Which of Chicago's top Italian beef sandwiches was voted the city's best? Check out the final figures here.
What's the Beef?
Some people would say that any judgment call when it comes to food is strictly a matter of personal opinion. But here in Chicago, whether it's pizza or hot dogs, we take our food seriously. And there's certain rules you must follow when it comes to how it's prepared in order to make it authentically Chicago-style.
Italian Beef sandwiches definitely fall into the category of a Chicago delicacy that must follow the rules. Sure, there's plenty of deriviations, but at its heart, an authentic Italian Beef sandwich includes thinly-sliced seasoned roast beef dripping with its juices on a long Italian roll, and topped off with either hot peppers (giardiniera) or sweet Italian peppers.
Many believe Al's Beef created the sandwich when it opened a small outdoor curbside stand in Little Italy back in 1938. The present location is not too far away from its humble beginnings, but it stays true to its roots. Over the years, Al's version of this sandwich -- which may have been created as a way to make a little bit of meat go a long way -- has racked up the accolades, including recently being named one of the "Best Sandwiches in America" by Esquire magazine.
Mr. Beef has been in the news a lot recently because its facing foreclosure at its River North location. But the troubled times have brought its loyalists out of the woodwork, and showed the world what a beloved institution this is. The restaurant was famously featured on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" many years ago, and Leno himself has been popping by for more than 20 years to get his sloppy and delicious Italian Beef fix.
There's no question Al's and Mr. Beef make a rib-stickingly good Italian Beef sandwich, but the question posed, whose is better? The people have spoken.
Now we'll officially crown the best Italian Beef in the city.