If you all have been following my page, you will remember I did a list of my favorite Italian beef sandwiches in Illinois. Mr. Beef and Pizza off Harlem was my number one pick for what I felt was the best beef in Illinois.
I had not been to Mr. Beef and Pizza off Harlem since before the pandemic. I was worried and excited to try my favorite Italian beef spot and see if it was still the best.
I arrived at Mr. Beef off Harlem at around 5:00 pm. There was a small line of customers around five in total. The first sign that made me nervous was I saw all new faces. The original staff was replaced with all new workers. I wish I remembered her name but I distinctly remember a woman who was the owner that worked the front counter. I remember how nice she was and how she would talk with her customers as they waited for their order. I have no clue where that lady went, but she was gone.
I have heard from many sources that the restaurant was sold and the old owners are no longer here.
I put in my usual order of Italian beef juicy with hot giardiniera and a large fry. I was able to sit at one of the open tables and watch the workers work and the customers come in and out. The whole place felt different; it was just missing that magic that made the place unique. I was really hoping, other than the other differences, the beef sandwich was still going to be as good as I remembered it.
I heard my number called and grabbed my greasy bag of goodness. I raced home to enjoy my food while it was still fresh and hot. I arrived home and removed my sandwich. The look of it seemed somewhat familiar, but the proof will be in the first bite. I took my first bite and began to savor the flavor. The problem was there was no real flavor as I remembered.
The meat tasted dry and old as if it was frozen or sitting for a while. The bun was saturated in gravy, but it still tasted flavorless and dry. The hot giardiniera was not very hot and had muted flavors of peppers. The fries were good and crunchy, but my beef was way below average.
My worst fears had come to fruition. My favorite beef had been another victim of the pandemic. Many restaurants have closed down and many of the ones left open lost many of the core staff that made the restaurant and food great.
This was a sad day for me, but I am determined to find a new Italian Beef spot to replace my once great Mr. Beef and Pizza off Harlem.
I will try Mr. Beef and Pizza off Harlem again one day. However, from what my friends are also telling me, this place is just not that good anymore. It was not unique to one particular day.
I give Mr. Beef and Pizza off Harlem a rating of 4 out of 10.
© Frank S ChicagoFoodKing , 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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