5 Truly Great Chicago Sandwiches | Best Breakfast in Chicago

October 21, 2019

chicago sandwiches | Best Breakfast in Chicago

Whether you’re new to the city or grew up here, you know Chicago is all about her food.

Sure, you get a kick out of the glittering nighttime cityscapes, especially from the top of the Sears (err…Wilson) Tower. A day on the pier—Navy Pier—brings the lake up close. Or, far away if you view it from the top of the Centennial Wheel.

But it’s the food that warms your heart in this city.

Those iconic Chicago sandwiches. Some you’ll only discover if you venture into certain neighborhoods. You’ll find others at some of the most popular Breakfast & Lunch in town.

Here are 5 of the greatest Chicago sandwiches. We’ve even included the ingredients, and for some, a little history.

1. Now That’s Italian

If you’re looking for a Chicago icon in the form of a sandwich, look no further than the Italian Beef. Don’t look too far because once you’re out of the Chicago area, it’s hard to find a proper beef.

You can thank Chicago’s Italian immigrant community for this sandwich. It’s a simple working man’s sandwich likely enjoyed by stockyard workers back in the 1920s and 30s.

You need 3 basic ingredients for an Italian Beef sandwich.

A soft roll with a nice crunch to the crust. Tender, thin-sliced beef. Juice, or jus, full of classic Italian spices like oregano and garlic, with a dash of red pepper.

Order yours dry, easy dipped, or dipped, depending on how much gravy you like. Top it off with sweet peppers, or another Chicago classic—spicy giardiniera. Request your peppers on the side (in a container), or on the sandwich.

If you’ve saved your appetite for something big, make your sandwich a combo, which means you get an Italian sausage nestled in the beef.

This is a filling meal even if you don’t pair it with a serving of hand-cut fries. Take a walk and then look for a sweet little café where you can relax with an espresso or cup of coffee | Best Coffee.

2. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The hot dog. A simple little sausage sitting in a bun. The hot dog is simply classic Chicago food.

That said, this Chicago street sandwich is far from simple. You can order a hot dog naked—dog and bun, no condiments, or you can enjoy it as one of the following:

Depression Dog

Start with a hot dog on a steamed bun. Add yellow mustard, a little onion, and a few sport peppers lined up along each side of the dog. A smattering of sweet relish, a serving of fresh-cut fries.

All this is rolled up in paper. The fries soak up a bit of the mustard and onion. So much yum your senses can hardly bear it.

Hot dogs and Chicago go back a long way. During the Great Depression, vendors sold them from street carts on Maxwell Street. They cost a nickel each.

Dragged Through the Garden

This is the quintessential Chicago-style hot dog and it’s monikered as such by hot dog vendors and sandwich shops alike.

Begin with an all-beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun. Add the following toppings in order:

  • Yellow Mustard
  • Neon Green Pickle Relish
  • Chopped Onion
  • Tomato Wedges
  • Dill Pickle Spear
  • Sport Peppers
  • Sprinkle of Celery Salt

Prepare for your taste buds to sing. Of course, you can find all kinds of other hot dog variations in Chicago, but this is the authentic Chicago Dog! Also, notice the absence of ketchup.

3. La Jibarito

Now, we switch gears, and cultures, and taste another Midwestern delicacy, the jibarito (HEE-bar-EET-oh) sandwich. While it’s found primarily in the Chicago-area, this sandwich has island roots.

Created back in the 1980s, by Juan Figueroa, owner of Borinquen, the jibarito employs fried plantains instead of bread. Sitting between the fried plantains, you’ll find your choice of thinly sliced steak, chicken, ham, pork or vegetarian fillings. Garnish is lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayo.

Hint: For the original, and more authentic jibarito experience, stick with the thinly sliced steak.

We can’t imagine anything better than a robust coffee drink as an après-sandwich treat.

