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Italian beef tasting - june 26 [2004]

Italian beef tasting - june 26 [2004]
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  • Italian beef tasting - june 26 [2004]

    Post #1 - May 20th, 2004, 6:51 pm
    Post #1 - May 20th, 2004, 6:51 pm Post #1 - May 20th, 2004, 6:51 pm
    Mark your calendars. The north and west beef stands will be sampled on June 26 in Beefation II.

    I am accepting suggestions, particularly of places that must be sampled, but about anything.

    d
  • Post #2 - May 27th, 2004, 12:01 pm
    Post #2 - May 27th, 2004, 12:01 pm Post #2 - May 27th, 2004, 12:01 pm
    the best italian beef sandwich in the metro area is at Luke's, 2083 N. Rand, Palatine, IL. another great spot is Paul's Pizza & Hot Dogs, 3044 Wolf Rd Westchester, IL.
  • Post #3 - May 27th, 2004, 11:24 pm
    Post #3 - May 27th, 2004, 11:24 pm Post #3 - May 27th, 2004, 11:24 pm
    Johnnie's Beef
    7500 W North Ave
    Elmwood Park, IL

    Also:

    Teddy's
    6310 N Main
    Downers Grove, IL
  • Post #4 - June 1st, 2004, 11:25 pm
    Post #4 - June 1st, 2004, 11:25 pm Post #4 - June 1st, 2004, 11:25 pm
    I wrote a long reply earlier this evening, but it apparently was lost as I had the misfortune to do this while the board was being restructured. :( Perhaps a warning to posters would be in order.

    Here's a short version. We can either go for the best or go for an area. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    The best places that I know of are Johnnie's (Elmwood Park) and Carm's (Hillside). I rate Patio (Taylor Street) a strong 3rd.

    Notes: 1) Carm's in Hillside in unrelated to (and much better than) Carm's on Polk Street. 2) Patio on Taylor Street is better than Patio Beef on N. Broadway.

    As you know, I'm not a fan of Al's, though many disagree with me.

    Other places with good recs that I have not tried are Chickie's (South Pulaski) and Jay's (Schiller Park).

    As you can see, excepting Jay's, they're all west.

    I don't know of any great beef places on the north side or the north suburbs (wish I did, cause I live north). I sure would like to hear more suggestions, especially for north of NW.
  • Post #5 - June 2nd, 2004, 6:55 am
    Post #5 - June 2nd, 2004, 6:55 am Post #5 - June 2nd, 2004, 6:55 am
    First post here folks, so be gentle on me.

    Jay's has at least 3 locations. The one in Schiller Park as has been mentioned as well as one in the NW burbs on Golf and the original location on Naraganset just north of Montrose. The one in Schiller Park is on Irving just east of 25th st. and west of River Rd. Neither that one nor the original one are really that far from Johnnie's.

    There is also another excellent beef sandwich that I've not seen mentioned in the same general area, Frannies on River Rd. just north of Irving Park.

    Al's is opening a new location on River Rd between Irving Park and Belmont. I don't believe it's open yet and don't know when it's planned to open. But it's in the location that formerly housed a Burger King and recently had some kind of grill that only lasted a few months.

    You could easily start at Johnnies, go west to 1st Ave, then north to where River Rd cuts off. Hit Al's if it's open by then and then on to Frannies. From there it's 5 minutes to Jays and you head SW to Carm's. Of course, you also have Buena Beef right by Johnnies.
  • Post #6 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:36 pm
    Post #6 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:36 pm Post #6 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:36 pm
    Midas, thanks for the suggestions re Jay's and Frannie's.

    Re Al's, this may be a franchisee location. I believe that past posts (on that other board) have suggested that the beef qualilty is uneven at the franchisees. Also, given that it's a new location it may take a while to get up to speed. I'd be reluctant to include it in the Beefathon until some fans of Al's have given the thumbs up on it. Otherwise, it would be unfair to Al's.

    Are we looking at a west suburban Beefathon? I would be comfortable with that. We could start with Jay's / Frannie's then move south to Johnnie's and Carm's (and Buono for those with the heartiest of appetites). Or we could start with Carm's, move on to Johnnie's and then Jay's and Frannie's. Either is fine by me.

    My notes say that Carm's opens at 10 am every day. I don't know what time Jay's or Frannie's open.

