Joe Boston’s Italian Beef
Anyone that follows this blog closely knows my love affair with the Chicago sandwich staple, the Italian beef. I try to make it to one of my favorite Italian beef places every time we go home. There’s an Al’s Beef just down the street from my in-laws and that happens to be my favorite place, so I get there often, but with any good food, it’s good to branch out and try what others think is the best in town.
My plan for tonight was to head down to Revolution Brewing, but when I got down there are 6:00, the place was already packed. There were no seats at the bar and there was already a 45 minute wait for a table. I didn’t want to tie up a table and I wasn’t really in to waiting in a packed restaurant by myself, so I went to my back up. I can always use a good Italian beef.
I actually first heard about Boston’s on the Food Network program The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The topic was “Meat Fest” and celebrity chef and Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef Art Smith picked an Italian beef place in Humbolt Park that I had never heard of.
Joe Boston’s Italian Beef is on the corner of Grand and Chicago Avenues. It’s kind of a weird corner and the small building takes up a corner space. Since this is one of those classic Chicago sandwich places, I wasn’t expecting a five star restaurants. Hell, I was barely expecting one star. These are my favorite kind of places in the city. You order at a counter and then find a seat in a sparsely decorated dining room with almost no decorations and tables and chairs that are unlevel. That’s exactly what Boston’s is.
The menu board hangs above the counter when you walk in, but I didn’t even look at it. The order taker was already standing there with a pad of paper and asked me what I wanted when I walked in the door. I told him I wanted an Italian beef. He asked, “Dipped?” I replied, “Yes.” He then asked “Sweet or Hot.” He meant peppers and I replied hot. He then asked if I wanted fries and a drink. I noticed they had Pepsi, so I said yes. The bill came out to an even $7. Boston’s is a cash only place, but they do have an ATM right in the store if needed.
Before I could even unwrap my straw, I was being handed a sheet of butcher paper with a tightly rolled beef and a brown paper bag of fries. No plates. no silverware. Just a stack of napkins and a couple packets of ketchup.
There are only a half a dozen tables or so and I took one near the back in front of a framed newspaper from the White Sox 2005 World Series victory.
I unwrapped the two layers of wax paper to get to my beef first. By the time I got it open, the gravy had soaked the entire bun and it was falling apart. I picked up the soupy mess of a sandwich and greedily bit in to it dripping gravy all over the table. There’s really no better feeling (when it comes to food at least) than taking a bite of a good Italian beef sandwich and I got that feeling. The soupy bun soaked up all the flavor from the tender beef that was coming out of both ends of the sandwich. The hot peppers were sparsely placed inside the meat, but they packed a helluva kick. The fries were pretty standard crispy food service fries that added a little more substance to the meal.
As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to wolf down this sandwich. Once I got my grubby paws in to it, it was hard to set down. The sandwich was delicious and while I was disappointed I didn’t get to Revolution Brewing, I am very happy I finally got to Joe Boston’s