Best Sandwiches in Chicago: 19 Top Picks
Sandwiches are a popular menu item almost anywhere you go, and for good reason. There are plenty of ways you can utilize the tasty goodness of bread as a vehicle for all the best toppings and flavors. Sandwiches are also versatile—you can have one for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can dress them up or dress them down, and there’s really nothing like a great sandwich that hits the spot.
Where to Find the Best Sandwiches in Chicago
The fact that sandwiches are such a common offering can make it a challenge to pick out the ones that will leave you coming back for more. Nobody has time for ordinary, forgettable sandwiches. Worry not, we are here to help you get your hands on only the best sandwiches in Chicago.
19. Tempesta Market
Tempesta is a small Italian deli that serves up sandwiches and gelato. They’ve also got meats as well as classic deli and grocery items to take home. One bite and it’s easy to see why their popular Dante sandwich is one of the best sandwiches in Chicago. This isn’t your ordinary deli sandwich. For starters, it’s loaded up with delectable Italian deli meats including soppressata, mortadella, finnochinoa, hot coppa, and porchetta. Then they add in the provolone cheese, spicy giardiniera, and ‘nduja aioli along with lettuce and tomato on a crusty baguette to give it the perfect crunch. The Dante’s giardiniera and aioli bring a kick that is perfect for heat lovers.
18. Johnnie’s Beef
Many Chicagoans are passionate about Italian beef sandwiches—after all, they were invented here! And nobody does it better than Johnnie’s Beef, a no-frills stand in Elmwood Park featuring hot, fresh, Italian beef. The staff moves fast, so know what you want to order before you get in line. Need help? That’s what we’re here for. Order one beef, juicy (with au jus poured over it), and your choice of sweet or hot peppers. We recommend ordering it with both sweet and hot peppers if you like a kick of heat. The sandwich is soft from the au jus, but not mushy thanks to the bread roll that holds its own. The meat is fall-apart tender with just the right amount of seasoning. Grab napkins and then grab a few more. This is a messy sandwich that you’ll devour in record time. Pro tip—this place is cash only, so plan accordingly!
17. The Allis at Soho House
For a more elevated experience where you can get one of the best sandwiches in Chicago, you’ll want to go to The Allis at Soho House in the West Loop. The beautiful and relaxed atmosphere is the perfect place to catch up over breakfast or brunch. For a one-of-a-kind sandwich, be sure to get the halloumi and charred cauliflower sandwich. It just happens to be vegetarian, but meat-lovers won’t feel like they are missing out at all. The thick slices of firm halloumi cheese and charred cauliflower with arugula and chili aioli in a pita create a sandwich you can really sink your teeth into. The textures hold up and come together really well—cue a chef’s kiss. Don’t forget to ask for extra chili aioli, it’s incredible and goes perfectly on this sandwich!
16. J.P. Graziano Grocery
J.P. Graziano is a great West Loop spot for a quick and fresh lunch, with some of the best sandwiches in Chicago that are made-to-order. They take care to only use ingredients that are high-quality so that you can fill up and feel great after. We recommend the Mr. G (their specialty) that’s loaded up with sopressata, prosciutto, and salami topped with truffle mustard balsamic vinaigrette, artichokes, fresh basil, lettuce, and oil and vinegar. Put it all together on their fresh bread and it makes for an incredibly refreshing deli sandwich you are guaranteed to love. Vegetarians can get in on the fun too—their Caprese sandwich is a tasty option that’s loaded up with fresh mozzarella and basil.
15. Panes Bread Cafe
You’ll find Panes Bread Cafe, where the baked-in-house bread is the star, in the bustling Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Panes not only has some of the best sandwiches in Chicago, but their sandwich menu is extensive. This means there’s something for everyone and every taste. We recommend the Turkey Turkey—a sandwich that doesn’t skimp on avocado, along with roasted red peppers and turkey. The spicy mayo adds the perfect punch of flavor and it’s all piled on incredibly fresh and soft tomato bread. The Popular sandwich is also an excellent (and popular!) choice. It’s got a heap of soft and sweet caramelized onions and chicken topped with spinach and provolone on that same amazing tomato bread.
