The almost Italian beef at Old Chicago

Being the ambitious man I am, one of my great goals in life is to try an authentic Italian beef sandwich in Chicago. So many food shows have showcased this sandwich packed with beef and peppers and dripping with beef juice. It is truly a beautiful sandwich, unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case, you weep. But I fear no sandwich.

With that pointless background information, I went to Old Chicago in Okemos for their version of an Italian beef. And I have the sneaking suspicion that a Chicagoan would scoff at what I had been served. No dripping juice, no bustling street-side location, no triple-digit murder total – this just wasn’t the Chicago experience. 

Old Chicago Italian Beef

Old Chicago Italian Beef

That said, the sandwich was pretty good, but instead of an iconic food experience, it was simply a French Dip with cheese, peppers and something spicy lurking inside. (Come to think of it, that’s basically what an Italian beef sandwich seems to be.) I suppose if I dumped the au jus on the sandwich it would have been dripping, but I probably also would have been wet, so I made due. Again, not bad – the beef was tender and tasty, and if you’re in the mood for a French Dip, then this sandwich is basically a deluxe version. Fries were squarely in the “ordinary” category, nothing bad to report, and there was no fry shortage on my plate. And pickles! There were pickles, too.

Along with the meal I got two beers. (They weren’t included – I had to buy them.) There was a Halloween mini-tour going on, so I tried two new ones – very exciting. The most exciting Monday night experience, in fact, since last Monday night.

The first brew was a Maibock, which was smooth and sweet. This was my favorite of the two, and I could have drank that with anything. My second beer was Newcastle Werewolf, and it was listed as a “Blood red ale” and had a sour aftertaste. Maybe the werewolf they juiced to get my beer had eaten a lot of Sweet Tarts? That’s my guess.

I came for the Monday Night Football, stayed for the beer, and enjoyed the French Dip. I mean, Italian Beef.


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