    There are so many contenders that if we want to determine the best Italian beef in Chicagoland, I think it will take several rounds. My reasons are 1) logistics of getting to many places, 2) time limits that many people have, and 3) physical capacity.

    I know that even though we were pacing ourselves, my son and I were near our limit after the 5th place during Beefathon I. After Boston's we went directly to Johhnie's. Unfortunately, we missed Chickie's and one other, but at that point we couldn't have done them justice.

    Let's start with West Suburban, then consider other areas. After that, we can have a round of area winners which would be more manageable.
  • Post #7 - June 2nd, 2004, 5:34 pm
    Post #7 - June 2nd, 2004, 5:34 pm Post #7 - June 2nd, 2004, 5:34 pm
    George R wrote:... west suburban Beefathon? I would be comfortable with that. We could start with Jay's / Frannie's then move south to Johnnie's and Carm's (and Buono for those with the heartiest of appetites). Or we could start with Carm's, move on to Johnnie's and then Jay's and Frannie's. Either is fine by me.

    My notes say that Carm's opens at 10 am every day. I don't know what time Jay's or Frannie's open...



    Gee, George, you make it easy to organize. Thanks. Meet at Carm's in Hillside at 10 am, Saturday the 26th?

    Do you have addresses? We will exchange cell phone numbers the week before.

    In the interest of science, I suggest we stick with the same scoring system and process, which is:

    Order one dipped and one dry sandwich and cut into 1/4's or less. Each person gets one piece of each. Gravy, sweet peppers and giardinera on the side. Rate each of the components (bread, beef, gravy, sweet peppers, giardinera) and then each of the sandwiches and give an overall rating. This is from memory, so I will edit and correct if it is wrong. Each person pays for one place, more or less, so Midas this whole thing costs under $20 (closer to $10) excluding transportation. Welcome to LTH, BTW.

    I will also endeavor to go find and re-post the report from the original tasting. The problem with that being that the report was in fact multiple posts in multiple threads, so I will not be able to capture it all. But I will get the most important post - mine :P
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #8 - June 2nd, 2004, 7:44 pm
    Post #8 - June 2nd, 2004, 7:44 pm Post #8 - June 2nd, 2004, 7:44 pm
    Sounds great. Today I mentioned to my son as we were driving from Johnnie's to Riviera Foods, that if left solely to my own devices I would have a beef tasting go to Carm's and Johnnie's and then call it a day! :D

    Here are the addresses I have in my database:

    Carm's Beef
    1801 S. Wolf Road
    Hillside
    708-449-0125

    Johnnie's Beef
    7500 W. North Ave
    Elmwood Park
    708-452-6000

    Jay's
    4418 N. Narragansett
    Harwood Heights
    708-867-6733
    Also: Gulf & Mount Prospect, DesPlaines
    Irving & 25th, Schiller Park (this looks like a duplicate of the entry below)

    Jay's Beef
    9732 Irving Park Road
    Schiller Park
    847-671-0033

    I have no info on Frannie's. Definitely suggest calling each place to confirm hours. (Notice how I deftly drop grunt work on someone else. Maybe I should rejoin the corporate world.)

    This looks like a fun outing and I'm looking forward to it. As I mentioned some time ago I will be moving my business soon (the date depends on when electricians, painters, etc. finish and inspectors approve), so I don't know my availability for June 26th.

    Cheers
  • Post #9 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:28 pm
    Post #9 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:28 pm Post #9 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:28 pm
    You are correct, the 9732 Irving address is a duplicate of Irving and 25th. The one on Golf is probably way out of the way for what you're planning. The Irving address fits in better however the Narragansett location has a slightly larger parking lot, but only slightly.

    I happen to have Frannies catering menu here. The address is:

    4304 River Road
    Schiller Park

    The phone I have is 847-678-7771. I don't know of that's the general number or just the catering number. It's not that big an operation so I suspect it's the same number.
  • Post #10 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:41 pm
    Post #10 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:41 pm Post #10 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:41 pm
    midas wrote:
    I happen to have Frannies catering menu here. The address is:

    4304 River Road
    Schiller Park

    The phone I have is 847-678-7771. I don't know of that's the general number or just the catering number. It's not that big an operation so I suspect it's the same number.