14. New York Bagel & Bialy
It’s well-known that New York has outstanding bagels, so it makes sense that the best lox bagel sandwich in the Chicago area can be found at a place called New York Bagel & Bialy. This Lincolnwood mainstay has been slinging deliciously fresh and chewy bagels just north of Chicago city limits since 1965, for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lox bagel is a fully loaded sandwich with all the fixings on a bagel of your choice. There’s nothing like a great lox bagel sandwich loaded up with rich cream cheese, a refreshing crunch of veggies, and of course that delicious, thickly sliced lox. This is a definite must-get when you’re on the hunt for the best sandwiches in Chicago!
13. Ba Le Sandwiches
Ba Le is a casual counter-service spot in Uptown that serves up some of the best sandwiches in Chicago, specifically banh mi sandwiches, which are Vietnamese sandwiches with French influence—think Asian meats and toppings combined with French bread and condiments. We recommend the Special, a Saigon-style sandwich with pate, ham, headcheese, and pork on a crusty French baguette. The zest of the toppings—pickled daikon (similar to radish) and carrots, onions, cilantro, and jalapeno—balance out the richness of all the meats and bread while bringing that extra delicious crunch. It’s the perfect light lunch for any day of the week!
12. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
There is a reason we talk about Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago so often—their food and pies are out of this world. When you’re looking for one of the best sandwiches in Chicago at breakfast time, head over to Bang Bang. Get the sausage biscuit sandwich that they make all from scratch (yes, that includes the heavenly biscuit). It’s sweet from the fruit jam and salty from the ginger sage sausage and white cheddar. A perfect combo that’s warm and comforting. Say YES to adding the egg, and if you’re still hungry, grab a slice of pie as a post-breakfast dessert.
Hopleaf is a brewery in Andersonville that happens to have a great menu filled with house-made items and dishes that are inventive. They pride themselves on their thoughtfully sourced and chef-inspired dining. Note: they are adults only so you must be 21 or older to dine here. For an absolutely scrumptious meal, order one of the best sandwiches in Chicago while you’re at Hopleaf—the CB&J. This sandwich is grilled cheese meets PB&J, but all grown up. Cashew butter and a hefty dose of fig jam plus gooey melted raclette cheese, pan-fried in sourdough bread with a buttery crunch. This sandwich is decadent and unlike anything else you’ve ever tried before. The fries are solid and the garlic aioli on the side has just enough bite to complement the rich sandwich.
10. Jerry’s Sandwiches
Jerry’s Sandwiches is a paradise for sandwich lovers. Their sandwich menu is huge, featuring a wide variety of options. It’s located right in the middle of Lincoln Square so Jerry’s is the perfect spot to get a table after a day of shopping and walking and enjoy some of the best sandwiches in Chicago with friends. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices here, but the must-order item is the Sandra O. This is a sandwich with fried chicken covered in perfectly thick, sweet, and salty Korean barbecue sauce. It’s got cheddar and a cider slaw with cucumber, onion, and chili mayo to bring the extra flavor and crunchy texture all on a perfectly soft ciabatta roll. It’s love at first bite.
9. Smack Dab
Smack Dab is a tucked-away spot that is perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast and life-changing breakfast sandwiches. You’re here specifically for the Bestest Seller—one of the best sandwiches in Chicago served on a perfectly soft biscuit that holds its own among all the incredible toppings. We’re talking housemade sausage, bacon jam, chive mayo, and melty cheese. The unique flavors in this tall hunk of a sandwich come together for a savory breakfast you won’t be able to put down.
8. Green Street Smoked Meats
In the mood for some Texas-style BBQ sandwiches? Green Street Smoked Meats has got you covered! This no-frills spot in West Loop is all about amazing meats made in-house. Come with a group to share with if you can because they’ve got multiple options when it comes to delicious sandwiches. Head over on a weekend for their must-try smoked prime rib sandwich. It’s piled high with sliced prime rib that is tender, juicy, and decadent. Another excellent choice here is the brisket sandwich. It’s got a little crunch and kick from the peppers and pickles but isn’t overly spicy. The brisket sandwich has their BBQ sauce mixed right into the meat but doesn’t overpower the meat (and it’s a LOT of meat), which is flavored and seasoned to perfection. Need yet another great option? The pulled pork sandwich is excellent and you can choose from their selection of sauces to mix into it on your own. When you’re in need of some of the best sandwiches in Chicago, Green Street always nails it!
