Monday, December 7, 2009

Carm's Beef (Hillside, IL) Closed

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Its unfortunate it had to happen but the next stop is no longer open. Carm's Beef in Hillside, IL (no relation to Carm's on Polk) closed down a couple months back and I never got a chance to posting about it. Since Carm's is in Hillside which is nowhere near Lincoln Park its a spot I only got to a few times before it closed. I have no idea why it closed and thought it was a very popular neighborhood joint which was located on Wold Road across from the large cemetery. It was your typical Italian Deli serving all the usual's including Italian beefs which were their most popular item. I am unsure if this family of Carm's Beef has any outposts left. Feel free to post in the comments section and let me know.


Unfortunately Carm's recently closed...not sure if its for good or not

I think the beef you grew up on and neighborhood in which you lived has alot to do with what your favorite Italian Beef is. Some people might not be from a neighborhood with any good ones and seek out the best and others haven't had beefs from anywhere else but the place nearest to them. Since I am a seeker of the Great Beef and always on the prowl for the one's worthy of any "best of" list-I have had more beefs than most. Pretty much everyone as a matter of fact. If you grew up on a beef that has a unique characteristic to its flavor than its easy to see why that one will always be your favorite. I think Carm's in Hillside was a good example of a unique beef sandwich. The gravy had a real beefy taste to it almost as if it was a roast. The beef was sliced a little thicker than most places as well so it was a very roast beefy Italian beef sandwich. One of the other quality's that made Carm's stand out was their hot peppers. They had two different types of peppers-a mild blend made with celery, jalapenos etc.. and the hotter more traditional blend with carrots, sport peppers etc...seen on the sandwich below. I always gave Carm's credit for having above average everything went it came to their Italian beef's.


Beef with hot from Carm's (Hillside, IL)

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 4


Score: 16/20

Carm's Beef
1801 South Wolf Road
Hillside, IL 60162-2110
(708) 449-0125

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beef with Hot from Captain Nemo's

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Captain Nemo's has been serving sandwiches and soup to the people of Chicago since 1971. The original location is the Rogers Park store which is still open but I have been visiting the Lakeview location on Ashland since my early youth. It was a frequent stop after basketball and football games and its always been in my rotation for a few visits a year since. I'm not sure much has changed at Nemo's except the prices. Its been the same since the early 90's as far as both the food and the interior go. Each booth has a wooden painting attached to the backrest. Each booth has different Chicago famous people of the time eating a Captain Nemo's Sub. When I was younger I always sat in the booth with the Chicago athletes. I think maybe once or twice I might of ordered an actual sandwich from there because I knew the beef was legit the first time I tried it and that was the first thing I tried. Whats even more amazing is that the taste of the sandwich and ingredients used to make it haven't changed a bit.


familiar sign along Ashland in the Lakeview neighborhood


Hey Ozzie is still in town and so is Capt'n Nemo's

Captain Nemo's is a great beef during the winter months. As soon as you walk in they offer you a free small cup of the days soups before taking your order. Its always been that way and always makes me order a combo which is a sandwich, soup and drink. I would highly recommend the combo, beef for your sandwich with their split pea soup. Its a great deal, one of the best in the city. The Italian beef definitely has a strong roast beef flavor, more so than most other beefs I have had. It's homemade and is also sliced a little thicker than most places so that also makes it very close to a warm sliced roast beef sandwich in gravy. But the gravy is its strongest element and much better than many other places around town. Just like any other beef joint I have had really good beefs from there and on a few occasions just OK ones. But when the beef is fresh and fall apart tender in the peppery spiced gravy its a great beef and one I get a few times each winter. Its a great takeout beef because the bread holds together the sandwich and they know how to wrap one up right. Wrapping beef in aluminum foil is a complete no no.


Nemo's has always had the stickers and wrapped it right


beef with hot from Captain Nemo's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4 (when on)
bread: 3
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3


Score: 14/20

Captain Nemo's Subs & Soups
3650 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 929-7687
Website

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jimmy's Place in Da Burbs

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Its a special month for the people of Arlington Height's and the lifelong patrons of Jimmy's Place. Its this September that Jimmy's celebrates its 50th anniversary. The only way to describe Jimmy's place located on Northwest Highway in the Northwest suburbs is a world class grease dive. I actually got to try Jimmy's for the 1st time ever last week and just loved it. Stepping into this bar/fast food joint is like stepping back in time because nothing has changed. Upon your entry you are greeted by a dark room with a bar with a some regulars drinking and some old TV's showing the games and there's also tables for food patrons. On the walls are a bunch of Jimmy'd memorabilia and newspaper clippings from thru the years highlighting their excellent hot dogs and Italian beefs. Its been all in the family for three generations now.