4. Pork Chops and Applesauce

Or is it pork chopsh and apple shauce? You know, there’s an ongoing debate over whether it’s a Humphrey Bogart or Peter Brady line. Either way, if you visit or live in Chicago and haven’t tasted a pork chop sandwich (sans apple sauce), you haven’t lived.

The bone-on-a-bun sandwich goes back to the early 1940s. It doesn’t come with apple sauce, but it does come with the chop bone and a few tasty condiments.

Chicago’s pork chop sandwich features a juicy and tender bone-in pork chop. It’s put in a bun and loaded up with mustard, grilled onions, and hot peppers. One popular Southside sandwich shop has been serving these tasty sandwiches for over 40 years—and the fries are free.

Isn’t that schwell?


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5. It’s All Greek to Me

While not unique to Chicago, the Gyro sandwich (pronounced YEER-os) is nevertheless a Chicago favorite. And, at least one company that makes gyro cones, has its headquarters in Chicago.

Gyros are a Greek specialty sandwich, traditionally made from lamb, beef, or pork. Yes, pork! Most restaurants in the Chicago area make them from lamb or beef, but pork is more Grecian.

Shaved from a cone that cooks on a rotating spit, the meat for this sandwich is wrapped in a pita. Then, it’s dressed with sliced onions and tomato. The crowning glory of the gyro is a dollop of tzatziki sauce on top.

When searching for your gyro, make sure you also find a place where you can sip a hot or iced coffee afterward. It’s like having an after-dinner mint in a mug.

How Many Chicago Sandwiches Have You Tried?

We’ve only shared 5 sandwiches loved by Chicagoans and visitors to the city. You probably have a few of your own favorites too.

Make it a point to try out a few new Chicago sandwiches before the end of the year. It’s always fun to taste test some of the fantastic food offered all over the Chicago area.

If you’re in our part of the city, come on over and enjoy a coffee drink with us. Stay for dinner and we’ll share a few of our favorite sandwiches. We can’t wait to meet you! We welcome guests at our Evanston and Streeterville locations.

10 Surprisingly Nutty Facts About Coffee That You Probably Didn’t Know

October 9, 2019

On an average day, billions of cups of coffee are consumed all across the world. And odds are, you’re responsible for at least one of those.

It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, the subject of far too many memes and the long-standing antidote to a very sleepy state of affairs.

So let’s explore a few fun, strange, but ultimately interesting facts about coffee!

1. Brazil: The Land of Coffee, Finland: The Land of Coffee Lovers

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, followed by a distant second – Vietnam. However, it is by no means the largest consumer of coffee. That distinction goes to Finland, with over 12 kilograms or 27 pounds per capita.

In fact, the entire list of top consumers is dominated by Scandinavian countries. Norway ranks second, Iceland ranks third, followed by Denmark and Sweden in sixth place.

2. The Most Expensive Coffee is Sourced from Civet Poop

The Indonesian specialty, kopi luwak or “cat poop coffee”, is the most expensive coffee in the world. The civet consumes the cherries from the coffee plant, leaving only the seeds undigested with all its flavors intact. The seeds (or beans) are then fermented for human consumption.

However, like any commercial success, this process has been the subject of exploitation and unethical practices with regard to the civets.

Searching for the best coffee places in Chicago? Click here! Best Breakfast & Coffee

3. 2 States for Coffee

While Americans consume a ton of coffee, just two of the 50 states are able to grow these plants commercially. One being Hawaii and the other California. Most of our coffee is actually sourced through imports from South American countries like Brazil or Colombia.

4. The 16th Century Church Hated It?

So, at one point coffee was actually banned by 16th-century Catholic leaders in Italy.

Why, you ask?

They believed that the effects of coffee were nothing short of satanic. However, Pope Clement VII, couldn’t stand this and unbanned it after a quick baptism. Maybe that’s where all those health benefits come from.

The controversy wasn’t limited to 16th century Italy. The Swedish government also attempted to ban the drink, claiming it aroused a rebellious sentiment among the public. Their ban even went a step further, outlawing cups and other associated accessories.

