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Best Italian Beef

Best Italian Beef
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  • Post #571 - July 27th, 2014, 9:07 pm
    Post #571 - July 27th, 2014, 9:07 pm Post #571 - July 27th, 2014, 9:07 pm
    ld111134 wrote:I wonder why there is a singular lack of decent beef stands in the Loop?


    Try U.B. Dogs, it's a good choice for a Loop beef and their burgers are great.

    U.B. Dogs
    185 N Franklin Street
    Chicago, IL 60606
    312-251-7009
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #572 - July 28th, 2014, 9:36 am
    Post #572 - July 28th, 2014, 9:36 am Post #572 - July 28th, 2014, 9:36 am
    ld111134 wrote:I wonder why there is a singular lack of decent beef stands in the Loop?


    Fontano's is better than decent. They used to be at 20 E Jackson Blvd, but moved down to 332 S Michigan Ave because of construction in the building.
  • Post #573 - July 28th, 2014, 2:49 pm
    Post #573 - July 28th, 2014, 2:49 pm Post #573 - July 28th, 2014, 2:49 pm
    I used to live in Arlington Heights and Johnnie's Beef (and combo with Sausage) was responsible for at least 10-15 lbs. of unwanted weight gain over the course of a few years. Can't think of a better compliment than that.

    Love Johnnie's Beef! Fries wonderful as well!
    :mrgreen:

    LMFAO - interesting site:

    Italian Beef DOT com
    Last edited by Bster on July 28th, 2014, 2:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #574 - July 28th, 2014, 2:53 pm
    Post #574 - July 28th, 2014, 2:53 pm Post #574 - July 28th, 2014, 2:53 pm
    lodasi wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:I wonder why there is a singular lack of decent beef stands in the Loop?


    Fontano's is better than decent. They used to be at 20 E Jackson Blvd, but moved down to 332 S Michigan Ave because of construction in the building.


    Good call. I forgot about them. I've only had their deli sandwiches, but I bet they'd have a good Italian beef, too.
  • Post #575 - July 30th, 2014, 5:42 pm
    Post #575 - July 30th, 2014, 5:42 pm Post #575 - July 30th, 2014, 5:42 pm
    Ram4 wrote:
    My brother and I shared a sandwich at Scatchell's, Bubba's Place, Novi, and Little Joe's. The big surprise was Novi, which I was told wasn't that big of a deal, but both of us were very impressed. The unique, Al's-like giardiniera was about as hot as any beef stand (Johnnie's is the hottest I've had, and this was just as hot). Scatchell's was the most tender, though the bread fell apart pretty fast. Novi had a little Al's thing going which was kind of cool. To me, another solid beef sandwich. We also tried the fries, which were fresh cut and great. It's been a lot of fun trying all these beef joints all over the place. :)


    Sounds like fun, indeed.
    Odd thing about these beefs tho - inconsistencies.
    I've been to Scatchell's twice. Both times, rubbery beef. Just plain out wrong. It obviously is well loved, tho. My assumption is that I got off beefs.

    Novi's is one of my go to joints. They are generally tender, not too salty, but their giardiniera, for me, is a real weak spot. The only comparison I can make to Al's is that Novi's beef can sometimes be as tender. After that, I just don't see it. I popped in yesterday for a beef, juicy, hot:

    Plain beef, ready for the unique hot pepper mix to be applied. I think they ONLY do "on the side" for their pepper mix:
    Image

    The red hot pepper condiment/giardiniera:
    Image

    Applied:
    Image

    IMO, the beef is generally ALWAYS solid, but this unique hot pepper mix, just adds nothing except a little bit of heat. I'm a major fan of Al's (On Taylor -never been to any of the others,) and I just don't feel the comparison between the two. Don't get me wrong at all - Novi's is solid, but Al's (On Taylor) is in a league of it's own, imo.