Everything is old School over there

On top of all that, its been the same bartender and food prep people going on 30+ years so when I say nothing has changed I mean it in every sense. Same atmosphere, same beer, same people, same food. Same as it ever was or so I'm told anyways and I can see why. We were greeted by the lady who had been there 30+ and she was very alive if you know what I mean. I did the ordering so my buddy said he "was fine" when she asked what he needed. Lets just say she told him that she was just fine too. It was all in good fun because obviously they knew we were new. It was really easy to feel that this was a classic Chicago hot dog and beef kind of joint. The dogs are served up somewhat Chicago style minus the poppy seed bun and were a real winner if your in the area and craving yourself a hot dog. Guess what? for the month of September they will be rolling back the prices on the hot dogs to the same price when they first opened.


Jimmy's Place always gets love when best dog in Chicago is discussed

The hot dog was very good but it was the beef that I came here for. Its very rare that I just randomly drive by a beef joint that's been open for fifty years and I've never been to it let alone heard of it. So it was a special day and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I guess I wasn't expecting all that much because I was shocked at the old school taste of Jimmy's Italian beef. It reminded me of the beefs i used to eat as a kid from the places that are long gone. I especially liked the gravy which was seasoned very well and took me back to a time when everyone made their own beef and didn't order it pre-sliced from one of the many distributors of it these days. It really tasted like a beef I hadn't had in over ten years. The meat was tender and the peppers were average and served on the side even when ordering a beef with hot. So that was its only blemish and I would give it my signature of approval any day of the week should you be in the Arlington Height's area near Jimmy's Place.


beef with hot from Jimmy's Place

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3

Score: 15/20

Jimmy's Place
640 W Northwest Hwy
Arlington Hts, IL 60004
(847) 398-9783

Monday, August 17, 2009

Joe Boston's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Lost in the shuffle of Grand ave and Chicago ave and all the vacant buildings and old warehouses and factories is an all time favorite of mine-Boston's Beef. If your asking yourself "I didn't know they had beef in Boston" stop right there because they don't have anything close as good and its Joe Boston's Italian Beef. It sits there on an island and is a favorite of 1000's and 1000's of lifelong Chicagoans and people that lived here and left but will never forget it. While I feel like an original custy (customer) since I've been eating here for 15+ years, I'm really not. There are people that have been eating here for 60+ years. If you were to ask me which beef stand around town is the most stuck in time and hasn't changed a thing, Boston's would jump quick to my mind. Its still family owned and still dishing out one of the best beefs in the city.


a Chicago original

When I say nothing has changed at Boston's that pretty much means everything with the exception of the prices and those are still some of the best around. I think a beef with hot with fries and a drink will set you back $6.75 and its not just the price that makes it a winner. I've always thought that Boston's must be using the same high quality cut of beef from the same butcher and roasting them perfectly in their special seasoning which they haven't changed that makes for a great gravy. In fact if you live in or are from Lincoln Park/Wicker Park/Bucktown or anywhere on the near Northside then this and the best beef joint in the area . Now I know that I am known for saying that a beef sandwich with provolone and sweet peppers isn't an Italian Beef sandwich. However like I also said, I've been going here forever and a beef with hot and orange cheese ooze is better than any cheesesteak from Pat's or Geno's. Sometimes I liked a beef with cheese as a change of pace in my youth. Its still a pretty good sandwich. So if you gotta get a beef with cheese try this one. Its the only one I'll eat.


Chicago Style Cheesesteak & one of my 1st food pics

When a place wants to make itself one of the best at what they do then a good way to do that is to pick something you do good and stick with that. The menu at Bostons is a great example of this way. Other than Italian beef they got Italian sausage, an old school favorite-BBQ beef sandwiches-gravy bread & combos, hot dogs, Polishes, along with fast food Chicago style tamales, fries and of course the old school beef stand standard-the pepper and egg sandwich which is of course on Fridays only. If you haven't figured it out by now Boston's homemade thinly sliced beef with well seasoned gravy is one of the best sandwiches in the business.

I used to spend summers doing some labor type work for my dad and uncle and spent one summer working with my grandpa building gliders at a space they own right down the block on Chicago ave. While the job with my grandpa wasn't bad the labor projects sucked (but it was $$$ which is always needed in H.S) and the best part about them was lunch from Boston's. My dad would run down and get it for us 3 of the 5 days a week. Back in the day I could eat a beef almost everyday and sometimes I did.


beef with hot from Joe Boston's Beef

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 4

Score: 16/20

Boston's Italian Beef
2932 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622-4307
(773) 486-9536
Menupages Page w/ Menu

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ferro's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Ferro's is one of those places that almost everyone has seen while driving southbound on the Dan Ryan. It sits on the corner of 31st in Bridgeport overlooking the highway and is the definition of a street and sans type eating spot. I have been to Ferro's maybe five or six times in my life but had not been there in over three years until early this past month. I figured then and there was as good of a time as ever to check it out for the beef blog. Whats up to all the beef hounds over at Facebook.


familiar sight along the Dan Ryan?

I swear that nothing had changed since the last time I was in there. Same people eating the same things and same people behind the counter making them. Its all in the area over at this place. The menu is about as broad as you can get for a Chicago style fast food joint. It includes all the regulars like beef, dogs, breaded steak and sausage along with burgers and all things breakfast. It doesn't try to be anything but what it is and that's a good place to get a quick, cheap and filling meal. Its been serving the blue collar people of the area for as long as I've been around. While the menu list is long and takes a half day to read there are only two things I have ever gotten-Italian beef and Italian Ice.

