[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

One of the best parts about dining at Vera, Mark and Elizabeth Mendez's Spanish joint in the West Loop, is having the excuse to try a bunch of different dishes. Go in a group, order up variety of items, and spend the evening pleasurably grazing on small bites (all while enjoying some excellent sherry). In that sense, the Lamb Bocadillo ($12 for two) is probably the worst thing you could order. Not because it's bad—far from it—it's just that it will undoubtedly lead to a serious bout of selfishness.

Part of that is functional. Since this is basically a lamb burger cooked to a gorgeous medium-rare, it's supremely messy and quite difficult to share. You could maybe cut it in two, but keep dividing it past that point, and the whole thing will crumble apart, spilling its juices on the plate. That's a shame. Instead of piling on a bunch of ingredients, which would just get in the way, it's topped with a harissa and quark cheese, which, as it turns out, is not just an elementary particle but a kind of soft unaged cheese (though I suppose the cheese is made of quarks).

Don't feel ashamed at casting the sharing rule aside. This is a sandwich that deserves to be tackled by one person.

Vera Chicago

1023 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (map)


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