Beef grease begrimed

but content, with bulging bellies, we pull away from Mr. Beef in Chicago and back on to the highway.

If you’ve watched The Bear, streaming on Hulu, you know something about Mr. Beef.

It’s the premier Chicago joint to get an Italian beef sandwich, with great actors – including debatable hunk Jeremy Allen White – telling the story of a guy that inherits his deceased brother’s counter restaurant, the Original Beef of Chicagoland, modeled closely on Mr. Beef. It was even shot on site as well as a sound stage. Also Ayo Edebiri, a fast-rising newcomer who co-stars as his culinary sidekick.

Not debatable, the scrumptiousness of the sandwich sold there,”hand-carved” thin-shaved beef with what is called giardeneria, sautéed vegetables, and then the whole thing dipped in jus.

Okay to eat in the car, especially if you have dogs in the back seat and don’t want to risk broiling them by leaving them there.

Otherwise the counter by the window is the thing.

When I say dipped, I mean bun and all.

Twice-fried french fries also the best, the kind that have you licking salt off your fingers before you surrender to the necessity of wipes.

The highway spools out ahead, the trip post-Mr. Beef energized by Steve Earle’s I Feel Alright, though made somewhat tawdry by Maud’s addiction to true-crime podcasts. Also, Parliament Funkadelic, Flashlight, utilized to good effect at the beginning of the 1990 thriller Misery. James Caan speeds down a mountain road blasting Flashlight on his way to mail the manuscript for a novel he has just finished. Probably the best portrayal of writerly triumph and self-satisfaction in Hollywood history. That is, before meany Kathy Bates gets ahold of him.

Mr. Beef has many fans willing to wait on long lines.

Stars of screen and tube drop in regularly, and autographed head shots adorn the walls. The person at the counter said that Jeremy had come by several weeks ago, stimulating a bout of fan-girling.

There is a back room, but I’ve rarely seen anyone go in there. Well, we have. We’ve been to Mr. Beef many times before, having chanced on it serendipitously when taking a random exit off the road at meal-time.

Alright then, says Maud. Nuff said. That’s just about all you can say with jus dripping down your chin, onto your chest and everywhere else. Alright.

Taking a bite sets off fireworks in your mouth.

The largest (they say) fireworks warehouse on Route 80 welcomed our business, the quiet time between Fourth of July and Labor day.

Hard to know what to get in this multiple-football-field-sized store, between the ones that shoot balls, the boppers, or the ones that simply explode. Even the sparklers look somewhat iffy, though the young lady that checked us out assured us that it would all would be fine for a backyard display.

She also told us that Sturgeon Bay, our ultimate destination in Door County, has a terrific place to go if you want pancakes and also goats on the roof. We looked it up. Yes. It also has Swedish meatballs. Okay, but I believe that pancakes and goats are inherently a better combination.

Perhaps an improvement on Mr. Beef? Goats? Actually, there could be no improvement on Mr. Beef.

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