Chicago Blues Café does Chicago food, and does it right. The Italian beef sandwich is made with Vienna Beef brand and served dipped in jus. You can get the jus on the side, if you wish. “This version of Italian Beef is definitely standard Chicago style and properly prepared,” says P. Punko. Giardiniera—hot pepper and vegetable mix—is an extra 50 cents.
The Vienna Beef dogs ($4) also are served in the Chicago style—steamed, on a poppy seed bun, with green relish, tomato, onion, peppers, and your choice of mustard. “All the Chicago stuff is prepared exactly as it should be with good quality Vienna Beef brand components shipped from Chicago,” says P. Punko.
Chicago Blues Café compares favorably to another Chowhound favorite Italian beef joint, West Side Café, formerly known as Gumbah’s. West Side Café tends toward homemade stuff—Italian beef, giardiniera—while Chicago Blues Café tends toward importing local brands, like Vienna Beef. “In terms of authenticity, I think they are about equal. Chicagoans would probably be more used to the super thin Vienna Beef mass produced product than the homemade Gumbah’s,” says P. Punko.
It has barbecue, too. It’s definitely not for those who want to savor the flavor of carefully smoked ’cue, with the sauce on the side. It’s long-smoked, but with no discernable smoke flavor, and served swimming in sweetish sauce. It’s good, but it won’t suit a certain kind of barbecue purist.
There are plans for deep-dish pizza soon, too.
Chicago Blues Café [East Bay]
13802 East 14th Street, San Leandro
West Side Café (formerly Gumbah’s) [Solano County]
138 Tennessee Street, Vallejo