As far as Italian ice goes this is some of the best to be had in the city. Its a damn shame they only have it for 3 months of the year because its good enough to eat in the winter. All flavors are made with fresh fruit so there's lots of chunks of whatever flavor you get. The most important thing to a good Italian ice is fresh fruit and lots of it but the next most important thing is the consistency of the ice. Its perfect at Ferro's so that its a smooth texture with no clumps whatsoever. It just might be the best Italian ice in the city of it.


Cantelope Ice is perfect on a hot day before or after a Sox game

Now I had remembered enjoying the beef on my last visit but that had to be at least five years ago if not longer. I wish I could say the same for my most recent visit but it was nothing to write home about and I live just a few miles down over on the Northside. What it did have going for it was it being some of the thinnest sliced beef I've come across since keeping score. Unfortunately that was about all it had going. The gravy was without a doubt straight from a metal can and tasted like it was made with boullin cubes and not the actual drippings from a roast beef. Which is probably because they don't make the beef in house. The hot peppers and bread were ok but that's it...just ok. I will stick with the Italian ice which is some of the best anywhere.


beef with hot from Ferro's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 3
gravy: 1
hot peppers: 3

Score: 10/20

Ferro's
200 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60616-3702
(312) 842-0702

Ferro's on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 1, 2009

Scatchell's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Scatchell's beef and pizza is a tiny little shack located right along the border of Chicago and Cicero on Cermak and is technically in the Village of Cicero. It's a place that I had been to once or twice in my time at a younger age and for whatever reason never got back to it until a year or two ago. The fact that its not too far from Midway airport makes it one of the best if not the best beef available upon your arrival into Chicago should you land at Midway. Scatchell's has been a fixture of Cicero since 1953 when Stubby and Eddie Scatchell opened its doors. When driving down Cermak it is very easy to recognize at night the sign with flashing lights. It was around 1995 that the owners of Scatchell's decided to let the people of Cicero get a days worth of work done in one swoop when they opened a car wash and laundromat in the same strip mall as the restaurant.


Since 1953

The idea was that maybe if the current owners who bought the store from the original owners brought people into the lot to wash their cars or do laundry they would pick up a quick bite to eat from the dog stand. Scatchell's is a classic Chicago dog stand, there's no where to sit but you can eat at the counter along the walls, take outside or take it to go. The menu is features all the usual suspects. Along with the Italian Beefs they offer up all the others like Italian sausage, Polish Sausage, Vienna Hot Dogs and slices of pizza which were introduced in the 90's and is about the only thing that's changed since it got its start over 50 years ago. I'm glad I finally made it back to Scatchell's because they really do a good job with everything including this Italian sausage. It had me thinking that maybe there's another combo out there worthy of a shot at Johnnie's crown.


Scatchell's sausage with hot peppers is a very nice version

The star of the show on this menu is the beef and its not hard to taste why. The beef is sliced thin and tastes great in the spiced gravy and is loaded into the sandwich and topped off with some of my favorite housemade giardineria. They go thru alot of beef in a days work so the bread is always fresh and the price is right as far as a great lunch and one of the better beefs in Chicagoland. It was on my last visit that I realized that Scatchell's is one of the best Italian beefs in the only city to get one of them. Anyone traveling into the city thru Midway airport might want to check this place out if you already aren't. Its no secret that Scatchell's is a player in the beef game.


Scatchell's beef with hot

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 5

Score: 17/20

Scatchell's Beef & Pizza
4700 W Cermak Rd
Cicero, IL 60804
(708) 656-0911

Monday, April 27, 2009

Luke's on Harlem

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

There are quite a few Luke's beefs around Chicagoland and some are related and some are not. There is no debating that the original Luke's is the location on Harlem which was established in 1973. The original Luke's is a popular spot in the neighborhood for pizza, dogs and of course Italian Beef. I hadn't been to this location in over 15 years but I remembered visiting it back in grade school and was eager to try it again through the years. I finally got back to it this past year to see how it compares to the other beefs around town. The night I made in here it was a cold winter weekend night but there were still a good amount of people eating here around 10p so that was a good sign.


The Original luke's on Harlem ave.


