Your favorite Italian Beef in Chicago near UIC?

I considered putting this in the Chicago forum, but I wanted to give non-Chicagoans the opportunity to weigh in.

What’s your favorite source for Italian beef near the UIC campus? I will be there in February with a work colleague for a conference, and we’re interested in having Italian beef for lunch - possibly every day.

UIC is here, in case that helps.

I will undoubtedly have more food & drink recommendation requests soon.

Well, if you add the words “italian beef” to your google map info, you’ll certainly locate a LOT of places to try out.

Sadly, I’ve not been in that area for decades, so don’t have anything else to contribute. :frowning:

I do have fond memories of Al’s Beef from the 1970’s, however. I don’t think you can go far wrong if you visit one of their locations.

If it comes to that, we’ll just methodically try each one, :smiley: but I’m hoping for a TNT starting point. Looks like Al’s might be a good candidate, thanks!

Al’s is good, and although it’s not Italian Beef, the hole-in-the-wall Thai place on the same block, The Thai Bowl, has great cheap food.

Anyone remember ‘Boobies’? I think it was near Park Ridge or Niles. (afraid to Google for it as I am at work).

It’s still there on Milwaukee Avenue. Nowhere close to UIC.

Just got a recc for Al’s from a work colleague who used to live in Chicago. We’re off to a good start!

As much as people love Al’s, I am a die hard Johnnies fan. I personally would drive past UIC all the way to Forest Park to get a Johnnies.

As long as you are by UIC, check out Jims Original for a polish or pork chop sandwich, Pleasant House Bakery down on 35th for wonderful English meat pies, and Lao Sze Chuan in the Chinatown mall for spicy authentic Chinese. Fish filet in spicy szechwan sauce and Tony’s 3-Chilli Chicken are favorites.

Al’s all the way! I drive all the way to Taylor Street to get an authentic Al’s from their original location, and you’ll have it in your back yard. Lucky girl! If you were going to be there in the summer, I’d recommend you go across the street for a Mario’s Italian Ice for dessert, but alas they close for the winter.

If you want something a little classier (like a sit-down Italian dinner), you might try Rosebud or Tuscany, also both on Taylor Street.

I prefer Francesca’s over Rosebud. Better food by far, IMO. Stopped going to Rosebud when they served up a caprese salad with tomatoes that had the flavor and texture resembling styrofoam.

Moving this to the eatie Cafe Society, from IMHO.

OMG! Is this the first thread I’ve had moved? This is very exciting!

I think RoSal’s is better than both. A real ‘neighborhood’ kinda place.

Another vote for Al’s for beef.

The regional food thread had me searching for a recipe, and I found this which I plan to try this weekend. As a bonus there are reviews of several local places.

Me, too. I prefer Johnnie’s to Al’s, but if you go to Al’s it must be the Taylor Street location. The franchise locations really are not the same. Al’s is good in the summer for an Italian beef and then across the street for an Italian lemonade at Mario’s–that’s a slice of Chicago for me. There is also The Patio on Taylor Street, that I prefer to Al’s.

So, for the purposes of the OP, Al’s and The Patio are good suggestions for your location. If I had to pick just one, I’d begrudgingly recommend Al’s, even though I personally prefer The Patio. If you have time for two, try both.

As for Polishes, I actually prefer the Polish at Maxwell’s to Jim’s (they’re next door to each other), but it would be fun to do a side-by-side taste test. (which is how I came to my preference.) Jim’s is kind of the hometown favorite, but I find Maxwell’s tastier, although their fries suck. (Jim’s fries aren’t spectacular, but much better than Maxwell’s.) But you can’t really go wrong with either.

Much to my surprise, that actually is a bang-on Italian beef recipe. A lot of home recipes have you use a braising cut like chuck and simmer it for hours until it breaks apart. That yields a delicious sandwich, but not quite a Chicago Italian beef, which is typically made from top sirloin, top round, or bottom round. (ETA: I see that website covers that. Nice.) It really, really helps if you have a decent meat slicer. I have a serious Globe deli slicer here at home, and I can get nice, thin strips of roast beef cut across the grain, which is pretty crucial to get the right texture. If you have good knife skills, you can probably do it by hand, but I’ve never been able to get it thin enough by hand. This picture shows how thin it is. There is some variation, as some places do it slightly thicker, but it’s usually at least deli meat thin.

I have a meat slicer… not great, but not made of plastic either. I understand the key is to get the meat chilled but not frozen. I found some good looking Gardiniera but my challenge may be to find the right bread (high gluten I think). We’re only 3 hours from Chicago so hopefully I can find something reasonable.

Seconded. On Taylor there really is not other option for Italian beef.

Rosal’s is a fine choice if you are looking for old school meatballs/lasagna Italian-American cooking. And it really is a serious long time neighborhood joint.

The Francesca’s location there is also a great spot for Italian. But my favorite choice right now is just across the street - Davanti Enoteca. Same owner as Francesca’s but more authentic/rustic Italian with a contemporary vibe.

Yeah, you want something with enough structure to withstand being dipped in the juice. Gonnella is the brand used around here, generally (although it’s not absolutely universal. Turano is another brand sometimes used.) It’s soft, but chewy and somewhat dense. Not crispy on the outside.

That said, when I do Italian beef myself, I actually go for smaller, lighter, and crustier rolls. It’s not a to-spec Italian beef, but I like it just as much, if not more. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Gonnella rolls.

cough The Patio. They do a slightly thicker style of Italian beef, but quite good. Like I said, I prefer it to Al’s. It’s also priced far more favorably than Al’s. But, like I said, if you’re only going to have one beef, do Al’s.