[Photograph: Josh Conley]

This post is bittersweet in more ways than one. Firstly, because this is the first and presumably last time I will go to Johnnie's Beef, and I'm here to persuade you to not make that same mistake. At the personal recommendation of a reader (big shout out cpd007), I had to see how this place stacked up to Mr. Beef, Al's, and my recently dethroned favorite, Joe Boston's.

The short answer is that it is just outstanding. I got there shortly after they opened and there was a line out the door. On a Tuesday. Don't be dismayed, though; the service is a well-oiled meat machine that moves at the speed of cash only. The Italian beef ($3.90) itself is like meat origami—delicately cut, then expertly folded up into a Italian roll. Or like meat ribbons on a present you just keep unwrapping. I take mine wet and hot, the bun just lapping up those savory juices. Lots of garlic and black pepper bolster the rich, yet surprisingly not-too-heavy beef. It's the kind of sandwich you finish and feel completely satisfied, yet selfishly want to order another in the event of beefocalypse. And nothing pairs with it better than the house-made Italian ice.

The other bittersweetness comes from this being my last sandwich review. Imagine a world where I go out to have a sandwich, AND DON'T HAVE TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT. It's weird what becomes normal. Seriously, though, it's been a great ride, and I can't think of a better place to park it than at Johnnie's Beef. Happy eating, Chicago friends—thanks for reading!

Johnnie's Beef

7500 West North Avenue, Elmwood Park, IL 60707 (map)

Josh Conley is single-handedly trying to re-introduce the verb beget into the everyday lexicon. He traveled to Easter Island one Christmas out of sheer irony. He excises a hefty syntax, and shamelessly promotes the color orange. His wife begat him two small children that he regularly belittles HERE.


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