The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2015: burgers and sandwiches

These sandwiches—with smoked tofu, fat meatballs and sweet lobster—are the best things between sliced bread
Pork Sandwich at Avec
Photograph: Jason Little Pork Sandwich at Avec
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Chicago's burger craze continued this year, and two very different burgers made our list. But this list is about more than just beef—we loved the smoked tofu sandwich at Smalls Smoke Shack & More, fell for the duck fat dog at the Duck Inn, easily one of the best hot dogs in Chicago, and added a newcomer to our list of the best lobster rolls.These are the best burgers and sandwiches of the year.

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Restaurants, Steakhouse

Double cheeseburger at Community Tavern

icon-location-pin Portage Park

A great burger should be required of all neighborhood restaurants. Portage Park dwellers are lucky to have this double cheeseburger, with melted cheddar, grilled onions and a tangy sauce made with habanero, anchovy paste and ketchup. $16. 

Happy Lobster Roll
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Happy lobster roll from Happy Lobster Truck

The cheerful truck launched this summer and instantly began serving one of Chicago’s best lobster rolls, with sweet, tender lobster slicked with mayo and butter and served on a burger bun for easy eating. $17.

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Duck Fat Dog
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, American

Duck fat dog at the Duck inn

icon-location-pin Bridgeport

The star of Kevin Hickey’s menu is the duck fat dog, a juicy duck and beef sausage, dragged through the garden and topped with house-made pickles. $10.

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Lamb Flatbread
Photograph: Courtesy Xi'an Cuisine
Restaurants, Chinese

Lamb with cumin powder in flatbread at Xi’an Cuisine

icon-location-pin Armour Square

Everything we ate at this Xi’an newcomer was a delight, but nothing moreso than this sandwich, stuffed with tender, cumin-spiced lamb and tucked into seared, crisp bread, which we’ve dreamed about pretty much daily since eating. $3.50. 

Restaurants, American

Clam belly at Wyler Road

icon-location-pin Logan Square

Clam bellies are frustratingly hard to find in Chicago, so that makes Wyler Road’s clam sandwich extra special. Perfectly fried plump bellies are tucked into a bâtard with crisp bacon and a squiggle of lemon aioli. $14.

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RPM Steak
Photograph: Grace Allen
Restaurants, Steakhouse

RPM truffle burger at RPM Steak

icon-location-pin River North

The luxe clientele at RPM Steak requires a luxe burger, and the lunch-only truffle burger, with melting foie gras butter, truffle aioli and red wine onions, delivers without sucking up your whole paycheck. $17. 

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Philly Cheesesteak at Boeufhaus
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Steakhouse

Philly cheesesteak at Boeufhaus

icon-location-pin Ukrainian Village

Lunch at Humboldt Park’s Boeufhaus is just as good as dinner. Proof: this cheesesteak, with tender shaved rib eye, caramelized onions and melted American cheese tucked into a D'Amato's roll. $11.

Crab Roll
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Seafood

Crab roll at Luke’s Lobster

icon-location-pin Loop

The lobster roll here is good, but it’s the crab roll—overstuffed with sweet crab meat, lightly dressed with both butter and mayonnaise, and sprinkled with spices—that best channels days by the ocean. $13. 

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Pork belly & manchego bocadilla
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Eclectic

Pork belly and manchego bocadillo at Next Tapas

icon-location-pin West Loop

This pork belly and manchego bocadillo, served on Next’s patio this summer, was so good, so gloriously fatty and such a terrific drinking snack, it deserves a permanent place on the Aviary’s food menu. No longer available.

Polish At Maxwell Street
Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas
Restaurants, Contemporary European

Polish sausage at the Original Maxwell Street

icon-location-pin East Garfield Park

This walk-up window has zero seats, so to properly tackle the huge, smoky sausage, draped with griddled onions, mustard and peppers, you’ll need to assume the Italian beef-eating stance. $3.75.

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Pork Sandwich at Avec
Photograph: Jason Little
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Slow-roasted pork sandwich at Avec

icon-location-pin West Loop

Avec’s lunch service didn’t come a moment too soon, since you need to eat as many slow-roasted pork sandwiches, decked out with marinated carrots, turnips and cilantro and spicy harissa aioli, as possible in this lifetime. $12. 

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