I was working from home, and decided I had the time to run out. I like my Italian beef sandwich wet (extra "juice") so I was eating it there, not taking it home. I got there at the height of lunch time... er, well, at least I'd think it would be since it was right at noon. The small restaurant had very little seating (maybe for as many as 18) but only 4 others there for the 20 minutes or so I was there. The place looks like it has been there for a long time, which is remarkable as it has only been open for about a year (I'm guessing). The place just feel right, feels like something right from the Windy City. I was quite encouraged.
I ordered the Italian beef with the fries and drink combo. The sandwich is very good. It fits all of the details that I've come to expect from many years of visits up to Chicago. The sandwich is loaded with thinly sliced beef. The peppers are spicy and plentiful. It's right, the sandwich hits all the right notes. My only criticism of the sandwich is that some of the beef was a bit tough.
Now, the fries... the fries were a different story. They are described on the menu chalkboard as the "best fries in the universe". But, at least on this visit, they were woefully short of this boast. These are hand-cut, skin-on fries, and they likely can be very good. But, today, my goodness, most of the fries were undercooked, firm, and yet somehow too greasy, too. Best in the universe? I think they'd have struggled to be honorable mention on Mercury. Hopefully it was just an execution problem, but they didn't match the quality of the sandwich at all.
This Italian beef combo came in at $11.99, with the sandwich alone being $7.50. Now, an Italian beef at Portillo's is $4.45. I prefer mine with both hot and sweet peppers, which takes the cost at Portillo's to $5.15. I believe the size of the sandwiches are similar. Maybe the shipping costs for the components are much greater than I realize, but... this offering from Fat Dan's just seems too expensive. And, what's up with the ketchup packets and no ketchup bottles? That was just an annoyance.
The verdict: 3 belly rubs (out of 5). Great sandwich, poor fries, seems expensive.