Food & Drink

The Chicago Sandwich Bucket List: 40 Sandwiches to Eat Before You Die

Published On 03/23/2016 Published On 03/23/2016
Fried house-made bologna sandwich from Au Cheval in Chicago
COURTESY OF KARI SKAFLEN

When it comes to sandwiches that are as delicious as they are unwieldy, our Midwestern bellies know no bounds. But what makes a sandwich truly great enough to put it on a must-eat list? Is it the hefty mounds of corned beef? The rarest finds from dives that could collapse tomorrow? Layers of fried meat and cheese that may expedite the "bucket" aspect of a bucket list? Chicago has all of these and more with 40 sandwiches you should seriously already be eating.

1. Fried house-made bologna sandwich

Au Cheval (address and info)

West Loop
This isn't your childhood "slice of cold bologna and Kraft singles slapped between two pieces of Wonder bread" lunch box sandwich (if you can even call that a sandwich). You're not gonna want to trade this far-from-basic, cheesy, meaty, salty deliciousness piled high on the softest buns for anything -- not even for your friend's insanely good burger.

COURTESY OF MIKE MUSER

2. Cemita Atomica

Cemitas Puebla (address and info)

Logan Square, West Loop
This family-owned sandwich shop puts its own spin on traditional cemitas hailing from Puebla, Mexico, and the Cemita Atomica is our top pick (mostly because it throws in a little bit of everything). A trio of glorious meats -- Krakus ham, guajillo-rubbed pork loin, and breaded pork milanesa -- are layered with smoky chipotle peppers, fresh avocado, and hand-pulled Oaxacan cheese. Even the slices of sesame-topped egg bread are specially spread with smoky chipotle salsa beforehand.

SEAN COOLEY/THRILLIST

3. Sausage biscuit

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (address and info)

Logan Square
Make no mistake, Bang Bang's small-batch sour cream biscuits are every bit as legendary as their sweet, just-baked pies. When you stack their fluffy, buttery goodness with ginger-sage sausage, sawmill gravy, seasonal jam, and a poached egg, you've got a crazy-flavorsome combo. With a second location in Ravenswood in the works, getting your hands on the notorious pie shop's savory biscuit sandwiches (and, oh yeah, those heavenly pies) just got easier for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.

COURTESY OF IRAZU COSTA RICAN RESTAURANT

4. Pepito

IrazĂş (address and info)

Bucktown
This Costa Rican spot dishes out mouth-watering pepito sandwiches. Your biggest decision will be whether to indulge in the ribeye steak or the chicken, which'll then be covered with sautéed onions, seasoned black beans, and gooey Muenster cheese on French bread, and drizzled with brown Lizano sauce.

COURTESY OF XOCO

5. Torta ahogada

XOCO (address and info)

River North, Wicker Park
There's a reason the dine-in only torta ahogada is the most-ordered menu item at Rick Bayless' casual Mexican eatery: it's the king of tortas, regally presented in a shallow bowl of tomato-árbol chile broth. When continuously dunked into the earthy sauce, crispy bolillo rolls filled with golden hunks of pork carnitas, black beans, and pickled onions can turn into an immensely satisfying drippy carnage, so have a napkin handy.
 

6. Fatso's Po'Boy Challenge

Fatso's Last Stand (address and info)

Ukrainian Village
While the Double Fatso with cheese at this fast-food joint is a go-to staple, the real crowd-pleaser is one of its namesake (truly ridiculous) food challenges. What bucket list would be complete without a big-ass sandwich and the potential to win at life? House this 7lb bad po-boy (2lbs of which are fried jumbo shrimp), a pound of fries, and a 32oz soda in 45 minutes or less, and you've got yourself a comped meal, $50 gift card to Lockdown Bar & Grill, your name on a shiny plaque, and a new T-shirt!!
 

7. Three Little Piggy

The Silver Palm (address and info)

River West
Anthony Bourdain deemed the railway-car-turned-diner's gut-busting sandwich "the greatest sandwich in America." With a deep-fried breaded pork tenderloin cutlet, double-smoked ham, bacon, two huge onion rings, and melted Gruyere cheese, topped with two fried eggs on a brioche bun, it's probably also "the greatest hypertension-causing sandwich in America." But we're firm believers in factoring some risk into a sandwich bucket list.

