It only took a day and a half this time. Operation Bridesmaid Pickup is in full swing and J, her mom, and the one out-of-town bridesmaid headed to the hotel to unload a bunch of stuff for this week. I was left at the future in-laws house to shower and run a couple errands. Of course, it was lunch time and of course, I wanted a beef.
Al’s Beef is a Chicago legend. They claim to be the inventors of the sandwich. In recent years, they’ve expanded quite a bit around Chicagoland with franchise locations. One of those franchises is in Oak Lawn not too far from where I was staying.
The Oak Lawn Al’s Beef is on 95th Street in a new strip mall in the downtown area. It’s actually a dual store with Nancy’s Pizza. The inside is missing the one major thing that makes Al’s Al’s. The counter. Actually, I was quite confused with the store. Not only did it have tables instead of stand up counters, but when I walked in the door, I had no clue where the order area was. You can’t see it at all from the doorway. There’s a wall that sort of leads you around to the counter, but I walked into the dining area before I finally saw where I was supposed to go. I had to go back to the entrance and walk inside the wall to get to the cash register.
Al’s has a full menu, but I have no idea what’s actually on it. I didn’t look. I wanted the Italian beef. I didn’t even look up at the menu before I ordered. The lady asked what I wanted. I said an Italian beef. She asked if I wanted the combo, I said sure. The fries looked good.
Then, it was time for the important questions. Peppers? Yes, hot only. Cheese? Yes, provolone. Dipped? Of course! The meal was just under $10. Adding peppers and cheese set me back about another dollar. I didn’t need the pop and I had no intention of getting fries when I walked in, but they are skin on fries and not freezer bag, restaurant fries.
I grabbed my cup and filled it up with a Diet Pepsi/Pepsi mix. I then waited a few minutes for my sandwich which was made fresh. I needed to make one more stop and get home before J so I grabbed my sandwich to go.
I ate the fries on the way home and I’m no very glad I got them. They were delicious. They were “Chicago-Style” fries which I can only describe as skin on, very greasy, and thin cut. They were delicious. I could have eaten a whole bag of just the fries.
When I got home, I dug into the beef. It was everything I wanted. The sandwich was very, very wet. It was awesome. The hot peppers were mixed into the beef. When I looked at the sandwich, I couldn’t even see them. I picked the sandwich and it fell apart. Again, awesome! The peppers and the meat and the au jus and the cheese…it was perfect.
I’ve had Al’s before, but it has been a while. I was shocked and I actually think it was better than Portillo’s which has long been my favorite Chicago beef. The atmosphere at the store in Oak Lawn wasn’t nearly as good as the original downtown stores, but the food was amazing. They need the counter so you can do the “Al’s Hunch,” but I can live without that. Just give me the good beef!