Slideshow: Messing with Success: 12 BLT Variations We Love in Chicago

BLAST at The Brown Sack ($10.00)
BLAST at The Brown Sack ($10.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Adding another ingredient (and a letter) to a BLT is kind of like bringing your hilarious new friend to a class reunion: sure, he injects a needed shot of spontaneity and excitement to the proceedings, but the group dynamics will seem slightly off. But the BLAST at The Brown Sack is as incisive as its name implies. Cold and juicy shrimp and creamy mashed avocado manage to integrate themselves into the unit, creating a fascinating spin on the original.

The Brown Sack‎, 3581 West Belden Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-661-0675; thebrownsack.com‎

APMD at Kuma's Corner ($12.00)
APMD at Kuma's Corner ($12.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Named after hardcore punk band, APMD (All Pigs Must Die) is easily the craziest, most out of control BLT out there. Hell, I can't even think of another sandwich that comes close. Even Silver Palm's over-sized Three Little Piggy sandwich has nothing on this monster, which contains 10 ounces of crisp and salty applewood smoked bacon piled high on a buttery brioche bun. Obviously, the lettuce and tomato get a little lost here, but the spicy sriracha aioli admirably fights through. Don't even joke about trying to finish it, but also don't feel bad if you eat far more than you planned.

Kuma's Corner, 2900 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-604-8769; kumascorner.com

Crispy Pork Belly B.L.T's at Sable ($9 for two)
Crispy Pork Belly B.L.T's at Sable ($9 for two)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Sable wasn't the first restaurant to replace thin slices of bacon with luscious roasted pork belly, but it's certainly my favorite. Part of its success is due to its diminutive nature. Each little handheld sandwich (you get two with each order) contains a thin rectangle of crispy pork belly, which each is just enough to provide a greedy shot of salty pork without completely smothering you in fat. The acidic, and beautifully bright red, tomato further helps lighten the bite.

Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-755-9704; sablechicago.com‎

Green Tomato BLT at Inspiration Kitchens ($9)
Green Tomato BLT at Inspiration Kitchens ($9)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

It's easy to love the story behind Inspiration Kitchens—the two restaurants provide job training and other services to people affected by homeless and poverty (click here to learn more)—but don't forget about the food. The Southern-influenced menu is satisfying and remarkably affordable. That includes this hearty fried green tomato BLT served on fluffy challah bread. It's topped off with crunchy bacon, bitter dandelion greens, and some very creamy pimento cheese.

Inspiration Kitchens, 3504 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60624 (map); 773-801-1110; inspirationkitchens.org‎

Bacon, dandelion greens, pimento cheese, toasted Challah
Salmon BLT at 2 Sparrows
Salmon BLT at 2 Sparrows

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"BLTs are usually about the harmonious combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato—that's why all the components are given equal billing. But nothing about the Salmon BLT ($13) at 2 Sparrows is in balance... So, could you please explain to me why does none of this matters? The salmon is light and flaky, while the bacon is thick, salty, and crunchy. The house-made potato roll is particularly great--soft on the inside and well toasted on the cut sides. Don't call it balanced, but it's a hell of a sandwich." Read more here >>

2 Sparrows, 553 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-234-2320; 2sparrowschicago.com‎

The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)
The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The soft bun also allows you to focus more of your attention on the house-made bacon, which is thick-cut and smoky. It's more than capable of carrying the sandwich, but the other ingredients hold their own. Instead of watery pieces of lettuce, baby spinach is layered on. A sun-dried tomato aioli takes the place of the usual mealy tomato. The result is sandwich of contrasts: salty and sweet, soft and crunchy, meaty and vegetable-y (that's a word, right?)." Read more here >>

Mr Spanky's, 335 West 31st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616 (map); 312-450-3069; mrspankys.com‎

Green BLT Sandwich at Honky Tonk BBQ
Green BLT Sandwich at Honky Tonk BBQ

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The sheriff of this here town is the clearly the perfectly crunchy fried green tomatoes, which flash the badge of requisite texture, but also dig their spurs in with just the right amount of tang. They are nestled above just enough spring mix to notice but not impede. The thick, pungent, Ranch-like garlic mayo comes on the side. And the bacon? Perhaps sensing the shift in power, it is content to play the complementary role here. More like the new sheriff's horse, riding off into the flavor sunset together." Read more here >>

Honky Tonk BBQ‎, 1800 South Racine Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-226-7427; honkytonkbbqchicago.com

B.A.L.T. at The Green Door Tavern ($8.25)
B.A.L.T. at The Green Door Tavern ($8.25)

[Photograph: Molly Durham]

"The bread is the light kind of wheat that isn't dense but still gives a good crunch when grilled. There's a good balance of ingredients all around, but the one that made me the happiest was that they didn't skimp on the avocado. Not only that, but they didn't just slap it on top in slices that fall out the second you bite into it. It's lightly smashed in there with the bacon, lettuce, and tomato. The bacon is crispy enough but not crumbly, as it should be when it needs to hold a sandwich together as the meaty backbone." Read more here >>

The Green Door Tavern, 678 North Orleans, Chicago, Illinois 60654 (map); 312-664-5496; greendoorchicago.com

Double Decker BLT at Austrian Bakery ($7.49)
Double Decker BLT at Austrian Bakery ($7.49)

[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

"Austrian Bakery's double-decker BLT ironically boasts American-sized proportions. The expected lettuce and tomato join copious amounts of mayo coating three slices of hearty white bread with crispy and chewy bacon in amounts you might be embarrassed to indulge in at home, much in the same way you might be embarrassed to admit you enjoyed another kind of Bacon." Read more here >>

Austrian Bakery, 2523 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-244-9922; austrianbakery.com/