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A sandwich filled with kofta and beef and topped with peppers
All Too Well switches things up by adding ground kafta and sumac giardiniera to its Italian beef.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Where to Chomp on Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

The very best in juicy roast beef with hot peppers

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All Too Well switches things up by adding ground kafta and sumac giardiniera to its Italian beef.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Italian beef is undoubtedly one of the most cherished of Chicago’s signature foods. Topped with hot giardiniera or sweet peppers, the sandwich is wholly unique to this great city, and there’s fierce debate over who does it the best. Because there are numerous delicious options all around town, it's impossible to choose just one. Instead, here are 20 messy favorites that are all worth trying, from the traditional to the cheffed-up to a few with international flair.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Original Nana's Hot Dogs

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1102 E Irving Park Rd
Streamwood, IL 60107
(630) 289-2226
Visit Website

Visit this hot dog stand in Streamwood for a host of delicious greasy delights. The tender housemade beef arrives thinly sliced and covered in a flavorful gravy that’s full of dried herbs. There’s also a cheesy beef variant and a mini beef for folks who want to pair the sandwich with an excellent Vienna Beef Depression Dog. Online ordering is available here.

An Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers.
The beef and hot dog at Nana’s are worth making a trip to Streamwood.
The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs [Official Photo]

2. Jay's Beef

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4418 N Narragansett Ave
Harwood Heights, IL 60706
(708) 867-6733

What sets Harwood Heights favorite Jay’s apart from the competition is its quality accoutrements. The sweet peppers sing, the hot peppers are a pleasant mix of celery and jalapeños, and cheeseheads can add provolone or American cheese.

3. Bob-O's Hot Dogs

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8258 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 625-9840
Visit Website

Though Bob-O’s originally started off as a hot dog stand, Italian beef is now arguably the main attraction. Beef connoisseurs would do well to head to Dunning for a top-notch sandwich featuring meat made in-house. It’s seasoned, sliced, and cooked daily and should be coupled with an order of the impeccable hand-cut fries. Order online here.

4. Mr. Beef and Pizza

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3917 N Harlem Ave
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 283-7444
Visit Website

The Mr. Beef name carries a lot of expectations. Fortunately, this Northwest Side eatery, which is unaffiliated with the locations in River North and Homer Glen, lives up to that legacy. Cheese isn’t a usual Italian beef topping but diners can get their sandwiches with mozzarella, American, or cheddar here. A nice mix of herbs and spices season the meat while the giardiniera is flecked with red pepper flakes for extra oomph. Order ahead online. A second outpost is located in Forest Park.

5. All Too Well

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352 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 799-8478
Visit Website

A new Lincoln Park deli and market debuted earlier this year, offering prepared foods, grab-and-go items, dips and spreads, and more. Owner Mitchell Abou Jamra, who also runs All Too Well’s neighboring restaurant Evette’s, pays tribute to his family and upbringing through a lineup of delectable sandwiches. The “Sheffield & Westwood” (named after streets Abou Jamra and his grandparents have lived on) is a Lebanese-influenced Italian beef that gets elevated with sumac giardiniera and crumbled pieces of ground beef kafta. It’s dipped in jus to finish. Online ordering is available here.

An Italian beef sandwich topped with kafta and giardiniera.
All Too Well’s Italian beef has Lebanese influences.
All Too Well [Official Photo]

6. Phodega

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1547 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-8187
Visit Website

The Italian beef meets Southeast Asian flavors at noodle shop and convenience store Phodega. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo have come up with a variety of fun bites, and among them is a Viet dip consisting of shaved rib eye, cilantro, onions, and jalapenos on French bread. It’s also served with a side of pho jus for dipping so beef lovers who like their sandwiches wet need not worry. Online orders can be placed here.

7. Serrelli's Finer Foods

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6454 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60707
(773) 237-7530
Visit Website

Located about a mile and a half from beef goliath Johnnie’s, this Italian grocer often gets overlooked in the discussion of best sandwiches. The meat is mildly seasoned, but the extra hot cauliflower-sport pepper giardiniera helps balance the flavors out. For those who’d rather make their sandwiches at home, Serrelli’s sells its beef in large buckets that are packed to the brim.

