Sandwich sensations: We devoured some of the most popular sandwiches in the area, all in the name of journalism
By Trent Modglin
Touché burger at Café Touché
There are so many tempting menu items at this classic French bistro (try the fritto misto appetizer with fried shrimp, calamari and scallops) — and believe us, we’ve tried a lot of them — but we have to admit, this sensational burger caught us off guard.
Thick and juicy, it arrives at the table topped with melted aged cheddar, applewood bacon, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, red onion and the bun lightly slathered in a tasty tarragon remoulade (a French mayo-based condiment that has mustard, pickles, capers, lemon juice and tarragon). The flavors are expertly balanced, and the crispy hand-cut fries (sorry, frites) are, obviously, a perfect complement.
6731 N. Northwest Highway in Edison Park. CafeTouche.com
Classic Reuben at The Curragh
This cozy Irish pub and restaurant in the heart of Edison Park is surprisingly spacious (and has a great private party room) and known for its fun atmosphere and tasty Irish-American classics.
Their classic Reuben is just that — classic. And good. Really, really good. Sliced corned beef piled high, along with sauerkraut, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing on buttery toasted rye bread. Served with hand-cut fries and a pickle spear, we may have found a rival for their Guinness fish and chips on our “favorites” list.
Noteworthy: If you’ve got a craving for great Mexican food instead of Irish fare, know that you can order from Qué Onda next door and eat it at The Curragh (and vice versa).
6705 N. Northwest Highway in Edison Park. CurraghIrishPub.com
Muffuletta at Daniel’s Charcuterie
This delicious sandwich, which originated among Italian immigrants in New Orleans more than 100 years ago, is a complex creation. Dan Boland, owner and chef of Daniel’s Charcuterie, has a delicious version featuring salami, provolone, cappicola, mozzarella and mortadella on sesame bread with a chopped olive spread and red wine vinaigrette.
According to Boland, it’s more of a balanced, Chicago-style giardiniera with a little more olive and pepper flavor that has the ability to cut through the meats and cheeses.
“I was inspired when I went to New Orleans and tasted these super approachable ingredients that delivered a knockout punch.” — Daniel’s Charcuterie owner Daniel Boland
“I was inspired when I went to New Orleans and tasted these super approachable ingredients that delivered a knockout punch,” Boland says. “A lot of what we do here is dainty and pretty to look at and conceptually unique, but this almost counters that in a way as more of a hearty, old-school sandwich that just delivers on flavor.”
15 S. Fairview Avenue in Park Ridge. DanielsCharcuterie.com
Fried chicken sandwich at Tavern on the Point
It’s difficult to ignore some high-level entrees like the almond-crusted grouper, asiago chicken Milanese or bone-in ribeye, but remember, this is an article on sandwiches. And Tavern on the Point, which has quickly become a dining and nightlife staple in Edison Park, has plenty of quality options there too.
The smoked salmon earns points here, but we’re going to go with their fried chicken sandwich, consisting of a large chicken breast, breaded and fried to perfection, and topped with coleslaw and spicy mayo. The soft brioche bun caps it beautifully. Served with fries, side salad or fresh fruit.
Insider’s tip: Take advantage of unique rooftop overlooking Northwest Highway that’s covered and heated during the colder months.
6724 N. Northwest Highway in Edison Park. TavernOnThePoint.com
The ribwich at the new Mel’s Craft BBQ on Main Street is their special on Wednesdays. But believe us, we’re twisting arms to get them to add it to their regular menu.
Ribwich at Mel’s Craft BBQ
As of now, the ribwich at the new Mel’s Craft BBQ on Main Street is only their special on Wednesdays. But believe us… we’re twisting arms to get them to add it to their regular menu.
The ribs are smoked for five hours, then braised in sauce for another hour or so before being deboned, then sauced again and served on a bun with sugar-vinegar pickles and pickled red onions. Jalepeños come on the side if you’re so inclined, as does coleslaw (which we encourage you to dump on top of the sandwich).
“It’s a play on the McRib, but only with real food,” owner Mel Thillens says with a laugh.
Mel has been cooking ribs for about 20 years on his own, and feels like he perfected it while preparing for the Vine Street BBQ competition here in Park Ridge years ago. “It took me some time to figure out the nuances,” he admits. “I made a lot of mistakes.” He may have back then, but the ribwich isn’t one of them.
24 Main Street in Park Ridge. MelsBBQ.com
Chicken and pretzel at Harp & Fiddle
Keep in mind, they do a wonderful Dubliner burger, filet medallion sandwich and grilled salmon here too, but more often than not, we find ourselves drawn to this creation that just checks so many boxes.
We’re talking a marinated and grilled chicken breast topped with candied applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and fried onion straws. Sounds good, no? But that’s just where the fun begins, because it’s laid on a toasted pretzel bun and accompanied with a homemade beer cheese dipping sauce that’s like icing on the cake. The pretzel bun is where it’s at. Arguably makes the sandwich.
“Who’s needs a waffle when you can have a chicken and pretzels?” jokes chef Jerry Kowalczyk. We tend to agree.
110 Main Street in Park Ridge. TheHarpAndFiddle.com
Texas Rodeo at The Beacon Tap
At the Beacon Tap in Des Plaines, a casual sports bar with a quality menu and reputation, your palate won’t be disappointed. That much we can assure you. The menu is filled with everything from scrumptious tacos and salads to loaded burgers and thin-crust pizza, but don’t sleep on their house-smoked BBQ options like the Texas Rodeo sandwich.
We’re talking smoked house brisket, pulled pork, andouille sausage and spicy southern coleslaw all coming to rest on some crispy Texas toast. Full of flavor with just the right amount of kick. Bonus: They have one of the area’s best craft-beer lists and daily specials you won’t find anywhere else.
1374 Lee Street in Des Plaines. TheBeaconTap.com
Cave Monster at Une Année Brewery
It doesn’t take long to realize the Texas-born, Kansas-raised chef at this popular Niles brewery, Brett Deppeler, knows what he’s doing. Using a wood-fired smoker — and only hickory logs — the focus here is Southern-style barbecue. “We take a lot of pride in the process,” Deppeler says, “and I think it shows.”
The highlight of a lip-smacking menu — for us, anyway — is the Cave Monster sandwich, as it is one seriously unique and delicious creation. A mountain of pulled pork is topped by two crispy slabs of sliced brisket (grilled for a few minutes to crisp things up a bit) and a melty tandem of habanero jack and mozzarella and then finished off with a muffuletta-giardinera mix and crispy onion jalapeño crisps.
A mountain of pulled pork is topped by two crispy slabs of grilled brisket and a melty tandem of habanero jack and mozzarella and then finished off with a muffuletta-giardinera mix and crispy onion jalapeño crisps.
Talk about a perfect balance of flavors. Sweet with a little crunchy kick. And filling. So come hungry. And save room for a few pints of their rotating 24 craft beers on draft.
6343 W. Gross Point Road in Niles. UneAnnee.com
Classic diner burger at Easy Street Pizza
OK, OK. We know how good their pizza is. Trust us, we indulge in it often, most recently at our neighborhood Halloween party. But again, this is a sandwich article, and Easy Street has simply perfected the diner burger.
Two thin beef patties, topped with American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and a bit of dijon mayo on a soft, buttery bun that pushes it right over the top. Simple, yet delectable from top to bottom — and even better when complemented by a side of crispy tater tots. Insider’s tip: Ask for the popcorn chicken dipping sauce for the tots.
711 Devon Ave. in Park Ridge. EasyStreetPizzaChicago.com