Gallery: 11 Of Our Favorite Vegetarian Sandwiches in Chicago

Milk & Honey Cafe's Avocado and Smoked Gouda Sandwich
Milk & Honey Cafe's Avocado and Smoked Gouda Sandwich

This sandwich succeeds because the major elements are all so well curated. Between lightly toasted slices of fresh multigrain bread, you'll find punchy stone ground mustard, thin slices of heavenly smoked gouda, lettuce, tomato, and a luscious helping of perfectly ripe avocado.

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[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

Toasted Pimiento Cheese at Big Jones
Toasted Pimiento Cheese at Big Jones

The bread is so flavorful that most cheeses would get lost in between the slices, but the housemade pimiento cheese at Big Jones is no ordinary dairy product. The rich, tangy cheddar-based cheese, with its picture-perfect meltability, left me wondering why it isn't served on more items at Big Jones.

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[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Artichoke and Pepper Sandwich at Cipollina
Artichoke and Pepper Sandwich at Cipollina

House-marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers are topped with heaps of arugula salad, a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine that adds a bitter, almost lemony flavor. Black olives are pureed along with capers and olive oil into a tapenade that's spread on a fresh baguette. Pecorino romano, a sharp, salty Italian cheese made from sheep's milk, is grated on top for the finishing touch.

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[Photograph: Michell Elloy]

Vegan
Vegan "Tuna" Melt at Kingsbury Street Cafe

Rather than fish, Kingsbury Street Cafe mashes up chickpeas with celery, red onions, parsley, and vegan dijonaise (a mix between dijon mustard and mayonnaise) to make a filing with a comparable, though grainier, consistency. Roasted tomatoes are placed on top. As for the cheese, patrons can choose between a vegan substitute or opt for the vegetarian version of the sandwich with cheddar, swiss, pepper jack, goat, or gruyere. Bookending the filling is a vegan multi-grain hamburger bun. It's definitely worth a try!

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[Photograph: Michell Elloy]

The Gorrito Croissanwhich at Estrella Negra
The Gorrito Croissanwhich at Estrella Negra

Loaded with house-made guacamole, goat cheese crumbles, tomato chunks, spring greens, and garnished with cucumber slices. The whole thing is encased in a buttery croissant, and the end result is a refreshing, crisp way to start off the morning, so long as morning starts after 11 a.m, when the restaurant opens.

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[Photograph: Michell Elloy]

Chicago-Style Tofu from Handlebar
Chicago-Style Tofu from Handlebar

It's a very loose interpretation of the style, but this sandwich works. Its base is focaccia, a smart decision, because dense bread is required to hold up the slightly runny toppings placed between the slices. From the bottom up, the layers are garlic aioli, arugula, tomatoes, a thin slab of pesto-soaked tofu, giardiniera, and Dijon mustard, all sprinkled with celery salt and capped off with a thick wedge of focaccia.

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[Photograph: Michell Elloy]

C.S. Lewis from Ipsento
C.S. Lewis from Ipsento

The assemblage is popped in a toaster oven just long enough for magic to happen: the cheddar and cream cheese amalgamate into a sharp, creamy base; the tomato gets a quick-roast that brings out its hidden sweetness; and the basil somehow maintains its herbal freshness through it all. Talk about moral fortitude.

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[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Vegetable Panini from The Fifty/50
Vegetable Panini from The Fifty/50

To be sure, there are a lot of ingredients utilized here: roasted eggplant, zucchini, peppers, sliced pear, swiss cheese, and garlic marinara all make an appearance. And yet, they all manage to work together thanks to some thin slicing.

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

The PB&J at The Bad Apple
The PB&J at The Bad Apple

The cheapest sandwich on the menu and by far the simplest. It's just housemade peanut butter and Lindemans Framboise (like the lambic beer) jam on lightly toasted multigrain wheat bread. The standout flavor is easily the tart raspberry jam.

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[Photograph: Dennis Lee]

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese on Ciabatta at Lavazza
Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese on Ciabatta at Lavazza

It's simple, really: sweet slices of red pepper are offset by salty, creamy goat cheese. A light hand with the ingredients and some soft ciabatta bread means that it never feels too heavy.

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Chile Relleno Torta at Las Asadas
Chile Relleno Torta at Las Asadas

Mild relleno peppers are packed with white cheese and deep fried on order. They're then stuffed in a toasted bolillo roll and topped with all the standard Mexican fixings—tomatoes, onions, cilantro, refried beans, lettuce, avocado, and more white cheese.
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[Photograph: Courtesy of Las Asadas/Facebook