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The Chicago Traveler

Al’s #1 Italian Beef

by Matt B on March 25th, 2008

Chicagoans are just as opinionated about their Italian beef as they are about their pizza and hot dogs. So when a restaurant claims to have the best beef in town, they'd better prepare themselves for plenty of heat. And that's exactly what Al's #1 Italian Beef has got.

al's italian beefSince 1938, Al's has been offering some of the best Italian beef in town' depending on who you ask. There are just as many people who drive away from this place as there are people who flock to this place. But among the many customers salivating over Al's dishes are several celebrities, as the numerous headshots lining the walls attest. From Jay Leno to Governor Rod Blagojevich, all sorts of famous names have headed to this greasy spoon on Chicago's south side.

When Al's isn't catering to celebrities, the restaurant is usually full of hungry locals and students from nearby University of Illinois at Chicago. As most of them know, there is more to an Italian beef than just its beef. All of the ingredients have to come together in harmony, including the bread, the jus, the peppers, and Al's distinctive fennel-infused giardinara. You'll likely take your sandwich to go; there's not any seating: just an elbow-high stainless-steel counter on which to enjoy your grease and gravy. Perhaps it's better that way though: there's less chance that you'll mess up your shirt if you stand while you eat.

Whether you get the namesake beef, hot dogs, or Polish sausages, be sure to grab plenty of napkins. Oh, and one downside: try to get the hand-cut fries while they're fresh and crisp. They tend to get limp when they sit under the heatlamps.

Photo credit: anearthling

Al's #1 Italian Beef ($): 1079 W Taylor St; 312-226-4017
Mon ' Sat: 9:00 a.m. ' 1:00 a.m.
Street parking, free lot available
Public trans: Bus # 8, 38

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POSTED IN: Italian Beef, Restaurants

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