Best Chicago Restaurants Make the Best Sandwiches
There are few foods humbler than the sandwich: just two pieces of bread enclosing meat, cheese, cucumber slices, anything, really. And you can eat it with your hands, nothing fancy. In fact, sandwiches are the exact opposite of fancy, and that’s maybe one reason why we like them.
August is National Sandwich Month – that’s right, the sandwich gets a whole month. Why August? Um, no good reason, but it’s probably as good as any month to honor the sandwich.
Here’s a listing of some of Chicago’s best restaurants for enjoying National Sandwich Month. As the sandwich is the prototypical lunch food, some of these delicious creations are available only on the lunch menu.
Hub 51. On the Hub 51 lunch menu, there’s a special section for Two-Handed Sandwiches, and there are some great sandwiches listed there. Get a load of this: Roasted Chicken French Dip, with jus, green peppers and provolone. Or this one: Prime Steak Sandwich, with roasted peppers, arugula, caramelized onions and horseradish. You want it. You know you do.
Au Cheval. At the same place that you’ll find one of Chicago’s finest hamburgers, you’ll also find some of the city’s best sandwiches. Au Cheval does a beautiful open-faced sandwich of ham and fondue cheese, extremely delicious. The kitchen at Au Cheval also turns out a homestyle classic, the fried bologna sandwich, but the famous lunch meat is made in house, making it perhaps the finest example of this sandwich type.
avec. The restaurant that pretty much defined elegant casual dining in Chicago, avec, as you might expect, does an exceptionally fine job with sandwiches. Grilled chicken shawarma with hearth-baked pita will set your personal standard for this Middle Eastern favorite. For something a little heartier, you’re going to want the lamb burger with tomato jam, tahini, yogurt, cucumber and mint.
Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant. At Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant in Buck Town, the sandwich many people order is the Pepito, which you can have with either rib eye steak or chicken, sautéed with onion and perky black beans, served on French bread under a warm blanket of melted Munster cheese. Now, all of that may not sound very Costa Rican, but what pulls it all together – kind of like the rug in The Dude’s apartment – is a generous splash of salsa lizano, which is “the” preeminent Costa Rican condiment.
90 Miles Cuban Café. The sandwich one most closely identified with the culinary tradition represented at 90 Miles Cuban Café is the Cubano, or Cuban sandwich. Evidence seems to suggest that this sandwich was actually invented in Miami by Cuban expats, rather than in Cuba itself, but who cares? It’s delicious. The Cuban sandwich is made of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard, all laid out on Cuban bread and pressed in a panini. Fantastic.
Le Bouchon. You might not expect to find simple sandwiches at a French place like Le Bouchon, but you will find sandwiches that are solidly within the French tradition. The Croque Madame is an open-faced ham sandwich draped with melted Gruyere, bechamel sauce and a fried egg…and, yes, you do get fries of the French variety with that. There’s also a po’ boy with fried shrimp, espelette aioli, lettuce and tomato, reflecting the French tradition translated to American tastes in New Orleans. To upgrade your experience and make it all a little more French, have a glass of wine with your lunch, et voila.