April 19, 2011

Chicago Trip: Portillos I Beef

Portillos.  To some this picture might not be all too appetizing but to others this, right here, is a picture of heaven on earth.  This is Italian Beef (or I Beef).  If you have never been to Chicago or are not friends with a Chicago local or crazy former local then you probably have never heard of an Italian Beef.  Rest assured, you do now!

I Beef is available at hot dog joints all over Chicagoland.  Portillos is a local chain famous for them and with good reason.  Believe me, it is still worth trying the mom and pop stops though.

An I Beef is beef slow roasted with garlic and italian seasonings and shaved ridiculously thin, piled high on a hoagie roll, topped with sweet or hot peppers or even cheese, then it is often dipped in the gravy (or beef juice).  This time I got a side of gravy which worked perfect so the bread didn't get too mushy.

It is every bit as messy to eat as it looks up there.  You'll have juice dripping down your arm and all over your face.  Where you find Italian Beef you'll only ever find the world's tinyest napkins.  You know, the kind where you try to get one out of the napkin dispenser and it rips so you're left holding one tiny corner of an already tiny napkin.  This is not the place for a first date.

C was out to impress and ordered a combo.  A combo was most likely designed by a dude for a dude.  It is an I Beef and Italian sausage with peppers in one bun.  Heart attack city!  Really, we were good though, we shared a large fries and ordered Diet Coke.  :)

Forgot to mention, my aunt and uncle had us all over for a party a couple days after these photos were taken.  Guess what they served?  That's right Portillos Italian Beef!  They cater!!!  Heaven, twice in one week.


  1. The comment about the tiny napkins and ripping them when you're trying to get them out of the dispenser made me laugh out loud! That is soooo true! Glad you were able to get your beef on.

    Love, Aunt Susan

  2. Al's has pretty good I-Beef, too.

  3. Best beef in Chicago is at this place on the northwest side called Paterno's. They have an I-beef called the incredible, which is beef with mozzarella cheese and pasta sauce. So not for a first date! Al's is good too, but I'm a sucker for an incredible!

  4. @Dad and @StephA - thanks for the recs. I've tried Al's Beef, pretty good. I'll have to check out Paterno's next time. C and I used to go to Mickey's. They dip. http://www.yelp.com/biz/mickeys-drive-in-bellwood