I was reading Rene's update on Polk'n Western and noticed his digression about Italian beef and wavering between Johnie's and Al's. I was wondering if we have any clear-cut consensous here on chowhound.
Me, I love the product at Johnies, but I'm much more partial to Al's for three reasons. I like the texture of Al's beef, a little coarser than the standard Scala pack used at Johnies. Next, my opinion about giardinara is somewhat akin to what Woody Allen said about orgasisms (even the bad ones are pretty ok), but Al's mixture of ultra thin celary and red pepper flakes stands apart. Finally, the fries.
Interestingly, I live practially down the street from Johnnies. Whereas noted Johnies afcianado Zim lives miles and miles away in Evanston. Are we destined to love the beef joint most inaccessible? I will say this about Johnnies. It is the best smelling resturant in the chicago area.
One final plus in Johnies favor, the close proximity to Masa. While many finish their johnies with an italian lemonade, I almos always go for some Massa gelato or a Massa espresso.
(special note to Rene: Last time I was at Gene and Jude's, I pointed out to Ms. VI the alternative Gene & Jude's/Gene's and Jude's. I told her how you noticed it and how you were more observant in these kind of things than I. She said that it would make sense that you notice the little things given your academic choice)