Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
I've been working in the same office for six years, which means I'm pretty sure I can count my office chair as an actual appendage of my body now. But it also just occurred to me recently that aside from national chain restaurants, there really aren't many places to get a bagel in downtown Chicago. This is puzzling. Luckily there is NYC Bagel Deli, a local chain with three locations, one of which happens to be on Wacker Drive right down the street from the Willis Tower.
The impressively large The Whitefish Salad ($9.25) comes on your choice of bagel or bread. Despite the pale white color, the finely shredded fish is deeply smoky and rich from the mayo. Served on the dense, large, and chewy bagel, this filling sandwich helps to replenish all the calories you've used while strenuously typing on your keyboard all day. The crisp half pickle you get with each sandwich helps cut through the whitefish salad by adding a vinegary snap between bites.
Just so you know, having been here several times before, if you order the bagel toasted, it usually comes out with an extremely light toast. So if you like a medium or well toasted bagel, ask them to toast it longer for you.
On those days you need a bacon fix, The BLT ($7.45) will fill that wavy, salty, and porky hole inside your stomach. This sandwich comes with a generous amount of crunchy bacon layered between slices of tomato, fresh lettuce, mayo, and soft bread. The high bacon ratio (which I think should be an official cooking measurement) keeps every bite of this sandwich crunchy enough for jealous coworkers to hear across the office breakroom.
NYC Bagel Deli also features a list of rotating soups, including the Clam Chowder ($4.99). It's creamy, but not too thick with a well-balanced amount of potato and clam. The rich broth has a pronounced clam flavor, but not enough to be considered overpowering.
Another rarity in Chicago is the black and white cookie ($2.25), which is a soft cookie with a texture almost like pound cake. It should give your inner Cookie Monster his fix.
NYC Bagel Deli
300 S Wacker Dr #102 Chicago, IL 60606 (map)
About the author: After a failed attempt at starqting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.