. Also there italian sausage has to be the best I ever had.
  • Post #10 - March 18th, 2005, 6:13 pm
    Post #10 - March 18th, 2005, 6:13 pm Post #10 - March 18th, 2005, 6:13 pm
    Gioio's at Clark/Wrightwood in Lincoln Park is delicious. Always get a dipped beef and fries - you won't be disappointed!
  • Post #11 - March 18th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Post #11 - March 18th, 2005, 11:04 pm Post #11 - March 18th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Had lunch with a friend at South Water Kitchen, and was intrigued to find an Italian beef sandwich on the menu--intrigued enough to order it. Soon appeared a generous serving of juicy, very well seasoned meat on a (bit too) toasted roll, with a heap of eye-watering giardinara. The accompanying skin-on fries would have done credit to most beef joints in town. Little ramekins of garlic-scented jus and homemade (I think) catsup rounded out the plate. At nine dollars, I found it quite a decent value for a loop area hotel restaurant.

    I like SWK; the food is unpretentious and satisfying. Prices are reasonable and the service is generally quite good.

    South Water Kitchen
    225 N. Wabash Avenue (Hotel Monaco)
    Chicago, IL 60602
    312.236.9300
    http://www.southwaterkitchen.com
  • Post #12 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:15 pm
    Post #12 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:15 pm Post #12 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:15 pm
    Ok

    I don't care about sports but I really care about I beef.

    I have had many with Pat Scala (Scala meats)
    across the street from Mr. Beef.

    Their secret is that they float butter on the juice
    thus the greasy hand.
    I enjoy the guy Dino with the chicken wing arm,
    and it is convenient to the expressway.

    Al's - 1079 W. Taylor, Chicago (stinks)

    Johnnies - 7500 W. North, Elmwood Park the best
    Italian ice and best combo since Margie's (Cicero Ave 1 block north of division closed.

    Freddy's in Cicero - 1600 S. 61st Ave
    I was turned on to this place by now deceased mobster Sal Bastone. I remember the week before his sentencing, going there and getting 8 lbs. of a particular prochutto (incorrect spelling) so we could make his special fluetta sauce (he wanted me to know rhe recipe and procedures so if he died at school it could still be made. Thankfully he only had house arrest.

    Great slices of pizza, squingill (fish salad) soups gelitto and grocery/ deli items.

    My fear is that it has been recently reviewed on channel 11 check please and the tourists who drive away the regulars will ruin the place.

    J&C Bombacigno's - 558 W. Van Burean I would go there every other week (I had the jukebox in the place and it is a really good Italian joint.

    Max's - 5754 Western Sucks it was much better when
    it was Joell's (ibeef)

    Roma's - 4237 N. Cicero, Chicago - really bad!
    I would only go there after they closed the kitchen
    at the "Bucket of Suds" 3121 n Cicero.
    The best bar ever! Closed about 5 yrs ago.
  • Post #13 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:23 pm
    Post #13 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:23 pm Post #13 - March 23rd, 2005, 3:23 pm
    I go to Freddy's 2 to 3 times per week. I don't see any evidence of a downgrade in quality, changes in personnel, etc. They are pretty down-to-earth over there and take a lot of pride in what they do- I'd be shocked if anything changes.

    Saps
  • Post #14 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:51 pm
    Post #14 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:51 pm Post #14 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:51 pm
    brschwartz wrote:

    J&C Bombacigno's - 558 W. Van Burean I would go there every other week (I had the jukebox in the place and it is a really good Italian joint.


    Is J & C still open? I went there last month for lunch, and maybe I went at the wrong time, but it looked closed to me.
  • Post #15 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:54 pm
    Post #15 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:54 pm Post #15 - March 23rd, 2005, 6:54 pm
    They keep short hours, but they are still wide open at lunch.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - March 23rd, 2005, 7:42 pm
    Post #16 - March 23rd, 2005, 7:42 pm Post #16 - March 23rd, 2005, 7:42 pm
    stevez wrote:They keep short hours, but they are still wide open at lunch.


    Monday thru Friday only from about 11:15-ish AM to about 2 PM, depending on volume of traffic. Also if it's a Monday holiday where they expect it to be slow they might also be closed.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #17 - April 8th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    Post #17 - April 8th, 2005, 4:07 pm Post #17 - April 8th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    I work in the dead center of the Loop (the corner of Washington and LaSalle). About once a month, I'd like to treat myself to an I-Beef (not to be confused with an I-Pass) within walking distance. I used to procure beefs from U-Dawg-U on Wells, which was decent.