COURTESY OF ALAIN MILOTTI OF ALAIN MILOTTI PHOTOGRAPHY

8. Mr. G

J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. (address and info)

West Loop
The third-generation Italian wholesaler and grocer touts one of the finest subs in the city. When you ask for the Mr. G house specialty, primo ingredients like sharp imported provolone, hot sopresatta, prosciutto, and salami are piled onto crusty, coal-fired bread from D'Amato's Bakery. It's topped with a truffle mustard balsamic vinaigrette, hot oil, marinated artichokes, fresh basil, and lettuce mixed with red wine vinegar and oregano for an off-the-charts sub experience.

9. Sriracha Buffalo chicken slider

The Slide Ride (address and info)
Food truck
The "Pink Lady" food truck doles out reasonably priced mini sandwiches that really pack the heat. Their sliders with pulled chicken in a Sriracha Buffalo sauce have carrot, celery, and ranch toppings on a ciabatta bun that'll give you the kick-in-the-pants you need to get over your weekday work slump.

MIKE GEBERT/Thrillist

10. Italian beef sandwich

Al’s Italian Beef (address and info)

University Village
You could arguably have a whole separate Italian beef bucket list, but the original purveyor of the city's iconic sandwich on Taylor St (which is a different company from the franchises) is a good place to start either way. Get it "dipped wit hot and sweet," then check it off your list. Repeat as needed.
 

11. Mother-in-Law

Fat Johnnie's (address and info)

Marquette Park
This walk-up food stand looks like it's about to collapse, but it's got a loyal following for its David Berg kosher-style dogs. And it's one of the few places you can still find the legendary Chicago sandwich: the Mother-in-Law, which is basically a Chicago-style dog with a chili and cheese-topped tamale in a bun instead of a hot dog, along with the traditional fixings, including cucumbers.
 

12. Breaded steak sandwich

Ricobene's (address and info)

Bridgeport
This family-owned Bridgeport staple serves up an authentic breaded steak sandwich (maybe not the best sandwich in the entire world but certainly very very good). Get your king size order covered with gooey mozzarella, hot giardiniera, and sweet peppers, then prepare for a night on the couch.

COURTESY OF AUDRI SIMONELLI

13. Grilled spicy shrimp and fried oyster po-boy

Nana (address and info)

Bridgeport
Typically, you'd have to choose between the shrimp or oysters for a sandwich, but this friendly organic spot loads copious amounts of both grilled spicy shrimp and perfectly fried oysters -- along with a zesty cajun mayo and house-made giardiniera -- onto a hearty baguette.

NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

14. BBQ pork bánh mì

Nhu Lan Bakery (address and info)

Lincoln Square, Uptown
This Vietnamese bakery churns out solid bánh mì options with all the fixings that make it a welcome departure from the standard lunchtime sub. The BBQ pork sandwich with crisp cucumber spears, sweet pickled daikon, shaved carrots, jalapeños, and fresh cilantro in a crusty baguette is a stand-out special. It's not always easy to find a table in either of their tiny, storefront locations if you're dining in, but it's well worth the wait.
 

15. Falafel sandwich

Old Jerusalem (address and info)

Old Town
Crunchy, garlicky falafel is the name of the game at this Middle Eastern standby. The fryer-fresh falafel balls are still moist enough on the inside to not to completely crumble all to hell within their soft pita shell. Plus, they pour tahini sauce throughout the pita pocket, not just on top, so the entire sandwich is flavorful, even with simple embellishments like lettuce and tomato.
 

16. Corned beef sandwich

Moon's Sandwich Shop (address and info)

Near Westside
This small, old-school diner with warm staff behind the counter has been serving the working class 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.  

COURTESY OF MICHAEL BYRNE PALUMBO

17. Braised pork arepa rellena

La Cocinita (address and info)
Food truck
This food truck enterprise from New Orleans has been introducing Latin American street fare to Chicagoans through a highly customizable menu, which spans from tacos to arepas to burrito bowls. You can't go wrong when filling your own arepa (a white cornmeal patty) with delectable meats like braised pork, sweet plantains, avocado, and sauces like guasacaca (Venezuelan guacamole), but all bets are off if you pick the "stupid hot" sauce.

