So, if you're in the neighborhood and looking for a satisfying sandwich on the go, here are three places to check out:
90 Miles Cuban Cafe
90 Miles Cuban Cafe is a tiny place on the far western edge of Roscoe Village. They have a second location in Logan Square and I had always heard tons of buzz about this place but had never been until recently. The Roscoe Village location is down the block from our vet and every time we walked by the smell of this place made us hungry. So one day we planned accordingly and stopped in to pick up lunch on our way home from one of Clery's appointments-- such a good decision! This place is super tiny and only seats a dozen people, at best (plus a few outdoor tables in the warmer months) so it's ideal for takeout or if you're a small group looking for a quick and hearty meal. Their authentic Cuban menu is extensive and everything we ordered was super flavorful.
I went the traditional route and ordered a Cubano sandwich. The sandwich was packed with ham, thick slices of roasted pork, pickles, and mustard. A generous amount of melty swiss cheese held it all together between two slices of crusty toasted bread. Alex went with the Bistec de Palomilla: It also started with toasty crusty bread piled high with thinly sliced steak, grilled onions crispy shoestring potatoes, lettuce, and tomato dressed in a flavorful chimichurri sauce. The sandwiches were huge and filling and would have been perfect for dinner too!
We also ordered a few of their sides to go along with our sandwiches. First, some traditional tostones: fried plantains served with chimichurri for dipping. The tostones were a little tough and chewy, but the flavors were delicious. Alex and I both agreed that the yuca frita was our favorite though. The fried yuca was crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside-- almost like thick cut steak fries-- and they were served with the most delicious garlic mojo oil for dipping. We also grabbed a few of 90 Miles' signature hot sauce for dipping and for adding to the sandwiches, which I would highly recommend!
Costello's is located right in the heart of the Roscoe Village neighborhood on a bustling stretch of W. Roscoe Street. And it's the perfect place for a really good deli-style sandwich. Alex and I love to walk here in the warm weather and eat on their back patio. Or sometimes we order online, walk the dog up to pick it up, and bring it home when we're having a lazy weekend. Costello's is known for their grinders and their toasty 'baked is better' sandwiches. They're not gourmet and there are no obscure ingredients here-- but everything they use is fresh and high quality.
We have eaten here a handful of times and have sampled a few sandwiches on the menu. Alex and I both have our favorites though and those are our 'go to's' when we want a weekend sandwich. I like the Roast Turkey Grinder: Thinly sliced turkey, provolone, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickled pepper rings, garlic mayo, and their classic vinaigrette on a crusty sub roll. Alex likes the spicy Subpocalypse baked sandwich: Generous servings of smoked turkey, capicola, and ham with jalapeno bacon, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, and smoky chipotle ranch, toasted until warm and the cheese is melty.
Big & Little's has created a lot of buzz on the Chicago food scene for a while now. They began as a small shop in a far off corner of River North, gained a cult following, were featured on Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives, moved to a bigger River North location, and then opened a second location up north in the Lakeview neighborhood just a few blocks from the Belmont Brown & Red Line stop. Quite a ride for a funky little fast casual restaurant! The menu here is the real draw and the reason for their success: an eclectic selection of tacos, burgers, and sandwiches that blend traditional fast food with ethnic, regional, and high end ingredients like foie gras, pork belly, a variety of seafood, to name a few.
The River North restaurant is near Alex's office, so he's been there several times and knew exactly what he wanted to order when we visited our neighborhood location: A traditional cheeseburger with a side of truffle fries. He devoured the burger and I managed to steal a few of the fries, which were really tasty: I love handcut fries and these were crispy, not super greasy and a hint of delicious truffle flavor... no ketchup necessary!
This was my first visit to Big & Little's and I was totally overwhelmed by their menu-- so many good options! Ultimately, I decided on the shrimp po' boy: a toasted roll filled with tender fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, a drizzle of lime juice, some spicy cocktail sauce, and B&L's Special Sauce, a sweet and spicy chili aioli. This was a good sandwich! It was generously filled, the shrimp was perfectly fried (not doughy or super greasy), with a flavorful combination of sauces.
I spotted kimchi fries on the specials menu and knew I wanted those for my side! Those same handcut fries were topped with B&L's 'sticky sweet Asian sauce,' more of that chili aioli Special Sauce, caramelized Korean style pickled cabbage & bok choy, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. These fries were loaded and the combination of flavors: salty, sweet, spicy, sour-- was so delicious! These are knife and fork fries, for sure.