8. Johnnie's Beef

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7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park
IL, 60707
(708) 452-6000

There will never be an agreement on the best Italian beef in Chicago but Johnnie’s is the closest to a consensus. Its sandwich is considered by many to be the shining standard others strive for — a perfect balance of sweet or hot peppers and well-seasoned beef that soaks up all the jus. The line often snakes out the door and it’s easy to understand why. This is an iconic bite that every Chicagoan and tourist should experience. There’s a second location in Arlington Heights.

9. Kasama

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1001 N Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 697-3790
Visit Website

From stunning Instagram-friendly pastries to traditional Filipino dishes featuring modern twists, there’s tons to love about Kasamaone of the country’s best new restaurants. Chef-owner Tim Flores even manages to put his own spin on Chicago’s revered Italian beef with a “Kasama Combo” sandwich that layers shaved pork adobo with longganisa sausage and giardiniera. It’s an ingenious riff that’s every bit as good as the original, if not better. Online ordering is available here.

10. Mr. Beef on Orleans

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666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 337-8500

There are dining options aplenty in River North but few are as satisfying as this old-school spot. The nostalgia-laden space — complete with celebrity photos lining the walls — stands in stark contrast to the rest of the neighborhood, while the beef sits in a jus bath to enhance the flavor before being loaded onto a crusty roll that’s able to hold up to the juices.

An Italian beef sandwich with hot and sweet peppers.
Mr. Beef on Orleans has its share of celebrity fans, including Jay Leno.
Mr. Beef on Orleans [Official Photo]

11. Portillo's

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100 W Ontario St, Chicago
IL, 60654
(312) 587-8910
Visit Website

It’s true: Homegrown restaurant empire Portillo’s offers a dependable sandwich that manages to hold its own against the city’s dedicated Italian beef purveyors. The menu also features non-traditional choices like a “Beef-N-Cheddar Croissant” and a breadless “Beef Bowl,” as well as a “Big Beef” for the largest appetites. And because there are dozens of locations across Chicagoland, residents are never too far away from a quality Italian beef. Place online orders here.

12. Bari

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1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago
IL, 60642
(312) 666-0730
Visit Website

The beloved Italian deli and grocer in West Town is renowned for its selection of subs, but don’t miss the Italian beef. The meat is tender, juicy, thick-cut, and served on a roll that stands up to its beefiness. Get it with the extremely hot house giardiniera for a kick that’ll humble even the most seasoned spice fanatics. Place online orders here.

13. Al's Italian Beef

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1079 W Taylor St, Chicago
IL, 60607
(312) 226-4017
Visit Website

The purported origins of the Italian beef sandwich can be traced back to this Taylor Street stand in Little Italy. That’s where Al Ferrari and his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Chris Pacelli Sr., set up shop in 1938 and started popularizing what would become one of the city's iconic foods. Today, the original location is still in business and the beef remains unchanged — marinated in secret spices and dipped in gravy. So stop in, assume the proper upright eating stance, and savor a bit of Chicago history. Online ordering is available here.

An Italian beef with peppers.
Al’s was one of the earliest Italian beef makers.
Al’s Beef [Official Photo]

14. Freddy's Pizza

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1600 S 61st Ave
Cicero, IL 60804
(708) 863-9289
Visit Website

Freddy's showcases the power of giardiniera. The mix of carrots, celery, olives, and sport peppers perfectly complements the beef served at this mom-and-pop grocer and deli, which has been operating in Cicero since 1968.

15. Scatchell's Beef & Pizza

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4700 W Cermak Rd
Cicero, IL 60804
(708) 656-0911
Visit Website

The eye-catching signs and bright lights outside this longstanding shack beckon passersby in for a messy-yet-glorious Italian beef sandwich. It boasts finely-shaved meat, fantastic gravy, and crunchy giardiniera that’s made with celery and red pepper flakes.