18. Steak sweet sandwich

Home of the Hoagy (address and info)

Morgan Park
This South Side steak staple since 1969 was recently shuttered by a fire, but still managed to get back up and running at a new location next door. It's continued serving sandwiches like the ultra-famous "steak sweet," a South Side take on a steak sandwich on a Gonella bun with coarsely-chopped steak and peppers. Just ask for the "Steak sweet, fries with sauce."

COURTESY OF ANTHONY THALIER

19. Wood oven roasted pig face

Girl & the Goat (address and info)

West Loop
You might have to wait months to get it, but this place fires up the oven for a true farm-to-table delicacy with tantalizing textures. Resting atop a tamarind vinaigrette and cilantro oil drizzle, two tender pig face patties sandwich in a layer of crispy potato sticks, then it's all topped with a maple gastrique, and, naturally, a runny egg to make breaking into the first bite even better.
 

20. Chivito

Cafecito (address and info)

The Loop, South Loop
While the Cubano is a star at the popular lunchtime cafe, you'll also find the Uruguayan specialty that's hard to come by in this city -- the chivito. The steak is marinated in a homemade mojo for at least a day before it's sandwich-ready... that is, before the onslaught of ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, and citrus mayo are also crammed between sturdy loaves.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

21. Lucky's Challenge

Lucky's Sandwich Co. (address and info)

Lakeview, Wicker Park
Why opt for just one Pittsburgh-style hulk sandwich with fries and coleslaw in it when you could have THREE stacked with different kinds of deli meats? Devour all three overstuffed sandwiches within an hour, and all of 'em are on the house and your pretty mug will live on wall of fame style, which is just as cool as doing it for Man v. Food, right?

COURTESY OF GRANT KESSLER

22. CB&J

Hopleaf (address and info)

Andersonville
We can't seem to get enough steamed mussels and crispy frites at this Belgian brew house (it's a dish to eat before you die, after all), but the friendly neighborhood mainstay also boasts one of the most craveable sandwiches in the city. With its house-made cashew butter, fig jam, and melted raclette cheese paired with pan-fried sourdough crusts, their PB&J upgrade is one of the smartest orders you'll make, so long as you keep the beers coming.

TITUS RUSCITTI/Thrillist

23. Steak jibarito

La Bomba (address and info)

Logan Square
Initially created at Juan "Pete" Figueroa's Humboldt Park resto, Borinquen, the Puerto Rican-inspired dish (pronounced hee-bah-ree-to) consists of 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.
 

24. Roasted pork jibarito

Borinquen Lounge (address and info)

North Center
The original Borinquen in Humboldt Park may have closed since it gave Chicago its first taste of the addictive jibarito, but rest assured you'll find a solid version of the sandwich with roasted pork with homemade hot sauce here too... good, garlicky, and greasy mmmhmm.

COURTESY OF NONNA'S

25. Meatball sub

Nonna’s Sandwiches and Sundries (address and info)

West Loop
Formento's grab-and-go counterpart serves casual Italian-American dishes like a hearty signature meatball sub. The made-to-order sandwich features gargantuan, house-made meatballs covered in marinara, mozzarella, and giardiniera nestled inside a crusty baguette.

COURTESY OF KYLE KISSEL

26. Ham and raclette panino

Lula Cafe (address and info)

Logan Square
The traditional ham and cheese sammie goes upscale with Lula's panino. They combine smoky cured ham and oozing raclette cheese with radish, fresh salad greens, pickled onion garnish, and black currant mustard on a crusty ciabatta bun. Topped off with a fried farm egg, the rich elements come together in sweet-and-salty bursts that are worth savoring.

COURTESY OF DUCK INN/ROCKIT RANCH

27. Hamburger sandwich

The Duck Inn (address and info)

Bridgeport
Primarily lauded for its rotisserie duck, Kevin Hickey's well-received menu also features a classic patty melt sandwich that consists of a square Tallgrass Beef patty, farm fresh Brun-uusto cheese, onions, and dijonnaise on buttered rye bread -- and it all goes on the grill at the same time. Plus, you can get it piping hot at the bar, so even if you can't get a table, you can still go home with a happy belly.
 

