Monday, June 26, 2006

Al's #1 Italian Beef, Chicago

Al's Italian Beef and Cheddar Cheese Fries

"Italian beef" is a sandwich unique to Chicago. It's basically like a French dip sandwich with sliced beef in it, but spiced up (hence, "Italian"). Al's boasts of all sorts of accolades about being the best Italian beef, and has now spread stores across the area. Apparently some locals argue that there are even better places, but I wouldn't really be able to judge; the only other time that I've had an Italian beef was back in college when my Chicagoan roommate brought a few back after a trip home, by which time they were cold and mushy. It was only today when I had a fresh one that I realized that they were supposed to be mushy - they are drenched in the beef's juices until the bun is soggy and dripping wet (so unlike a French dip sandwich, this one is already pre-doused in juices).

It was definitely much better on the spot. The beef was tender and flavorful, only to be complemented by the extra giardiniera spicy topping that I asked for. This place allegedly was awarded one of the ten best places for fries too, so I grabbed some cheese fries along with it. While I don't know if I would go so far as to say they were one of the ten best that I've had, they were still full of artery-clogging goodness. All in all, that meal was better than I was expecting, even if it was a bit unhealthy. Now I'm ready for a nap!

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