Chicago’s known for its Chicago-style hot dogs (ketchup? No thanks!) and deep-dish pizza, but its Italian Beef sandwiches rank up there, too. Italian Beef reigns supreme here in Chicago – and with good reason.
Boasting perfectly-seasoned roast beef, hot or sweet peppers (we recommend opting for both; if you can handle the heat) atop an Italian-style roll, it’s one of best budget-friendly eats in town. When ordering an Italian Beef sandwich in Chicago you will be asked if you want it dry, wet or dipped. Dry meaning drained meat, wet includes the juices, and dipped means it’s saturated (bread and all). There’s no wrong way to enjoy it, just be prepared with your preference!
Best Italian Beef in Chicago
Al’s No. 1 Italian Beef
Several locations around the city, but our favorite is located in “Little Italy”
This Chicago no-frills institution serves up one of the best Italian Beef Sandwiches in town. Located across the street from the seasonal Mario’s Italian Ice Stand on Taylor, it’s the perfect summer option for a quick bite.
Mr. Beef on Orleans
666 N. Orleans St., River North
Located in the heart of River North, this Chicago Italian Beef hotspot offers up plenty of seating in its picnic-table lined, indoor dining room boasting tons of Chicago memorabilia. Snap a pic with the Blues Brothers – as there’s a large statue of them in there – and make sure to order your Italian Beef with their hot pepper mix. It’s made with a lot of fresh celery –one of the more mild variations in town – and perfectly complements their thinly sliced beef.
Portillo’s Hot Dogs
Multiple locations. 100 W. Ontario St. is convenient for those staying downtown
Chicago’s hometown fast-food restaurant chain offers up incredible burgers, dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches. Quick, easy and convenient, make sure to wash it down with their overly-indulgent “Cake Shake”. It’s the perfect salty/sweet combination.
Elmwood Park, Illinois
Located in west suburban Elmwood Park, Johnnie’s Beef offers up legendary Italian Beef sandwiches. No matter if it’s raining, sleeting or the sun’s shining bright, folks comes out of the woodwork to shuffle into this old-school spot. Johnnie’s is a small, standing-room-only joint (though there are a few tables outside and a small stand-and-eat counter inside) and there’s almost always a line. But it’s worth the short wait! The counter service is efficient and quick, so make sure you have your order ready as you approach. Their shredded beef, chewy bread (courtesy of Gonnella, a local bakery) and peppers will have you hooked after the first bite. Make sure to order their lemon Italian ice, it’s one of the best in town.
Written by Amber Holst+