28. Oaxacan pork sandwich

Panes Bread Cafe (address and info)

Lakeview
Known for its original sandwiches and fresh-baked bread, this cash-only counter-service cafe crafts a mean Oaxacan pork sandwich. The pork chop sandwich has an authentic Mexican sweet and spicy flavor between crusty, homemade bread. For the same price as Subway, the generously portioned, top-notch handheld that could easily make two meals reigns supreme as a quick and tasty option.

PAUL FEHRIBACH

29. Toasted pimiento cheese

Big Jones (address and info)

Andersonville
If their fried chicken is any indication, this place does Southern food right. Satisfy your soul with a melty grilled cheese sandwich on marbled rye that's got a real kick thanks to the Worcestershire sauce and local heirloom pimientos melted right into the cheddar.

COURTESY OF CLAYTON HAUCK

30. Wild Boar Sloppy Joe

Longman & Eagle (address and info)

Logan Square
The Michelin-starred gastropub takes the Sloppy Joe to another level with spicy ground boar, peppery pickled jalapeños, crispy sage, and onions on a toasted, house-made bun. We dare you not to use any silverware to catch any rogue wild boar bites.

Courtesy of Eastman Egg

31. The Fairfax

The Eastman Egg Company (address and info)

The Loop, West Loop, Food truck
Savory breakfast sandwiches, especially if you can find them "after hours," are the cure to just about anything. A Monday morning, a hangover lingering into late Sunday afternoon, a breakup, watching presidential campaign coverage... anything. Fresh egg sammies like The Fairfax, with its Egmont cheese, sautéed bell peppers, wilted spinach, and house green goddess sauce on a seven-grain roll, will power you through whatever it is that ails you.

MIKE GEBERT/Thrillist

32. Gym Shoe Sandwich

Southtown Sub (address and info)

Bronzeville
The Pakistani-run sub shop on the South Side serves an underrated signature Chicago sandwich, which has a beautiful combo of meats -- roast beef, corned beef, and gyro meat -- plus lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, cheese, and tzatziki sauce served in a Philly cheese steak-style bun. Plan on taking your meals to go from the walk-up counter space.

TITUS RUSCITTI/Thrillist

33. Greek Squeeze

George's Hot Dogs (address and info)

Bucktown
Family owned and operated since 1948, George's offers traditional homemade Greek and American favorites. Their extensive menu includes everything from hot dogs and burgers to Italian beef and Philly steaks to gyro and Grecian chicken and salad selections. 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.

COURTESY OF HAPPY LOBSTER TRUCK/GEOFF STELLFOX

34. Angry Lobster Roll

The Happy Lobster Truck (address and info)
Food truck, West Loop
When you're shelling out hard-earned dough for a lobster roll, you want to know it's going to really get you something substantial. This roll made our list because they don't skimp on the lobster. It's got 4oz of fresh Maine lobster in a spicy mayo base and topped with hot giardiniera on a soft, burger-style bun, so there's more buttery, bready goodness to go with every bite of chilled crustacean.

35. Liverbest Sandwich

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen (address and info)

Lincoln Square
Gene's rooftop beer and wine garden is undoubtedly one of the best summer drinking spots in the city, but sitting atop the butcher shop has advantages beyond a killer outdoor hangout space... like grilled German sausages and pretzel sandwiches with all kinds of meats. For their "Liverbest Sandwich," they'll throw a thick slab of creamy liverwurst with some sliced pickles on a pretzel roll, so it's prepped for you to slather on one of the assorted mustards and wash down with a pilsner.

THE FAT SHALLOT

36. BLT

The Fat Shallot (address and info)
Food truck
Stacked high with bacon and tomatoes, the avocado, arugula, and truffle aioli spread atop buttery Texas toast send this BLT into a whole new dimension. Track the mobile kitchen (with a play on Chicago's nickname, "The Big Onion") down on social media to try the seasonal sandwich along with some spicy sesame aioli-covered fries and the daily dessert special.

37. Pork belly pastrami sandwich

Pork Shoppe (address and info)

Avondale, Andersonville
The pork belly pastrami sandwich -- thick slices of 10-day cured and 12-hour smoked bacon-to-be piled on a brioche bun -- is the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness you'll be ordering at the counter of this no-frills BBQ joint. Meaty, fatty, and smoky with a little pastrami spice crust makes for one hell of a sandwich. In fact, we don't even think you need to pair it with any of the fine sauces offered: molasses-based Sweet & Sticky, vinegar-y Tart & Tangy, or Wicked Spicy.
 