    Also, everyone needs a bottle of this for fries:
    Image
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #576 - July 31st, 2014, 2:30 pm
    Post #576 - July 31st, 2014, 2:30 pm Post #576 - July 31st, 2014, 2:30 pm
    The beef I had that day at Scatchell's was as tender as it could be. I guess sometimes you win, and sometimes you don't! And I agree, Al's on Taylor is one of the best hands down. Novi is a second tier beef (when Al's tears it's ACL).;)
  • Post #577 - October 18th, 2014, 11:46 am
    Post #577 - October 18th, 2014, 11:46 am Post #577 - October 18th, 2014, 11:46 am
    Whether a conscious decision or not, I've been on a bit of a beef tear the past few months. I've been known to make a pretty decent beef from time to time and I do know that an IB built on a D'Amatos roll really cranks the whole thing up a notch. About a year ago I sampled D'Amatos IB and found it to be unremarkable bordering on bad– a chewy, lifeless Scala-like product with equally pre-packaged tasting giardiniere and dry as a bone. I read a post on Serious Eats a ways back talking up the beef at next-door Bari. Why it took me this long, who knows? But hot damn, that might be the best beef in town. Tender, yet structurally-sound slices of beef on a proper Italian roll (not D'Amatos? Did anyone ever get to the bottom of the D'Amatos/Bari fallout?) with the needs-no-introduction house made giardiniere. My only thought remotely close to a quibble would be notice of a heavy hand with the oregano.

    I've been a lifetime Pop's devotee, yet my last at the Kedzie branch was mulchy, lacking enough of their brilliant "hot mix", and served on standard issue Gonella. I'm also a big fan of the sausage and combos at Johnnie's, though I find their beef to be underwhelming. And while I like Al's, the prices/quantity and the sometimes griminess of the place turns me off. The whole package of the Bari IB might just be my new gold standard.
  • Post #578 - October 20th, 2014, 12:23 pm
    Post #578 - October 20th, 2014, 12:23 pm Post #578 - October 20th, 2014, 12:23 pm
    Jefe wrote:Whether a conscious decision or not, I've been on a bit of a beef tear the past few months. I've been known to make a pretty decent beef from time to time and I do know that an IB built on a D'Amatos roll really cranks the whole thing up a notch. About a year ago I sampled D'Amatos IB and found it to be unremarkable bordering on bad– a chewy, lifeless Scala-like product with equally pre-packaged tasting giardiniere and dry as a bone. I read a post on Serious Eats a ways back talking up the beef at next-door Bari. Why it took me this long, who knows? But hot damn, that might be the best beef in town. Tender, yet structurally-sound slices of beef on a proper Italian roll (not D'Amatos? Did anyone ever get to the bottom of the D'Amatos/Bari fallout?) with the needs-no-introduction house made giardiniere. My only thought remotely close to a quibble would be notice of a heavy hand with the oregano.

    I've been a lifetime Pop's devotee, yet my last at the Kedzie branch was mulchy, lacking enough of their brilliant "hot mix", and served on standard issue Gonella. I'm also a big fan of the sausage and combos at Johnnie's, though I find their beef to be underwhelming. And while I like Al's, the prices/quantity and the sometimes griminess of the place turns me off. The whole package of the Bari IB might just be my new gold standard.


    Hey Jefe! Funny you should post this just now because I also had Bari's excellent beef sandwich on Saturday. I am in full agreement; this is one of the best 5 Italian beefs in the city if not THE best one I've ever tried.

    What you won't find here is the forehead sweat-inducing heat of Johnnie's, or the unique warm spices and crunchy celery giardinera of Al's. The Bari beef doesn't have a ton of distinctive spicing or standout flavor but the ingredient quality is very high. Bari is a deli first and foremost so they definitely know how to handle the meat in this sandwich. No rubbery boiled meat or chewy Gonella roll; the beef is just heated through in the garlicky gravy, and served on a length of crusty Italian bread. Awesome contrast in textures between the crusty outsides, airy crumb, gravy-soaked inner layer and juicy meat. A perfectly balanced Italian beef that's really big and priced right at 9" for $6. The one weak point is the giardinera; I've never liked Bari's softer homemade style of giardinera very much. I much prefer the more vinegar-heavy crunchy kind which is mass produced in a factory. The giard at Potbelly is my favorite if that gives some idea of my preference. That said I know many here like the Bari product and they will love it on the sandwich I'm sure.

