[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

What makes Duran European Sandwiches Cafe so, um, European? Well, the West Town shop specializes in tiny open-faced sandwiches, all of which are assembled ahead of time and arranged behind a large glass case. So instead of staring blankly at a menu trying to figure out what to order, you gaze fondly upon the dozens of beautiful options. In fact, they are so dainty and precious, you'll need to get more than one for a meal. Fortunately, for $10 you can get three and a cup of coffee, which also let's you sample a good range of the offerings.

Of the ones I tried, my favorite was probably the Spanish anchovy with egg, cucumber, and tomato. The meaty white anchovy slices had just enough of a vinegary bite to pop on the palate, with none of the fishy funk that inferior anchovies can impart. All the creations are built on a thin slice of white bread from La Fournette, which is soft, yet sturdy, with a slight creamy crumb (milk happens to be one of the ingredients used to make the bread). That said, I also enjoyed the salmon and roast beef, even if they erred on the mild side.

Duran European Sandwiches Cafe

529 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60642 (map)

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