An Italian beef with giardiniera.
It’s hard to miss Scatchell’s while driving down Cermak Road.
Scatchell’s [Official Photo]

16. The Duck Inn

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2701 S Eleanor St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 724-8811
Visit Website

As its name suggests, duck headlines the menu at this cozy retro-themed gastro-tavern. But chef-owner Kevin Hickey also delivers mouthwatering Midwestern comfort fare, including a “Decent Beef” sandwich. His take on the Chicago classic features thinly sliced prime rib and beefy jus flavored with Calabrian chilies, garlic, oregano, basil, and rosemary. The beef is tucked inside a crusty Italian sub roll and topped with optional accompaniments like giardiniera, sweet peppers, and melted cheese. Diners can also dial up the decadence by adding black truffle shavings. Online ordering is available here.

17. Novi's Beef

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6746 Ogden Ave
Berwyn, IL 60402
(708) 749-0895
Visit Website

Established in the ‘60s, Novi’s is an institution out in southwest suburban Berwyn. The thick-cut beef marinates in gravy laced with 15 different spices and the hot giardiniera, a reddish blend of celery and chili oil, bursts with heat and is a must for spicy food lovers. The restaurant offers catering packages and ships its sandwiches too. Online ordering is available here.

An Italian beef sandwich next to a bag of fries.
Novi’s giardiniera brings the heat.
Novi’s Beef [Official Photo]

18. Tony's Italian Beef

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7007 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago
IL, 60629
(773) 284-6787
Visit Website

South Siders swear by Tony’s, where the thick-sliced beef pleases and the unique giardiniera contains garbanzo beans. Traditionalists will be happy with the standard beef sandwich but for an unbeatable combo, order it alongside Italian sausage. The restaurant also sells beef by the pound in party trays.

An Italian beef with fries.
Tony’s has been serving the South Side since 1975.
Tony’s [Official Photo]

19. Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage

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10337 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60655
(773) 239-1243
Visit Website

The jus is the star of the show at suburban chain Pop’s. The meat isn’t melt-in-your-mouth tender, but it provides a pleasurable jaw workout. Order online here.

20. Frangella Italian Market

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11925 S 80th Ave
Palos Park, IL 60464
(708) 448-2598
Visit Website

Over in Palos Park, this Italian market sells more than just groceries. The deli offers an exceptional sandwich; instead of soaking in juices, the roast beef is sliced to order and quickly dunked in gravy ahead of meeting the bread. It’s taken to even greater heights with the addition of zippy giardiniera and sweet green peppers.

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1. The Original Nana's Hot Dogs

1102 E Irving Park Rd, Streamwood, IL 60107
An Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers.
The beef and hot dog at Nana’s are worth making a trip to Streamwood.
The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs [Official Photo]

Visit this hot dog stand in Streamwood for a host of delicious greasy delights. The tender housemade beef arrives thinly sliced and covered in a flavorful gravy that’s full of dried herbs. There’s also a cheesy beef variant and a mini beef for folks who want to pair the sandwich with an excellent Vienna Beef Depression Dog. Online ordering is available here.

1102 E Irving Park Rd
Streamwood, IL 60107

2. Jay's Beef

4418 N Narragansett Ave, Harwood Heights, IL 60706

What sets Harwood Heights favorite Jay’s apart from the competition is its quality accoutrements. The sweet peppers sing, the hot peppers are a pleasant mix of celery and jalapeños, and cheeseheads can add provolone or American cheese.

4418 N Narragansett Ave
Harwood Heights, IL 60706

3. Bob-O's Hot Dogs

8258 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60634

Though Bob-O’s originally started off as a hot dog stand, Italian beef is now arguably the main attraction. Beef connoisseurs would do well to head to Dunning for a top-notch sandwich featuring meat made in-house. It’s seasoned, sliced, and cooked daily and should be coupled with an order of the impeccable hand-cut fries. Order online here.

8258 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60634

4. Mr. Beef and Pizza

3917 N Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60634

The Mr. Beef name carries a lot of expectations. Fortunately, this Northwest Side eatery, which is unaffiliated with the locations in River North and Homer Glen, lives up to that legacy. Cheese isn’t a usual Italian beef topping but diners can get their sandwiches with mozzarella, American, or cheddar here. A nice mix of herbs and spices season the meat while the giardiniera is flecked with red pepper flakes for extra oomph. Order ahead online. A second outpost is located in Forest Park.