    My shitty picture taken on my car hood in the Bari parking lot is not gonna convince anyone but please, don't be fooled. This is a truly standout beef sandwich.
    Image
  • Post #579 - October 20th, 2014, 1:04 pm
    Post #579 - October 20th, 2014, 1:04 pm Post #579 - October 20th, 2014, 1:04 pm
    Sounds good. What is the red sauce in the cup? Out of curiosity, has anyone been to Tore & Luke's on Rand Road, north of Palatine Road about a mile? I have been going there for 35 years and have always had good luck with their IB combo. Great Beef and very good fries.
  • Post #580 - October 20th, 2014, 1:29 pm
    Post #580 - October 20th, 2014, 1:29 pm Post #580 - October 20th, 2014, 1:29 pm
    Puckjam wrote:Sounds good. What is the red sauce in the cup? Out of curiosity, has anyone been to Tore & Luke's on Rand Road, north of Palatine Road about a mile? I have been going there for 35 years and have always had good luck with their IB combo. Great Beef and very good fries.


    I usually ask for Italian beefs dipped, and also a side cup of beef gravy for extra sogginess. At Bari they gave me a cup of marinara when I asked for "gravy", I guess there was a miscommunication. It was tasty even if not what I asked for.
  • Post #581 - October 20th, 2014, 6:39 pm
    Post #581 - October 20th, 2014, 6:39 pm Post #581 - October 20th, 2014, 6:39 pm
    Puckjam wrote:Sounds good. What is the red sauce in the cup? Out of curiosity, has anyone been to Tore & Luke's on Rand Road, north of Palatine Road about a mile? I have been going there for 35 years and have always had good luck with their IB combo. Great Beef and very good fries.


    I used to work near there, and Tore&Luke's was my gold standard in the area. I was also a big fan of the Tore's on Diversey/Western/Clyborn before it's demise.

    Also, EWW, there was, perhaps, no miscomm. You DID get gravy. (Depends who ya ask.) My guess would be that next time if you ask them for "juice," you'll get what you expected. Not trying to be snarky at all. I'm wondering if you got gravy, like in "Sunday Gravy."
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #582 - October 20th, 2014, 6:42 pm
    Post #582 - October 20th, 2014, 6:42 pm Post #582 - October 20th, 2014, 6:42 pm
    There used to be escarole in Bari's beef. Do they not use it anymore?
  • Post #583 - October 23rd, 2014, 10:14 am
    Post #583 - October 23rd, 2014, 10:14 am Post #583 - October 23rd, 2014, 10:14 am
    seebee wrote:
    Ram4 wrote:
    My brother and I shared a sandwich at Scatchell's, Bubba's Place, Novi, and Little Joe's. The big surprise was Novi, which I was told wasn't that big of a deal, but both of us were very impressed. The unique, Al's-like giardiniera was about as hot as any beef stand (Johnnie's is the hottest I've had, and this was just as hot). Scatchell's was the most tender, though the bread fell apart pretty fast. Novi had a little Al's thing going which was kind of cool. To me, another solid beef sandwich. We also tried the fries, which were fresh cut and great. It's been a lot of fun trying all these beef joints all over the place. :)


    Sounds like fun, indeed.
    Odd thing about these beefs tho - inconsistencies.
    I've been to Scatchell's twice. Both times, rubbery beef. Just plain out wrong. It obviously is well loved, tho. My assumption is that I got off beefs.

