Serious Eats: Chicago
A Sandwich a Day: Italian Beef from Vienna Beef Café
Located at Damen and Fullerton, the Vienna Beef Factory is like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for the natural casing obsessed. There are tours to be had, Vienna memorabilia to be purchased, and fresh from the line hot dogs to be taken home for backyard barbecues. For a quintessentially Chicago dining experience, consider eating on premise at the Vienna Beef Café. The cafeteria, which is open to the public, offers the full line of Vienna products, from hot dogs to corned beef to pastrami, all dressed and served with textbook authenticity.
The Italian Beef ($5.95) hardly breaks new ground, but it is as solid a representation as any served in town. Vienna brand Italian beef is folded into a soft roll that is dipped and piled high with hot giardiniera. The beef itself was sliced thicker than most, with a very mild flavor that was helped along by the unctuous and beefy jus. But the bread and giardiniera stole the show. The soft, chewy roll held up nicely to the soaking wet beef, and the pickled vegetables lightened things up considerably. Enjoyed al fresco at one of the outdoor picnic tables surrounded by like-minded hard hat sporting factory workers, this sandwich conjures Chicago summer with ease.