SEAN COOLEY/Thrillist

38. Spicy chicken sandwich

The Roost Carolina Kitchen (address and info)

Lakeview, River West
Head to The Roost, a food truck with a permanent BYOB storefront on Irving Park Road, for Carolina-style recipes like crispy, spicy fried chicken on a flaky buttermilk biscuit topped with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese. Heat things up even more by ordering the Nashville Hot, Habanero BBQ, or Buffalo variations. Creamy mac and cheese and sweet peach cobbler round out the feast.

39. Pork chop sandwich

Jim's Original (address and info)

University Village/Little Italy
The stand-up only Polish sausage sandwich stand dating back to the old Maxwell St in the 1930s grills bone-in pork chops to a sizzle and serves them on hot buns with layers of yellow salad mustard, mounds of sweet Spanish onions, and spicy peppers. They're irresistibly tender and tasty, and a bag of fries is thrown in for free.

SEAN COOLEY/THRILLIST

40. Porchetta sandwich

The Chop Shop (address and info)

Wicker Park
Wicker Park's hybrid butcher shop/eatery/salumeria serves up stand-out, meat-oriented American fare such as the deli's Porchetta sandwich, a house-made pork loin wrapped in pork belly with asiago, arugula, apricot marmalade, and tomato on your choice of 7in or 12in French, white, or wheat bread.

Sign up here for our daily Chicago email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Nicole Bruce is a contributing writer for Thrillist. She thinks there's gotta be more to life than sandwiches, but there can't be much else. Find her on Twitter at @nicoleabruce.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Au Cheval 800 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

This upscale West Loop restaurant is known for its European flair and sophisticated American diner-style eats. Au Cheval usually has a wait out the door at peak dinner hours because it's home to iconic signature items like the fried house-made bologna sandwich and the so-called single burger, which actually comes with two thin patties and is topped with American cheese, house Dijonnaise, pickles, and if you know what's good for you, the optional bacon and fried egg add-ons. The brasserie-like space includes an open kitchen and a bar where local, domestic, and international beers are all on tap.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Cemitas Puebla 817 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

This family-owned, West Loop Mexican spot prides itself on specializing in Poblano foods, and being "the only restaurant in Chicago that serves the Cemita sandwich." Owner Tony Anteliz frequently visits Oxaca for authentic Mexican cheese and other goods. He crafts the sandwich with Krakus ham, guajillo-rubbed pork loin, and breaded pork milanesa, all topped with avocado, smoky chipotles, and Oaxacan string cheese. The joint's salsas and chipotles (made in-house) are not to be missed.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Bang Bang Pie Shop 2051 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Logan Square's Bang Bang Pie Shop is a reminder of a simpler time, when everyone's favorite neighbor Ethel would let her pies cool on the windowsill. The pies at this bright and buzzy corner bake shop are handmade daily using the freshest seasonal ingredients, and their comforting scent alone will have you floating through the entrance. There are classics like key lime and apple, plus unique recipes like butterscotch meringue and maple bourbon pecan. You won't want to miss the small-batch sour cream biscuits either, which are served with ginger-sage sausage, gravy, a poached egg, and a side of seasonal jam.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Irazu 1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

Irazu has a blend of surprises and reliable standards that make it a solid place to stop for eats. Dishing out mouth-watering pepito sandwiches (ribeye steak or chicken), a unique oatmeal shake (surprise!), and a number of delicious empanadas and burritos, this Bucktown Costa Rican spot is perfect for any occasion.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. XOCO 449 N Clark, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

Conveniently next door to Top Chef master Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican joints Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, XOCO (derived from Mexican slang for "little sister") is a quick-service cafe with communal tables and a central wood burning oven. The aromas of Bayless' take on classic made-to-order south of the border street fare is sure to draw crowds from all over.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Fatso's Last Stand 2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Ukrainian Village)

This no frills, Ukrainian Village eatery pretty much has the perfect name, with a menu chock-full of items like fresh-cut fries, char dogs, and burgers. One of the staples here is the Double Fatso with cheese -- two perfectly grilled beef patties flanked by slices of American cheese, onion, and secret sauce -- a burger that can give In-N-Out a run for its money.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Silver Palm 768 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (River North)