The original rock outside Luke's

The beefs at Luke's are more than serviceable and I would call them good. Luke's has been making the same recipe for their beef that they used when they first started. It has a good spice in the gravy and the beef has a little kick itself from extra black pepper. I thought the peppers were average and maybe the weakest part of the beef but that everything else was good. I could see myself enjoying a beef from Luke's from time to time if I lived or worked near it. It also gets a big bonus for being open late nite and it is a more than passable beef after midnight when there are very few to be found.


beef with hot from Luke's on Harlem

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 3
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3

Score: 13/20

Luke's on Harlem
3130 N Harlem Ave
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 889-4000

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beef with hot from Tony's Subs

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Tony's Subs in Deerfield puts out what I feel to be the best Italian beef in the Northshore. I first read about this place five maybe six years ago in a magazine article about chefs favorite places to eat when they aren't working. A well known chef mentioned that she loves Tony's and cant enough of the homemade Italian beef when shes not in the kitchen. She went on to call it the best beef in Chicago. Like I always do when I hear that and its a place that I haven't been to I make a mental note and put it on my to beef list. Tony Viti opened his sandwich shop more than 44 years ago in his hometown of Deerfield. There was a time when Tony operated six locations of the sub shop including outlets in North Chicago, Libertyville, Highwood, Waukegan and two in Deerfield.

Here we are 43 years later and Tony and his family are still supplying the families of the area with the same great sandwiches as always. Unless your from the area, in which case you've been eating here since your childhood, you might not expect this sandwich shop next door to a Citgo to be anything worthwhile. The daughter of Tony recently opened a second location in Lakewood with her husband running it up to par with the one she grew up on.


a Deerfield, IL stop

Tony's menu is filled with a wide selection of both warm and cold subs along with soft serve for the kids which is a must when you have a place in the Northshore and you want kids to demand their ice cream and sandwich to their parents. One of the most popular sandwiches is the Launcher and it consists of salami, bologna, mortadella, ham and provolone cheese with a total of 19 slices of meat. When you walk inside you are immediately greeted by pictures of all the wonderful options to help make your choice a little easier. I have enjoyed the launcher but prefer the warm subs made with toasted bread and enjoy the meatball but nothing there is as good as the homemade Italian beef. Its a nice mixture of thin sliced beef and shredded beef with a gravy that has nice flavor topped with what may be store bought giardinara but it is still a good one.

What separates this beef from others is the toasted bread and it doesnt hurt that a large is a real mans size beef bigger than most out there. The toasted bread is an interesting addition to an Italian beef and it works for Tony's. I wouldn't want a beef from Johnnie's or any other place this way but from Tony's its a real treat. Long time customers also really like to devour an order of their air crisp fires. Different in that they bake them in a machine instead of deep frying them. They are good and taste like a light version of McDonald's fries.


large beef with hot from Tony's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 3
hot peppers: 3

Score: 14/20

Tony's Submarine
1480 Waukegan Rd
Deerfield, IL 60015
(847) 940-7352

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pop's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Maybe the reason I have such a picky palate when it comes to Italian beef is because I have been exploring the different beef joint's of the city since my youth. While y'all were eating at Mr. Beef and Portillo's thinking you were heaven, I was in beef heaven. I have two favorite beef sandwiches that I was introduced to in my youth, Pop's and Jay's. Pop's is out on the south side and I would consider it the best IB out south and still in my starting five for the all Chicago beef team. I have been eating at Pop's for 15+ years. Back in the day when me and family would be at our grandma's for Sunday dinner, me, my brother and my cousins would always ride bikes over to Pop's to eat beef and gravy bread before dinner. Yes, I was taking food journeys before I even had a license.


Pop's in Beverly is one of the King's all time favorites

Pop's does everything above average and it makes one of the better beef's in the city no matter where you are. They slice their beef ultra thin and dont skim on it by any means. Im a huge fan of the hot peppers at pop's, some of the best around. This was my favorite restaurant as a kid and still one of my favorite beef joints in the Chi. It really hasnt changed aside from a few more locations throughout the area. Unlike other places that expand they seem to do the same good beef at each location. I would still recommend the original on Kedzie though. Folks on the south side are lucky to have such a good beef that hasnt changed. Its always got a constant flow of traffic and they aint dumb, they do a beef dinner to go for all the family's busy with school and sports activities. You get the beef, roll of bread, gravy and giardinara and do it all up at home. This way the wife doesnt have to cook and dad and the kids are happy, everyone loves Pop's. Ill be goin here til the day I die. Go Cub's.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/2886962224_01fbba6861.jpg
beef with hot from Pop's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 5
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 5


Score: 18/20

Pop's Italian Beef and Sausage
10337 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60655
(773) 239-1243
Website

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Danny's Pizza & Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Ever since I decided that I was going to start my own Italian Beef rating site I have found that there are quite a places that I hadn't/haven't been to yet. On a trip this past winter to Katy's Dumpling House in Westmont I drove by Danny's: Italian Beef-pasta and pizza in Brookfield. I'm sure that I passed it before but it didn't really hit my radar until I realized I had to stop in and document a beef. If there are going to be any really good beef spots that I haven't been to than they will be in the far suburbs somewhere so if you have any suggestions let me here them. I'm always excited to try a spot that I haven't been to yet hoping it could become an all first team type beef.


