The Beef-Off - Chapter VIII - Tore's
Here we are, two-thirds of the way through, about to enter the home stretch, and a few truisms are becoming increasingly evident. Most notable, I think, is that inconsistency is the Achilles' heel of the Beef-Off. Granted, the Beef-Off has never claimed to be anything other than a very subjective and personal tour based on a small sample, but all the same, the more places I visit, the less scientific this endeavor seems. But we'll save the error analysis for the conclusion of the exercise at the end of the year. Right now, it's all about more beefy data.
We move on to Tore's Italian Beef, a near north side establishment on the Western, Diversey & Elston megacorner. Tore's is something of a departure from the lovable skeeziness of places like Boston's, Johnnie's, Chickie's, Mr. Beef and Al's. It's another small joint, with counter seating and stools for 20 or so. But as beef stands go, it's an unusually pristine and well-lit environment, which makes me wonder if it's either younger or closer to its most recent facelift. In any case, while there's a soft spot in my heart for total dives, the Beef-Off neither awards nor penalizes eating establishments for atmosphere. It's all about the beef... which in this case, just happened to reflect said atmosphere.
As such, owing to the many things Tore's gets very right, I think it clearly belongs in the middle tier. But because it was more competent than exciting, I think I need to put it towards the bottom of the middle tier. It had more life than Portillo's, but above or below Boston's is a tough call. If I were to consider a second, unofficial trip to Boston's wherein the abusive oregano blast was nicely muted, it wouldn't be a contest. But even if I count the official (and lesser) Boston's visit, I think I still prefer Boston's flawed intensity to Tore's clean, conservative approach. If you're all about clean and light (inasmuch as a beef sandwich can be described as clean and light), you'll probably dig Tore's a lot more than I did. But for me, it's going in fifth position... smack dab in the middle of the pack.
|Tore's Italian Beef|
2804 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
3) Mr. Beef
Addendum: The final Beef-Off results and wrapup can be found in The Year In Beef.