Earlier this week, news that Chicago-based Al's Beef would set up multiple locations in the Dallas area bubbled up like oil droplets in a pan of simmering jus. Much like Five Guys hired former Redskins player Mark Moseley to head up the burger chain's expansions, Al's Beef turned to Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka to aid with theirs. They even named a hot dog after him. It's called the "spicy jumbo Ditka dog," and it's topped with onions, mustard and sport peppers.
Ditka's not just Ditkaing around; he's shipping Al's locations all over the country. There are now Al's beef in Las Vegas and California, and now five locations are planned for Texas, in and around Dallas. The first one will land in Addison, ironically in a space that used to house a Texadelphia, which sold a Texan take on Philadelphia's namesake sandwich.
At first, the idea of a Chicago-based food business standing up locations in Dallas suggests less than inspired eating, but a survey of Italian beef sandwiches conducted by the Chicago Tribune this summer claims that fast food restaurants hold their own against the family guys. Al's Beef and Portillo's were among the authors favorites.
Texas-based Al's will have some hurdles to clear if they want hand out similar sandwiches here in Texas. They plan on cooking the meat in an existing facility in Chicago before shipping it down south, so freshness will be an issue, and bread-baking has always been a point of contention when sandwiches are shipped around the country.
Al's Beef is expected to open by the end of the year, so we won't have to wait long. Till then your best bet for what may be one of the greatest sandwiches ever created is at Jimmy's, where the sandwich is made from Chicago imported Vienna Beef ingredients. And Brian Luscher's will have another version for us to try, too, as soon as his Deep Ellum restaurant opens for business, which is also expected by the end of the year.