Given the current Scandinavian prevalence of coffee, this is now quite ironic.

5. Your Low-Calorie Pick-Me-Up

Black coffee? That’s a one-to-six calorie drink, right there. So if you’re watching your weight an espresso or two are ridiculously easy to burn off. A venti frappuccino? Not so much.

When you add creamers, milk, ice-cream, and flavonoids it ups your calorie intake.

6. Brainstorming Over Coffee

London considered coffee the drink of conversations. Well, not so much the drink itself, but the coffee shops that sold them. Men would converse over a cuppa, exchange thoughts and ideas and share events of the day. However, it was common practice to ban women from these shops.

7. The Dancing Goats of Ethiopia

The hunt for the “real” origin story is shrouded in controversy, but legend has it that the first traces of coffee date back to 9th-century goat-herders in Ethiopia. According to this story, the goat herders observed that their goats would begin “dancing” energetically, after grazing.

Upon investigation, they discovered that the goats were consuming the fruit from the coffee plants. He confided in a local monk, who then made a drink from the fruit (or cherries) and noticed that it helped keep him up at night.

8. The Story of Espresso

In Italian, espresso means “pressing out”. The name comes from pressing or forcing boiling water on coffee grounds to give it a stronger taste. While espresso does have more caffeine per volume, a conventional cup of cappuccino collectively has more caffeine.

9. Seeds, not Beans

Yeah, we call them beans, but technically they’re seeds. Coffee is actually sourced from the cherry seeds on coffee shrubs. While there are actually hundreds of sub-species of coffee, only arabica, and robusta (also known as canephora) varieties are commercially grown and consumed.

The cherries themselves were consumed by combining the pulp of the fruit with fat, in certain parts of the world. Most cherries contain two beans, but a small percentage hold just one.

10. Three Waves to the Coffee Movement

What defines the evolution of coffee?

Well, so far there have been three observable trends in humanity’s love for the drink.

The first wave saw coffee as an inexpensive, unsophisticated drink, that was available to everyone. There was no emphasis on varieties, no coffee connoisseurs or major discernible differences in the taste across the world.

The second wave saw the growth of coffee shops and cafes. Each of these added their own spin on the beverage by adding various other flavors and sweeteners to give it some distinction. At this point, the coffee itself was similar, but the added flavorings allowed some customization.

Now the third wave is where coffee has truly moved beyond a drink. It is now an art. Roasting, cultivating, and brewing are concepts to be studied and perfected. And on a more literal note – there’s the practice of latte art.

Some Bonus Facts About Coffee

The list says ten, but we’ve got a couple of bonus facts about coffee that we think you should know.

For one, the Boston Tea Party helped contribute to the rise of its popularity, and for another, our menu has a bunch of amazing coffees that you have to try!

Come visit us at any of our locations in Downtown Chicago or Evanston for a fantastic cuppa joe!

 

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Tea Time: 9 Benefits of Drinking Tea in the Morning

September 8, 2019

tea drinking
Did you know that you can now find tea in almost 8 in every 10 U.S. households? Or that every single day, 159 million Americans drink this aromatic beverage?

That’s right!

After all, tea drinking is one of the best, not to mention delicious ways to start your morning. More than that, research has proven that tea brings exceptional health benefits.

What exactly are the benefits of drinking tea every day though? Why should you adopt the habit of sipping it in the morning, in the afternoon, or even before bed?

That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this post, so be sure to keep reading!

1. Regular Tea Drinking Helps Fight Off Free Radical Damage

Excessive levels of free radicals in the body can damage the cells in the body. Left alone, these “uncharged molecules” can lead to a multitude of health problems. These include diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and cancer among many others.

Antioxidants appear to negate these damages by stabilizing free radicals. At the same time, they help prevent the formation of more free radicals.

Teas, such as green and black tea, contain loads of these antioxidants in the form of polyphenols. In fact, teas can have up to 10 times more antioxidant content than fruits and vegetables.

