Food & Drink

Chicago's 10 best under-the-radar sandwiches

Published On 07/25/2014 Published On 07/25/2014
Titus Ruscitti

Yeah, you went to PB & J Middle School and Ham and Cheese High, but by now, you've likely graduated to Italian Beef, Cemita & Turkey Club Tech. Here to take you to sandwich graduate school, this list of the 10 most under-the-radar sandwiches in Chicago.

Shrimp BLT

The Brown Sack (address and info)
Humboldt Park
Meet my favorite Summertime sandwich. BLTs were meant for July and August, and when I need one, I can always rely on the deliciousness of The Brown Sack to be at my service. What's better than a BLT? How about a shrimp BLT? Perfectly assembled each and every time for a consistently satisfying sandwich.

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Steak Jibarito

La Bomba (address and info)
Logan Square
If you've ever taken a stroll through Humboldt Park, you may have seen this Puerto Rican food cart (they've also got a brick-and-mortar on Armitage). Stop inside for what might be the best representation of a jibarito, in the city they were made in. Thinly pounded tender steak and a perfect fry job of the plantains put this sandwich head and shoulders and a hat above the rest. 

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Patty Melt

Edzo's (address and info)
Lincoln Park
Edzo and his top-of-the-mountain burgers are by no means under-the-radar, but the sandwich? The oft-overlooked and totally perfect epitome of a patty melt. Comfort food, in sandwich form.

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Corned Beef Sandwich

Moon's Sandwich Shop (address and info)
Near Westside
Moon's has been serving Chicago's blue collar, working class community since 1933. When loyal patrons aren't indulging in one of the massive breakfast plates, they're most likely eating one of Moon's signature corned beef sandwiches. As they say, if it ain't broke... eat the crap out of it.

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Shish Kebab Sandwich

Mr. D's (address and info)
You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu at Chicago's most well-known, under-the-radar spot. If you live anywhere near Mr. D's, you know all about the stick-to-the-ribs shish kebab sandwich that's flame-kissed to perfection every time. Served with some of the best fries in the city, this is a monthly stop for me. 

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Gyro Sandwich

George's Hot Dogs (address and info)
There's no shortage of gyro options in Chicago, but how many of those options are different? Not many. It's the same meat with the same toppings on the same pita, which is why I like George's Hot Dogs in Bucktown. Going into its 66th year, my go-to order here is the "The Greek Squeeze", a sub stuffed with gyro meat and topped with melted cheese, grilled onions, tomatoes, and the house-made tzatziki. Don't plan on moving much after eating one of these. 

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Tuna Salad Sub

Vinnie's Sub Shop (address and info)
Noble Square
Yes, I've been to the other sandwich shop down the block hundreds of times, but this is still where I go when the hankering for a tuna salad sub hits. Those cravings tend to come when it's really warm outside, and lunch calls for something that's not hot. Enter Vinnie's family-recipe tuna salad, which only uses Italian stuff and lip-smacking oil.

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Superfish Sandwich

Superdawg (address and info)
Norwood Park 
It's hard to pass up on the signature Superdawg at Chicago's premier drive-in, but WE BELIEVE IN YOU, and if you're gonna do it, do it with the Superfish Sandwich. It's no different than the hot dogs when it comes to preparation, and that means shortcuts are not taken. Freshly breaded filets of cod take a bath in the same oil used for the fries, which results in a golden outside and beefy, flaky inside after they're fried in beef tallow. Two filets go inside a fresh-baked onion roll with a smear of tartar sauce on top. My favorite fried fish sandwich in the city.

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Torta Ahogado

Las Picosas (address and info)
West Lawn 
There's no shortage of torta options in the city. One of the locals' favorites in West Lawn is this place specializing in tortas ahogadas, which're popular in the Mexican state of Guadalajara. Simplicity reigns supreme in these sandwiches that get stuffed with carnitas and then drowned in a spicy tomato sauce. And of course, they're served with a mini-taco dorado to drain it all down. 

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Ham, Egg & Cheese on a Biscuit

Ms. Biscuit (address and info)
Washington Park
Fresh-baked biscuits are few and far between in Chicago, but they can be found. This appropriately named breakfast spot packs them in for the baked delights. I like to have one in sandwich form, and the ham off the bone with egg and cheese is a damn good way to start a lazy Sunday.