3917 N Harlem Ave
Chicago, IL 60634

5. All Too Well

352 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
An Italian beef sandwich topped with kafta and giardiniera.
All Too Well’s Italian beef has Lebanese influences.
All Too Well [Official Photo]

A new Lincoln Park deli and market debuted earlier this year, offering prepared foods, grab-and-go items, dips and spreads, and more. Owner Mitchell Abou Jamra, who also runs All Too Well’s neighboring restaurant Evette’s, pays tribute to his family and upbringing through a lineup of delectable sandwiches. The “Sheffield & Westwood” (named after streets Abou Jamra and his grandparents have lived on) is a Lebanese-influenced Italian beef that gets elevated with sumac giardiniera and crumbled pieces of ground beef kafta. It’s dipped in jus to finish. Online ordering is available here.

352 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Phodega

1547 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

The Italian beef meets Southeast Asian flavors at noodle shop and convenience store Phodega. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo have come up with a variety of fun bites, and among them is a Viet dip consisting of shaved rib eye, cilantro, onions, and jalapenos on French bread. It’s also served with a side of pho jus for dipping so beef lovers who like their sandwiches wet need not worry. Online orders can be placed here.

1547 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

7. Serrelli's Finer Foods

6454 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60707

Located about a mile and a half from beef goliath Johnnie’s, this Italian grocer often gets overlooked in the discussion of best sandwiches. The meat is mildly seasoned, but the extra hot cauliflower-sport pepper giardiniera helps balance the flavors out. For those who’d rather make their sandwiches at home, Serrelli’s sells its beef in large buckets that are packed to the brim.

6454 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60707

8. Johnnie's Beef

7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park, IL, 60707

There will never be an agreement on the best Italian beef in Chicago but Johnnie’s is the closest to a consensus. Its sandwich is considered by many to be the shining standard others strive for — a perfect balance of sweet or hot peppers and well-seasoned beef that soaks up all the jus. The line often snakes out the door and it’s easy to understand why. This is an iconic bite that every Chicagoan and tourist should experience. There’s a second location in Arlington Heights.

7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park
IL, 60707

9. Kasama

1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

From stunning Instagram-friendly pastries to traditional Filipino dishes featuring modern twists, there’s tons to love about Kasamaone of the country’s best new restaurants. Chef-owner Tim Flores even manages to put his own spin on Chicago’s revered Italian beef with a “Kasama Combo” sandwich that layers shaved pork adobo with longganisa sausage and giardiniera. It’s an ingenious riff that’s every bit as good as the original, if not better. Online ordering is available here.

1001 N Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

10. Mr. Beef on Orleans

666 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654
An Italian beef sandwich with hot and sweet peppers.
Mr. Beef on Orleans has its share of celebrity fans, including Jay Leno.
Mr. Beef on Orleans [Official Photo]

There are dining options aplenty in River North but few are as satisfying as this old-school spot. The nostalgia-laden space — complete with celebrity photos lining the walls — stands in stark contrast to the rest of the neighborhood, while the beef sits in a jus bath to enhance the flavor before being loaded onto a crusty roll that’s able to hold up to the juices.

666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654

11. Portillo's

100 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL, 60654

It’s true: Homegrown restaurant empire Portillo’s offers a dependable sandwich that manages to hold its own against the city’s dedicated Italian beef purveyors. The menu also features non-traditional choices like a “Beef-N-Cheddar Croissant” and a breadless “Beef Bowl,” as well as a “Big Beef” for the largest appetites. And because there are dozens of locations across Chicagoland, residents are never too far away from a quality Italian beef. Place online orders here.

100 W Ontario St, Chicago
IL, 60654

12. Bari

1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL, 60642

The beloved Italian deli and grocer in West Town is renowned for its selection of subs, but don’t miss the Italian beef. The meat is tender, juicy, thick-cut, and served on a roll that stands up to its beefiness. Get it with the extremely hot house giardiniera for a kick that’ll humble even the most seasoned spice fanatics. Place online orders here.

