Russell's Barbecue in Elmwood Park has served barbecue to loyal Chicagoans since 1930. It has loads of history behind it. In fact, Jeff Mauro's love affair with barbecue pork began here years ago. Douse everything on your plate — from ribs to beef to fries — in Russell's barbecue sauce.
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.
Established in 1946, Gene and Jude's helped shape the famous Chicago-style hot dog (perfect for any game day), which comes with mustard, relish, onion, tomato, celery salt, pickles and pickled sport peppers on a poppy-seed bun. These fan favorites are a must for any lover of good ole Americana.
Growing up in Chicago, Jeff Mauro would always stop by Danny's Deli for the fried meatball sandwich. This spot features all kinds of Italian favorites, including classics like rigatoni in vodka sauce and stuffed artichoke, as well as lesser-known dishes like pork neck bones.
The food at Mickey’s hasn’t changed a bit since opening day in 1972. Sandwich King Jeff Mauro loves the “very simple” cooking that characterizes Mickey’s dishes, especially the signature riblets. These bad boys come out tender and juicy, with an extra ladle of barbecue sauce for some added kick.
Jeff Mauro swung by Poor Phil's for a meal worthy of a Sandwich King. In addition to snow crab claws and lobster tails, try the Catty'Boy po' boy sandwich made with a blackened catfish that has the perfect level of spice.
With a cafe in Elmwood Park and a takeout spot on Navy Pier, Massa is renowned for authentic paninis, pizza, fried dough and other Italian specialties. Jeff Mauro swung by for the Italian stuffed Panzerotti, and locals recommend concluding any date night here with authentic, otherworldly gelato.
When Jeff Mauro wanted to make the perfect schnitzel sandwich, he headed to Edelweiss for advice. The family-owned restaurant serves authentic German fare, like schnitzel, Bavarian pretzels, wienerschnitzel and spatzle, in addition to offering an assortment of 16 imported beers on tap.
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."
It wouldn’t be a trip to Jeff Mauro's alma mater in Peoria, Ill., without visiting Schooners sports bar. Schooner's carries hot wings and fried corn fritters, and they go all-out in making the King Tenderloin sandwich by using a flattened 18-ounce pork patty served on a regular-size burger bun.
Burger Boss brings a new level of dedication to burgers. Meat is sustainably raised and is served with eco-friendly containers and utensils. When Sandwich King Jeff Mauro visits the Burger Boss, he opts for the bologna burger topped with an adobo-chipotle honey sauce.
This burger spot may be a throwback in terms of decor, but it has some fancy touches. Here, you can down hand-cut seasoned fries, Chicago dogs and two types of freshly ground burgers. Hand-dipped milkshakes are amazing, too, especially in the summer, when fresh fruits are incorporated.
Le Reve's menu evokes a French bistro with plates such as crepes and the Filet de Boeuf sandwich (beef tenderloin with Cambozola cheese). But it was the restaurant's patisserie that led to a visit from Jeff Mauro. How could the Sandwich King pass up giant macarons spanning 8 inches across?
On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Troy Johnson celebrates his love of a Wisconsin favorite with none other than beer-battered fried cheese curds. Also try the Old Fashioned House Burger. Made from local beef, it’s topped with fried onion, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic sauce and a soft-cooked egg.
Jeff Mauro visited Graze for its "spot-on" veggie burger made with beets and walnuts. This Madison, Wisconsin, restaurant sources its ingredients from local small farms, and its eclectic menu includes Asian dishes such as bibimbap and pork buns. The Korean-Style Nachos topped with beef bulgogi and kimchi are a popular pick.