Pan con ChicharrÓn
at Avenida Peru
Sandwiches are eaten at all hours in Peru, but they’re most popular for breakfast. Karlo Caceres turns his restaurant into a sanguchería on weekend mornings, and the star is the pan con chicharrón. It starts with a crunchy-crust bun that has an especially soft interior — all the better to soak up juices from the roast pork. Sliced sweet potato adds texture, while a salsa criolla (marinated red onions) adds some zip. $9. 3131 N. Central Ave., Cragin — Titus Ruscitti
From Cubanos to horseshoes, Becca Grothe knows her way around regional sandwiches, but it’s her update to Maid-Rite’s loose meat specialty that’s particularly brilliant. She mixes Slagel Family Farm ground beef with onions and mustard, then decks it out with Muenster cheese, sweet-and-sour onions, and steak sauce aïoli. If this is wrong, then we don’t want to be right. $11.95. 2949 W. Belmont Ave., Avondale — Amy Cavanaugh
Hot Honey Butta’ Chicken Sandwich
Achieving balance in a fried chicken sandwich (a butter-bathed one, no less) isn’t easy. This place, though, nails it. Pillow-soft brioche plays against the crunch of pickles and slaw, while mayo tempers cayenne-pepper-fired heat. But it’s a hit of acid — courtesy of an apple-cider-vinegar-enriched glaze — that cuts the richness and makes this sandwich sing. $11. 100 W. 87th St., West Chatham — Cate Huguelet
Ham and cheese
Leave it to Noah Sandoval to create the most refined ham sandwich we’ve ever seen. He spreads a Phlour baguette with walnut mustard from Rare Tea Cellar, then loads on slices of Edwards Virginia Smokehouse country ham and Publican Quality Meats mortadella, plus raclette and lemony arugula. It’s a sandwich that puts your brown-bag lunch to shame. $12. 661 W. Walnut St., Fulton River District — A.C.
Everyone has their favorite sandwich at this fine salumeria, where all the sausages and deli meats are cured in-house. We don’t have to order the Reuben every time, but there’s just something about the way the pepper rub on the cured beef combines with the mellowness of Midnight Moon Gouda and the bright, rough crunch of house-cured kraut. $17. 2200 N. California Ave., Logan Square — John Kessler
Smoked Lamb Bocadillo
Spanish-style sandwiches known as bocadillos are the main daytime offering at James Martin’s café. Fillings ranging from fried calamari to squash blossoms get tucked into a baguette. All are good, but we’re partial to the smoked lamb rib, a decadent combination that includes a bright Ñora pepper aïoli, pungent herbs, and pickled green beans and carrots, which provide crunch. $16. 2342 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park — T.R.
at Bar Mar
What does José Andrés’s new place offer that your average stew-and-slop cafeteria version can’t? Nuanced flavors and pure panache. Dry-aged beef trimmings — yes, there’s wagyu in there — are simmered for four hours in a ketchup sauce spiked with bell peppers, mace, and one damn fine secret ingredient: Kentucky bourbon barrel Worcestershire sauce. It’s served on a toasted brioche bun.$12 dinner; $14 lunch. 120 N. Wacker Dr., Loop — Peter Gianopulos
Creating a riff on a fast-food favorite is nothing new. Creating a riff this good sure is. The bar, a local outpost of a New York classic, serves cocktails and bar bites, including this fancy version of a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. A thick square of crispy fried fish comes tucked in a toasted bun with a slather of spicy tartar sauce, shredded lettuce, and pickles. $16. 2943 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square — A.C.
Cumin Lamb Crispy Roll
With more than 12,000 locations worldwide, this chain has made big business of fast-foodifying the tender, flaky Chinese pancake shou zhua bing. Now it has arrived in Chicago, and we’re fully on board. You can pick from various fillings, but wrapping the popular street food around a heap of fragrant cumin lamb and griddled onions begets a fantastic snack. $7.50. 2161 S. China Pl., Chinatown — C.H.