1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago
IL, 60642

13. Al's Italian Beef

1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL, 60607
An Italian beef with peppers.
Al’s was one of the earliest Italian beef makers.
Al’s Beef [Official Photo]

The purported origins of the Italian beef sandwich can be traced back to this Taylor Street stand in Little Italy. That’s where Al Ferrari and his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Chris Pacelli Sr., set up shop in 1938 and started popularizing what would become one of the city's iconic foods. Today, the original location is still in business and the beef remains unchanged — marinated in secret spices and dipped in gravy. So stop in, assume the proper upright eating stance, and savor a bit of Chicago history. Online ordering is available here.

1079 W Taylor St, Chicago
IL, 60607

14. Freddy's Pizza

1600 S 61st Ave, Cicero, IL 60804

Freddy's showcases the power of giardiniera. The mix of carrots, celery, olives, and sport peppers perfectly complements the beef served at this mom-and-pop grocer and deli, which has been operating in Cicero since 1968.

1600 S 61st Ave
Cicero, IL 60804

15. Scatchell's Beef & Pizza

4700 W Cermak Rd, Cicero, IL 60804
An Italian beef with giardiniera.
It’s hard to miss Scatchell’s while driving down Cermak Road.
Scatchell’s [Official Photo]

The eye-catching signs and bright lights outside this longstanding shack beckon passersby in for a messy-yet-glorious Italian beef sandwich. It boasts finely-shaved meat, fantastic gravy, and crunchy giardiniera that’s made with celery and red pepper flakes.

4700 W Cermak Rd
Cicero, IL 60804

Related Maps

16. The Duck Inn

2701 S Eleanor St, Chicago, IL 60608

As its name suggests, duck headlines the menu at this cozy retro-themed gastro-tavern. But chef-owner Kevin Hickey also delivers mouthwatering Midwestern comfort fare, including a “Decent Beef” sandwich. His take on the Chicago classic features thinly sliced prime rib and beefy jus flavored with Calabrian chilies, garlic, oregano, basil, and rosemary. The beef is tucked inside a crusty Italian sub roll and topped with optional accompaniments like giardiniera, sweet peppers, and melted cheese. Diners can also dial up the decadence by adding black truffle shavings. Online ordering is available here.

2701 S Eleanor St
Chicago, IL 60608

17. Novi's Beef

6746 Ogden Ave, Berwyn, IL 60402
An Italian beef sandwich next to a bag of fries.
Novi’s giardiniera brings the heat.
Novi’s Beef [Official Photo]

Established in the ‘60s, Novi’s is an institution out in southwest suburban Berwyn. The thick-cut beef marinates in gravy laced with 15 different spices and the hot giardiniera, a reddish blend of celery and chili oil, bursts with heat and is a must for spicy food lovers. The restaurant offers catering packages and ships its sandwiches too. Online ordering is available here.

6746 Ogden Ave
Berwyn, IL 60402

18. Tony's Italian Beef

7007 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL, 60629
An Italian beef with fries.
Tony’s has been serving the South Side since 1975.
Tony’s [Official Photo]

South Siders swear by Tony’s, where the thick-sliced beef pleases and the unique giardiniera contains garbanzo beans. Traditionalists will be happy with the standard beef sandwich but for an unbeatable combo, order it alongside Italian sausage. The restaurant also sells beef by the pound in party trays.

7007 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago
IL, 60629

19. Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage

10337 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60655

The jus is the star of the show at suburban chain Pop’s. The meat isn’t melt-in-your-mouth tender, but it provides a pleasurable jaw workout. Order online here.

10337 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60655

20. Frangella Italian Market

11925 S 80th Ave, Palos Park, IL 60464

Over in Palos Park, this Italian market sells more than just groceries. The deli offers an exceptional sandwich; instead of soaking in juices, the roast beef is sliced to order and quickly dunked in gravy ahead of meeting the bread. It’s taken to even greater heights with the addition of zippy giardiniera and sweet green peppers.

11925 S 80th Ave
Palos Park, IL 60464

Related Maps