When my daughter, Lydia, came into town for a wedding, I wanted to have something for her to eat that was comforting and familiar. And it was too hot to cook, so I wanted someone else to actually do the cooking.

I’m not sure Johnnie’s is the best Italian beef around. On occasion, I’ve had good beef at Buona and Michael’s. What Johnnie’s has going for it, however, is that it’s been our go-to beef place for years.

When my mom used to come visit, her first meal at our house would always be a Johnnie’s beef, which she’d eat with a knife and fork (not a bad idea, actually).

When either of my brothers come to town, a trip to Johnnie’s is always quite definitely on the agenda. I found out that during my brother Kevin’s last trip, even though we had Johnnie’s the first night he was in town, he actually snuck out (!) once or twice and had a few additional Johnnie’s beef sandwiches during his brief stay with us.

Similar to Peterson’s Ice Cream and Gene and Jude’s, Johnnie’s is a nostalgic favorite, and good memories go a long way toward satisfying. It almost doesn’t matter whether it’s a good beef sandwich or not. Fortunately, it is.


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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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