Saturday is National Sandwich Day–What’s Illinois’ Favorite?
Saturday, November 3rd, is National Sandwich Day. A day set aside to...uh...eat sandwiches, I guess. What sandwich do we Illinoisans prefer over all others?
If you shouted "Italian Beef," you, my friend, know your fellow Illinois residents and what they like.
You’ll find no fancy sandwich names here. Chicago’s classic Italian beef sandwich is exactly what it sounds like: thinly sliced and seasoned beef served with peppers, gravy, and giardiniera (pickled vegetables). Many sandwich shops will boast that their beef is the best, but if you want the original, head to Al’s Italian Beef on Taylor Street.
As for our Midwestern neighbors, tastes and preferences do vary when it comes to their favorite sandwiches:
Indiana: The Hoosier Sandwich (aka Pork Tenderloin)
In Germany they make it with veal and call it schnitzel; in Texas, it’s beef and chicken-fried steak. But Indiana natives will tell you that their Hoosier Sandwich—a thin, breaded, fried pork tenderloin nestled on a pillow-soft bun—could beat them all. Credit for the first Hoosier Sandwich goes to Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, which has been selling the crispy, filling sandwiches since the 1900s.
Iowa: Loose Meat Sandwich
Somewhere in between a free-form hamburger and a sloppy joe minus the sauce, the loose meat sandwich is as filling, tasty, and no-nonsense as it sounds. Locals bellying up to the counter at Ottumwa’s Canteen Lunch in the Alley know to order their sandwiches "wet" or "dry" (we’re talking about grease levels here), or with cheese, if they’re feeling wild.
Wisconsin: Grilled Cheese Sandwich
If grilled cheese sandwiches make you think of a slice of Kraft American on Wonder Bread, get thee to Wisconsin—no one does cheese better than the Dairy State. Any restaurant in Wisconsin will likely have a delectable version on the menu, no doubt layered with locally made cheese, but the Stuffed Grilled Cheese at Alchemy in Madison is especially top-notch. They’ve elevated the classic sandwich by filling it to the brim with broccoli, roasted carrots, tomato, red onion, cilantro pesto sauce, and local cheddar and Swiss.
Missouri: The Gerber Sandwich
While you can get the state’s trademark open-faced ham and beef toasted sandwich at plenty of places, only Ruma’s Deli based in St. Louis offers them up under the "official" title of Gerber. Using proprietary braising techniques to make sure the meat juice drips down and onto the bread, Ruma’s goes through 66 pounds of roast a day to meet demand.
Michigan: The Reuben Sandwich
Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan may be the Midwest’s answer to New York City’s now-closed Carnegie Deli. Zingerman’s remains most famous for its classic Reuben sandwich. According to deli officials, they make around 50,000 Reubens per year—but if you can't make it to Michigan, don't worry. They also offer "Reuben Kits," containing ingredients to assemble your own Reuben at home.