As Jeff Mauro learned on his visit to La Pasadita, their tacos stick to the basics with onions and cilantro and beef grilled over an open flame. All of La Pasadita's three locations on Ashland Avenue offer fresh-to-order plates the way the original owner, David Espinoza, made them in 1976.
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.
When Jeff Mauro needed fresh cod for his fish sliders on Sandwich King, he knew the best place to visit would be the Isaacson and Stein Fish Company in Chicago. For more than 80 years, this market has supplied locals with all sorts of fish and seafood, including red snapper, sea bass and clams.
For more than 30 years, Chicagoans like Jeff Mauro have headed to one of Pita Inn’s various locales for mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine. A favorite is the shawarma meat, which Jeff calls “so succulent and so juicy.” And almost every entrée entree comes with warm pita bread baked right on the premises.
Bar Toma’s location on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile makes it a go-to destination with for Chi-town locals like Jeff Mauro. Jeff dropped by for the one- and- only Bomba. Translated as “bomb” in Italian, this puffed puffed-up pizza dough is full of flavor, thanks to toppings like prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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.
Sandwich King's Jeff Mauro has been visiting Conte Di Savoia his whole life, namely for the caprese sandwich made with handmade mozzarella and fresh basil. Conte Di Savoia has been serving this since 1948, along with more than a dozen other pastas, salads and Italian meats.
This Puerto Rican restaurant is the birthplace of the "jibarito," a combination of savory steak or pork, melted cheese, crisp romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and garlic all sandwiched between two flattened, deep-fried plantains (or as Jeff Mauro called it, "the world’s most interesting bun").
Jeff Mauro went to Peoria Packing Butcher for the freshest possible pork tenderloin for his schnitzel sandwich. Peoria Packing Limited launched in 1990 to provide Chicago grocery stores with local meat, and in 1993 the retail shop opened to sell high-quality meat to the public at wholesale prices.
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.
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.
Need a brunch fix during the week? Lula Cafe is your place, as it offers a daily brunch menu that Jeff Mauro adores. Plus, its signature “Royale” sandwich changes every week — and has for the past 10 years. For a sweet finish, indulge in Lula’s bread pudding French toast with malted whipped cream.
Home of the "best breakfast sandwiches" in Chicago, according to Jeff Mauro, the Deluxe Diner serves them any time of day. Taste the diner's take on the Monte Cristo, a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich served between two thick slices of grilled French toast, or order online for late-night delivery.
Feeling lucky? At Lucky’s Sandwich Company, you’ll always strike it rich with the “tallest sandwiches in town,” says Jeff Mauro. More than 20 supersized sandwich options are available. Jeff’s choice? The Pollo Loco that’s legendary for stacking fresh-cut french fries atop Cajun-spiced chicken.
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.