Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eating my way through Chicago - Al's Italian Beef!!!

Finally the day has come, the day I ate my first Al's Italian beef sandwich. What is an Italian Beef sandwich you may ask? Salty, juicy, heaven.

Even though "Italian" is in the name of the sandwich, don't think of this as anything authentic. Just like you wouldn't really find "teriyaki" in Japan, you probably wouldn't find one of these delicious sandwiches in Italy, however their American descendants perfected both.

My craving for an Al's Italian Beef sandwich first started from all of my time watching Food Network with Emi. Al's has been on multiple "versus" types of food shows, where a food personality will pit two similar restaurants against each other to determine the ultimate winner. For example in North Carolina, two BBQ places would compete against each other and in Chicago it's deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches.

Since most of my team is located in Chicago, I make it out there quite a bit, but have never had time for an Italian beef sandwich. My buddy Dave made sure I could finally knock this off my list of things to do. I had high expectations for this sandwich and thought I could finally get over my small "obsession" with Italian beef sandwiches, but I want them even more now.

Look at all of those well deserved awards!

Now this is key, the chopped up slow cooked meat is on the left and soaking in the delicious sauce. You have two options when you order your sandwich, dry or wet. Wet is the only way to go. If you order it wet, they take your sandwich with those tongs and actually submerge it, not dip it, but submerge it in that bath of delicious meat sauce on the right. Now you might think the hoagie might fall apart, but the bread actually holds up really well.

Best sandwich ever... Biting into that sweet, yet spicy, salty sandwich was amazing. You could see the chopped meat, pepper flakes, some celery, the hot and sweet peppers, and the dripping, marbled, oily sauce in the sandwich. Each bite squeezed the jus down my hand.
My buddy Dave also suggested I knock another Chicago culinary delight off of my list; the Chicago style hot dog. It was a poppyseed bun, with a tomato, mustard, sweet pickle, relish, and mustard (no ketchup!). I thought it would be too much to eat both, but they were both amazing and consumed in under five minutes.

The aftermath. Look at that delicious sauce on the left. Immediately after finishing the "best sandwich ever" I wanted another one. I'm still thinking of it to this day, two weeks later. I know this will become a tradition for everytime I go to Chicago and for everyone else planning a future trip out to Chicago, skip the deep dish and head to Al's.
- Kyle

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