    Novi's is one of my go to joints. They are generally tender, not too salty, but their giardiniera, for me, is a real weak spot. The only comparison I can make to Al's is that Novi's beef can sometimes be as tender. After that, I just don't see it. I popped in yesterday for a beef, juicy, hot:

    Plain beef, ready for the unique hot pepper mix to be applied. I think they ONLY do "on the side" for their pepper mix:
    Image

    The red hot pepper condiment/giardiniera:
    Image

    Applied:
    Image

    IMO, the beef is generally ALWAYS solid, but this unique hot pepper mix, just adds nothing except a little bit of heat. I'm a major fan of Al's (On Taylor -never been to any of the others,) and I just don't feel the comparison between the two. Don't get me wrong at all - Novi's is solid, but Al's (On Taylor) is in a league of it's own, imo.

    Also, everyone needs a bottle of this for fries:
    Image


    That looks pretty bad. Total rubber. I won't check that one out.
    "People are too busy in these times to care about good food. We used to spend months working over a bonne-femme sauce, trying to determine just the right proportions of paprika and fresh forest mushrooms to use." -Karoly Gundel, Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg, 1954.
  • Post #584 - October 23rd, 2014, 12:41 pm
    Post #584 - October 23rd, 2014, 12:41 pm Post #584 - October 23rd, 2014, 12:41 pm
    Don't be fooled, it's not rubber. Novi is a solid beef joint, well worth checking out. It's in my current top 10.
  • Post #585 - October 24th, 2014, 10:53 am
    Post #585 - October 24th, 2014, 10:53 am Post #585 - October 24th, 2014, 10:53 am
    I've eaten almost every beef worth a score, so many that I've basically ran out of spots to try. That said I've gathered up a handful of places to score within the last 6 months and will be doing so as the cold comes, I love a beef with hot on a frigid winter day. First stop up, Bari. I know I've eaten a Bari beef before, I worked a couple summers at my grandpa's shop down the block and it was almost always Bari or Joe Boston's or once in a while the old Tommy's Rock n' Roll Cafe came into play as far as lunch that day. That said I must of just forgot about it because it's been at least five years since I ordered one there. Results? Very good! I liken the beef product more to the Nawlins style of roast beef used in a po-boy (ala Parkway) than Italian beef but that doesn't bother me. It's got rich beef flavor ala perfectly cooked pot roast and holds together with the bread well. I never ask for a cup of gravy on the side but decided to see what they gave me and I got a cup of the au jus that was more like debris, which was awesome. They could make a killer gravy bread or even better, a debris po-boy. Throw some of it on their bread with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo and you'd have one of the best po-boys in all of the Midwest. I cant place them on my 1st team just yet because I need to eat it a handful of times to make sure consistency is there but they've certainly earned a tryout.

    Image
    Beef with Hot from Bari

    Bari Italian Foods
    1120 W Grand Ave # 1
    Chicago, IL 60642-6048
    (312) 666-0730
  • Post #586 - February 2nd, 2015, 12:28 pm
    Post #586 - February 2nd, 2015, 12:28 pm Post #586 - February 2nd, 2015, 12:28 pm
    Courtesy The Onion:

    Chicago Man Brushes Mound Of Snow From Beef Sandwich Before Eating It
  • Post #587 - February 9th, 2015, 11:38 am
    Post #587 - February 9th, 2015, 11:38 am Post #587 - February 9th, 2015, 11:38 am
    Well, the Best Italian Beef in Dallas contest seems to have been won by Al's.
    As Shake Shack is to Chicago, Al's is to Dallas: http://dallas.eater.com/2015/2/9/800338 ... port-opens
  • Post #588 - March 13th, 2015, 9:36 pm
    Post #588 - March 13th, 2015, 9:36 pm Post #588 - March 13th, 2015, 9:36 pm
    Steve Dolinsky's very interesting rankings of 31 Italian beef stands. He ranks Johnnie's as number 1 (no surprise). Other rankings are sure to engender discussion: Boston's at number 5, Luke's in the Loop at number 8 (!), Al's on Taylor at number 11 and Mr. Beef at number 12.

    http://abc7chicago.com/food/chicagos-be ... bs/556831/
  • Post #589 - March 13th, 2015, 10:35 pm
    Post #589 - March 13th, 2015, 10:35 pm Post #589 - March 13th, 2015, 10:35 pm
    Steve Dolinsky's full report on 31 IB places is at http://www.stevedolinsky.com/top-10-italian-beefs-chicagoland

    It's a good list with detailed tasting notes. He deserves compliments for doing his own beefathon in six days. When we did it as a group years ago it was spread over several weeks, and at the end of each day everyone had very full tummies and was pretty tired.

