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7 Best Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

When it comes to Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago reigns supreme. This iconic, juicy delight is a staple of the Windy City’s culinary scene. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, sinking your teeth into one of these sandwiches is a must. Here’s a roundup of the seven best Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago that you need to try.

1. Al’s Beef

Al’s Beef is a Chicago legend, having served their classic Italian beef since 1938. Their sandwich is known for its perfectly seasoned beef, which is slow-roasted and thinly sliced. The rich gravy, combined with sweet or hot peppers, makes for an unforgettable bite. Don’t miss out on their signature “wet” version, where the sandwich is dipped in their flavorful gravy.

2. Mr. Beef on Orleans

Mr. Beef is an institution in the city’s River North neighborhood. Their Italian beef sandwich is renowned for its tender meat and perfectly balanced spices. The roll is fresh and chewy, soaking up just the right amount of juice. Whether you go for hot giardiniera or sweet peppers, this sandwich is a classic Chicago experience.

3. Johnnie’s Beef

Johnnie’s Beef, located just outside Chicago in Elmwood Park, is worth the short trip. Known for their quick service and even quicker line, Johnnie’s serves a perfectly dipped beef sandwich with a spicy kick from their hot peppers. The flavor profile is robust, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

4. Portillo’s

Portillo’s is a chain, but don’t let that fool you—their Italian beef sandwich is top-notch. The beef is slow-cooked and seasoned to perfection, served on a freshly baked roll. You can customize your sandwich with various toppings, but the classic combo of hot peppers and dipped bread is hard to beat. With locations all over the city, it’s an accessible and delicious choice.

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5. Freddy’s Pizza

Freddy’s Pizza, located in Cicero, is a hidden gem. Known for their incredible Italian dishes, their beef sandwich stands out with its succulent meat and rich, flavorful gravy. The bread is perfectly crusty, providing an ideal vessel for the juicy beef. It’s a must-visit for anyone serious about their Italian beef.

6. Jay’s Beef

Jay’s Beef offers a traditional take on the Italian beef sandwich. The beef is tender and savory, paired with a crunchy roll that’s just the right texture. Their hot giardiniera adds a fiery kick that complements the savory beef perfectly. Jay’s is a fantastic option for those seeking a classic Chicago-style sandwich.

7. Buona Beef

Buona Beef prides itself on using all-natural ingredients, and it shows in the quality of their sandwiches. The beef is incredibly tender, with a rich and savory flavor that’s enhanced by their special seasoning. Their giardiniera is a standout, adding a delightful crunch and spice. With many locations around Chicago, Buona is a convenient and tasty choice.


Chicago’s Italian beef sandwiches are a testament to the city’s rich culinary heritage. Each of these establishments offers a unique take on the beloved sandwich, ensuring that you’ll find your perfect bite. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, these seven spots should be at the top of your must-try list. Enjoy the journey through Chicago’s best Italian beef sandwiches, and don’t forget plenty of napkins—they’re a deliciously messy affair!