My favorite Chicago-style delicacy: The Italian Beef

Originally published at: My favorite Chicago-style delicacy: The Italian Beef | Boing Boing


The peppers you had would have been called “sweet”; the so-called pickled salad you mention is giardinera (pronounced jyardinair), and is what you get when you order “hot”. “Sweet and hot” is permissible.


I too am a huge fan and took to social media to find people’s fave around my city. Fortunately we had a lot of Italian immigration a couple of generations ago and their restaurants are still going strong.

Let’s talk Chicago dogs or cannolis next!


Visiting my grandparents always included a stop at Mickey’s nearby. It’s still there, but my grandparents aren’t. Miss them all.


Good news, Portillos is planning to expand to over 900 locations across the country.
I’ve never been disappointed with their Italian beef.


Italian beef sandwiches (with sweet peppers and mozzarella please) were one of three Chicago comfort foods I missed when I moved to California. The other two were gyros and tavern style pizza (deep dish is for special occasions and tourists). But now, between Portillos and Rosatis having locations in SoCal, I am now only for want of a consistently fresh gyro.


Gotta get da combo. A full Italian Sausage, topped with italian beef and hot giardinera on a Turano roll dipped in the gravy. You eat it standing up, leaning forward with your elbows on the counter.


Be sure to have a clean shirt in the car!


Lol…look at this fancy guy, wearing a shirt to eat at Johnnie’s


I’m originally from Chicago and although I like these, unless you dunk-only into the au jus, Italian beef sandwiches are a fucking mess. With that in mind, I always go with a dog, typically much less of a fall apart disaster.

snl nbc GIF by Saturday Night Live


I’ve LOVED Italian Beet sammies ever since visiting the Taste of Chicago fest in 1991. Yes, it’s impossible to find a great one outside of Chicago.

Yes, I’ll never forget that my frst had that mixture of hot pickled chopped veggies called giardinera, which you get when you order it “hot” - but you CAN find that in jars in better delis everywhere.

(omg am drooling just thinking about it!)


I grew up nearby. Mickey’s hot dogs were fantastic. So glad they are still in business, the place hasn’t changed in what, 60 years? County Line pizza was my favorite pizza (they’ve closed), and I was introduced to the best oven-baked Beef and Cheese I’ve ever tasted in a shop on Butterfield Road called Ne’Joes. Then there was the Char Burger at D’s Dog Hut across from Proviso West HS “Want cheese on that, guy?”. Rosati’s opened in my town in Encinitas, CA, and the “Cheef” Beef and Cheese is not bad. But I got to have a Mickey’s Dog! Thanks for the photo!

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Sorry, not sorry, I’ve lived in Chicago since 1997 (hi from Edgewater!) and I have always thought this thing was disgusting.

Now a dog dragged through the garden, that there is a beauty to behold.

A northsider since 69-I have been known to put the forbidden condiment on my encased meats. And I do enjoy a good beef sandwich once in a while.

Portillo’s makes a good middle of the road Italian beef, they are not the best but far from the worst. I’ve lived away from Chicago for about 25 years, and I’m luck to have two other places not far from me that serve a good beef. (A Rosati’s Pizza franchise and a local mom and pop that does Chicago style dogs, sausages, and beef.)

I fairly regularly try to drag people from my work that have never had an Italian beef to the mom and pop place and it’s amusing to listen to them before thinking that I’m over hyping a sandwich and afterwards they just keep commenting for days about how good it was.

I’d welcome a Portillo’s closer to where I work, it would make the initial convincing easier, driving about 20 minutes for a sandwich can be a hard sell.


Ok this explains why the roast beef was such a big deal in The Bear. (Too bad better storytelling wasn’t a bigger deal, watched the first few episodes, we found the narrative beats to be gratingly too predictable)

I’ve also been in Chicago for 25+. Just because Portillos is a chain, don’t knock it down. They make a very solid beef; top 5. The original Al’s and Johnnie’s are certainly better, but marginally so. The remainder of the top 5 would be wildly contested (I’m leaning towards Boston Beef and Mr. Beef)

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You can get it with or without giardiniera. Some places ask, others expect you to request it.

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I make it back home a few times a year, but when I’m jonesing, Portillo’s will ship a kit out for a small fortune. Is it Johnnie’s? No, but it scratches the itch.

Also, world market carries Marconi sport peppers and giard which is nice to know.