    Frannie's is practically around the corner from Jay's in Schiller Park (well, less than 1 mile away). Sorry I've been so scarce on the board recently, but I'm on the road, currently in Fayetteville, Arkansas. David, you've got my recommendations from our original conversation about the Beefathon. It sounds like you have included most of them in the plan with the exception of the two I gave you on the North and Northwest side, namely Tore's on Western, Elston and Diversey and Roma's on Cicero. I'll be done traveling on the 14th and should be back in action posting again by then. I've got a pretty good Northwest Arkansas post in the works complete with lots of pictures.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:56 pm
    Post #11 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:56 pm Post #11 - June 2nd, 2004, 8:56 pm
    Stevez, can I ask you about that place Tore's that you mentioned? Is that in the little triangle on the north side where Western and Elston meet? If so, I'm very curious. I worked in that area about 12 years ago. I used to go there and it was named something else. It was then sold and changed names. Almost everything else in the place changed except the beef. It was excellent back then. I wonder if it's the same place and the beef receipe keeps getting handed down from owner to owner.

    Good call on Roma's too. Just make sure you stick to the one on Cicero and not the one on Milwaukee.
  • Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 3:05 pm
    Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 3:05 pm Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 3:05 pm
    Well I finally the chance to try out Johnnie's today. I've been in the area now for 7 years and lived in Chicago my whole life. But I never knew this place had a reputation before I started reading these boards.

    I also had a chance to drive by the new Al's location I mentioned in an earlier post. It's not looking promising, at least to me. It's actually going to be a combo place with Nancy's pizza. I've never seen a combo place I was impressed with. Usually both products are compromised. Of course, only time will tell.

    Anyway, I'll again hold off on any comments regarding Johnnie's until you guys finish your tasting tour.
  • Post #13 - June 4th, 2004, 4:04 pm
    Post #13 - June 4th, 2004, 4:04 pm Post #13 - June 4th, 2004, 4:04 pm
    midas wrote:Stevez, can I ask you about that place Tore's that you mentioned? Is that in the little triangle on the north side where Western and Elston meet? If so, I'm very curious. I worked in that area about 12 years ago. I used to go there and it was named something else. It was then sold and changed names. Almost everything else in the place changed except the beef. It was excellent back then. I wonder if it's the same place and the beef receipe keeps getting handed down from owner to owner.

    Good call on Roma's too. Just make sure you stick to the one on Cicero and not the one on Milwaukee.


    Yes. Tore's is the place in the triangle and the beef is the same as it's always been. I think the place used to be called Marcos, IIRC. Their giardinara is a highlight and packs a pretty good amount of heat, although it is sparse on veggies other than peppers.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - June 4th, 2004, 5:50 pm
    Post #14 - June 4th, 2004, 5:50 pm Post #14 - June 4th, 2004, 5:50 pm
    Thanks, Marco's is the name I was thinking it was called too. I can't believe that they've changed hands so many times and the beef is still the same. Next time I'm in the area I'm definietely stipping in.
  • Post #15 - June 4th, 2004, 6:21 pm
    Post #15 - June 4th, 2004, 6:21 pm Post #15 - June 4th, 2004, 6:21 pm
    The predecessor of Tore's at 2804 N Western was Marro's. I've eaten at both and remember preferring Marro's. I think it might have been the house-made hot giardiniera at Marro's that I especially liked. Still, Tore's is well above average and is worth a visit, I'd say.
  • Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 7:43 pm
    Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 7:43 pm Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 7:43 pm
    Over the weekend I had my annual visit to Tore's. Definitely a good Italian beef sandwich and good giardinera. I agree that it's worth a visit.

    However, as I said before, I'd rather save Tore's for a separate Beefathon of north side places.
  • Post #17 - June 18th, 2004, 9:36 am
    Post #17 - June 18th, 2004, 9:36 am Post #17 - June 18th, 2004, 9:36 am
    As promised, reports from first beef tasting, to be followed by score sheet/

    Preliminary report with the discovery of the Patio (as we know CH links will pass away, but I do not have the energy to salvage all this): http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards/chicago6/messages/33952.html

    Intro to results and methodology (from November, 2003):

    I guess as many of the votes are in as we will get for now, but this is an ongoing process, so if you would like to vote, let me know and I will provide you with socresheets and some guidelines.

    Background: On November 18 a group of Chowhounds went out to sample as many Italian Beefs as we could stomach in a day. We tasted each of the components and then entire sandwiches. Places were scored on each of the components (beef, bread, gravy, dipped sandwich, "dry" sandwich, french fries, giardinera, sweet peppers, and atmosphere).