    As Id111134 noted above, it's no surprise that Johnnie's was #1. Same result as in our Beefathon long ago.

    I find it interesting that the Original Mr. Beef was rated #2. According to the owner he uses the original recipe from his father who was one of the founders of Mr. Beef on Orleans.

    I recall that decades ago the recipe at Mr. Beef on Orleans seemed to change suddenly. One day I went in and ordered my usual, but it lacked something. It was still good, but not the outstanding IB I was used to.

    Per Dolinsky's blog, the new (1977) owner of Mr. Beef on Orleans says the recipe was changed in 1977 when he bought the business.

    If all this is correct, and my memory has not failed me, then a visit to the original Mr. Beef is in order.
    Last edited by George R on March 14th, 2015, 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #590 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 am
    Post #590 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 am Post #590 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 am
    Lthrs been beating the drum for Original Mr. beef in homer since at least 2013. Glad Mr. Dolinsky ventured south of I55 and west of Harlem Ave. for some spots.

    Personally I think Orig. mr. Beef in Homer is better than Johnnies.
  • Post #591 - March 14th, 2015, 5:17 pm
    Post #591 - March 14th, 2015, 5:17 pm Post #591 - March 14th, 2015, 5:17 pm
    I was interested to read that the OMB uses Liborio bread, my own favorite for italian (and Cuban) sandwiches.
  • Post #592 - March 14th, 2015, 5:42 pm
    Post #592 - March 14th, 2015, 5:42 pm Post #592 - March 14th, 2015, 5:42 pm
    How did Beefee even make it the top 3100 let alone top 31? Wasn't that the place that had the most awful review of any beef place ever here on LTH? Just the fact that it comes wrapped in foil should disqualify it.
  • Post #593 - March 16th, 2015, 11:49 am
    Post #593 - March 16th, 2015, 11:49 am Post #593 - March 16th, 2015, 11:49 am
    midas wrote:How did Beefee even make it the top 3100 let alone top 31? Wasn't that the place that had the most awful review of any beef place ever here on LTH? Just the fact that it comes wrapped in foil should disqualify it.


    Yeah Beefee is gross. I remember the bread was very gummy and slippery, almost like Play Doh.

    Also, that list puts Bari at the very bottom as a non-noteworthy beef. That's enough for me to discount the whole thing.
  • Post #594 - March 16th, 2015, 12:45 pm
    Post #594 - March 16th, 2015, 12:45 pm Post #594 - March 16th, 2015, 12:45 pm
    UBDogs has dropped the beef (and sausage) from their menu....prices seemingly prohibiting their cost effectiveness.
  • Post #595 - March 16th, 2015, 5:26 pm
    Post #595 - March 16th, 2015, 5:26 pm Post #595 - March 16th, 2015, 5:26 pm
    eating while walking wrote:Also, that list puts Bari at the very bottom as a non-noteworthy beef. That's enough for me to discount the whole thing.

    Well, I've been a huge fan of Bari and its Italian beef for a long time - one of my favorites in town. Then about two months ago, I was there and had an awful beef - dry and lacking the usual seasoning, rendering it almost flavorless. I was shocked. Had I never been there before, I would have decided never to return. But I know better and I'll be back (though it's kept me away for a bit). Unfortunately, that's the risk with anyone visiting a restaurant only once (be it a beef-a-thon, pho-a-thon, bagel-a-thon or anything of the like). Hell, I've had less than stellar visits to Johnnie's, Bob-O's and a few of my other favorites.

