Al’s Beef: Checkmate

By: Rachel Lowen, posted Apr 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

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Somewhere on south Taylor St*, in Chicago’s Little Italy, Al’s Beef has been producing, arguably one of the best sandwiches in America since 1938. A sandwich so noteworthy, that Travel and Leisure, Esquire, the History Channel and countless others, have documented its stature and sang its praises in a quite unprecedented way- as far as sandwiches go. But don’t take their word, or even ours for it- this is something you should taste on your own.

The no-frills joint is called Al’s Beef, and carnivores descend in droves to order Al’s Famous Italian Beef sandwich. The room itself can’t hold more than 15 or so folks, and don’t hold your breath for a seat, because this spot is counter space and standing room only. An overriding “get em in, get em fed, get em out” gusto, mashes with the moist, meat soaked air providing a protein-fueled surge of energy, second only to meat-sweats as far as beef side effects go.

Ordering went something like this: I’ll have the famous Italian beef, please. Large or small? Large. Hot or sweet peppers? Both. Extra gravy? Yes… And no more than two minutes later a piping hot legendary Al’s Beef sandwich was in my hands. It was soaking wet- I thought the au jus gravy would be a side boat- but the bread held up till the last bite. The homemade hot Giardiniera and Italian sweet peppers were in perfect harmony, and the beef- oh the beef. I’ve never quite had beef seasoned so perfectly in my entire life. The beef was sliced paper thin, and had that slow roasted rich, moist, juicy, perfectly salted and seasoned flavor that you only find in great Italian beef. And splurge for the fries- made fresh from raw potatoes throughout the day, they too, rank as some of the best in the nation. The Taylor St. joint offers free parking as well- a gem in downtown Chicago.

I feel like I’ve found an unbeatable champion in Al’s Beef, but would welcome a worthy challenger in this category, should anyone have the chutzpah to suggest one.

Otherwise, checkmate.

*Notes: Al’s Beef is now a franchise with over 20 locations in the greater Chicago area. Unbreaded attended the original location on Taylor street for our review.


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Al’s Beef
1097 W Taylor St. Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Map)

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