Al’s serves famous food, surely one of the best-known Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago (and now, Las Vegas). Whether it’s the best beef sandwich is not for me to say; I’ve only spent a few short days eating around the Windy City. But I’m comfortable claiming this: the regular Al ($6.35) with provolone cheese, hot giardiniera and sweet peppers, plus a bonus dip in beefy jus to saturate its soft roll and create a delicious mess, is the best Italian beef I’ve tasted in Las Vegas. It’s a salty, juicy, spicy sandwich loaded with textural variation, and the key is the crazy-thin roast beef, chopped almost to tender shreds.
Al’s Beef has been busy since opening last month at Sahara and Rainbow, not a surprise considering how many Chicagoans call Vegas home. Formerly a ’50s-themed diner, it’s a bustling space that feels like it’s been this way forever, stocked with smiling lunch breakers happy to have discovered this junk-food paradise. Double down on your Italian beef by adding extra meat or a grilled sausage. If you’re in the mood for tubes of meat, the Chicago Dog ($4.65) is solid, with the obligatory poppy bun, neon-green relish, sliced tomato and sport peppers, or opt for a third-pound Polish sausage ($5.85) with your toppings of choice. Specialty burgers run the gamut from Spicy Buffalo ($6.30) to Gorgonzola & Bleu ($6.75), and nacho cheese sauce finds its perfect partner in chopped green onions on the Loaded Fries ($4.35 for a small order), which are also doused with bacon and sour cream.
The chili has no beans but plenty of rich, meaty flavor, and while it’s great on a dog or Al’s fresh-cut French fries, I’m slightly embarrassed to recommend you try it in Tamale Boat form. That would be a “classic Chicago tamale”—a mushy mélange of corn meal and savory ground beef—smothered in chili, cheese and chopped onions. I want you to feel the same jubilant guilt I did for enjoying this monument.
There are grilled chicken sandwiches, wraps and even salads on the menu, in case you don’t want a gutbomb lunch. But isn’t that why you came to Al’s in the first place? When you’re ready for a big cheat day, you’ve got a new mission.
Al’s Beef 6840 W. Sahara Ave., 644-2333. Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.