You’ll get a restaurant review every Monday.

Al’s Beef

The Background: With all this Italian Beef talk of late, I felt almost obligated to give one a try. And I did…and it was good …very good. KShil of the Houston Press (I just gave someone I don’t know a nickname) is a big fan of the authentic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich. And I’m a fan of her work. She recently went to Al’s Beef. Guess where I was headed? As Eugene Levy’s character Dr. Pearl said in Waiting for Guffman, “People say, you must have been the class clown. And I say, No, I wasn’t. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him.” Translation: Listen to the experts.

The Scene: There are a few locations around town…we hit the one on Ontario Street. It was d@mn near closing time, so we couldn’t dawdle. The place was small…maybe ten, two-seat tables in the joint. As you walk through the door, you’re greeted by the counter guy. I’m sure if you don’t know immediately what you want, you’re labeled as a tourist. Guilty as charged. It didn’t matter…traffic was slow and the guy was super friendly.

The Food: We went with two #5’s. This included a drink, fries, and a traditional Italian Beef Sandwich. Given the time of night, I wasn’t too keen on getting the the beef and sausage combo. The thought of lodging a link down me was non too appealing. The traditional was all shaved beef, topped with sweet peppers, on a soft roll…then dipped in juice.

The Price: Each combo meal came to around $7. Very reasonable.

The Verdict: I’m so glad I tried this Chicago classic. The shaved meat was tender and obviously very juicy. And the sweet peppers were a perfect compliment. Sara loved the fries…in fact, she went back to the counter and order some more. I’ve never seen her do this, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside that she was finally catching up to my fat-ass ways.

169 W. Ontario
Chicago, IL


viveksurti September 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I went to Al's when I was in Chicago in June and got the combo of italian beef and sausage – hot (peppers), sweet (peppers), and juicy (dipped!

It's some good man food.

Best, Vivek

Kevin September 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I regret not trying the sausage, but it was just too late in the evening. I'm trying that Hot Chicken place in NSH you wrote about.

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