This week I went to Elmwood Park to one of the most famous Chicagoland Italian beef establishments: Johnnie’s. Located at 7500 West North Ave, a mere stone’s throw away from the Chicago border, Johnnie’s has been serving up one of the best Italian beef sandwiches since 1961.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been to Johnnie’s many times over the years. My first experience was in the summer of 1985 when I got a hot dog and an Italian Ice. Those were the days before my taste buds matured to the point of appreciating Italian beef.
So, I had no problem taking the suggestion from ButkusStats to make a trip up there. I have to give my fans what they want. Right?
For many people, the Italian beef debate begins and ends here. After one bite, it’s easy to see why. I ordered mine “hot and juicy.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with Italian beef, that means “with giardiniera and dipped in juice.”
If you’re not into hot peppers, don’t worry, the beef has plenty of spice and flavor that you’re not missing out on anything. If you are into giardiniera, this is some of the best. To go along with the hot flavor, the veggies are small and don’t get in the way of your bites. They just enhance the experience.
The bread is the perfect complement to this sandwich. It’s fresh, soft, and tasty. My only complaint, if it is a complaint, is that I ate it too fast. But, that’s on me. Johnnie’s seems a little smaller than other Italian beef sandwiches but the amount of flavor in each bite makes up for whatever your stomach may be missing.
Another “must try” on a trip to Johnnie’s is their Italian Ice. The warm humid weather on this particular Thursday night was just the right atmosphere for the summer treat. The perfect combo of sweet, sour, and chill. An eight-ounce size is perfect with a sandwich. Besides, they are very generous with their portions.
When you arrive, don’t be intimidated by the long line. It moves quickly and is part of the experience that makes a trip to Johnnie’s a bucket-list experience. They’re open from 11 A.M. until midnight, seven days a week, so it’s a great spot for your late-night hunger fix as well.
So, if you’ve got Italian beef on your mind, make a trip to Johnnie’s. It’s probably open and if you haven’t been there in a while, or since last night, go again. But, I don’t have to tell most of you that.
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