This American bar/eatery is serving up some of the most decadent meat dishes in all of River West. Head there and dive into Silver Palm's Three Little Piggy sandwich (Anthony Bourdain deemed the railway-car-turned-diner's gut-busting sandwich "the greatest sandwich in America"), and wash it down with some stellar brew.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. J. P. Graziano Grocery Co. 901 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

An old-school Italian grocery and importer, distributing all over the city since 1937, made the evolution to sandwich shop and gave the fourth-generation store a new life. People line up outside the door for a bite. It’s a busy scene among shelves of canned and pickled provisions: a meat slicer on overdrive, plastic-gloved counter workers slopping macaroni salad into little plastic cups, stuffed hoagies (made from D’Amato bread) being rolled to-go in paper. The classic Italian is a mainstay, but go for the Mr. G: hot sorpresata, prosciutto, genoa salami, sharp provolone, fresh basil, grilled and marinated artichokes, vinegar-oregano tossed lettuce and (here it comes) truffle-mustard-balsamic vinaigrette.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Al's Italian Beef 1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607

University Village’s Al’s Italian Beef is a strong believer in letting you choose how juicy you want it to be, it being their famous original Italian Beef sandwich, of course. The beef, which is thinly sliced and dry-roasted in a secret recipe blend of pure spices and natural juices, undergoes a hot-and-sweet-pepper-gravy transformation at increments ranging from “dry” and “dipped” to “regular” and “wet.” The counter-serve restaurant also offers fresh cut fries, char-grilled burgers, tamales, and chili. Sit down indoors or outdoors, or take out; Al’s isn’t picky.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Fat Johnnie's 7242 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60629 (Marquette Park)

Fat Johnnie's in Marquette Park is a walk-up food stand looks like it's about to collapse, but it's got a loyal following for its David Berg kosher-style hotdogs. It's one of the few places you can still find the legendary Chicago sandwich Mother-in-Law, which is basically a Chicago-style dog with a chili and cheese-topped tamale in a bun instead of a hot dog, along with the traditional fixings, including cucumbers. With the success of his neighborhood staple for over 40 years, Johnnie isn't changing anything about his red hots anytime soon.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Ricobene's 252 W 26th St, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Chicago)

This family-owned Italian-American counter-serve is a South Side staple for its pizza, subs, wings, and, most famously, its breaded steak sandwich. Ricobene's occupies a large food-court like space with fluorescent lighting and minimal ambience, but you're not here for the decor, you're here for the fried skirt steak covered in mounds of warm mozzarella and soaked in red sauce on a French roll. Sit and stay or take your order to go, but whatever you do, be prepared for a messy meal.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Nana 3267 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Bridgeport Sox)

Nana's breakfast (no, not your Nana) is prepared with local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal products that are all mainly made in-house. That's some fresh b-fast that you'll be having, like the "Nanadict" (eggs Benedict, yo), blueberry pancakes, and poblano & cheddar grits. Typically with po-boys, you'd have to choose between the shrimp or oysters for a sandwich, but this friendly organic spot loads copious amounts of both grilled spicy shrimp and perfectly fried oysters -- along with a zesty cajun mayo and house-made giardiniera -- onto a hearty baguette.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Nhu Lan Bakery 2612 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

This Vietnamese bakery churns out solid bánh mì options with all the fixings that make it a welcome departure from the standard lunchtime sub. The BBQ pork sandwich with crisp cucumber spears, sweet pickled daikon, shaved carrots, jalapeños, and fresh cilantro in a crusty baguette is a stand-out special. It's not always easy to find a table in either of their tiny, storefront locations if you're dining in, but it's well worth the wait.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Old Jerusalem 1411 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Old Town)

A crunchy, garlicky falafel is the name of the game at this Middle Eastern standby. The fryer-fresh falafel balls are still moist enough on the inside to not to completely crumble all to hell within their soft pita shell. Plus, they pour tahini sauce throughout the pita pocket, not just on top, so the entire sandwich is flavorful, even with simple embellishments like lettuce and tomato.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
16. Home Of The Hoagy 1316 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60643

This South Side steak staple since 1969 was recently shuttered by a fire, but still managed to get back up and running at a new location next door. It's continued serving sandwiches like the ultra-famous "steak sweet," a South Side take on a steak sandwich on a Gonella bun with coarsely-chopped steak and peppers. Just ask for the "Steak sweet, fries with sauce."

