Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Jeff Mauro's Guide to Elmwood Park

Neighborhood Guides

Restaurant picks for Chicago's many neighborhoods.

Jeff Mauro standing in front of Johnnie's Beef. [Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Jeff Mauro loves to eat. Sure, this sounds like a spectacularly obvious observation considering this is the same person who hosts two shows on the Food Network (Sandwich King and $24 in 24), but I can personally vouch for his enthusiasm. Once he gets on the subject of where to eat around where he grew up, he gets animated and hungry. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

I should clarify that it wasn't my goal to test him. In fact, Mauro had invited me to check out some of the offerings in his hometown of Elmwood Park, which is located just west of Chicago. He recently moved back to the area, and taking into account his love of sandwiches, I suggested a tour of three of his favorite sandwich stops. But as I found out, there are loads of worthy restaurants nearby, and the more we ate the more enticing those other options seemed to get.

Luckily, we didn't have to travel far. All the eating took place on an astonishingly short stretch of North Avenue in Elmwood Park (Google Maps claims it is only .1 miles long), which is kind of astonishing. But what is more impressive is that most of the restaurants have been around since Mauro was a kid. In fact, Alpine Food Shop has been serving subs since 1955. Even the relatively newer restaurants stood out for taking the time to do things the old way.

But enough talk. Check out Jeff Mauro's picks for eating in Elmwood Park by clicking on the slideshow.