Duran European Sandwich Café: Open Faces and Low Prices

Have lunch on a budget at this casual, sophisticated spot on Milwaukee Ave in River West.

Allison Ziegler

Photo: Anna Knott

Allison Ziegler, barista at Duran

The simplest ideas are often the most startling.

And the idea behind this casually sophisticated counter-service spot, inspired by a Vienna-based collective of European cafés, couldn’t be simpler: open-faced sandwiches and plenty of them. They will come as quiet shockers for those accustomed to two pieces of bread stuffed with meat and cheese and fixin’s so profuse that they hang out on all sides.

The prettily composed sandwiches ($2.50 to $3.50), garnished with an eye toward texture and color as well as flavor, are best eaten with a knife and fork. The seasonally changing selection may include shrimp salad garnished with dill, turkey with feta and olive tapenade, or luscious Spanish boquerones (anchovies) decked out with egg, cucumber, and tomato.

Any three sandwiches will satisfy a moderate appetite, especially if you are considering, as you should, having dessert (all from JR Dessert Bakery). A high-crusted apple tart with spoonably thick cream ($5) is especially memorable; accompany with La Colombe coffee or TeaGschwendner tea.

529 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-666-6007.

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