First time beefer here

Danny's is a little pizza/beef shack that has a few tables for dining in but seems to do a pretty good business in take-out and delivery. Quite a few people coming in and out when I went in to try the beef. The pizza slices didn't look half bad but those NY style slices aren't really my thing not to say that what they had was real NY pizza. It was just what most people would consider thin crust cut in slices. I was tempted to get a chicken parm sandwich because I felt that this place could do a nice version due to the fact that most of the Italian stuff on the menu is homemade including the beef. I settled on just the beef with hot and was pleasantly surprised when I opened it up despite the fact it was wrapped in tin foil-a big no no. The places that wrap the beefs in tin-foil tend to have very soggy beefs if they aren't opened up within 15 seconds of eating it. Luckily for me I was dining in on the beef and so I dug into a Danny's beef for the first time.

I said it before and I'll say it again-8 out of 10 places that do a homemade beef do it right. Danny's was a pretty good beef and much better than I was expecting otherwise I would of been there a hell of alot sooner. The beef was a little thicker than your most thin sliced beef but still had no rubbery effect whatsoever and decent beef. I thought the best part of the sandwich was the bread which was above average and I liked the highly seasoned gravy. Unfortunately the worst part was real bad and that was the hot peppers. This giardinara clearly came from a bottle that came from the fridge. It wasn't good to begin with but the fact that it was freezing cold made for a beef that would of been much better plain. If Danny's is going to take the time to do everything else right and make most of their dishes in house they might want to start making homemade hot peppers. Otherwise I suggest getting a beef no hot or with sweet...as long as they don't come cold from the fridge.


beef with hot from Danny's in Brookfield, IL

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 1


Score: 12/20

Danny's Pizza, Beef & Pasta
9123 Ogden Ave
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 387-7730‎

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beef from Rosangela's Pizza

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Rosangela's is a pizza place in Evergreen park that also happens to serve a pretty good Italian beef sandwich. While its more like a seasoned hot roast beef sandwich in texture, flavor and preparation its still pretty damn good. You might not expect it to be much so it doesn't come with high hopes and really exceeded my expectations on the particular day I visited. Just like I had very clear memories of eating at Rosangela's way back in the day I also had a memory that I really enjoyed the Italian beef as a kid. I remembered that I liked it because it was so different and the fact that the bread was toasted creating a crunchy exterior with a juicy interior.


Hidden beneath the pizza is a good beef

Just like I had remembered the pizza hadn't changed a bit the same goes for the Italian beef. Rosangela's offers up a homemade beef cooked in a spiced up red gravy which is served on the aforementioned toasted bread with some nice hot peppers which may or may not have been made in house. I have rule that I rarely if ever order an Italian beef from a non-beef joint. Despite the fact beef sandwiches are available at almost every Chicago fast food and pizza place in Chicagoland most of them are anything but authentic and more important- tasty. Rosangela's is an exception to that rule. I look at it as a "grandmas" beef, something that an Italian grandma would make for a Sunday night family dinner. I'm willing to bet that the Italian beef in general has evolved in some ways in Chicago and this might be the most classic example of an old school sit down beef that could be had at many of the pizza taverns around town in the 1950s. I have yet to find a better beef that comes with waitress service or a better appetizer at any of the great pizza places around town. Its worth getting a sandwich or two as an appetizer for your group before the pizzas. Check Smokin', Chokin' & Chowing later this month for the pizza review.


half of a beef with hot from Rosangela's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 3
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3


Score: 14/20

Rosangela's Pizzeria
2807 1/2 W 95th St
Evergreen Park, IL 60805
(708) 422-2041

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Novi's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production


Novi's Beef (Berwyn, IL)

There are a few scattered mentions of Novi's beef throughout the 'net but nothing specifically about it so im going to document it here on the "official Italian beef board of Chicago" for those curious.Novi's has been at their location in Berwyn since the 1960's and is a favorite stop for many eaters in the area. I first tried Novi's when I randomly spotted it taking the old route 66 route down Ogden and immediately gave it a try since I had not heard of it which is rare for me.

Nov's does a decent homemade beef, not bad, just not special. In my opinion it's similar to the beef served at Tore's but still not better. The gravy has a nice little spice kick to it. The problem I had with Novi's was their homemade hot peppers, which are bad, sorry but they are. You only get a little tiny cup (which they charge for) when you order a beef with hot. Why cant they just put the peppers on the beef like everyone else? its better that they didn't though because these were some of the worst homemade I have had. The fries are some of the best I have tasted and by the looks of the burgers and dog's of others, they may be the way to go here. Novi's also seems to do a popular catering business and they did have some nice deals on catered buckets of beef with bread and everything else you need.


Novi's beef has some of the best fries in Chicagoland

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 1


Score: 12/20

Novi
's Beef
6746 Ogden Ave.
Berwyn, IL 60402
708-749-0895
Website

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Little Joe's Homemade Beef & Sausage

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production


Lil' Joe's (Countryside, IL)

Its not often that I find a beef spot that I previously had no knowledge of but it happened this past year in Countryside, IL.

