A business associate turned me on to Harry's Sandwich Shop, a sparsely decorated, nondescript space in the historic Monadnock Building in the South Loop. While their four column menu takes up an entire page, the sandwich choices are in actuality, largely binary.
First: hot or cold? The nice lady at the counter recommended hot on the blustery afternoon I stopped in, but I'd extend that recommendation indefinitely. The sandwiches are built on pale Turano sub buns, and a toasty trip through the conveyor oven rouses the loafs from their slumber. The insides become warm and chewy, and the outsides crackly.
Second: dressed or not? Along with your choice of deli meats, all lunch sandwiches come standard with iceberg lettuce, tomato, green peppers, onion, Italian dressing, and cheese. The Torpedo ($7.15 for a regular) features ham, salami, and bologna, none of which particularly stand out, but their powers combine to form a sort of super deli meat conglomerate. The lettuce, tomato, and pepper are applied without restraint (see that monster ring of green pepper on the right?), but the white onions are a different story. They're sliced to slider-thin rings, with the same pariah-producing effects. It's more than worth it for the subtle bite they imbue on all corners of the sandwich—just don't make the mistake I did of enjoying them right before a meeting. And Harry's makes it simple when it comes to cheese: thinly sliced white American and Swiss cheese, no ifs, ands, or buts. Somehow it works. The tang from the commercial Swiss is an afterthought, but mixed with the American cheese, it's just rich and smooth enough to pull the sandwich together.
Third: pickles and peppers? The Subway-esque dill slices and banana pepper rings, together with the Italian dressing, give the sandwich just the right acidic touch. Next time, I may go off script and ask for some yellow mustard, too.
Toasty, melty, iceberg lettuce-y? This sandwich is more than approaching grinder territory, and that's a lunchtime choice I'm happy to make more often.
Harry's Sandwich Shop
336 S Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60604 (map)
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