So I’m talking to a buddy of mine about steak sandwiches. The thing he doesn’t like about steak on a bun is the gristle, he tells me. “Gristle?” I say disbelievingly, because my brain can’t lose the image of the tender, 100 percent well-trimmed meat topped with melted provolone and served on a French roll at forty8. Now you know what I’m having for dinner. Comes with zesty seasoned fries. $9.99. 4823 W. National Ave., 389-9350.
Green With Envy
I’m going to say something that might be hard to hear. If you have to, close your ears. All-veggie sandwiches are typically, well, boring. I know. What kind of support group can we form for this underachieving sammie? The Veggie Stack at City Market is its own support group: Havarti and Jack cheeses, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, green pepper and the banner market sauce (a Dijon mustard and mayo mix). Ask to sub sourdough for whole wheat. I like the tang and chewy texture. $5.75, with a tasty City Market cookie. 2205 E. Capitol Dr., 962-0100; 8700 W. Watertown Plank Rd., 479-0479.
Say it with me: torta. That’s what you get when you put meat, cheese and condiments together inside a round, six-inch-diameter roll. The last time I was at Xel-há, a tiny Bay View torta sanctuary, three almost identically dressed young men sat at the bar, elbows pointed sideways and mouths clamped down on tortas. It was a beautiful triple sight. The ample sandwiches come with refried beans, guacamole, tomato, lettuce and onion. You choose meat (ham, steak, pork), shrimp or vegetarian. $6.95-$10.95. 2301 S. Howell Ave., 294-4848.
Link to the Future
At $2.50, Glorioso’s Italian sausage sandwich is the cheapest on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less of a ride for your taste buds. A Sciortino’s hard roll cups a sweet, ever-so-fennely link smothered in marinara. You choose hot or mild peppers to share your bun. The folks in the deli lay this thing of cased bewitchment in a red and white paper container and you’re good to go. 1020 E. Brady St., 272-0540.
Move over bacon, lettuce and tomato. You can’t be alone together anymore. Yup, you’ve got to make friends with things like lobster and barbecued shrimp. I’ve been somewhat perturbed by this invasion of my favorite acronym — that is, until I met The Knick’s ahi tuna BLT. The delicate tuna, grilled medium rare, presses deliciously into toasted white bread moistened with a smidge of cumin aïoli. And crisp, smoky-tasting bacon does what crisp, smoky-tasting bacon does best: reminds me of breakfast, which is always good. Served with waffle fries and a pickle. $11.95. 1030 E. Juneau Ave., 272-0011.
The sign at Roux Brothers says the Muffuletta is bigger than your head. You read it and think, “Nah.…” Upon viewing: holy buns! The thick ’n chewy 10-inch round Italian flat roll holds a mixture of capicola and Genoa salami, plus provolone and the kicker that makes a Muffuletta a blissful mess — the olive salad topping that Roux proprietor John Smurawa makes from scratch. I’ll tell you, I could eat that olive salad by the spoonful. The sandwich, brought to fame in New Orleans back in 1906, comes in quarter, half and full sizes. ($3.75-$13.50). The quarter is plenty big. 1808 E. Capitol Dr., 906-0877.
When your grilled chicken sandwich is dry, the universe should know about it. It’s not right. Dry is exactly what North Star American Bistro’s grilled chicken sandwich is not. The juicy breast draped in melted Swiss gets enough attention from the roasted garlic aïoli (mayo) and avocado to make it almost swim down to your tummy. Bacon and a few other surprises await on the bun. Fries, too. $8.95. 4515 N. Oakland Ave., 964-4663.
Reuby Food Day
The Reuben at McBob’s Pub & Grill won a “Best Of” award from this very magazine in 2001. A feat of this magnitude could only be accomplished with thick, lean, moist corned beef piled with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and horseradish mustard on buttery toasted rye bread. And five years later, that would still describe McBob’s to a T. Regular $6.75, deluxe $8. For $3 more, you can have extra meat. 4919 W. North Ave., 871-5050.