I found Lil' Joe's tucked into a strip of other business's hidden behind...you guessed it, one of those Al's beef/Nancy's pizza franchise's. The sign said "homemade beef since 1969" and the place looked like it hadn't changed much inside and that was all I needed to give it a try, that and the fact there were about 10 people eating in and taking out of Joe's while there was one person in the drive thru at Al's and no one inside. When I got a 2nd chance to go back to Joe's I was glad to taste it was no fluke. The first thing I thought when enjoying a Joe's IB was "this is what the beef's at Mr. Beef used to taste like". Its really a melt in your mouth type beef, very thin and very tender. The giardinara is not hot at all, so thats a small minus but it is loaded with celery, a small plus. Little Joe's is new to my all-beef team and its in the starting five maing it one of my five favorite beefs in Chicagoland. Its worth the drive down Ogden via Route 66 coming from Chicago for any beef connoisseur.

The meatball sandwich was also above average and worth getting again even though there were just two meatballs they were large. If LJ's was a little closer to me, they would see me in there often. Another big plus is this has to be the best place to get a beef and a beer, which they have on tap.


Beef with hot from Lil' Joe's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 5
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers: 3


Score: 16/20

Little Joe's
20 E. Plainfield Road
Countryside, IL 60525
(708) 352-9696

Monday, February 9, 2009

Max's Beef: Since 1957

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Max's has been doing Italian beef in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood for over 30 years. When you cruise along Chicago's Western ave, the longest street in the world, your going to find some Italian beef joints. Max's is one of the more well known along the street. Anyplace that has been around that long has to be doing something good and have a loyal following. You know that Max's does. First lets start out with the menu. Max's has an amazing menu selection that can take care of everyones taste palate. Max's does all the usual Chicago beef & dog stand foods and most are homemade and they have more than a few unique items as well which is also a plus.


Max's on Western ave. (Chicago, IL)

Max's has a unique beef and with this comes the argument of whether or not it is on peoples favorite's list. Max's has a very unique gravy that is a dark distinct red and loaded with garlic and other spices giving it a very unique flavor. One thing you have to give love to Max's for is the fact that they have a big tub of homemade peppers that are also unique that rest on each table. I for one hate when places charge extra for peppers. They are a part of a IB so add them into the price of the sandwich if you have to but they should come standard and not be extra. With all that said I am not a big fan of the giardinara at Max's, it is too oily for me and not green enough. The beef is also unique and I am also not a big fan of that. I think that Max's hasnt changed his approach which I cant knock anyone for but it just taste's like what a real old school beef would taste like before they had the machines to slice it up thin. It seems they havent changed their recipe to improve what a beef has progressed to. The meat is sliced medium and not thin and it gets a little rubbery sitting in the gravy all day.


Max's will allow you to order their signature gravy so you can have it with anything

I am not wasting anyones time with places I think you need to avoid at all costs. Therefore Max's gets love here on my site or else I wouldn't bother with it. Try a beef if you dont like it then you know that this isnt your style in the future. Just make sure to get an order of Ghetto fries. These are potatoes topped with barbecue sauce, raw onions, cheese, beef gravy and giardinara. Sounds good? it is. You can be sure ill have a fried out special coming soon.


Max's famous "ghetto fries"--Deal with it alderman.


Beef with Hot from Max's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 2
bread: 3
gravy: 2
hot peppers: 3


Score: 10/20

Max's Italian Beef
5754 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 989-8200
Menu

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jay's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

After watching the long overdue Chicago episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No reservations" show I feel rejuvenated and ready for a brand new beef post. There is no doubt that Tony's show is the best food show and travel show for that matter on TV. For those of you that follow Smokin' Chokin' & Chowing With the King you can probably see how me and Mr. Bourdain are very alike (except when I do my Jamaica special this March there will be NO reservations) I love you and I love the show Tony but you really fucked up by not getting an Italian Beef. Just because you see the mosquito bite that is Rachel Ray eating a beef at Portillo's or the ultra corny Jay Leno praising Mr. Beef didn't mean you had to take a pass. The Italian Beef is king of all regional sandwiches and for the locals its Chicago's signature fast food item, even ahead of the hot dog. Go figure what a shock that Rachel Ray and Jay Leno dont have no clue on where to get a real Italian Beef.


Jay's Beef in Harwood Heights

Every Chicago resident has a favorite place to get an Italian Beef be it the local place in the neighborhood where they grew up or a place they found later in life that made them ask "What the fuck was I eating at Mr. Beef for all these years for" For me that place is Jay's Beef. The story goes that the property that Jay's original location sits on used to be owned by Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo and was opened up in 1976 under the original owner Justin Fortuna. Originally in the dry cleaning business he decided to start his own beef joint with the help of his family. Jay’s Beef was originally a small building that was torn down and rebuilt in 1994 and has been serving the residents of the area with one of Chicago's best beef's since the day they opened.

