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Al’s #1 Italian Beef (Chicago, IL)

You know, we all have those food items we crave, that we always look forward to being able to have again. They aren’t always fancy. I particularly crave, amongst other things, Waffle House hashbrowns, Pepe’s Pizza, and Chicago-style Hot Italian Beef sandwiches. Alas, none of these can be had around my corner of rural New Hampshire. In the case of some items, I’ve learned to cook them myself, but for some items that’s not really possible. The Hot Italian Beef, that Chicago delight of shaved beef on a crusty Italian loaf, swimming in juice and giardinera, is one of these; the local economy even lacks the ingredients for making these. Sure, we’ve got beef. But we don’t have the right sort of crusty Italian loaves. And we certainly don’t have condiments like hot giardinera available here (although I have a healthy supply in my own cupboard, sent by a friend in Illinois). I have tried my hand at it, with reasonable results, but this was mostly like methadone; it softened the withdrawal. But, mostly, I satisfy my cravings with a stop at Gold Coast Hot Dogs on one of my many, many connecting flights through Midway, since they have a reasonably serviceable sandwich. So when the Chicago Death March was in planning, a key stop for me was one of the iconic Italian Beef stands. And, helpfully, the route that Kevin came up with delivered very nicely. Stop #3 on the Death March was on Taylor Street, at Chicago’s oldest Italian Beef stand: Al’s #1 Italian Beef.

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