    We started with about 10 people, added one or two en route, then lost people. Only 3 people made it thru all 9 places which were (in order of sampling): Al's, Carm's, Patio, Mr. Beef, Boston Bar-b-q, Chickie's, Freddy's, Scatchell's, and Johnnies.

    There have been a number of postings, including some from folks who never provided scores. I will revise the rankings if they provide their scores and based on any other ratings I get.

    Is this perfect? Of course not. For a start, we have barely scratched the surface and should really do at least 2 more tastings (south and north). Then there is the whole process issue - some places do not have enough scores to really represent much and what about Beef fatigue? Did Johnnies fare worse than Al's because it came at the end? Lastly, there is the issue of bias. At least one taster admitted to comparing all the sandwiches to his memory of Johnnies perfection. Hardly an open minded approach.

    But it's a start.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #18 - June 18th, 2004, 9:39 am
    Post #18 - June 18th, 2004, 9:39 am Post #18 - June 18th, 2004, 9:39 am
    Here are the actual ratings from 11/03:

    Part 2 - The condiments and sides.

    I think that it is safe to say I will never pay for sweet peppers on my sandwich again. Al's had the best, real steamed peppers with a good pepper flavor, followed closely by Chickies and Johnnies, and then a bit further back by Mr. Beef. Patio and Boston had terrible peppers. But these are, at best, steamed peppers that sit around waiting to be dished up. It just is not any way to treat a sweet pepper, and let's not even talk about the places serving canned peppers.

    Giardinera was more interesting with some good, some indifferent and some bad. Freddy's was the best with the highest score in any category, but with only two raters it is mildly suspect. Chickies and Al's were close behind, so we know who takes their peppers seriously. Then Boston and Johnnies, but with a fair drop off in ratings. The others were not good.

    If you want Fries with your beef, try Carm's, Al's, Johnnies, Patio or Chickies. All respectable; none were wonderful. This category was right up down with Sweet peppers as the lowest rankings. Perhaps there just is not enough time to make wonderful beef and wonderful fries, though they seem to be trying at a number of the places.

    For atmosphere with your beef, try Chickies or Patio, but all the places, except Scatchells, had decent ratings and were close together.

    Almost every place uses Gonella bread, except for Freddys and Johnnies which seem to use Turano. Gonnella seems a better, crisper, fuller roll to me and most others, tho Dave and George R seemed to love Johnnies Turano roll, for reasons that escaped the rest of us.

    The Beef and the sandwich

    There were three styles of beef - thin sliced, thick sliced, and shredded (Al's). Then there was beefy beef and gravy dominated beef. For beef alone, these tasters preferred thin sliced, it seems, with strong gravy flavor. Johnnies was the choice, followed closely by Chickies. A fair drop off to a group of very good places - Mr Beef, Patio, Boston and Al's. But know this about Al's - it is a polarizing place with very high scores and very low scores. More on that follows.

    Along with the beef comes the gravy. The best gravy is meaty, with good herbs and garlic and enough beef fat to give it beefy flavor, but not to the point of being greasy. Johnnies and Freddys were head and shoulders above the others, but with only two ratings each so far, this could change. Then a familiar group - Chickies, Mr Beef, Patio, and Al's with Scatchells a bit behind. Boston and Carm's had serious problems - cheap powdered garlic dominating Bostons, and way too much beef fat in Carm's. But once again, if we did this the way they score figure skating and threw out the high and low scores, Al's would win the best gravy. Different herbs, maybe fennel, and some people just did not like the flavor (me, for instance).

    As to the best sandwich, it does not exactly equal the sum of its parts. Johnies was best dry and dipped, though there are not a lot of ratings for them. Close behind was Chickies dipped. Then things started to drop off, with a group fairly close together - Mr Beef dipped, Patio dry, Boston dipped (despite the gravy issues it came together very nicely), and another group a bit behind - Patio dipped, Al's dry, Mr Beef dry, Chickies dry, Boston dry, and Al's dipped. Sorry to repeat myself, but most tasters loved Al's, and a few of us did not like it much at all, particularly dipped with that gravy.

    So if we had to eat one Italian Beef Sandwich, where would it be? Based on this comparision tasting, what is the best Beef Stand, top to bottom, in Chicago? Every one of these places is pretty good, except Carm's and Scatchells, which were a step below the rest. Carm's almost seemed like a French Dip - beefy gravy, thick chewy slices. And Scatchell's just seemed mass-produced.

