Just as iconic as the Chicago-style hot dog, an Italian Beef sandwich is synonymous with Chicago. If you’re new around town, the sandwich is thinly sliced beef slow cooked in a juice seasoned with garlic, oregano and other Italian spices.

italian beef chicago

Mr. Beef

Located in downtown Chicago, Chicagoans know Mr. Beef. This local staple reached national status when they beat out Al’s Beef in Travel Channel’s Food Wars a few years back.  Mr. Beef doesn’t need a fancy interior since their legendary beef is what brings the crowds.

(Mr. Beef, 666 N. Orleans, Chicago)

Pop’s Italian Beef and Sausage

The thinly sliced beef is tender and juicy, but the hot giardiniera makes the sandwich. The jalapeño relish is crunchy, super fresh tasting and completely different than others. Besides being our customer we could not fail to mention them!

(Pop’s Italian Beef, various locations throughout Chicago and suburbs)


It’s hard to believe that what is now 48 locations started out as one trailer in 1963. Portillo’s ships its famous beef across the country — it’s that good. They have even made directions on how to correctly order: “dry” is very little gravy, “extra gravy” is a splash on the sandwich, and “dipped” which is exactly what it sounds like — the whole sandwich dipped right into that juice. The gravy has a unique blend of spices, but it doesn’t overpower the beefy goodness.

(Portillo’s, various locations across Chicago and Suburbs)

Johnnie’s Beef

Don’t let the long line detour you. According to most patrons at this Elmwood Park counter service restaurant, the beef sandwich is worth the wait. Johnnie’s may not have a huge menu, but what they make, they make great, and the beef sandwich is definitely the star of the show.

(Johnnie’s Beef, 7500 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park)

Al’s Beef

This famous sandwich has been featured in Esquire magazine, Zagat Survey andTravel and Leisure as one of the best sandwiches in America. The sauce adds a little bit of a sweetness to the mildly spicy beef. Delicious!

(Al’s Beef, various locations throughout Chicago and suburbs)

Which one is your favorite? Let us know!