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An Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers.
The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs makes an impeccable Italian beef.
The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs

Where to Chomp on Italian Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

The very best in juicy sliced beef with hot peppers

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The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs makes an impeccable Italian beef.
| The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs

When it comes to Chicago’s signature foods, Italian beef is unquestionably one of the city’s most cherished. It's a sandwich that's wholly unique to this great city and sparks fierce debate over who does it the best. Because there are numerous delicious options all over town, it's impossible to choose just one. Instead, here are 20 messy favorites that are all worth trying. New additions to the list for 2021 include Italian market Serrelli’s Finer Foods, suburban stand the Original Nana’s Hot Dogs, and modern Filipino sensation Kasama.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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

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

2. Bob-O's Hot Dogs

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8258 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 625-9840
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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 the Northwest Side spot 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.

3. 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 Dunning eatery, which is unaffiliated with the ones 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 or cheddar here. A nice balance of herbs and spices permeate 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.

4. Marco's Beef & Pizza

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6008 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60639
(773) 745-1015
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Marco’s is the undisputed Italian beef king in the northwest community of Belmont-Cragin. The super tender sliced beef gets a nice assist from the spicy house giardiniera — a special blend of celery, jalapenos, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Customers don’t have to worry about trying to find parking either as there’s a lot attached to the restaurant. 

5. Jay's Beef

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2255 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-2333
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This suburban-based beef chain’s sandwich accoutrements help set it apart from the competition. The sweet peppers sing, hot peppers are a pleasant mix of celery and jalapeños, and cheeseheads can add provolone, American, or liquid cheddar on top. Online ordering is available here. The original location is in Harwood Heights.

6. 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 prefer to make it themselves at home, Serrelli’s also sells its beef in large buckets that are packed to the brim.

7. 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 also a location in Arlington Heights.

8. 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 a ton 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 through 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.

9. 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 nostalgic 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 each day to enhance the flavor before it’s 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]

10. Portillo's

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

It’s true: Chicago’s popular fast-food chain offers a dependable sandwich that manages to hold its own against the city’s dedicated Italian beef purveyors. The menu also features a non-traditional choice, the “Beef-N-Cheddar Croissant,” as well as a “Big Beef” for the biggest appetites. And thanks to several dozen locations across Chicagoland, a quality Italian beef is never too far away. Place online orders here.

11. 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.

12. Luke's Italian Beef

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215 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago
IL, 60606
(312) 939-4204
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Hungry downtown workers in the Loop know Luke’s reigns supreme when it comes to Italian beef. It’s a relative value too, as the sizable sandwich provides enough sustenance to last a while. Tourists also frequent the restaurant due to its central location, but they’re worth enduring for the food. Online ordering is available 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 a secret spice blend 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. The Original Chickies

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4152 Roosevelt Rd
Hillside, IL 60162
(708) 449-1000
Visit Website

This beef specialist was first opened in 1962 on the city’s Southwest Side but found new life several years ago out in Hillside. Run by the grandchildren of original owner Bob Bailey, Chickies continues to impress using the same family recipe — tender, thinly-sliced beef dipped in peppery gravy and topped with housemade giardiniera. Online orders can be placed here.

An Italian beef with peppers.
The Original Chickies is a suburban favorite for beef sandwiches.
The Original Chickies [Official Photo]

15. Freddy's Pizza

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

Freddy's is a reminder of 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 that’s been operating in Cicero since 1968.

16. Scatchell's Beef & Pizza

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

The eye-catching sign and bright lights outside this longstanding shack beckon passersby in for a messy-yet-glorious Italian beef sandwich boasting finely-shaved meat, fantastic gravy, and crunchy housemade 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]

17. 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 thickly-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]

18. 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 provides a pleasurable jaw workout. Order online here.

19. Buona

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10633 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 941-6980
Visit Website

A restaurant whose name translates to “good beef” better be able to back up that claim. Like its local counterparts Portillo’s and Al’s, Buona might surprise some who have low expectations for a chain. Consistency can be an issue but at the end of the day, diners know what they’re getting — a hearty, beefy sandwich. In 2021, the company created a plant-based version that uses seitan and vegan gravy. Online ordering is available here.

An Italian beef with giardiniera.
Buona has multiple locations across the city and suburbs.
Buona [Official Photo]

20. Frangella Italian Market

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

Over in suburban Palos Park, this Italian market sells more than just groceries. The deli offers an exceptional sandwich; instead of soaking in juices, the roasted beef is sliced to order and takes a quick dip in gravy before meeting the bread. It reaches 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 dogs at Nana’s are worth a trip over to Streamwood.
The Original Nana’s Hot Dogs [Official Photo]

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

1102 E Irving Park Rd
Streamwood, IL 60107

2. 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 the Northwest Side spot 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.