    If you add it all up, great sandwich, atmosphere, good peppers and giardinera, these tasters as a group pick (scores in parentheses, with 10 being perfect) -

    1. Johnnies (7.9) - they just do not do anything wrong
    2. Chickies (7.7) - ditto
    3. Freddy's (7.4) - as previously noted, this is based on a small number of ratings and Freddys is a great Italian grocery, so the odds are you won't even get a beef sandwich. Still it is very good.
    4. Patio (7.0) - Surprisingly good
    5. Al's (6.8) - to repeat myself, if you throw out one terribly low score of 3.7 (!) Al's ties for third. Drop one more, Al's wins. A very large range of scores.
    6. Mr. Beef (6.6) - yes, it is a good sandwich, but if you do not care about service, have a fast food joint atmosphere and offer pretty lousy condiments, it counts for something.
    7. Boston (6.3) - a decent sandwich, but many of the same issues as Mr Beef, except we really liked the owner.
    8. Carm's (5.9) - great atmosphere, friendly people, good fries and a beefy, greasy, under-seasoned sandwich.
    9. Scatchell's (5.0) - They don't care, why should we?

    The best sandwich is Johnnies, but you won't go wrong with Patio or Chickies, and Al's is wonderful if you like that gravy. Freddys is a grocery store that serves a good sandwich, but it is the condiments.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #19 - June 18th, 2004, 9:42 am
    Post #19 - June 18th, 2004, 9:42 am Post #19 - June 18th, 2004, 9:42 am
    here is the link for the full discussion on the ratings http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards/chicago6/messages/34657.html

    If the URL changes, this thread was started on 11/28/03, so you can find it browsing by date.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #20 - June 18th, 2004, 10:05 am
    Post #20 - June 18th, 2004, 10:05 am Post #20 - June 18th, 2004, 10:05 am
    dicksond wrote:Almost every place uses Gonella bread, except for Freddys and Johnnies which seem to use Turano. Gonnella seems a better, crisper, fuller roll to me and most others, tho Dave and George R seemed to love Johnnies Turano roll, for reasons that escaped the rest of us.


    How long did it take me to notice this, but I am almost positive, based on sitings of their trucks in lot, that Johnnies uses Gonnella not Turano. Buena Beef, is that on the next itinerary, uses Turano.

    Rob
  • Post #21 - June 21st, 2004, 5:50 pm
    Post #21 - June 21st, 2004, 5:50 pm Post #21 - June 21st, 2004, 5:50 pm
    David Dickson asked me to post a proposed itinerary for "Beefathon II - the Western Suburbs." Here it is. Suggestions/corrections are welcome.

    Start at Carms (Hillside), then Johnnie's (Elmwood Park), followed by Frannie's (Schiller Park) and then Jay's (Schiller Park).

    What time should we start? Carm's opens at 10 am, Johnnie's at 11 am, Frannie's at 10:30 am and Jay's at 9:30 am. Based on my recollection of the first Beefathon, we averaged about 45 minutes per place including travel time. Remember that in addition to consuming beef, time was spent discussing preparation, touring facilities, taking pictures, etc.

    At 45 minutes each, the event should take about 3 hours.

    The order could be reversed, though I don't see a strong need to do so. Also, Jay's has another location in Harwood Heights, but the Schiller Park one is very close to Frannie's.

    Here are details about each location. They are in other posts, but it seemed a good idea to put them all in one message for convenience.

    Time / distance between each place is from Randmcnally.com.

    Carm's Beef
    1801 S. Wolf Road
    Hillside
    708-449-0125

    9 miles, 16 minutes to:

    Johnnie's Beef
    7500 W. North Ave
    Elmwood Park
    708-452-6000

    5 miles, 11 minutes to:

    Frannie's Beef & Catering
    4304 River Road
    Schiller Park
    847-678-7771

    0.7 miles, 2 minutes to:

    Jay's Beef
    9732 Irving Park Road
    Schiller Park
    847-671-0033
  • Post #22 - June 21st, 2004, 8:41 pm
    Post #22 - June 21st, 2004, 8:41 pm Post #22 - June 21st, 2004, 8:41 pm
    There's a Buena Beef location not too far from Johnnies, on North. Do not you think it should be included for completeness?

