"It's not everyone's favorite beef, but it just happens to be mine." Al's #1 Italian Beef 1079 W. Taylor Street, Chicago IL 60607 (map); 312-226-4017 The Short Order: The original Italian beef, in all its tender glory. Want Fries with...
Al's #1 Italian Beef
Soggy bread is a sin among sandwiches, but when said bread is a springy Italian roll soaked with jus from slow-roasted, thinly sliced, and heavily seasoned roast beef at Al's #1 Italian Beef, be prepared to forgive.
Of course, what everyone talks about at Al's is the Italian beef, and rightly so: it's a spectacular sandwich that deserves accolades (and has received them on Serious Eats already). But the result of all that praise is often that their excellent Italian sausage sandwich—served, just like the beef, with sweet or hot peppers on a chewy roll seemingly designed to soak up juices without losing its structural integrity—can be overlooked.
Going to Al's #1 Italian Beef and ordering anything but the namesake dish seems to be missing the point—unless it's one of the various franchise locations in the Chicago area. As our beef crawl indicated a few years back, you can feel free to explore their menus a little more without feeling too bad.
Like all great cities should, Chicago has a collection of dishes that were invented within its borders and that you can't get anywhere else. I decided to create this list to help keep track of them all.