8258 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60634

3. Mr. Beef and Pizza

3917 N Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60634

The Mr. Beef name carries a lot of expectations. Fortunately, this Dunning eatery, which is unaffiliated with the ones 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 or cheddar here. A nice balance of herbs and spices permeate 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

4. Marco's Beef & Pizza

6008 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60639

Marco’s is the undisputed Italian beef king in the northwest community of Belmont-Cragin. The super tender sliced beef gets a nice assist from the spicy house giardiniera — a special blend of celery, jalapenos, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Customers don’t have to worry about trying to find parking either as there’s a lot attached to the restaurant. 

6008 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60639

5. Jay's Beef

2255 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This suburban-based beef chain’s sandwich accoutrements help set it apart from the competition. The sweet peppers sing, hot peppers are a pleasant mix of celery and jalapeños, and cheeseheads can add provolone, American, or liquid cheddar on top. Online ordering is available here. The original location is in Harwood Heights.

2255 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

6. 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 prefer to make it themselves at home, Serrelli’s also sells its beef in large buckets that are packed to the brim.

6454 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60707

7. 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 also a location in Arlington Heights.

7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park
IL, 60707

8. Kasama

1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

From stunning Instagram-friendly pastries to traditional Filipino dishes featuring modern twists, there’s a ton 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 through 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

9. 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 nostalgic 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 each day to enhance the flavor before it’s loaded onto a crusty roll that’s able to hold up to the juices.

666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Portillo's

100 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL, 60654

It’s true: Chicago’s popular fast-food chain offers a dependable sandwich that manages to hold its own against the city’s dedicated Italian beef purveyors. The menu also features a non-traditional choice, the “Beef-N-Cheddar Croissant,” as well as a “Big Beef” for the biggest appetites. And thanks to several dozen locations across Chicagoland, a quality Italian beef is never too far away. Place online orders here.

100 W Ontario St, Chicago
IL, 60654

11. 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

12. Luke's Italian Beef

215 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL, 60606

Hungry downtown workers in the Loop know Luke’s reigns supreme when it comes to Italian beef. It’s a relative value too, as the sizable sandwich provides enough sustenance to last a while. Tourists also frequent the restaurant due to its central location, but they’re worth enduring for the food. Online ordering is available here.

215 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago
IL, 60606

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 a secret spice blend 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. The Original Chickies

4152 Roosevelt Rd, Hillside, IL 60162
An Italian beef with peppers.
The Original Chickies is a suburban favorite for beef sandwiches.
The Original Chickies [Official Photo]

This beef specialist was first opened in 1962 on the city’s Southwest Side but found new life several years ago out in Hillside. Run by the grandchildren of original owner Bob Bailey, Chickies continues to impress using the same family recipe — tender, thinly-sliced beef dipped in peppery gravy and topped with housemade giardiniera. Online orders can be placed here.

4152 Roosevelt Rd
Hillside, IL 60162

15. Freddy's Pizza

1600 S 61st Ave, Cicero, IL 60804

Freddy's is a reminder of 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 that’s been operating in Cicero since 1968.

1600 S 61st Ave
Cicero, IL 60804

Related Maps

16. 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 sign and bright lights outside this longstanding shack beckon passersby in for a messy-yet-glorious Italian beef sandwich boasting finely-shaved meat, fantastic gravy, and crunchy housemade giardiniera that’s made with celery and red pepper flakes.

4700 W Cermak Rd
Cicero, IL 60804

17. 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 thickly-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

18. 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 provides a pleasurable jaw workout. Order online here.

10337 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60655

19. Buona

10633 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60643
An Italian beef with giardiniera.
Buona has multiple locations across the city and suburbs.
Buona [Official Photo]

A restaurant whose name translates to “good beef” better be able to back up that claim. Like its local counterparts Portillo’s and Al’s, Buona might surprise some who have low expectations for a chain. Consistency can be an issue but at the end of the day, diners know what they’re getting — a hearty, beefy sandwich. In 2021, the company created a plant-based version that uses seitan and vegan gravy. Online ordering is available here.

10633 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60643

20. Frangella Italian Market

11925 S 80th Ave, Palos Park, IL 60464

Over in suburban Palos Park, this Italian market sells more than just groceries. The deli offers an exceptional sandwich; instead of soaking in juices, the roasted beef is sliced to order and takes a quick dip in gravy before meeting the bread. It reaches even greater heights with the addition of zippy giardiniera and sweet green peppers.

11925 S 80th Ave
Palos Park, IL 60464

Related Maps