People really won't keep quiet about the Montreal-style smoked pastrami sandwich at Fumare Meats. Its accolades have been roundly declared in many publications, including this one, and the sandwich was also lucky enough to land on Time Out Chicago's 100 Best Things list in 2011. It's become absurdly popular, and even though Fumare smokes 100 pounds of meat a day, the pastrami always sells out.
And it's a good sandwich, of course. But that's not to say that the other offerings at Fumare (the name refers to their specialty in smoked meats) aren't spectacular, too. On a recent visit, the case was filled with deli meats, a hunk of well-trimmed prosciutto, and, of course, plenty of sausages.
Owner Dick McCracken sources all of his offerings from the Chicago area, handpicking the best for his counter from butchers across the city and places like Ream's Elburn Market, which I've heard is a phenomenal palace of sausages, but is quite a trek outside the city. The man has good taste, and it's a pleasure to see it all in one place.
As a walk-in customer, I asked for recommendations, and ended up with a Bier sausage, as well as a link of kabanossy, a superb semi-firm sausage with a chile kick and almost creamy texture. Both are the kind of sausage you can slice and eat without further ado.
The highlight was the Bier sausage, which was described to me as "similar to a summer sausage." It's much smaller in diameter, but has that tremendous sour flavor that is the hallmark of summer sausage (the higher acidity helps preserve it even in warmer months).
Though Fumare doesn't specialize in house-made sausages, what they offer is a unique and curated selection. Follow your nose to the pastrami, but don't leave without perusing what else they have to offer.
131 N Clinton St, Chicago, IL 60661 (map)