According to Jeff Mauro, if you’ve had lamb in Chicago, chances are that it's from this historic meatpacking company on Taylor Street. An experienced in-house butcher boned a "beautiful" leg of lamb for Jeff, which he took home to create a crisp, fresh version of the classic Greek gyro.
This is where Jeff Mauro found the perfect provolone and aged cheddar for his grilled cheese sandwich. With more than 350 cheeses and a variety of beers and meats housed in a castle-like building (turrets included), Mars Cheese Castle deserves to be called the "Kingdom of Cheese."
Bland food need not apply at Jerky Jerk restaurant. Here, they cook with classic jerk spices that include cinnamon, nutmeg and spicy ingredients like habanero peppers. Jeff Mauro loves their “plenty of punch” fried jerk chicken sandwich that not only has plenty of heat, but also plenty of chicken.
For more than 30 years, Jeff Mauro's favorite place to get an Italian beef sandwich has been Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park near Chicago. The thin-sliced roast beef is dripping in au jus and topped with sweet peppers, creating a hot and juicy sandwich that has been a local favorite for decades.
One of the few places in the city to get "restaurant quality" meats for home cooking, this butcher shop prepares custom cuts and deli products and hosts butchering classes for curious carnivores. Adventurous eaters can find everything from prime steaks to offal to whole pigs for their next barbecue.
Although located in Chicago, Fish Bar's menu reads like a New England seaside fish shack. Despite the option of having oyster po' boys, lobster rolls or frog's legs, Sandwich King Jeff Mauro heads to his seafood staple: The Crabby Patty.
Stop in at Marion Street Cheese Market and say hello to “the big cheese,” Executive Chef Leonard Hollander. Jeff Mauro’s glad he did. Hollander’s beloved Cauliflower Sandwich has become a favorite with regulars who crave its delectable combo of fried cauliflower, sliced apples and curry aioli.
Simple yet elegant, Chicago's Luxbar is a prime spot for a romantic date night dinner. With a menu of upscale salads, entrees, burgers and specialty drinks, just about any taste can be pleased. Jeff Mauro went for the Surf and Turf Sliders, which shrink the classic combo into small sandwich form.
Owned by Jeff Mauro's aunt and uncle, Bernard's Cafe and Deli has been making homemade breads and pastas daily since 1987. Try a grilled vegetable sandwich on focaccia, one of Jeff's favorites, or sample a slice of pizza. Make sure to bring cash, though, because they don't accept credit cards.
Sandwich King Jeff Mauro calls the owner of SkrineChops “the pope of smoked tri-tip” because of his talent for transforming this underappreciated cut of beef into a super-flavorful sandwich filling. Topped with mashed potatoes and barbecue sauce, his tasty tri-tip sandwiches really hit the spot.
As a Chicago (and Jeff Mauro) favorite, Calabria Imports has become synonymous with authentic Italian food. The original owner, Freddy, keeps customers coming back with The Original Freddy, a sandwich packed with grilled sausage, roasted peppers, melted mozzarella and Calabria's special red sauce.
This mecca of gluten-free treats offers giant cookie pizzas with endless topping choices (think fruit, candy, nuts) as well as doughnuts, cookies and cakes. The fudgy Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies are a particular standout: They loop together seemingly every sweet vice, meaning you’ll never miss the wheat flour. In addition to its gluten-free selection, the bakery also offers some vegan items.
When Jeff Mauro looks for inspiration for turning dessert into a sandwich, he looks to the masters at Sugar Fixe Patisserie in Oak Park, Ill. These pastries put a spin on classic favorites; be sure to try the almond croissant sandwich filled with almond cream and topped with toasted almonds.
When visiting Saigon Sisters, the "crown jewel" is the Hen House banh mi sandwich. With strips of caramelized chicken stuffed inside a French baguette, it was named one of the best by Chicago magazine. Sandwich King Jeff Mauro agrees. Want more? The pork belly steamed buns are a must-try.
When Sandwich King Jeff Mauro craves a thick slice of pork, he heads to Publican Quality Meats. Known for their choice cuts, Publican Quality Meats also dishes out an ever-changing sandwich menu that features mouthwatering options like braised pork belly, smoked trout and adobo pork shoulder.