    To me, that's a reason to consider Dolinsky's commentary along with that of other people you trust, rather than a reason to simply conclude that the guy must be a moron. Even typically consistent restaurants will have bad days. But as for the list, I appreciate it for the number and diversity of the places he visited, including many that get very little attention.
  • Post #596 - March 16th, 2015, 6:28 pm
    Post #596 - March 16th, 2015, 6:28 pm Post #596 - March 16th, 2015, 6:28 pm
    Dolinsky said he ate at each spot twice. Definitely worth a tip of the hat.
    Dont sob if your joint is low on the list, its one cats opinion. That and maybe go out and try someplace new, or a joint that he ranked higher, you might be surprised at whats out there.
  • Post #597 - March 16th, 2015, 7:03 pm
    Post #597 - March 16th, 2015, 7:03 pm Post #597 - March 16th, 2015, 7:03 pm
    jimswside wrote:Dolinsky said he ate at each spot twice. Definitely worth a tip of the hat.
    Dont sob if your joint is low on the list, its one cats opinion. That and maybe go out and try someplace new, or a joint that he ranked higher, you might be surprised at whats out there.


    I confronted him on Twitter (which I think you saw) about whether he tried the Bari beef more than once and he replied:

    @stevedolinsky wrote: if I gave every place two chances...


    I interpreted this to mean he didn't care to try any place more than once. Which is what it is in terms of a fair critique vs a quantitative approach. Did you interpret this differently or read somewhere see that he tried each beef twice?
  • Post #598 - March 16th, 2015, 7:11 pm
    Post #598 - March 16th, 2015, 7:11 pm Post #598 - March 16th, 2015, 7:11 pm
    Jefe wrote:
    jimswside wrote:Dolinsky said he ate at each spot twice. Definitely worth a tip of the hat.
    Dont sob if your joint is low on the list, its one cats opinion. That and maybe go out and try someplace new, or a joint that he ranked higher, you might be surprised at whats out there.


    I confronted him on Twitter (which I think you saw) about whether he tried the Bari beef more than once and he replied:

    @stevedolinsky wrote: if I gave every place two chances...


    I interpreted this to mean he didn't care to try any place more than once. Which is what it is in terms of a fair critique vs a quantitative approach. Did you interpret this differently or read somewhere see that he tried each beef twice?


    Ha, missed that "if" , been thinking i need glasses as 45 approaches next week.

    I still tip my hat to the guy.
  • Post #599 - March 16th, 2015, 7:17 pm
    Post #599 - March 16th, 2015, 7:17 pm Post #599 - March 16th, 2015, 7:17 pm
    jimswside wrote:
    Jefe wrote:
    jimswside wrote:Dolinsky said he ate at each spot twice. Definitely worth a tip of the hat.
    Dont sob if your joint is low on the list, its one cats opinion. That and maybe go out and try someplace new, or a joint that he ranked higher, you might be surprised at whats out there.


    I confronted him on Twitter (which I think you saw) about whether he tried the Bari beef more than once and he replied:

    @stevedolinsky wrote: if I gave every place two chances...


    I interpreted this to mean he didn't care to try any place more than once. Which is what it is in terms of a fair critique vs a quantitative approach. Did you interpret this differently or read somewhere see that he tried each beef twice?


    Ha, missed that "if" , been thinking i need glasses as 45 approaches next week.

    I still tip my hat to the guy.


    Fair enough. I respect the effort too and have a few places on my list now including Frangella in Palos Park which is across the street from where I got my start as a "sandwich artist" and about four blocks from where I grew up. That thing looks mighty. But he dissed two of my favorite beefs, Bari and Pop's.
  • Post #600 - March 16th, 2015, 7:23 pm
    Post #600 - March 16th, 2015, 7:23 pm Post #600 - March 16th, 2015, 7:23 pm
    Jefe wrote:
    Fair enough. I respect the effort too and have a few places on my list now including Frangella in Palos Park which is across the street from where I got my start as a "sandwich artist" and about four blocks from where I grew up. That thing looks mighty. But he dissed two of my favorite beefs, Bari and Pop's.


    Lol, i also need to get to Frangellas.

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