>> Mustard's Chicago Style Eatery | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday 5 September 2022

Mustard's Chicago Style Eatery

Katella Avenue facade

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ UNITED STATES (Illinois)
๐Ÿ“ 3630 Katella Avenue, Los Alamitos, Orange County
๐Ÿ…ฟ️ Plentiful parking lot in plaza.
๐Ÿฅค Wine and draft/bottled beer available.

The bold blue V in the Vienna Beef logo is probably the kind of small detail that could cause accidents if a homesick Chicago native tries to merge four lanes and find their way into the parking lot from this busy intersection. The business of Austrian immigrants to Chicago at the end of the 1800s, Vienna Beef is most known as the Windy City's favorite hot dog. They are also a supplier of Polish sausages and Italian beef, both very important in day to day life.

If you are able to swerve safely into the plaza, opening the door of the restaurant is like opening a portal straight to the Midwest. The wood tables with dark green laminate inlays, the self-serve soda machine, the blow up balls hanging from the ceiling, even the typeface on the big menu board all speak of somewhere far from Los Angeles and set the mood. Chicago sports memorabilia decorates every service and will keep fans of these teams busy for a long time.

Interior of restaurant

The Italian beef sandwich and Chicago have been getting some recent attention thanks to the success of The Bear, a TV series that follows a chef's return to his Chicago roots from the fancy heights of Michelin-starred kitchens. While the sandwich is not very prevalent on the West Coast, some are trying to cash in on this success, but is a place called "Eastside" with two locations in Los Feliz and Echo Park really that trustworthy with such an iconic sandwich?

Mustard's has the feel of a place that has been serving these sandwiches for as long as Chicagoans have been making their way west on Route 66. Most of the menu reads just like that of a regular deli, with hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, and salads, as well as a full donut case and half-hearted attempts at breakfast.

Extensive menu inside restaurant

Before checking the Italian beef off your list, order one of their near-perfect classic steam Chicago dog (4.99, below), made with only the finest Vienna Beef link. The hot dog itself is buried under a garden of vegetables and neon green relish actually made by adding blue food dye to a standard green pickle condiment. It might look off-putting, but without its brightness a dog just would not feel like it came from Chicago.

There are a couple hot "sport" peppers laid on top, but Mustard's also has a small self-serve area on the counter with bright yellow peppers and some chopped up jalapeรฑos for those that want to bring more heat. When you finally bite through everything else including the soft poppy seed bun, the hot dog almost snaps back at you just like it should. New York City may be known for its hot dogs more than any other place in the United States, but Chicago's are a hundred times better.

Classic steam Chicago dog

Chicago dog bite-away view

If the tri tip or baby back ribs do not sway your next order, it is time to move ahead to the Chicago-style Italian beef ($8.95, below), thinly cut slices of roast beef served on a French roll. There are a couple steps that happen in Chicago that allows customers to customize their sandwiches that do not happen here, but the end product is still worth enjoying.

In Chicago, you can have your entire Italian beef sandwich dipped or even double dipped in the jus that the beef has been simmering in, and when ordering you are given the choice of hot (topped with giardiniera) or sweet (thoroughly sauteed until soft green Italian peppers). Here in Los Alamitos, the standard is sweet and the jus is served on the side to be used as desired by each diner. Maybe not the true or full Chicago experience as nothing drips down your forearms and legs, but still very tasty.

Chicago-style Italian beef

In the end, the reason to get this sandwich is for its wetness, so do not be afraid to use every last drop. The bread is strong enough to withstand anything you throw at it. This is definitely a working person's Italian beef sandwich, much more like the one before Carmy shows up to take over his brother's restaurant. The beef slices on their own can be dry, which is intentional.

The United States is full of foods, and often times delicious foods, that would make Italians mad. This Chicago original has been loud and proud in this arena since its first appearance in the 1930s. Just wait until you try the city's famous Polish sausages!

Close look at Italian beef sandwich


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