Mangia-ing on an Italian-American Classic in Elmwood Park, Illinois
Italian beef is one of the true culinary treasures unique to Chicago—thinly sliced and seasoned roast beef marinated in its own juices and stuffed into an Italian-style roll. Johnnie’s Beef, located in the working-class Italian neighborhood of Elmwood Park, offers the city’s best. During lunchtime the restaurant has a line out the door and down the block. Inside you’ll find a narrow walkway and a man at the register yelling out every order at rapid abbreviated speed “two beef juicy hot, small fry, two small Coke…” as a half-dozen countermen pump them out with mechanical precision. You’ll want your sandwich “dipped.” Meaning, after it’s made, they dip it in the beef juices. All toppings are homemade, so both the tangy spicy giardiniera and the sweet delectable cooked peppers make perfect compliments. Get yours with a homemade Italian ice, complete with chunks of lemon inside.