    Where-oh-where is the nearest good beef (if there is any nearby)? Mind, I'm not insisting on perfection, because the perfect is the enemy of the good, but I'd like to get up past edible-but-uninteresting into solid-and-satisfying.

    Can I do that in the Loop? Is there anything better than Mama Falco's, the nearest purveyor? And what do people think of Mama F? The place does not purvey fries, which seems authentic in one sense, but blasphemous where beefs are concerned.

    Thanks, people! 8)
  • Post #18 - April 8th, 2005, 4:20 pm
    Post #18 - April 8th, 2005, 4:20 pm Post #18 - April 8th, 2005, 4:20 pm
    AlanHenry wrote:Where-oh-where is the nearest good beef (if there is any nearby)?


    In my opinion, the nearest good beef to you is Luke's on Jackson, a couple doors west of Franklin. Not bad, but not life-changing either. It definitely satisfies my occassional mid-week lunch beef craving.

    If you have the time to get down to SRO in Printer's Row, that's also another option.

    Luke's
    215 W. Jackson Blvd.
    312-939-4204

    Standing Room Only (SRO Chicago)
    610 S. Dearborn St.
    312-360-1776

    Best,
    Michael / EC
  • Post #19 - April 8th, 2005, 6:26 pm
    Post #19 - April 8th, 2005, 6:26 pm Post #19 - April 8th, 2005, 6:26 pm
    Has anyone ever included Plush Pup on any of the Northwest side trips? I read thru most of the 'research' and did not see it mentioned at all. I recall it being very good when I lived in the area.

    Just throwing that out there. :)

    Christine
  • Post #20 - April 10th, 2005, 8:34 pm
    Post #20 - April 10th, 2005, 8:34 pm Post #20 - April 10th, 2005, 8:34 pm
    brschwartz wrote:
    I would only go there after they closed the kitchen
    at the "Bucket of Suds" 3121 n Cicero.
    The best bar ever! Closed about 5 yrs ago.


    Have I finally come across another old regular from Bucket O Suds (BOS)? Probably the most legendary bar in chicago, mainly due to the PT Barnum of bartenders, Joe Danno. I first met Joe and his sister Fina in 1973 and we became fast friends up until his last day in business some years ago.

    This is a place that deserves its own thread,even though it is long gone. Real italian kitchen cooking and home made hard liquor!!! If there are any other old BOS'rs out there let me know and we can start a thread to figure out the recipe for elixer of lucifer.
    Bob
    Bob Kopczynski
    http://www.maxwellstreetmarket.com
    "Best Deals in Town"
  • Post #21 - April 10th, 2005, 8:55 pm
    Post #21 - April 10th, 2005, 8:55 pm Post #21 - April 10th, 2005, 8:55 pm
    bob kopczynski wrote:Have I finally come across another old regular from Bucket O Suds (BOS)? Probably the most legendary bar in chicago, mainly due to the PT Barnum of bartenders, Joe Danno. I first met Joe and his sister Fina in 1973 and we became fast friends up until his last day in business some years ago.

    This is a place that deserves its own thread,even though it is long gone. Real italian kitchen cooking and home made hard liquor!!! If there are any other old BOS'rs out there let me know and we can start a thread to figure out the recipe for elixer of lucifer.
    Bob


    I drove by the old Cicero Ave location, just yesterday. I may have even shed a tiny tear. I cannot recall if I was even of legal age the first time that I went to B.O.S. Whatever the case, it wasn't around much longer after that.

    D.A.B. draught and the "Apple Knocker," are about all that my dim memory provides.

    Erik M.
  • Post #22 - April 10th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    Post #22 - April 10th, 2005, 9:15 pm Post #22 - April 10th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    bob kopczynski wrote: If there are any other old BOS'rs out there let me know and we can start a thread to figure out the recipe for elixer of lucifer. Bob


    What I do remember of Elixer Lucifer was the label: kind of had the look of an old school Navy tattoo, a woman with devil horns and tail. I remember hearing Joe explain the ingredients of this homemade beverage, so if you have a vague recollection of them, I may be able to confirm.

    Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #23 - April 10th, 2005, 9:22 pm
    Post #23 - April 10th, 2005, 9:22 pm Post #23 - April 10th, 2005, 9:22 pm
    If I can find a Bucket O' Suds business card, which I have here somewhere along with other such holy relics as the Polaroid of me with Francesca "Kitten" Natividad, I will post it.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #24 - April 11th, 2005, 12:06 am
    Post #24 - April 11th, 2005, 12:06 am Post #24 - April 11th, 2005, 12:06 am
    bob kopczynski wrote:If there are any other old BOS'rs out there let me know and we can start a thread to figure out the recipe for elixer of lucifer.

