Beef Villa’s Italian Beef Sandwich Crowned the Winner of ‘Munch Madness’

After a fierce yet tasty competition that featured everything from burgers and pizza to avocado toast and sushi, the Italian Beef Sandwich from Beef Villa emerged victorious in the first-ever “Munch Madness.”

The bracket-style competition organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin (DNA) and a variety of local community partners started in mid-March with 16 restaurants that put forth one of their signature dishes to serve as an entry.

More than 2,500 votes were cast during the competition that featured a “Final Fork” and then a championship round in which Beef Villa’s Italian Beef Sandwich nabbed 54 percent of the vote to win over the Thin Crust Sausage Pizza at Danny’s on Douglas.

“It’s hard to beat our recipe for Italian Beef that dates back to 1970, and we’re proud of our service and the quality of our food,” said Todd Evanson, the chief operating officer for Beef Villa. “Thank you to DNA for including us in this fun competition, and thank you to our Beef Villa fans who kept voting for us and advancing us to the next round.”

The Munch Madness bracket was set up so that eight of the original restaurants competing in the event came from Downtown Elgin, including Danny’s on Douglas, and eight were located outside the Downtown area, or “Aroundtown,” including Beef Villa.

“Munch Madness was conceived as a fun twist on the spirit of basketball season, but it really did shine a spotlight on all the choices of restaurants and types of food that people can enjoy in Elgin,” said Jennifer Fukala, DNA’s Executive Director. “We’re grateful to the 16 restaurants signed up to participate in the first-ever Munch Madness, and we hope it inspires Elgin residents and visitors to continue trying new restaurants and new dishes, as well as continue to enjoy their old favorites as well!”

For those who would still like to sample these signature dishes, a complete list — and mouth-watering pictures — can be found at

Other Downtown restaurants that participated in Munch Madness are Al’s Cafe, Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza, Blue Box Cafe, Café Revive, Elgin Public House, Kubo Sushi and Sake Lounge, and Legit Dogs & Ice. The participating Aroundtown restaurants included Alexander’s Cafe, Gifford’s Kitchen & Social, Grumpy Goat Tavern, Porter’s Pub at Bowes Creek, Rookies Bar & Grille, Sammy’s Mexican Grill, and ZZA Factory.

The DNA would like to thank our partners and volunteers who’ve helped make Munch Madness a realty including the City of Elgin, Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, Explore Elgin Area, Gail Borden Public Library, Oddball Art Labs, WRMN Radio, Chris Mau, Tara Burghart and Michael Copeland.