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photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image
8.3

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop

$$$$

2949 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Chicago has sandwich shops like Florida has golf courses. They’re all over the place. So when one captures our attention, that means it’s pretty great. And Tribecca’s, a small counter-service spot in Avondale, makes slightly subversive sandwiches that we’d run through a wall to get to.

Tribecca’s began as a pop-up, then joined the rush of post-pandemic homesteaders who became official when restrictions were lifted. The menu has nine sandwiches to choose from, and it all seems pretty straightforward. You’ll see a Cubano, tuna on sourdough, a Maidwrong…what was that? A Maidwrong? And what exactly is a Horseshoe? Hold on, half of these sandwiches are vegetarian. 

On closer look, the cute, pastel menu zigs when you expect it to zag. You’ll find Cubanos made with tofu, unexpected condiments like mustard butter and steak sauce aioli, and desserts glazed with “whatever locally grown fruit we can get.” It’s a little like hanging out with someone wearing chinos who turns out to have a full back piece.

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Unexpected elements can be fun, so long as the result tastes good. We haven’t eaten a sandwich from Tribecca's that we didn’t fall in love with. The aforementioned Maidwrong is a play on the Maidrite—an iconic steamed loose-meat sandwich created about 100 years ago in Iowa. Tribecca’s savory iteration has juicy seared beef with caramelized bits, agrodolce onions, muenster, and a steak sauce mayo that gives the condiment purpose beyond gathering dust in the pantry. And this potentially sloppy masterpiece is so precisely constructed that somehow all that unfettered meat doesn’t end up on your lap.

Each sandwich seems to be designed by a civil engineer. The perfectly pressed Cubano has smoky chipotle aioli and mustard butter acting as the mortar in between layers of ham and tender pork. Tofu versions of the Cubano and the Horseshoe (an open-faced burger topped with spicy cheese sauce and fries) are as savory and texturally satisfying as the meaty originals, and we still don’t understand how the panko-fried cauliflower tastes just like a Burger King crispy chicken sandwich, and we mean that as a compliment. Our only complaint is that Tribecca’s only has a few seats, and the warm sandwiches should be eaten right away for optimum enjoyment. If they’re full, we suggest you eat them on the curb outside the restaurant, in your car, or better yet—just move next door.

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Food Rundown

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Maidwrong

You might not find the phrase “loose meat sandwich” to be particularly appetizing, and we too have our doubts that the Maidrite from 1926 Iowa was that great. But the Maidwrong at Tribecca’s is a wonderfully sloppy, delicious cheeseburger. The combo of melted muenster, charred bits of savory ground beef, sweet onions, steak sauce aioli, and mustard on a griddled buttery bun makes us want to sign a petition to replace future smash patties with loose meat, instead.

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Horseshoe

More sandwich history for you: The original Horseshoe was invented in Springfield back in 1928. It’s an open-faced fork-and-knife operation where beef patties and french fries are slathered in cheese. At Tribecca’s two juicy patties are covered by creamy pepper jack and crinkle-cut fries, and sit on top of soft Pullman bread. And if you don’t understand why that’s delicious, we don’t know what to do.

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Cubano

According to legend (and their website) the Cubano was the sandwich that inspired the pop-up. Tribecca’s spicy Cubano is made with tender mojo pork, ham, pickles, mustard butter, and chipotle aioli that gives it some smokiness we really like. Also worth noting is that the version made with tofu has been as carefully marinated and pressed as the pork.

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Crispy “Frosted” Cauliflower

Plenty of spots have fried cauliflower on their menu, but TriBecca’s sandwich-ed it and made it taste like a crispy chicken patty. The light panko breading has some spicy heat, and the cauliflower shares a buttery bun with an herby tarragon aioli, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese.

Kim Kovacik

Tribecca's Sandwich Shop review image

Loaded Baked Potado-nut

Tubers Donuts was another pandemic pop-up (started by the husband of Tribecca’s owner), so you’ll find them on the menu here. Our favorite is the Loaded Baked Potado-nut, a dense donut made from potato flour, fried in clarified butter, and topped with bacon, sour cream, chives and cheese. It fits right in with the rest of the delicious things at Tribecca’s we suspect people expect from the Midwest, and to that we say: “damn straight.”

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