It's because the economy is so weak. It's because food-truck laws are so constricting. It's because it doesn't take much technique. It's because they sell well. It's because chefs really like mayonnaise. Chicago has become a sandwich town. For six new (and great) sandwiches, read on.
1/6Photograph: Martha WilliamsMac & Min’s muffaletta 1045 W Madison St, 312-563-1008This sandwich (at what used to be Jerry’s Sandwiches in the West Loop) is not just deli meat (ham, mortadella, coppicola, salami) and olive relish between chewy-crisp La Farine ciabatta. It is a tribute to New Orleans; a monument to decadence; a sandwich both impossible to dislike and nearly impossible to eat. -Julia Kramer
2/6Photograph: Marina MakropoulosGaztro-wagon wild-boar naanwich 5973 N Clark St, 773-942-6152 or follow the truck at twitter.com/wherezthewagonBuilt for portability and gluttony, Matt Maroni’s sought-after lunches (served at his Edgewater storefront or from his roving truck) are a cross between a sandwich and a wrap. In the doughy, freshly baked naan there is surprise, in the greasy and crispy pork there is satisfaction, in the roasted fennel and sautéed olives there is balance. All together, there is greatness lurking. —Julia Kramer
3/6Photograph: Martha WilliamsSimple Sandwich’s bollo sandwiches Follow the truck at twitter.com/simplechicago Simple, maybe, but these sandwiches don’t skimp on ingredients—the meats used are organic (or at least organic-ish). But meats are the least of these sandwiches’ selling points. Instead, it’s the cheese that makes the things sing. On the roast beef: Cedar Grove Organic Cheddar. On the roasted vegetable: Laura Chenel Goat Cheese. On the turkey: Dunbarton Cheddar Blue. (Also on that turkey: apple bacon jam, which certainly doesn’t hurt.) —David Tamarkin
4/6Photograph: Martha WilliamsLM Le Cafe le jambon-buerre 131 N Clinton St, 312-575-0306Stephan Outrequin Quaisser (the owner of LM Le Restaurant) turns to Parisian street food at his recently opened French Market stall. The ham-and-cheese on a baguette is the ne plus ultra of the French conception of a sandwich: a bit of ham, housemade tomato jam and, most important—the buttered baguette. —Julia Kramer
5/6Photograph: Nina PaganoPret A Manger’s Sweet Chili Shrimp with Avocado211 W Adams St, 312-546-8270A shrimp sandwich—a shrimp sandwich that isn’t fried, that is—is definitely more of a British than American thing, which is why it’s popping up at the U.K. sandwich chain. For once, this is a great sandwich that doesn’t necessarily have great bread (it’s a bit fluffy for a baguette); rather, the bread is just a vehicle for sweet and vaguely spicy shrimp, the plumpness of which will sell you immediately on the shrimp-as-sandwich concept. —David Tamarkin
6/6Photograph: Martha WilliamsHappy Bodega’s baguette sandwiches Follow the truck at twitter.com/happybodega A sandwich based on two principles: (1) All sandwiches benefit from a good baguette. (2) All sandwiches benefit from a creamy French vinaigrette. These two things can be found in all of this food truck’s sandwiches; the fillings (turkey, aged cheddar, greens; roast beef, Parmesan, arugula, pictured) vary. The vinaigrette adds a piquant sweetness to the sandwich, and the baguette a noticeable (but not unpleasant) chew. More chew means more work. But this is the kind of work you’ll never resent. —DT