Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen may well be the only place in Chicago that draws in hordes of hardened locals, busloads of tourists, political players of all stripes, and a steady stream of food-obsessed folks on a daily basis. And while this deli, owned by the same family since it was founded well over half a century ago, serves up an impressive array of hot meals and standard deli fare, the most popular item, by far, is the corned beef sandwich ($11.95).
The sandwich, usually plated by a lovingly gruff man named Gino Giambarota, stars a pile of corned beef so large that you have to take it on faith that it's not an upside-down open-faced sandwich. The thin-sliced beef is far from lean and is so tender that the sandwich is surprisingly easy to eat despite its massive size. The flavor is relatively mild, but this sandwich has been the corned beef gold standard for Chicagoans for generations. Oh, and see the potato pancake? That oily circle of fried potato is genuinely world-class and comes with the sandwich for a mere $1 upcharge.