I was talking to a friend the other day and he asked me how I came to love Italian beef sandwiches? Its a good question since I do have this odd obsession with finding the best one in the Indianapolis area. My earliest memory of Italian beef wasn’t from eating one; rather, the memory is from sitting next to my mom in the car (kids were allowed to do that when I was young). We were going through a drive through and she was ordering a sandwich. She had already gotten us Burger King and we were not allowed to eat any of her sandwich. For some reason, my mind tucked this event away for years. Not long after, we moved to Indianapolis.
Years passed and I eventually turned 16. My mind suddenly remembered this odd sandwich event. I asked my mom what that was all about and she told me about Italian beef sandwiches. I’m still not sure why we weren’t allowed any as kids, but I digress. On our next trip to Chicago, we stopped at the Taylor Street Al’s and got one. I was instantly hooked. I think there may be pre-natal instinct attached. Maybe, when I was in the womb, my mom craved them. I’m not really sure, but I was instantly drawn to Italian beef sandwiches.My hunt this week brings me to DJs. I’m not going to call it DJs Hotdogs because they are planning on changing the name to just DJs. According to my very knowledgeable cashier, they want the brand to reflect that they do a lot more than just hot dogs. DJs started out as a family operation. D is father of J, as I understand it. They started out in Greenwood, expanded to the location near IUPUI, and are looking at expanding to a couple more locations soon.
My last trip to a hot dog stand for beef didn’t go so well (see Zacky’s). I had heard good things from Agent Amish (Ferret Bueller) DJs was pretty good, so I hoped I wouldn’t leave disappointed. I was nervous when they took a bag of beef out of the fridge (see Greiner’s), but was relieved when they placed the beef to heat up in the broth. This prevented the beef from getting dry. I was also nervous when they put the bun in a toaster oven. I’m not a fan of toasted bread, but I went with it. I sat anxiously as the cashier/waitress retrieved the beef from the broth, placed it in the bun, then dipped it. How did everything turn out?
The bread, as it turns out, was just warmed, not toasted. It had the substance of a Gonnella roll and held up extremely well to the broth. The waitress/cashier even came out and brought me more broth without my asking (I’ll forgive her calling au jus because she was very helpful and answered all my questions about DJs).
The broth was quite tasty. The extra cup she brought allowed me to taste it free from the confines of the sandwich. While prefer a more substantial broth, it had great flavor.The giardiniera could have been more creative, but as it stands I complain about that everywhere. Jalapenos and celery are good, but I still want more!The beef was juicy and not dry. As I mentioned, they pulled pre-cooked beef from a bag and heat it in the broth. The result is a very juicy succulent beef.I would easily rate this sandwich an A-. As always, I would love to see more work on the broth and giardiniera, but the broth is quite good regardless.