    Ah yes, the Bucket of Suds. One fine night Joe Danno gave me an advanced course in bourbon appreciation, followed by some of his own potions. I’m sure Elixir Lucifer was one of them. I was sick for days. Absolutely one of the all-time greatest Chicago bars.

    It seems that Joe’s grandson is making Elixir Lucifer, bottling it in what look like cologne bottles, and selling it under the name Auburn. Have a look at this site, with good information about the old Bucket of Suds and the new enterprise.
  • Post #25 - April 11th, 2005, 10:38 am
    Post #25 - April 11th, 2005, 10:38 am Post #25 - April 11th, 2005, 10:38 am
    Dear eatchicago/sys admin:

    Thanks for the recommendations of Luke's and SRO. 8)
  • Post #26 - June 26th, 2005, 2:38 pm
    Post #26 - June 26th, 2005, 2:38 pm Post #26 - June 26th, 2005, 2:38 pm
    Per sysadmin's recommendation, I went to Luke's in the S. Loop for I-Beef (w/ hot peppers) and fries. It was good. Fries were good, but probably would have been better if I'd eaten there rather than transported my takeout a few blocks back to my office, giving the fries too much time in the bag.

    Also went to Mama Falco's on Wells. Tried the "grinder" I-Beef, baked on garlic bread with mozzarella melted on top, h-peppers on the side. Lots of beef, fairly flavorful, a little dry (from the oven, no doubt), but better than I expected. Expensive, though -- 6.95 w/o anything else.

    Anyone else ever had it? Reactions?

    8)
  • Post #27 - June 26th, 2005, 3:22 pm
    Post #27 - June 26th, 2005, 3:22 pm Post #27 - June 26th, 2005, 3:22 pm
    For what it's worth, the Luke's empire continues to grow. Besides the Lake Zurich and Lake Bluff outposts, they have now gone across the country.

    An old friend who is an ex-pat residing in Arizona told me this week that Phoenix has a Luke's which he describes as pretty good for IB and Chicago-style hot dogs.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #28 - June 27th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    Post #28 - June 27th, 2005, 4:34 pm Post #28 - June 27th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    deke rivers wrote:how is the Johnnies in Arlington Heights compared to the one one in Chicago?


    Unlike most of the Italian beef aficionados here, I happened to try the Arlington Heights location first. When I was reading how great the Johnnie's reviews were, I was TOTALLY shocked based solely on my Arlington Heights experience. I found the dip ridiculously oily, rendering a potentially good sandwich just passable. I have since tried Elwood Park and I'm proud to say that I have joined the legions of others on the Johnnie's Hooray Bandwagon. IMO, Johnnie's in Arlington Heights can’t hold a candle.
  • Post #29 - June 28th, 2005, 3:45 pm
    Post #29 - June 28th, 2005, 3:45 pm Post #29 - June 28th, 2005, 3:45 pm
    I've been to the Arlington Heights location numerous times and haven't noticed this problem. Has anyone else seen this?

    At both locations, I typically order the combo, though; the sausage might cover up any extra oiliness in other parts of the sandwich.

    I'm supremely grateful that the AH location is there.


    Johnnie's Beef
    7500 North Ave., Elmwood Park 708/452-6000
    1935 S. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights 847/357-8100
  • Post #30 - June 28th, 2005, 4:31 pm
    Post #30 - June 28th, 2005, 4:31 pm Post #30 - June 28th, 2005, 4:31 pm
    LAZ wrote:I've been to the Arlington Heights location numerous times and haven't noticed this problem. Has anyone else seen this?

    At both locations, I typically order the combo, though; the sausage might cover up any extra oiliness in other parts of the sandwich.

    I'm supremely grateful that the AH location is there.


    Johnnie's Beef
    7500 North Ave., Elmwood Park 708/452-6000
    1935 S. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights 847/357-8100


    We have been going to Johnnies in Elmwood Park for years when we lived in that area . Since we moved and are now much closer to Arlington Heights we have been going to the new location since it opened . I can not taste any difference at all. It's still the best combo I have ever had. The only difference I have seen is there's banana ice and a tuna sandwich at A.H. and the counter help is nicer and has alot more patience on the way a new customer is ordering. LONG LIVE JHONNIE'S !

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