    There are a least 2 places I'd like to get on the list, but they seem a bit far now from the itineary:

    Roma's on Cicero

    Max's on N. Western
  • Post #23 - June 21st, 2004, 8:57 pm
    Post #23 - June 21st, 2004, 8:57 pm Post #23 - June 21st, 2004, 8:57 pm
    Vital Information wrote:There's a Buena Beef location not too far from Johnnies, on North. Do not you think it should be included for completeness?

    There are a least 2 places I'd like to get on the list, but they seem a bit far now from the itineary:

    Roma's on Cicero

    Max's on N. Western


    And then of course there's this place in the 5900ish block of North Avenue about a mile east of Buona Beef:

    Image

    Any place that guarantees the best Beef in the world is asking for a tasting.

    edited to fix link to the picture
    Last edited by stevez on November 16th, 2006, 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #24 - June 22nd, 2004, 2:51 pm
    Post #24 - June 22nd, 2004, 2:51 pm Post #24 - June 22nd, 2004, 2:51 pm
    As I mentioned before re Torre's, both Max's and Roma's are worthy entries, but I would prefer to save them for Beefathon III - the North Side of Chicago.

    There are 11 Buona Beef places in the Chicago area. As already noted one is about a mile east of Johnnie's. Another is about a mile south of Carm's, so it would be easy to include one or the other.

    Though Buona's is a chain, it is a local chain which specializes in Italian beef so I have no problem with including them. I admit to being slightly intrigued by Beefee's more because it is a local operation than because of their claim to have the best beef in the universe.

    If we are going to include Buona's, then should we also include Portillo's -- again a local chain, though better know for their hot dogs?

    :?: Question: Has any chowist had an Italian beef recently at Buona's or at Beefee's? If so, please post your comments. The four places already on the beef tour are there because they have been recommended by one or more chowists.

    Please remember we have to deal with limits as to time and stomach capacity. If we go for completeness, then we should go every single place in the Chicago area which serves Italian beef. Let's use our members' knowledge and experience to focus on those which are among the best.

    Buona Beef
    2135 S. Wolf Road
    Hillside
    (708) 236-0575 AND

    7025 W. North Avenue
    Oak Park
    (708) 383-1800

    Beefee Restaurant (I couldn't find a listing in the 5900 block of North Ave)
    5267 W North Ave
    Chicago
    (773) 622-9574
  • Post #25 - June 22nd, 2004, 4:47 pm
    Post #25 - June 22nd, 2004, 4:47 pm Post #25 - June 22nd, 2004, 4:47 pm
    George R wrote:As I mentioned before re Torre's, both Max's and Roma's are worthy entries, but I would prefer to save them for Beefathon III - the North Side of Chicago.

    There are 11 Buona Beef places in the Chicago area. As already noted one is about a mile east of Johnnie's. Another is about a mile south of Carm's, so it would be easy to include one or the other.

    Though Buona's is a chain, it is a local chain which specializes in Italian beef so I have no problem with including them. I admit to being slightly intrigued by Beefee's more because it is a local operation than because of their claim to have the best beef in the universe.

    If we are going to include Buona's, then should we also include Portillo's -- again a local chain, though better know for their hot dogs?

    :?: Question: Has any chowist had an Italian beef recently at Buona's or at Beefee's? If so, please post your comments. The four places already on the beef tour are there because they have been recommended by one or more chowists.

    Please remember we have to deal with limits as to time and stomach capacity. If we go for completeness, then we should go every single place in the Chicago area which serves Italian beef. Let's use our members' knowledge and experience to focus on those which are among the best.

    Buona Beef
    2135 S. Wolf Road
    Hillside
    (708) 236-0575 AND

    7025 W. North Avenue
    Oak Park
    (708) 383-1800

    Beefee Restaurant (I couldn't find a listing in the 5900 block of North Ave)
    5267 W North Ave
    Chicago
    (773) 622-9574


    I put up the Beefees picture as a joke, kind of. There are actually two of them located about 1 mile apart on North avanue. I'd be willing to take one for the team at Beefees, but I'm not sure I could get there before Saturday. As far as Buena goes, I've had one semi-recently and it is the same as ever. Slightly above average, but nothing special. The gravy was a litle greasy as I remember. I'm not interested in trying Portillo's.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:40 pm
    Post #26 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:40 pm Post #26 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:40 pm
    Steve,

    Thanks for the clarification. It's been years since I had a Buona Beef. My recollection was similar to yours -- a little above average, but nothing to write home about.

