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


  1. What you've gotta try is the double sausage with hot... I used to live and work in the neighborhood so I went to Jay's at least a couple times a week. Now I live in the Kenosha area (found your Kenosha trip report on your other blog). Whenever I'm in the area, I'll stop at Jay's and get a couple to take home with me.

  2. They have the best pepper and egg sandwich on Friday's only. But unlike a lot of places it's every Friday throughout the year, not just during Lent.

  3. The boys do a good job at the North Ave. location, too.


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