Anyone who's been to Italy knows that Mexican food is quite scant in the boot-shaped country that's so fond of panini. Apparently, no one told that to the owners of Cafe Sandwicheria, a West Loop lunch spot that merrily blends the best of both cuisines in one of its most popular panini, The Mexican. Beef pastrami, Chihuahua cheese, chipotle mustard, avocado and pico de gallo are all grilled on fresh panini bread—one bite and you'll wonder why it took these two cuisines so long to come together.
For the purists Cafe Sandwicheria offers such tried-and-true sandwiches as tuna salad, roast beef and smoked turkey, as well as hearty salads and wraps. But the real treats here are the gourmet panini, including a make your own option that lets you sling two meats and cheeses of your choice on the panini grill. From chicken salad and pesto to the Auggie (pastrami, cheddar, red onion and honey mustard), these panini are best enjoyed with a side of chips and homemade guacamole.
The yellow brick building at the corner of Milwaukee, Hubbard and Union is as festive as the space is small, with tables lining both walls of the triangular space and a postage-sized outdoor patio providing a surprisingly tranquil lunch spot given the busy intersection. Breakfast panini, burritos and bagels will make up your morning meal for less than $5, while a handmade panini will slide in just under $6.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood