Can you believe I am just now getting the chance to blog about Man v. Food locations I visited back in August? Damn real world keeps getting in the way of my blogging! Here’s the MvF list so far:
- Edward’s Drive-In in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Big Pie in the Sky Pizzeria in Kennesaw, Georgia
- La Moon in Miami, Florida
- Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, Florida
- The Old Salty Dog in Sarasota, Florida
- Hot N Juicy Crawfish in Las Vegas, Nevada
- The NASCAR Cafe in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Shula’s Steak House in Miami, Florida
- Gladys Knight And Ron Winans’ Chicken And Waffles in Atlanta, Georgia
- The Jack-N-Grill in Denver, Colorado
- The Buckhorn Exhange in Denver, Colorado
- The Vortex in Atlanta, Georgia
I have a business trip to Los Angeles next month with Joey Snackpants. We’re already talking about hitting up a Man v. Food location while there, but the schedule is pretty tight. Until then – let’s talk about Chicago.
After attending Gen Con 2011, my wife and I flew over to Chicago to check out the city and see the sights. (Click here to see our Ferris Bueller style day off.) Our first MvF stop was Al’s #1 Italian Beef.
It’s a small place near the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. We trekked there from the train stop down the road, through the college and into a neighborhood that was pure Italian Chicago. The vibe, the buildings, and the people walking the sidewalks let you know that this was about as opposite from my sleepy beach town as it gets.
The more I visit these locations, the more I realize that atmosphere and ambiance add to the experience of the meal. La Moon in Miami, Florida was great – but it was made that much better being in the part of South Florida that it was in. Seeking out a well made beef sandwich in this part of Chicago just makes sense and adds to the moment.
Speaking of which… the sandwich:
That sucker is SOAKED in juices. The meat is tender and tastes amazing. The impressive part, though, are the spices. The sandwich is perfectly blended. You take a bite; you feel the heat on your tongue; your taste buds spike from the flavor for a moment… and then it fades. It’s spicy, but not to the point of drowning out the amazing flavors mixed into it. Years of work and experience went into making this sandwich formula perfect and tasting it proved it.
I’d eat at Al’s again in a heartbeat. I still, to this day, have dreams about that sandwich. I’m considering divorcing my wife and marrying it.
Speaking of my wife: when we were walking around town, my wife pointed out (what appeared to be) a lack of Italian population in Chicago. True story – as we walked to Al’s, she made it a point to bring up the fact that (based on popular culture) she kind of expected to see more of the Chicago Italian stereotype. Once we got to Al’s we stood at the counter (you don’t sit at Al’s!) and started eating. That’s when the guy next to me starting asking me how I liked the sandwich.
He had THE Chicago Italian accent. Shannon’s eyes went wide.
(It gets better.)
The guy was great. He told us of other locations near downtown that we should try if we liked the sandwich. Meanwhile, he would pause in the conversation to ask his mom to his right if she was going to finish her sandwich. In true Italian mother style, she lectured him that she would finish whatever she felt like finishing and he should pay attention to his own food.
Remember me mentioning how much ambiance adds to a meal? This made it EPIC. Here’s a shot of them at the counter near us: