A Sandwich a Day: The 3XL Corned Beef at Vienna Beef

A Sandwich a Day

Reviews of Chicago sandwiches.


[Photograph: Josh Conley]

There's just something about traveling to the source that inherently makes things taste better, don't you think? The best lobster roll had to be in New England, the best pizza in Napoli, the best pint of Guinness behind the St. James gate. Maybe it's the time and effort you've invested. Maybe it's all psychosomatic. Or maybe, just maybe, it really just DOES taste better.

Vienna Beef is synonymous with Chicago dogs, and they do indeed serve up one of the best examples in town here at their factory cafe. But they of course make an extensive line of non-dog products, many of which they showcase in their sandwiches, including the how-could-I-not-order-this 3XL Corned Beef ($9.95 with one side).

The beauty here is in the simplicity. Take a whopping nine ounces of warm, thinly-sliced corned beef and answer two questions: Mustard? Yes, please. Bread? Dark rye for me. And that's the sandwich. Warming the corned beef brings out some nice aromatics from the pickling spices, and it is piled to form a meat tsunami that just crashes over the hopelessly undergirded levee of soft rye again and again. A toasting might have helped, but either way, I was awash in warm, salty corned beef, and that's a pretty good place to be.

Vienna Beef

2501 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)
Vienna Beef

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.