A Sandwich a Day: The Original Al's #1 Italian Beef Combo in Chicago
In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
Soggy bread is a sin among sandwiches, but when said bread is a springy Italian roll soaked with jus from slow-roasted, thinly sliced, and heavily seasoned roast beef at Al's #1 Italian Beef, be prepared to forgive.
One of Chicago's prominent Italian beef joints, Al's has spread throughout the city since it was franchised in 2001. The original storefront near the University of Illinois still serves an incredible Italian Beef Combo for $6.35.
The beef—saturated with flavor and juices after steeping in spiced beef broth for Lord knows how long—is fall-apart tender, with an almost shredded consistency. A grilled Italian link and sweet and hot peppers ($0.50 each as toppings) complete the picture, which goes down surprisingly well for a gut bomb.
When you're done, step across the street for a frosty dessert at Mario's Italian Lemonade. The combination is a communion with Chicago's culinary history.
About the author: James Boo has been a barbecue enthusiast since he embarked on a two-week road trip through the American South, eating nothing but barbecue from Virginia to Texas. He's learned a thing or two, but as Serious Eats' Barbecue Bureau Chief he's found that there's plenty more to discover about America's first food. Catch up with his musings on Fridays here at Serious Eats, and check out his
narrative food blog, The Eaten Path, for more journeys to the real meal.