As with many things in Chicago– people have very strong opinions about their favorite teams, music and food. Italian beef has become a staple in Chicago. I still remember my first– it was homemade and completely soaked through the bun with all of the hot goodness sprinkled on top. My mouth tingled with happiness. Italian beef in Chicago is really something that you need to explore for yourself– as no one can seem to agree on one spot.


Top 10 Italian Beef Venues in Chicago:

Johnnie’s Beef
7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park, IL
(708) 452-6000

Highly recommended by many. Cash only, cheap everything, great fries and they serve combo sandwiches. Toss in some Italian Sausage to compliment the beef. Limited seating outside and line out the door– but it moves quicker than most fast food restaurants. If you read this and see downsides to coming here– then go, take one bit of their Italian Beef and you will understand.

1120 W Grand Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 666-0730

Not so much a restaurant as it is an Italian Deli. Maybe that is why their Italian Beef is so mouthwatering– inspiration from the motherland? The beef slices are the optimal thickness and there is just something about their bread rolls that accents everything so perfectly. The way is soaks up the juices is– well, that you’ll just have to experience for yourself.

Pop’s Italian Beef
14 Locations

With locations all throughout Chicagoland, it should be relatively easy to find a Pop’s near you. When you stop by, be sure to order an Italian beef sandwich with hot giardiniera. Sweet peppers are good, but there is just something about a little spice when biting down into one of Pop’s ridiculously juicy Italian beef sandwiches.

Mr. Beef & Pizza
3917 N Harlem Ave Chicago, IL
(773) 283-7444

Mr. Beef does have phenomenal pizza, so I will recommend ordering one if you go. However, the main entree needs to be their Italian beef (available with sausage added). Ordering it dipped means that they soak it in a bathtub before serving it to you– which is perfect. The juices are packed with so much flavor that you’ll essentially inhale the entire sandwich.. then go order another.

Brothers Beef
723 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 265-0484

One of the best things about Brothers Beef is their willingness to embrace the night and hang around to feed all of the street walkers until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. Now, their Italian beef is already phenomenal when the sun is shining– imagine it once the moonlight gets ahold of it. Very thin slices of beef with sweet peppers and an acceptable amount of bread– yes please.

Add an Italian sausage if you feel like getting crazy, and chili fries… and a shake.

Maybe I shouldn’t go there at 3am anymore..

Byron’s Hotdogs
2 Locations

Byron’s has a location that makes it very convenient to swing in before a Cubs game. As their name states– they do specialize in hot dogs, so you can’t go wrong there. However– their Italian beef is packed with flavor. The sandwich is loaded with meat, large chunks of giardiniera and very heavily dipped. If you are in the area, you already know where you should be eating then.

Al’s Italian Beef
1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-4017

Al’s Italian Beef has been around longer than the greater majority of the people that live in Chicago. Their sandwiches are still jam packed with meat and flowing with juices like there is no tomorrow. Getting both sweet and hot peppers sets this sandwich up for perfection.

Jay’s Beef
3 Locations

When at Jay’s Beef, the hot jalapeno addition really takes the Italian beef to an entirely new level. The hot kick keeps your metabolism working so you can have more room for the beef. You’ll need it too– they stack it on thick. They have other options as well, such as the sweet peppers– but I highly recommend going the hot route. Grab extra napkins also, these sandwiches are juicy in the best of ways.

Joe Boston’s Italian Beef
2932 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-9536

Joe Boston’s may be a little out of the way– but if you are up for an adventure, then this would be a welcome destination. It’s a very simple venue and a very simply Italian beef sandwich. Maybe that’s what makes it so desirable– no fuss, just good eating. Thicker cuts of beef find their way on the roll with fresh and spicy giardiniera– quality.

They’re everywhere

Portillo’s is somewhat of the go-to restaurant for the out-of-towners that are looking for their Chicago Italian beef fix. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing– it just means that their food is very consistent and they have locations everywhere to suit you. Soak your sandwich, add some cheese (for something different) and hot peppers– leave completely satisfied. You’ll be able to tell why this is a Chicago Italian beef staple.

Now, which location would you be willing to fight for? We want to know!


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