One of the questions that I often get asked is how did I come to love the Italian beef sandwich and everything it is. Aside from the obvious answers of my ethnic background and city that I was born and raised in comes the fact that my whole family loves beef. My grandpa, dad and uncles have been regular customers of Jay's since they terrorized the neighborhood and it was the first beef that made me really love beef and understand that not all beef are created equal. Jay's has been using the same family recipe that my dad and uncles ate as kids and that I enjoyed so much as a kid and thats what makes it so good. I still remember my first sandwich from Jay's when my uncle drove me up there around the age of seven to show me "what a real beef is" Despite the fact they now have multiple FAMILY owned locations they still make their own beef, gravy and hot peppers on site and still get the same bread supplied they did back in the day. There is no doubt that one of Jay's Beef's piled high like a New York deli sandwich with thin sliced seasoned beef is on my all Chicago beef first team and one of the best in the city.


beef with hot from Jay's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 5
hot peppers: 4


Score: 17/20

Jay's Beef
4418 N Narragansett Ave
Harwood Heights, IL 60706
(708) 867-6733
Website

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Duke's North: Italian Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Next up on the Italian beef tour we go up north to Duke's: North, located in Skokie, IL. No, they don't have a barbershop quartet playing music while you eat. Duke's just like any of your other beef stands around town does a busy lunch business with locals from the area. This is the second location of Duke's with the original being located on Central Ave in the city. They have all of the regulars on a Chicago style fast food menu including homemade beef and sausage.


Duke's North is a popular stop for shoppers coming and going to Old Orchard

This was my first visit to the North Duke's and I haven't been to the original in quite a few years. The beef was pretty much how I remembered it from the original location. Nothing special but by no means anything bad. What I mean by that is that if you are in the area this is a totally acceptable beef sammich but it is not destination beef driving. If I lived or worked near Duke's I would be a regular for lunch but since it is in the suburbs and I live in the heart of the city I wont get back there too often.


Duke's beef with hot

I said it before and I will say it again "no beef will be forgotten" and what I mean by that is I will be bringing you a review of every single Chicago beef joint within the Chicagoland area that made the cut thru the years and didnt taste like rubber shoe soles. They wont all be first teamer's but any place that takes the time and effort to make their own recipe will be part of this segment. Still the best resource for Italian beef in Chicago and where to get it, no matter what neighborhood or suburb your in. This Duke's stand has no affiliation or anything to do with Duke's Drive In on Harlem in Bridgeview, which will be reviewed soon. There are over 10 beef joints ready to be posted on here as the days go by and every month that list grows so please stay tuned and spread the word because...every beef has its day.

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 3
gravy: 3
hot peppers: 3


Score: 12/20

Duke's North
5237 Golf Rd
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 966-5533

Duke's
5659 N Central Ave
Chicago, IL 60646
(773) 763-1866

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

AL's #1 Italian Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

AL's is a Chicago original, anyone born and raised in Chicago has to have been to AL's at least once in their lifetime...if not you should have your Chicago birth-rights taken away. AL's has a cult following and is loved 'til death by its fans. AL's #1 sits on Taylor St, one of Chicago's best streets to take a stroll down. In the Taylor st. area there are a number of beef stands but AL's is by far the most attended and well known, both in the city and around the world.


AL's #1 IB has quite a diverse loyal following

AL's is the most unique in a good way of all the beef stands in the city. First off the beef is basically shredded as opposed to sliced paper thin and is very tender with little scraps of pieces. Whether or not you prefer it this way or sliced thin its hard to argue either is bad. The gravy has a flavor all its own and is a red color loaded with spices with a heavy fennel kick, it cant be duplicated, its a very unique flavor. The giardinara is also homemade and cut into very small pieces and is heavily coated in oil and has decent kick. Extra kudos to AL's for allowing the choice of a big beef which is 50% bigger than a normal sandwich. As far as the bread goes, with the rate of traffic of every type of person imaginable, the bread is always fresh.

video
Fresh Beef being sliced

Wanna make it a complete meal? get a beef with some their twice fried fries and a Italian Ice from Mario's across the street, that's about as Chicago as you can eat. Sure its a love/hate thing with AL's, with it being loved much more than hated. This is by far the most recognizable IB in the city, once you had a beef with hot from AL's you could easily identify it in a blind taste test for the better in this case. The Taylor St. area is Chicago's Little Italy and I would recommend AL's as the best place for a beef closest to downtown.


and a very good one they have here

I DO NOT recommend any other of the AL's other than the location on Taylor st, it is franchised and the beef can differ greatly at locations, so stick with the original. Anybody coming in from out of town can get over to the neighborhood in a quick cab ride and they will be greatly rewarded for not slouching on their taste buds. Its nice to know that the original AL's will be here for the next 100 years and never fail me once during that time.


beef with hot from Al's #1 Original

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 5
bread: 5
gravy: 5
hot peppers: 4


Score: 19/20

AL's #1 Italian Beef
1079 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 226-4017

Monday, January 5, 2009

What's the beef?

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

What's the beef is located on Clybourn ave in Lincoln Park. It is the best options for a beef in LP...but thats not saying much. In fact in some bogus claim by Chicago magazine, "what's the beef" was named the best beef in the city in a 2007 article. Ya and Chicago Magazine is the best dining guide in Chicago. They even went so far as to make the following moronic statement "Demon Dog's is gone and residents of LP could care less, they have What's the beef's juicy homemade beef..." ok lets get one thing straight, I don't know where the hell the writer of that comment is from and what big 10 school he/she went to but DD's and WTB are not to be spoken of on the same level again. Got it? Good.


