You need a good sandwich place or two in life, both a spot around the corner from your apartment, and a destination place you’re willing to go out of the way for because it’s that good. You’d be lost without the reliability of a good sandwich on the go, or one you can sit down with over a drink.
These aren’t restaurants that happen to have a good sandwich. Instead, these are places built on their sandwich prowess. There are a lot of great sandwich restaurants around the city, but these are the best.
There are a few great Cuban sandwich spots in town, and Nini’s Deli is one of them. The old West Town favorite has been around for almost 35 years, and for good reason. The move here is El Cubanito with eggs, cheese, black beans, and sweet plantains. Sounds like a breakfast sandwich, but it’s ideal for any time of day.
We hate on the lack of a traditional deli scene here a lot. And while we have a lot of thoughts on Manny’s, we do think they serve great deli-style sandwiches, particularly the corned beef. Add a giant potato pancake for $1 more.
PQM is a butcher shop, cafe, bakery, mini market, and even the private dining room for The Publican at night. But its best role is as a casual cafe from morning until early in the evening, where you can get some great sandwiches . The selection changes, but there are a few staples, like the “Parm # 2” - a chicken parmesan sandwich with fried sage, and a tomato basil sauce.
This classic Italian sub spot holds a special place in our hearts. During our former life, we used to eat at Fontano’s minimum once a week. Our usual location on Jackson St. has since moved to fancier digs around the corner on Michigan Ave., but you can still count on an excellent, no frills sandwich on the cheap.
The original Humboldt location unfortunately shut down, but the newer Cemitas Puebla Fulton Market is a carbon copy. Something about the sesame seed rolls get us every time, and once you get the table-side salsas involved, we don’t see how anyone can complain.
Rick Bayless is the chef equivalent of the most interesting man in the world, and his Mexican tortas at Xoco are just as exciting.
One of our go-to spots for a quick sandwich in the Loop. The Cubano is the star of the show, but don’t discount the tilapia if you want something lighter.
When you have top quality meat and cheese it’s easy to make a good sandwich, and that’s the case at Pastoral. Pastoral is the kind of place you’d find in Spain or France, and that’s a win for all of us here. Hit up any of their locations around the city.
JP Graziano is old school. It’s not a restaurant so much as a tiny Italian market serving meat and cheese that also happens to make sandwiches. Pop in for lunch, order right away, and pay the guy behind the window on the other side of the room while you wait. Don’t be intimidated.
Adam Richman of Man v. Food fame once put down three Lucky’s sandwiches in an hour. We can’t say that’s a good idea, but we will say you should at least have one. That’s especially true during baseball season because Lucky’s is the perfect stop before a Cubs game. Tomatoes, coleslaw, and fries come standard on top of every. Not with, on.
Bari comes from the same mold as JP Graziano’s in that it’s also a small Italian market serving up sandwiches. In addition to cold subs, there are a few hot sandwiches. Opt for a 3 foot sub and feed your friends, or just eat a 3 foot sub.
Wyler Road is one of our best new restaurants of 2015, and while it’s definitely a sandwich place, it’s also very much a restaurant you want to sit down in. By day, Wyler Road is a café – a place you can hang. But at night, Wyler Road feels like a combination of your neighborhood cafe and local dive bar, except with great sandwiches, great service, and a higher degree of cleanliness.
We’re going to let you in on a secret – the second floor La Rosticceria stand at Eataly. It’s open unti 7:00pm and only serves two sandwiches a day: prime rib, plus a rotating daily special. Rotisserie cooked meat comes on a thick, crunchy roll with olive oil, salt, and pepper. That’s it. It’s simple, cheap, easy, and will blow your mind. We suggest the fennel-rubbed turkey breast on Saturdays.
Panes is the kind of neighborhood cafe in Lakeview that’s easy to overlook. That would be a mistake though, because they’re baking their own fresh bread, which makes for excellent sandwiches. Anything on their tomato bread is a good idea.
Nonna’s sandwiches are old school at the core, but they feel more hip and flashy than a real old school place. It’s partially because Nonna’s is newer, and while it tries to replicate that old time’y type of feel, it does so in a modern and sleek way.
An old school, casual pizza place just south of Chinatown that has taken on a cult following for its sandwiches. Actually, more like one sandwich in particular. The steak sandwich is MASSIVE, with a giant, breaded piece of steak topped with a ton of melty cheese and marinara on french bread. Add giardineira and maybe some TUMS and you’re good to go.
Fumare makes a bunch of good sandwiches, but the Montreal-style smoked pastrami sandwich is straight up one of the best around. Instead of their own storefront, Fumare smokes its meat in the French Market. If lunch downtown is out of the question for you, the French Market is open on Saturdays too.