2. Fires Up Your Energy Levels

Drinking coffee and tea is a great way to give your senses a jolt in the morning. That energy boost comes from their caffeine content, which is a natural stimulant.

Caffeine stimulates your brain by blocking the neurotransmitter called adenosine. This then leads to an increase in other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, in the body.

Ultimately, this process enhances the firing of neurons in your system. It’s in this way that caffeine causes a rise in your energy levels.

3. Energy Boost without the Jitters

Granted, coffee has shown to have a more potent antioxidant activity than tea. However, it also has a much higher caffeine content than tea.

That’s why you can’t rely on coffee alone for your daily dose of antioxidants-in-a-drink. Go full-on with coffee, and it can trigger your jumpiness and make you jittery.

Whereas tea has less caffeine, but still has loads of antioxidants. For instance, a cup of black tea has only around 25 to 48 mg of the stimulant. An 8-ounce cup of brewed green tea has about 25 to 29 mg of caffeine.

That said, the caffeine in tea can still be enough to give you an energy boost. But unlike coffee, it doesn’t have too much caffeine that can mess with your adrenaline levels. Meaning, you can sip it all day long without worrying about caffeine jitters.

4. A Delicious Way to Relieve Stress

You know how in movies when someone feels stressed or has been crying, someone offers them a cup of tea? Well, there’s science behind it, and it’s not only the plant’s aroma that can help lower stress levels.

Tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine that has a soothing and relaxing effect on the mind. One study found that black tea helped bring down cortisol levels in stressed patients by as much as 47%.

Plus, tea doesn’t induce drowsiness since it has caffeine. So, if you’re looking to lower your stress levels while still staying alert, reach out for a cup of tea. The act itself of tea making can already be therapeutic.

5. Boosts Brain Function

Drinking green tea in the morning, or any other tea for that matter can help make you smarter. This amazing benefit comes from the mix of L-theanine and caffeine in tea.

As mentioned above, caffeine helps increase the levels of dopamine in the body. L-theanine has the same effect, plus it triggers the brain to produce more alpha waves. The combination of these effects helps boost brain function, particularly memory and focus.

6. Helps Protect Against Cancer

Another of the benefits of drinking tea in the morning, be it black or green tea, is a reduced cancer risk. This is again due to the teas’ polyphenol or antioxidant content.

A study of green tea, in particular, found that it may help keep esophageal and lung cancers at bay. Moreover, green tea has shown to have an inhibiting effect on the development of some types of tumors.

7. May Help Keep Your Weight in Check

Look at the ingredient list of fat burning supplements, and chances are, you’ll see green tea in it.

One reason is that studies have found this type of tea to raise the body’s metabolic rate. At the same time, it enhances the body’s fat-burning abilities.

White tea has also shown promise on the weight loss area. Researchers say that white tea may help stop the development of new fat cells. Moreover, white tea’s active ingredients appear to “mobilize” mature fat cells.

In layman’s terms, this means that tea may help complement your weight loss goals. Of course, you still need to eat healthy all day and remain active to stay fit and keep your weight in check.

8. May Help Prevent Memory Problems

The bioactive compounds in tea may help prevent your memory from diminishing. The plants’ active ingredients have shown to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It may also help reduce your risks of Parkinson’s disease.

9. An All-Natural Antibiotic

Teas are also full of catechins, another type of disease-fighting antioxidant.

These may help hinder bacterial growth, which can then lower your risk of infections.

Make Tea Your Next Favorite Drink

There you have it, all the good things that you can enjoy when you pick up the habit of tea drinking. From being a “tamer” source of energy to keep your memory sharp, there’s a lot of benefits of drinking tea. So, as soon as you finish reading this article, be sure to get yourself a cup of brew.

Ready to get your daily dose of antioxidants in a cup delivered straight to your doorstep? Then be sure to ring us up now so you can order quality teas, coffees, and even all-day meals!