Heya Whatsa da beeef? eeta donta tasta like cheekin, eets a cow!

I'm not here to trash WTB, in fact I hadn't had a IB from here since it first opened at least 8-10 years ago, so one day recently I decided it was time to try it again and document it for the beefies that follow my site. They do make their beef homemade and this means it is worth a try in my book. So the beef was sliced thin and had a good tender texture, meaning it wasn't sitting in the gravy all day. The bread was good and the gravy was just ok, makes me wonder if that is homemade, not to say it isn't, but it tasted like it came from a carton. The main problem for WTB was and is a major problem in the decision of what makes a good beef and that is their hot peppers, they are absolutely horrible and similar to the slop served at Novi's.

With all of that said, in an area where a good IB is rare, WTB can get the job done for some, its not bad. The fries are homemade and fresh fried which is a big plus and many other items on the menu are popular there. WTB is approaching a decade as a independent owned restaurant in the LP area so you gotta salute them for that. Most of the menu items are homemade and they have regulars so thats always a great sign.


beef with hot from WTB

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 4
gravy: 2
hot peppers: 1


Score: 10/20

Whats the Beef
1863 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 477-7200

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Johnnie's Beef

Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production


Johnnies beef in Elmwood Park

Ask 100 Chicagoans what there favorite place for a beef is and more than half will say Johnnie's. Located in Elmwood Park its a straight shot down North ave where it sits at 7500 w. North ave. Rain, snow, sleet or shine, there's always a line of people at Johnnies for a beef, hell they even got a security unit. Johnnies is the most consistent of all beef slangers and so it is probably #1 on my list for that reason. When it comes to regional sandwiches, the IB is King, it Bruce lee's the competition. Johnnies is the holy grail. Sure there are bigger IB sandwiches out there but they dont melt on your tongue like these do.

I don't care if Jay Leno loves Mr. Beef, he lives in NY, he knows as much about a good beef as I know where to get one of those dirty hot dogs from the carts in NYC, but that's for another day. Yo Jay! next time your in town go here and thank me later, if the only burger I ever ate was a double cheese from McDonald's than I would think those are good too. Get it? good. If you have to choose one greasy roadfood type place to eat while in Chicago then this is the place. It's the holy grail/Wrigley field of all beef shacks. It gets no better than this.


beef with hot from Johnnie's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 5
bread: 5
gravy: 5
hot peppers: 4


Score: 19/20

Johnnie's Beef
7500 W North Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60707
(708) 452-6000

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Uncle Johnny's Grocery

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
a chibbqking production

Welcome back beefies, off to da south side we go for stop number twelve on the Chicago beef tour. Over on 35th st in Bridgeport is Uncle Johnny's grocery & deli, the definition of a ma & pa grocery shop. My man Johnny does a grocery business with a fully stacked deli meat case including homemade Italian sausage as well as hot sandwiches like beef, sausage, meatball and cold cuts, also available are all your pasta needs as well as drinks and a few toiletries.


Ole Uncle Johnny's

I rarely make it to the stomping grounds of Cell Block #9 but a few times a year. There's the times when the real fans of the Northside invade Comiskey and piss off Ozzie that his team has an away game at home and then those times when I'm doing some real eating. Chicago is referred to as the world's largest neighborhood due to the fact its a bunch of different vibrant neighborhoods in what also happens to be one the largest city's in the world as far as square miles. The Bridgeport neighborhood is home to the White Sox and quite a few long time neighborhood taverns and independent food spots that have been there more than a few decades. Its this that makes Bridgeport one of Chicago's most notable and for that matter real neighborhoods and Uncle Johnny's Grocery is my favorite beef in the area.


The Whole menu is great at Johnny's

I just happened to find Johnny's randomly one day a few summers ago and have been quite a few times since. This Italian beef reminds me of a few spots that are long gone from Taylor St. It really fits the mold of an old school beef. Its an old family beef recipe that they serve in both six and foot long options and is served on a homemade bread from a local bakery that isn't Gonnella which it gives it its own character. I think the beef is above average and the gravy is better than good while the unique bread reminds me of different beefs from my youth. My only real beef with Johnny's is that they use the local canned giardinara they sell in store on the beef but thats not really a big deal because its not bad at all, I just like when the peppers are made in house. On top of the fact they do one of the south sides better Italian beef sandwiches its also one of the best deals on a beef in the city.


a large from Uncle Johnny's is how it should be

Over at Uncle Johnny's you pay the same price you would at most other spots around town for double the beef and you cant beat that. He takes care of you like that uncle of yours always did around family parties when he slipped you $20 in cash for grabbing beers when you were a young lad. I'll never root for the White Sox but I'm one of Johnny's biggest fans.


Beef with hot from Uncle Johnny's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 4
gravy: 5
hot peppers: 3


Score: 15/20

Uncle Johnny's Grocery
500 W 32nd St
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 225-6111
 
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