Chicago lived up to the food hype I'd heard so much about. There wasn't a dud bite over the 5-day stretch, from the stunning hibiscus-lemongrass agua fresca at XOCO, to the harissa and prune pork pate at Publican Quality Meats, to the dreamy pies I ate (for breakfast!) at Bang Bang Pie Shop and Hoosier Mama Pie Company.
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Don't let anyone fool you: choosing the perfect place to take an out of town guest requires planning. It may sound easy, but you're looking for something more than just an excellent meal. While the restaurant has to serve knockout food (that's a given), it simultaneously has to showcase something unique about the city.
Publican Quality Meats has a not-so-secret secret, and it's their porchetta sandwich ($10). Only available on Saturdays, it's the big slab of meat you can spy atop the butcher block when you walk in.
All bacon is not created equal. I knew that. Some slabs are simply better better than others—meatier, smokier, more, um, bacon-y. It became my job to find them in Chicago.
These new restaurants are literally all over the map, and come from both respected restauranteurs and hungry novices. The only similarity is that I was legitimately surprised by what I ate.
Welcome to National Sandwich Month at Serious Eats Chicago! For the next four weeks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at the best bites between two slices of bread. First up are the best looking sandwiches we've eaten so far in 2012.
Every few weeks, we love to check in with chefs or food personalities in Chicago to see where they are eating in the neighborhoods they actually live in. Last time, Heather Terhune showed us around Lincoln Square. Now it's time for Justin Large to select his favorite spots around the West Loop.
As we've tried to make clear, Chicago is a city proud of its sausage making history, and every week our charcuterie expert, Blake Royer, has explored the encased meats scene with Sausage City. Many of the posts have focused on the great offerings at restaurants, but since Memorial Day basically kicks off the grilling season, we decided to showcase the offering you can buy and take home.
Publican Quality Meats has top quality meats and freshly made bread. It didn't take long for us to realize that if you combine the two you have the potential for some truly stunning sandwiches. Or, at the very least, that was the hypothesis. There was only one way to find out: we had to eat all of the sandwiches on the menu.
Obviously, the vast selection Publican Quality Meats is impossible to chronicle completely here, and I'd encourage a visit instead to check it all out. But in the meantime, click through the slideshow for a first look inside.
Publican Quality Meats, which is located right next door to The Publican, will open its doors for the first time on Monday, February 5. Only bread and pantry items will be available for the first week due to inspections. As if just to tease us, a video was also just released showcasing Kahan's crew butchering up a big ol' pile of meat.