The original Al's Beef on Taylor Street in Chicago started serving up authentic Italian beef sandwiches 70 years ago. In addition to being named one of the best sandwiches in America by Esquire magazine, Al's Beef has recently been featured on Travel Channel's Food Wars (losing out to Windy City rival Mr. Beef) and Man vs. Food.
The Italian beef sandwich is to Chicago what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia. What's Italian beef? Think of it as a dripping deviation of the French Dip. Why dripping? A must-do practice (and customary in Chicago) is to order your Italian Beef "wet," in which the sandwich is dunked in gravy, or "juice," before it's served. Hefty, messy, and crazy-delicious, Italian Beef sandwiches are two-handed treats of slow-roasted lean beef soaked in seasoned juice, sautéed green peppers and giardiniera piled on Italian bread.
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Al's Beef in North Scottsdale, which opened in March, is one of only two of Al's 18 franchises located outside of Illinois. They've got the original Chicago location's legacy. They've got Italian beef sandwiches. Have they got what it takes to make this Fry Girl and former resident of Chicagoland happy? Find out in this week's column.