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
17. Girl & The Goat 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard's West Loop restaurant is a perennial hot spot that defines the Chicago food scene. The menu is filled with incredibly innovative meat, vegetable, and fish small plates meant to be shared and devoured. Of course, a meal at Girl & the Goat isn't complete without an order of goat, served a variety of ways (in empanadas, as carpaccio). Reservations are hard to muster but you'll snag one eventually and find that the wait is so worth it.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
18. Cafecito 7 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Loop)

If you’re craving a taste of Cuba, look no further than Cafecito. This coffee and sandwich shop brings a bit of authentic Latin flair to The Loop, providing fresh, affordable eats like their award-winning Cubano and the fan favorite Chivito, a protein pick-me-up of steak, ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella, citrus mayo, and other fixings, served hot in a pressed hero. Whether you’re grabbing grub on your lunch break or swinging through for your daily café con leche, this casual spot has your commuting cravings covered.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
19. Lucky's Sandwich Co. 3472 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657 (Wicker Park)

Lucky's serves up Pittsburgh-style sandos that'll fill ya up, especially if you get a side of their deep-fried hunks of Provolone. Attempt the Lucky’s Challenge, because why opt for just one Pittsburgh-style hulk sandwich with fries and coleslaw in it when you could have THREE stacked with different kinds of deli meats? Devour all overstuffed sandwiches within an hour, and all of 'em are on the house and your pretty mug will live on wall of fame style, which is just as cool as doing it for Man v. Food, right?

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
20. Hopleaf 5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)

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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
21. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
23. Nonna's Sandwiches and Sundries 925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Formento's grab-and-go adjacent counterpart serves casual Italian-American dishes like a hearty signature meatball sub. The made-to-order sandwich features gargantuan, house-made meatballs covered in marinara, mozzarella, and giardiniera nestled inside a crusty baguette.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
24. Lula Café 2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

This Logan Square restaurant has been embracing the farm-to-table philosophy long before the term was so ubiquitous. Open since 1999, Lula Café is a weekend brunch destination with lines running out the door for unreal breakfast sandwiches and veggie-centric mains. The menu is always changing given ingredients' availability, but you'll find it hard to be disappointed by whatever's in store. The garden patio area is the perfect spot for sipping morning cocktails and people watching on Sundays.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
25. Duck Inn 2701 S Eleanor, Chicago, IL 60608 (Bridgeport Sox)

The name of this spot might conjure up images of a cute bed and breakfast, but in reality, The Duck Inn is a stylish restaurant decked in bare brick and orange accents that specializes in -- you guessed it -- duck. They aren't playing around here: The seasoned rotisserie duck, four-course chef's tasting menu, and creative dishes like potted foie gras and scallop and clam stew earned it a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
26. Panes Bread Cafe 3002 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Known for its original sandwiches and fresh-baked bread, this cash-only counter-service cafe crafts a mean Oaxacan pork sandwich. The pork chop sandwich has an authentic Mexican sweet and spicy flavor between crusty, homemade bread. For the same price as Subway, the generously portioned, top-notch handheld that could easily make two meals reigns supreme as a quick and tasty option.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
27. Big Jones 5347 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Andersonville)

If you’re looking for real Southern comfort in Chicago, then Big Jones in Andersonville is for you. The menu is filled with authentic Lowcountry dishes adapted from antique cookbooks, like cornbread muffins taken from an 18th-century plantation recipe and traditional Cajun gumbo. The sustainable menu changes seasonally, but no matter what, expect the signature fried chicken every night. Big Jones’ weekend brunch is also a stunner, especially if you nab a table on the back patio.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
28. Longman & Eagle 2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Longman & Eagle, the Michelin-starred gastropub in Logan Square, has an exclusive whiskey selection (clocking in at over 400 labels), a craft cocktail menu, and an extensive beer list all fit for the most pretentious of drinkers, in the least pretentious of atmospheres. Longman has a flavor-forward, honest approach to eating and drinking, and because they don't accept reservations, there is always, and will always be, a wait -- brunch, happy hour, and dinner alike. (And it is always, and will always be worth it.) And while whiskey may be king, their regional American fare has just as much to offer (hence the star). The menu changes often, but expect anything from beef tallow beignets and veal brains to wild boar sloppy joes, chicken and waffles, and a burger that, if you know what's good for you, you will order. (And a whiskey to wash it down.)

