The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park is a neighborhood touchstone, and has been for decades. Its emphasis on using fresh, healthy ingredients often leads to some interesting and delicious dishes, though some work better than others.
The Buffalo Philly ($10) has some potential. The flavor of the lean buffalo itself is very interesting, a little sweeter than beef with a slight smoky marinade adding just a hint of extra something. The peppers and onions are crunchy and fresh, adding a nice texture to the sandwich. The ciabatta has just enough crisp crunch to hold the limited grease in and some nice flavor on its own. And, when tasted alone, the baked jack cheese is delightfully creamy and mild.
But the cheese gets lost in all the other flavors, and the ciabatta doesn't really effectively contain all the slivers of food within the sandwich. Worst of all, the thick cuts of buffalo come off as a little tough and chewy. Not an unpleasant sandwich, but I doubt it would last long on the streets of Philadelphia.
About the author: Nathan Lurz is an intern at Serious Eats Chicago. When he's not reviewing the occasional sammich, he spends his time trying to convince people to pay him to be a journalist, working at the non-partisan political news site Reboot Illinois, and being amazed he is a professional sandwich reviewer. Follow his wittiness on Twitter at @LurzBlurbz