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Johnnie's

7500 W. North Avenue, Elmwood Park, IL - (708) 452-6000
Posted By Mark Reitman on October 11, 2014 12:43 AM
For Italian Beef and Italian ice, Johnnie's ranks tops on my list. Nuff said!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef
Italian Ice

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Posted By Rich Malitz on November 8, 2013 2:36 PM
Johnnie's is absolutely one of the best versions of Chicago Italian Beef (and Sausage) there is. Either of their locations will work and a tip to your out of towners - the Arlington Heights location has plenty of tables for inside seating. The original Elmwood Park location is just a counter you stand at. The beefs are on the small side, so you can easily have two. Warning on the hot peppers: they have the hottest giardiniera peppers in Chicago. Some don't like the peppers/oil that hot on a beef. But if you like heat, here it comes!
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef
Italian Ice

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Posted By BSamuelson on May 13, 2012 7:09 PM
The Italian beef, dipped, and juicy with sweet peppers was well beyond my expectations. Tender beef and spicy juice, balanced by the peppers and soft roll, makes an irresistible sandwich that I wanted to go back for again and again. HI never tried the combo, however, and the sausages looked fabulous as they grilled over the open flame. That will have to be on a future visit. Be sure to get the Italian ice. A small size is plenty.

Johnnie's is a classic Chicago food stand. Not a huge menu; you order at the counter (good to know your order in advance) and either eat standing up at a narrow counter opposite the ordering line or eat in your car or at a picnic table outside. Do not miss this place.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef
Italian Ice

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Posted By Jake Mabus on November 6, 2011 8:01 PM
Love their Italian beef but it is not quite as good as Al's, because Al's has better hot peppers.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef

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Posted By Chuck Petersen on May 27, 2011 12:22 PM
Johnnie's Beef's motto is, "The Best Beef in the World," and I concur. I grew up not too far from Johnnie's and spent 36 years in the city. I've tried many Italian beef joints and many Italian beefs. Some are very good, but Johnnie's is a cut (or two) above all other beefs that I've had.

I've never had a piece of fat or gristle on their beef. The juice/gravy is outstanding! I personally prefer the combo: Italian beef with Italian sausage, which has been grilled to perfection over charcoal. I always order hot, sweet, and juicy (interpretation: giardiniera, sweet bell peppers that have been cooked/softened, and the sandwich has been dipped). I'm telling you, "heaven" comes to mind when you take a bite.

The restaurant is located in an old Italian neighborhood with a lot of history. The ambiance is very "Chicago." I don't know who is currently the cashier, but they've always have a "barely patient" person, who is quick, knows his stuff, but wants to keep the line moving (which is usually fairly long out the door). Personally, standing in the line smelling the charcoal-grilled sausage just builds one's anticipation for the food.

The Italian ice is exceptionally good! It provides a great refreshment during summer, and is very light, so it's good after you've stuffed yourself full of Johnnie's specialty: Italian beef.

In summary, from the line, to the smells, to the people working there, it all adds up to a good, authentic Chicago experience (Chicago and Elmwood Park are closely related). If I was a tour guide and was recommending restaurants and sights to see in Chicago, this would be one of them.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef
Italian Ice

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Posted By david on April 1, 2011 9:34 PM
The best. The order guy is truly the Beef Nazi but people line up every day for a reason. This is seriously good food.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Italian Beef

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Posted By Gregg Pill on May 29, 2008 4:48 PM
While I have enjoyed Johnnie's for years at catered affairs and picnics, I had never really gotten out of the car and into the line. It's Friday afternoon at 2:35pm, hardly lunch hour, and the line snakes around the back. It moves fast with the ever-present smell of sausage and beef in the air. The door sign says to keep it closed, and everyone is pretty much measuring their party with the avaiable inside space. No sense getting anyone mad before you've got the goods.

Once inside, it's pretty spartan. Even more surprising is the fact that one order-taker runs the entire show. Now he does have a half-dozen specialists putting the orders together, but he takes every order, translates to the staff, completes the payment process and hands you the correct order... after checking your bag for accuracy.

As it's my first time, I decided to go with the standards. As a quick study and a master of Chicago beef places, I'm ready to order well before my turn. Important as the order-taker is, he as unfriendly as they come... and you can sense it with each person's turn... perhaps, the Beef Nazi?

Beef, sweet, small fries, small ice. A look as if, not bad! $6.72; gotcha as my money is already in hand and extended. Change is in my hand in seconds followed by the goods. The beef. Fantastic! Great bread and sweet, which means a mixture of sweet, green peppers and sweet giardinare. Nice touch. I ordered regular, so no extra juice or dipping for me. Much too hard to hold the bread when over-wet.

The fries came out smoking hot, salted just right and were very good. But the star of the show was the small ice. Small ice means small, Italian lemon ice. It seems lighter than most I've tried, is really lemony, and may be the best ice I've ever had.

It's funny how a place this good, this close, and this famous, takes me 40 years to get to.
5 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Philip Roth on January 27, 2006 10:08 PM
Johnnie’s is not just another beef joint. This place is included at or near the top of anyone’s “Best of the Best” list for beef sandwiches in Chicagoland. Johnnie’s is easy to find. When you get close you can smell the aroma of roasting sausages that surrounds the building in a self-generated fog that focuses the mind on the treasures inside. There will probably be a line out the door, but do not despair. The line will move fast because the time between placing your order and you walking out the door with your meal is less than one minute. Make sure you know what you want when it’s your turn, place your order and step to the left!

The subject here is Italian beef. This is a food delicacy unique to the Chicago area: beef shaved extra thin in a garlicky, peppery gravy. The tender meat is loaded into a sturdy Italian loaf and garnished with sweet bell peppers and/or hot giardiniera. Ask for the sandwich dipped in the gravy for a genuine Chicago experience. Order a combo and get a roasted Italian sausage running the length of the bread, tucked under the beef. This version packs a one-two punch that has no equal.

Top off the meal with an Italian ice - ice shaved very fine with a sweet and tart lemon flavor that is a perfect complement to the meal. The ice is hand packed to order from a bucket sitting in the freezer.

There is ample parking available in the lot behind the restaurant. The half dozen tables outside turn over quickly but you will see many patrons eating in, or on, their cars.
3 star rating
Overall Rating

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