Just as the cosmos and time are infinite, so, too, is mankind’s selection of sandwiches. In a world where you can put nearly anything between two slices of bread (except sprouts, which are glorified mower trimmings), how are you to find your way? We’ve scoured time and space (mostly Chicago around now-ish) to find five great sandwiches that belong in your hand.
VBQ, Saigon Sisters
Near West Side
Thankfully not short for “vegan BBQ”, this Viet BBQ banh mi on chewy French bread comes piled with remarkably flavorful Wagyu beef, providing a richness that's cut with Thai basil and jalapeño, making it a standout among a loaded sandwich lineup.
#43, Eleven City Diner
Big enough to take on two or three comers (Mitch Hedberg might recommend bringing a loaf of bread and some other people), this double-decker deli favorite has certain other establishments beat when it comes to the art of integrating potatoes between bread, incorporating a crispy latke into a pile of corned beef along with a smear of sour cream and fried onion strings on a challah roll.
Duck Reuben, Hopleaf
When Planet of the Apes gets a reboot, it’s disastrous. When the Reuben sandwich gets a reboot, and that reboot happens under the watchful eye of the Andersonville beer mecca, the result is this glorious slow-roasted Peking duck number with cranberry cream cheese, sauerkraut, Emmentaler, and a side of their addicting pomme frites. That's fancy talk for French fries. Whatever, just eat them.
The Montreal, Dillman’s
Near North Side
The deli-inspired Brendan Sodikoff haunt that’s more mood-lit brasserie than Carnegie offers a fresh take on several Jewish favorites, but sink your teeth into this stacked Montreal, which adds foie gras to more standard meat choices like beef bologna, pastrami, and corned beef, all barely contained between two pieces of fluffy rye bread.
Return of the Gyro, Publican Quality Meats
Near West Side
Publican is definitely not bluffing when it comes to quality meats, and their gyro -- a griddled flatbread with braised pork belly, raita (in place of tzatziki sauce), escalivada, and a chili-orange vinaigrette -- bears that out. There's even a modified version available for breakfast, because there's no wrong time of day to get your sandwich on.
After opening a successful stand last year in the French Market, SS is taking their grandma-inspired Vietnamese eats to a modern industrial-chic bistro, with a lofted skylit ceiling overlooking dark wood communal tables and metallic chairs, but not Metall
This Andersonville beer bar is known for its rotating selection of draft beers primarily from the Midwest and Belgium. More than just a bar that serves food, Hopleaf has an outstanding menu of Belgian-inspired food like mussels from Prince Edward Island, charcuterie, and steak frites. The place is casual and laid-back, just like a neighborhood bar should be.
Dillman's is a Jewish deli by the Au Cheval folks, and's got whitefish terrines, latkes, and everything else your bubbie used to make.
Publican Quality Meats is something of a triple threat: equal parts butcher shop, café, and speciality grocery store, it features an awe-inspiring selection of sausages and cured charcuterie meats, served individually from the butcher case or in sandwiches made with house-baked bread. The lunch menu is often changing, but the Parm #2 features a beautifully crisp chicken cutlet nestled into a brioche bun, while the sausage plate lets you sample three of the house-made specialities with sauerkraut and breadcrumbs. A breakfast menu includes ham and egg biscuit sandwiches and a pork belly breakfast burrito, though if you're in the mood for something less savory, there are pastries and coffee, too.
A matrimony of the Jewish delicatessen and the old-school diner, Eleven City Diner's a greasy spoon sans the grease, with awesome double-decker sandwiches and generally huge portions of pretty much everything.