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Titus Ruscitti is a contributing writer for Thrillist. You can join him on his food travels throughout the cityscape and wherever else life takes him on his blog, where he's single-handedly tackled close to 1,000 food stops. Follow him @chibbqking.

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1. The Brown Sack 3581 W Belden Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Humboldt Park)

This Humboldt Park eatery slings some seriously tasty 'wiches, like their creative shrimp BLT with avocado or their traditional PB&J.

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2. Mr. D's Shish-Kabobs 6656 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60707

You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu at Chicago's most well-known, under-the-radar spot in Montclare. Everything at this modest Montclare staple exists to support the true star, the steak sandwich. The sandwich itself is actually pretty simple, too -- a moist rib eye, served with tomato and onion on a French roll -- but itโ€™s still one of the most crave-inducing in the land.

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3. Moon's Sandwich Shop 16 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60612

This small, old-school diner with warm staff behind the counter has been serving the community since 1933. They've got some award-winning grits and eggs, and definitely don't skimp on the juicy, freshly cut corned beef when it comes to their signature sammy, which is probably why they have such a devout following.

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4. Edzo's Burger Shop 1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 (Lincoln Park)

Edzo isn't the name of a creepy clown but of an awesome burger joint with a serious '70s vibe. The patties are made from house-ground chuck that's pressed, griddled, then topped with extras like fried egg or giardiniera relish. The menu includes elevated French fry options -- order them "Crazy" to get a topping of chili, cheese, and chopped onion or "Angry" with four kinds of spices. Edzo's is also known for its milkshakes, which are made the old-fashioned way -- on a slow-mixing spindle machine -- to yield an extra-smooth and creamy texture.

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5. Superdawg 6363 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646

Superdawg opened its doors on the corner of Milwaukee, Devon, and Nagle Avenues in 1948 and became an instant success, wowing Chicagoans with its slightly spicy hot dogs topped with picked green tomato. Today, the classic drive-in still maintains its rep as one of the best spots for hot dogs in the city. You can order from the takeout window or grab one of the small handful of indoor seats, but we suggest you go full-on '50s and pull up to one of the carports and order through the retro call box. You'll want to go for the Superdawg, served on a poppy seed bun and dressed with golden mustard, tangy piccalilli, kosher dill pickle, chopped Spanish onions, and a hot pepper. It comes with a side of scrumptious crinkle-cut fries, too.

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6. La Bomba 3221 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

This Puerto Rican food cart also has a brick-and-mortar on Armitage, which you should definitely stop by so you can try the signature steak jibarito ((pronounced hee-bah-ree-to), which has two thin planks of flattened and fried green plantains in lieu of bread, which are still strong enough to hold all the grilled steak, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melted cheese you can handle.

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7. Ms. Biscuit 5436 S Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60615 (Washington Park)

Ms. Biscuit is full of people waiting to get their hands on the perfect biscuits. You can go plain, or try a ham, egg and cheese sandwich, which just so happens to be the perfect way to start any day.

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8. George's Hot Dogs 1876 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

Ready to hook you up with a full meal for less than $5, this over-60-year-old Bucktown legend has everything from hot dogs and burgers to Italian beef and Philly steaks to gyro and Grecian chicken and salad selections to brutally destroy your hunger while only lightly caressing your wallet. Family owned and operated since 1948, George's offers traditional homemade Greek and American favorites. The Greek Squeeze gyro sandwich is essentially a sub stuffed with gyro meat and topped with melted cheese, grilled onions, tomatoes, and the house-made tzatziki. You won't have to worry about your next meal for days after polishing one off.

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9. Vinnie's Sub Shop 1204 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Hit up Vinnie's Sub Shop and get yourself a monster sandwich -- pile on your own choice of ingredients or go with a classic, like Vinnie's Special that's layered with Italian meats and cheese and Vinnie's Special Oil.

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10. Las Picosas 6430 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60629 (Far South Side)

This South Side Mexican eatery is constantly heading in the right direction, with excellent authentic options and some of the best-kept secret sandos in the city.



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