    Unless others have strong feelings to the contrary, let's pass on Buona Beef at this time. The Beefee's might be an amusement that can be decided on after we hit Johnnie's and see how people feel.

    The Beefee's sign reminded me of a cartoon I saw years ago. It showed a city block with three restaurants on it. A big restaurant had a large sign "Best hamburgers in the state." An even bigger restaurant had an enormous sign that read "Best hamburgers in the country." Finally, there was a tiny place with a line of people waiting to get in. It had a little sign that said, "Best hamburgers on this block."
  • Post #27 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:59 pm
    Post #27 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:59 pm Post #27 - June 22nd, 2004, 6:59 pm
    I think Buena Beef is worth the visit. I find the beef solid, and I enjoy their heavily spiced and olive laden giardinara. They are weak, however, in the roll.

    I also think Portillo's is not a bad beef at all. I do not think we should measure the sammy's by the amount of locations, although I think it perfectly fair to include my distaste for Jay Leno in my criteria in evaluating Mr. Beef.

    rg
  • Post #28 - June 22nd, 2004, 8:23 pm
    Post #28 - June 22nd, 2004, 8:23 pm Post #28 - June 22nd, 2004, 8:23 pm
    As promised, tonight I took one for the team in the name of Chow Science. I stopped by Beefee's to check out the guaranteed best beef in the world. I don't know what world Mr. Beefee lives in, but in this world, his beef doesn't even make the short list.

    First of all, Beefee's has the ambience of a Southside Rib joint complete with absolutely no seating area or even a stand-up counter. I took my Beefee beef outside and ate it in my car.

    Image

    The namesake beef, which costs $3.99 and includes fries and a no-name drink in a can (no RC available despite the prominant signage), comes wrapped in tin foil which insures a steamed, soggy roll. As you can see from this picture:
    Image
    the beef has a strange grayish color to it. After taking my first bite, I discovered that it was nearly impossible to tell the difference between the taste of the roll and the taste of the Beefee beef. If Arby's served an Italian Beef sandwich, this would be it. I didn't go back inside to find out what the guarantee was. I just left a 3/4 eaten sandwich in a dumpster conveniently located across from the Beefee front door and cruised for a Sally's western burger instead.

    Beefee's definately has no place on the Beef-athon II list. For that matter, if the object of Beef-athon II is to find the best beef in Chicago, either does Portillo's. Even though Portillo's is a perfectly servicable beef, and head and shoulders above Beefee's, I think everyone can agree that it isn't close to being the best beef in Chicago; so why waste the time with it?

    Edited to fix links to pictures
    Last edited by stevez on November 16th, 2006, 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #29 - June 23rd, 2004, 4:12 pm
    Post #29 - June 23rd, 2004, 4:12 pm Post #29 - June 23rd, 2004, 4:12 pm
    Wow,

    Talk about taking one for the team! Steve, you should be awarded a purple heart with grape leaf clusters for this one.

    Thanks for saving everyone else's time, money & taste buds.

    RE Buona Beef: If VI would like to include them it's easy given their proximity to both Carm's and to Johnnie's. I'll check on hours.

    Any other comments re Buona or any other beef stand?
  • Post #30 - June 24th, 2004, 8:47 am
    Post #30 - June 24th, 2004, 8:47 am Post #30 - June 24th, 2004, 8:47 am
    Buona Beef: I go every month or so. Decent beef served in a good, heavily garlic-flavored, roll. Good giardinera. I much, much, much, prefer it to the other options out here in N'ville, particularly Portillos which I find bland.

    Worth comparing IMO. In any case, we should have a list of extra spots to go to in the event the spirit moves us, and if Renee shows up (???) he undoubtedly will have a massive list. Keep in mind that at least two pretty good places (Chickies and the Patio) came up on the first outing as suggestions on the fly from participants and/or ideas from people we met. So we should be open and flexible, within reason of course 8) .

    Many thanks to all for taking on so much of the planning. I feel a piker. Hopefully my computer will allow me to find and post the score sheet shortly.

    I plan to bring the van and can transport some people if we wish to reduce the number of cars. Will also meet anyone who is using public trans to start. So far, I think the attendees are:

    Steve Z
    VI
    Flip
    George R (and son?)
    Leek (and some other number)

    No others have replied, though any and everyone can feel free to just show up. My cell phone is 630-399-9172 if you have questions on where and when to meet up.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy

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