CHICAGO — When WGN News Now asked where is the Chicago area’s best Italian beef sandwich, we received nearly 200 recommendations. After narrowing down the list of potentials, and putting those to a vote, you decided Al’s #1 Italian Beef has one of the best beefs in the area.
Though Al’s has a few franchise restaurants, the oldest location remains in the family with Christopher Pacelli as the owner. The origin story he shares starts shortly after the end of World War I with his grandfather, Anthony Ferreri.
The way he tells it, Ferreri made a living selling sandwiches off the back of his truck. Then one day he attended an Italian-American wedding where they were serving dozens of people off a single beef roast. He saw that, thought sandwich, and the iconic Italian beef sandwich was created. Yes, this family lays claim to the very inception of one of Chicago’s most iconic food items.
Years later his son, Al, had the idea to open a beef stand. Originally called Al’s Bar-B-Q, it stood at Harrison and Laflin from 1938 until the early 1960s when they opened two more traditional restaurant locations, one of which is still standing today.
Pacelli credits their sandwich success to his family spice mix and decades of consistency. He says customers who had a sandwich 40 years ago will have the exact same sandwich today. Whatever the secret, it clearly keeps his customers coming back again and again.
The is cut just right (Thin). You need to top it off with sweet and hot pepper. Then put some mustard on it. Get it dipped, and it tastes like HEAVEN. I can eat one every day of the week.Donald B.
Right amount of spiciness, flavor and grease.Max P.
Simply the best!!Natalia M.
Hours vary by location. Check your desired location here to confirm they’re open. As for the oldest location in Little Italy visited by WGN, they’re open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. This location is closed on Sunday.
Want to continue your Chicago area food adventures? Check out our other two polls: Chicago’s top 5 hot dogs and top 5 tacos from our previous coverage.