7 Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

Chicago is renowned for its culinary offerings, and one of its most iconic dishes is the Italian beef sandwich. Bursting with flavor and history, these sandwiches have become a staple in the city’s food scene. Let’s explore eight of the best places to indulge in this classic Chicago fare.

1. Al’s Beef: A Chicago Institution Since 1938

Al’s Beef holds a special place in the hearts of Chicagoans, serving up mouthwatering Italian beef sandwiches since 1938. With a menu offering various options like dry, wet, dipped, or topped with hot giardiniera, Al’s satisfies every beef craving. Their unique 85-year-old recipe and slow-cooking method make them a standout in the city.

2. Johnnie’s Beef: Keeping It Classic Since 1961

Since its inception in 1961, Johnnie’s Beef has remained true to its roots, serving up classic Italian beef sandwiches in its original structure. Despite the changes in the city’s landscape, Johnnie’s has retained its charm, drawing in loyal customers with its simple yet delicious offerings.

3. Portillo’s: A Household Name for Italian Beef

Portillo’s has become synonymous with Chicago-style cuisine, expanding from a small stand to 75 locations across 10 states. Their Italian beef sandwiches are a fan favorite, featuring generous portions of tender beef topped with melted mozzarella or cheddar cheese. Whether you prefer it dry or with sweet peppers and giardiniera, Portillo’s delivers on taste every time.

4. Buona Beef: Serving Deliciousness Since 1981

Buona Beef has been delighting customers since 1981, offering a wide range of Italian beef sandwiches made with high-quality ingredients. With over 25 locations throughout the city and suburbs, Buona Beef has become a go-to spot for authentic Italian fare that never disappoints.

5. Odge’s: A Hidden Gem for Italian Beef Enthusiasts

While Odge’s may not be as well-known as some of the other establishments on this list, it certainly holds its own when it comes to Italian beef sandwiches. Despite its unassuming exterior, Odge’s serves up deliciousness that keeps customers coming back for more. Founded in 1972, this family-owned shop is a hidden gem worth seeking out.

6. Budacki’s Drive In: Fusion Flavors in a Classic Setting

Budacki’s Drive In offers a unique twist on the traditional Italian beef sandwich, infusing it with Korean flavors. Located in Ravenswood, this casual spot serves up crispy wings and bulgogi alongside their signature Italian beef. Despite its unconventional approach, Budacki’s has quickly become a favorite among locals.

7. Kasama: A Modern Twist on Italian Beef

Kasama may not be your typical Italian beef joint, but its innovative take on the classic sandwich deserves recognition. This modern Filipino restaurant, founded by husband-wife duo Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, offers a unique blend of Filipino and Midwest cuisine. Their Italian beef sandwich is a must-try for anyone looking to experience something new in Chicago’s food scene.

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