When River North comes up in conversation, untz-untz clubs, tourist spots, and upscale restaurants with billboard-sized menus might be what comes to mind. Mr. Beef is none of the above. This small cash-only Italian beef spot has been in the neighborhood since 1963, and it feels like it. Everything here has an old-school charm, from the ordering counter to the sparse dining room with communal tables where you can befriend someone who has been coming here for decades.
But as much as we love the nostalgia surrounding this place, the main reason to come here is for their Italian beef. The subtle flavor of the meat and its gravy is just right, neither too peppery nor salty. This allows the beefy flavor to shine through, and the sturdy bread develops a pleasant softness as it soaks up the juice. Their housemade giardiniera adds gentle heat that brightens up each bite, but it never steals the spotlight from the meat. The sandwiches here aren’t overly complex, or made with some specialty Dead Sea salt blend. But they don’t need to be—just bask in the comforting simplicity of Mr. Beef’s version of a Chicago classic.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.