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
29. The Eastman Egg Company 23 N Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606 (Loop)

Your favorite rolling breakfast sandwich truck has a permanent storefront on Wacker. Choose from handcrafted egg sammies like The Scoundrel (farm egg, smoked turkey, white cheddar, wilted spinach, honey mustard, pretzel roll), two kinds of parfaits, and an assortment of sides and sips that range from bacon gingersnap cookies to cold pressed orange juice and Filbert’s soda.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
30. Southtown Subs 240 E 35th St, Chicago, IL (Bronzeville Douglas)

This sub shop’s on the South Side has one of the most underrated signature Chicago sandwiches: you must try the Gym Shoe Sandwich, packed with a beautiful combo of meats -- roast beef, corned beef, and gyro meat -- plus lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, cheese, and tzatziki sauce served in a Philly cheese steak-style bun. Plan on taking your meals to go from the walk-up counter space.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
31. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
32. Gene's Sausage Shop And Delicatessen 4750 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

Gene's is pouring the experience honed from their own 37-year-old family-run biz into their new-to-them two-story temple of cased meats (walls of exposed steel, wood, and stone, gigantic chandeliers, and the Meyer's neon sign above the deli), where the goods are whipped up by Euro-trained sausage makers and smoked on the premises, a past time that also got you kicked off the high school lacrosse team. The Liverbest Sandwich has a thick slab of creamy liverwurst with sliced pickles on a pretzel roll, so it's prepped for you to slather on one of the assorted mustards and wash it all down with a Pilsner. Plus, Gene's rooftop beer and wine garden is undoubtedly one of the best summer drinking spots in the city.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
33. Pork Shoppe 5721 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660 (Andersonville)

This 38-seat outlet of porcine goodness is decked out with mounted farm tools and pig diagrams in a barn-like space. Smoked baby back ribs, pulled pig & fowl, Texas-style brisket, and sliced steak dominate the menu alongside a choice of three different sauces: molasses-based Sweet & Sticky, vinegar-y Tart & Tangy, and Wicked Spicy. Atop a fluffy brioche bun, meaty, fatty bacon that's been cured for ten days a smoked for 12 hours meets pastrami on what is undoubtedly one of the best sandwiches in the city.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
34. The Roost Carolina Kitchen 1467 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613 (Lakeview)

If you're craving crispy fried chicken and mouth-watering chicken sammies, head to Lakeview. Head to The Roost, a food truck with a permanent BYOB storefront on Irving Park Road, for Carolina-style recipes like crispy, spicy fried chicken on a flaky buttermilk biscuit topped with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese. Heat things up even more by ordering the Nashville Hot, Habanero BBQ, or Buffalo variations. Creamy mac and cheese and sweet peach cobbler round out the feast.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
35. Jim's Original Hot Dog 1250 S Union Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

Jim’s Original is there to fulfill the 4am Polish sausage craving you’d be lying if you said you’ve never had. The 24/7 stand has perfected its recipe in the decades since 1943, and its most illustrious Polish sausage sandwich buries a smoked pork and beef Polish sausage in a white bun smothered with yellow mustard and heaps of sweet grilled onions. If sausage isn’t for you, order up a hamburger or a chicken sandwich at the counter. Take napkins for the road; since there’s no place to sit, you’ll want to dive in immediately upon reassuming the driver’s seat.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
36. Chop Shop 2033 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

Wicker Park's hybrid butcher shop/eatery/salumeria serves up stand-out, meat-oriented American fare such as the deli's Porchetta sandwich, a housemade pork loin wrapped in pork belly with asiago, arugula, apricot marmalade, and tomato on your choice of 7" or 12" French, white, or wheat bread. CS is a spacious joint -- a whopping 6,000 square foot event space -- so it's also great for hosting parties or business meetings.

Clickbait