Cafecito is a casual cafe where you can relax and enjoy Cuban food made with all fresh and natural ingredients. They take pride in their flavorful meats and marinades, which makes a big difference. When you’re stopping in here, you’ll want to get the classic Cubano sandwich. The roasted pork and ham are super flavorful and topped with swiss, mustard, and thinly sliced pickles between warm and toasty pressed bread. All together, you’ve got comfort food with simple ingredients that make a big impact. This Cubano is no doubt one of the best sandwiches in Chicago—you’ll want to inhale it and then order another!
6. The Roost Carolina Kitchen
The Roost Carolina Kitchen is right on the edge of West Loop, a small counter-service restaurant that is the place to go for a sandwich that brings the heat! Their house specialty is the fried chicken sandwich. We recommend getting it “house style” topped with pickles, coleslaw, and chipotle ranch on one of their irresistible homemade buttermilk biscuits. You can choose your desired heat level, from mild to XXX (extra, extra hot), and the staff here will guide you to the choice that’s right for you. We think the heat on this sandwich is the perfect complement to the cool and crispy toppings (coleslaw on a sandwich is just genius in our books). This is truly one of the best sandwiches in Chicago.
5. The Fat Shallot
This Lincoln Park shop started as a food truck (which still operates) but has a brick-and-mortar spot at Revival Food Hall in the Loop that we love. They have great sandwiches, but the truffle B.L.T. is a must. This sandwich is what a regular B.L.T. wants to be when it grows up. It’s loaded up with crispy bacon, tomato, and arugula. What pushes it over the top is the truffle aioli and avocado on thick challah bread that’s nice and toasty. It all comes together to make a sandwich with a satisfying crunch and mix of salty and savory flavors. This leveled-up B.L.T. is definitely one of the best sandwiches in Chicago.
4. Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen
Being at Manny’s is like stepping into a cafeteria from the 1950s, complete with a mid-century checkered tile floor and wraparound counter that you slide your own tray down. Manny’s has been serving up classic cafeteria and deli staples since 1942, and their Reuben is one of the best sandwiches in Chicago. This place is the stop for a Reuben piled high with your choice of corned beef, pastrami, or turkey. Topped off with swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and of course, a side of thousand island dressing for dipping—YUM. The meat is the star of the show at Manny’s, and they really load it up (get your napkins ready). We recommend choosing the corned beef—it’s fresh, thinly-shaved, and seasoned just the right amount, bringing the whole sandwich together.
3. Brown Bag Seafood Co.
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about all you seafood lovers! Brown Bag Seafood in Lincoln Park is the place to go for a lobster roll that is out of this world, so of course we had to include it on our guide to the best sandwiches in Chicago. The roll is lightly toasted and stuffed (aka overflowing) with lobster meat that is near perfection (no chewy lobster!). This sandwich doesn’t rely on sauces or anything that will overpower the lobster flavor. It’s just fresh, tender, lobster meat with a little bit of herbs and a lemon for squeezing on top. This sandwich is kept simple so that the lobster can really shine—as it should.
2. Nonna’s Pizza & Sandwiches
Nonna’s is a counter-service shop in the West Loop serving Italian meals out of its sister restaurant, Formento’s. For one of the best sandwiches in Chicago that you can get to-go and still feel like you’re treating yourself, go to Nonna’s. The chicken parmesan sub is a classic staple that can be found at any Italian restaurant, but Nonna’s knocks it out of the park. There’s nothing worse than a heavy, greasy chicken parm dripping with too much tomato sauce. The one at Nonna’s is none of those things. The Italian bread is soft but firm, and it’s got just the right amount of tomato sauce and melted mozzarella to support the main event—the chicken, which is breaded and crispy but not overly fried. It’s to die for. Bonus points? It’s a BIG sandwich so it’s perfect for splitting or taking half for leftovers to enjoy again later.
1. Honey Butter Fried Chicken
For a sandwich that hits the spot every time, get yourself to Honey Butter Fried Chicken ASAP. Their signature namesake is exactly what it sounds like—a fried chicken sandwich covered in thick honey butter. It sounds so simple and yet the combination is a magical sweet spot that will leave you craving more as soon as you take your last bite. The honey butter melts right into the piping hot fried chicken and comes together for a perfect balance of sweet and salty. All wrapped up in a soft bun, this sandwich absolutely melts in your mouth. Want another option? Their OG sandwich is also in-cre-di-ble, with a great mix of flavors and crunch. The candied jalapeno mayo brings the heat that melds seamlessly with the pickled slaw all on top of that delicious fried chicken. Look no further than Honey Butter Fried Chicken for the best sandwiches in Chicago.