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Pop in to Dee-Dee’s Beef for Italian beef sandwiches and tasty arancini

A cropped image of Dee-Dee Beef's Italian beef sandwich on brown parchment paper in a black plastic basket on an orange table. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Inside of Cracked: The Egg Came First, the current owners are trying something new: a recurring pop-up restaurant for dinner. The pop-up is called Dee-Dee’s Beef, and I went to last week’s pop-up and tried a few things from the new business.

Inside Dee-Dee's Beef pop-up there is a plastic stand with the menu of Italian beef sandwiches and arancini. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Dee-Dee’s Beef has a menu of four different Italian beef sandwiches, a build-your-own beef sandwich, arancini, and some drinks. One sandwich has red sauce, another has mushrooms and dressed arugula, and there’s a beef sandwich with sausage and mozzarella. I ordered the Marone Italian beef, which had beef with formaggio spread, mozzarella, and hot giardiniera.

An Italian beef sandwich by Dee-Dee's Beef in Champaign, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

My sandwich ($11.99) was ready quickly, and the soft bread held a big portion of meat. Dee-Dee’s beef was more like pot roast with shredded, tender meat instead of thinly sliced beef, and while I wished the sandwich was either juicer or served au jus, the flavors were good. I enjoyed the heat from the giardiniera, the garlicky flavors of that herby cheese spread, and the melty mozz that helped hold all that beef inside the sandwich.

Two big balls of arancini with Italian seasonings sit on white paper bags. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

I ordered both the veggie arancini ($2.99) and the meat arancini ($2.99), each served in a white bag. The veggie arancini had chopped carrots in the center, and the meat had shredded beef filling. With flavorful Italian seasoning in the crust, Dee-Dee’s fried risotto balls were absolutely delicious. Each arancini was delicate and gently deflated after the first bite; they were gooey, cheesy, and I loved them — especially at that price.

A blood orange lemonata at Dee-Dee's Beef pop-up restaurant in Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Lastly, I ordered the Sicilian lemonata ($3). The drink was sweet with just the right amount of tart. The blood orange and lemon citrus were totally refreshing, and I thought having a signature drink was a cool touch for the pop-up.

The menu is quite different than the original Cracked menu, and it’s pretty cool to see the egg restaurant try something new. Keep an eye on Dee-Dee’s Beef’s Instagram account, and if the pop-up is open, definitely be sure order the arancini.

Inside Cracked on Green Street in Champaign, there is a pop-up restaurant called Dee-Dee's Italian Beef, written on a black chalkboard on the bright yellow wall. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Dee-Dee’s Beef pop-up
inside Cracked
619 E Green St

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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