For my first Italian beef experience, I headed to Al's Beef, in Chicago's Little italy. Al's claims to have invented the Italian beef sandwich, and no one really argues. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the original sandwich stand acted as a front for bookies — until the Italian beef business became even more lucrative than the gambling.
This classic Chicago sandwich sounds simple: thin sliced, seasoned beef, cooked in its own juices, then topped with hot giardiniera or sweet peppers. But the flavors are unbelievably complex. Al's cooks its meat in a blend of 19 seasonings that hints at everything from garlic to nutmeg to oregano. Take a virtual trip with the photos below.